An Escape From the Guillotine During the French Revolution

escape from the guillotine
Guillotining of Nine Emigrants in 1793. Public Domain.

During the French Revolution, between 5 September 1793 and 28 July 1794, a period known as The Terror, it has been estimated that at least 40,000 people were executed, although official records cite 16,594 deaths. Those sentenced to be executed were usually guillotined the following morning after their trial. As was customary, the condemned were tied together, in sets of two, by the hands with a cord, and accompanied by a guard to the site where they were guillotined. Continue reading

Georgian Era Surnames: Names Expressing Contradictions

Definition of the Word "Surnames," Courtesy of Google
Definition of the Word “Surnames.” Courtesy of Google.

Everyone likely knows that in the Georgian era surnames such as Butcher, Tailor, or Miller referred to a person’s occupation and that a surname of Lewes, York, or Surrey was likely given to a foundling by a parish officer tasked with naming them. However, some of the more interesting surnames in use in the Georgian Era were often contradictory and expressed the reverse of a person’s actual character or qualities. One writer decided contradictory surnames were interesting enough that he wrote a short piece and identified some contradictory surnames. Here it is verbatim: Continue reading

The Insects That Defeated Napoleon’s Army

insects defeated Napoleon's army
Napoleon Bonaparte. Author’s Collection.

Napoleon was a great military leader and strategist. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution, led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars, and served as Emperor of the French. He also dominated Europe for more than a decade and fought against a variety of fluctuating European coalitions during the Napoleonic Wars defeating many of his opponents. As a result, he became known as one of the greatest commanders in history, but for all the praise Napoleon received he found that wherever his troops marched or sailed, his biggest opponent was often the smallest one. This powerful opponent was millions of tiny insects, and among the insects that battled and defeated Napoleon were the mosquito, the flea, and the louse. Continue reading

I’m Guest Blogging

Adrienne. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Today I am a lucky enough to be the guest of Stewart Ross at his fabulous blog, “Stew Ross Discovers.” Stew has written several books about France, including “Where Did They Put the Guillotine?” and “Where Did They Burn the Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar?” My guest post is about the Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette’s wife, Adrienne. Adrienne was the daughter of Jean de Noailles and Henriette Anne Louise d’Aguesseau, and she married Lafayette when she was 14 years old. Click here to read more.

Attempted Assassination of Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th Century

Attempted assassination of Napoleon Bonaparte
Illustration of the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Threats against Napoleon’s life were not rare. In fact, there were many assassination attempts. One failed royalist assassination attempt, known as the plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, occurred on Christmas Eve in 1800. It resulted in a bomb blast and left Napoleon badly shaken but unscathed. Another failed attempt involved snuff. In this case, royalists infiltrated a group of workmen restoring Malmaison with a plan to switch Napoleon’s good snuff for poisoned snuff, but before they could bring their plan to fruition, it was discovered. The next failed attempt occurred in 1804 when royalists planned to kidnap Napoleon. However, instead of kidnapping him, the conspiracy was discovered and the conspirators arrested.

Despite all the failed attempts to kill Napoleon, one eager young lad decided he had the wherewithal to assassinate Napoleon after he became Emperor. Fortunately, before the young lad could carry out his dastardly deed, French Police discovered his intentions. The result of the police’s discovery resulted in a New York newspaper publishing an article about it in 1828. Here is their report provided almost verbatim: Continue reading

Menu for George IV’s Coronation Dinner on 19 July 1821

Coronation Crown of George IV. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

George IV became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover following the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820. George IV’s coronation occurred about a year and half later on 19 July 1821. It was a grand costly affair, estimated to have been about £243,000 (approximately £19,970,000 in 2017). One great expense was the innovative gold and silver frame crown that had been specifically created for the King by Philip Liebart of Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell. It was a tall crown with a dark blue cap and encrusted with 12,314 diamonds that were said to make the King appear to be a “gorgeous bird of the east.” Yet, the crown was not the only costly thing George IV wore: Continue reading

Vehicle Titles, Origins, and Descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s, S-Z

vehicle titles, origins, and descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s
Sedan Chair with Painted Panels Attributed to Charles Antoine Coypel. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between vehicles. Thus, to help people understand vehicle titles, origins, and descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s vehicles, here is a list from S to Z.

Savanilla Phaeton – This was the name given a variety of Phaetons used in Bangkok, Siam.
Sedan Cab – A type of Cab invented and patented by Chauncey Thomas of Boston, Massachusetts. It was so named because it resembled the outlines of the Sedan Chair. Sedan Chairs were first introduced in England in 1635 and soon became popular in London. The intention was to “interfere with the too-frequent use of coaches, to the hindrance of the carts and carriage employed in the necessary provision of the city and suburbs of London.” Continue reading

Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution”

Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the French Revolution"
Edmund Burke. Courtesy of Wikipedia. on the French Revolution.

Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman born in Dublin. He is remembered for his support of American revolutionaries and his objections to the French Revolution. In 1790, he wrote the pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France, And on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to that Event. In a Letter Intended to Have Been Sent to a Gentleman in Paris. Some of his quotes from that pamphlet follow:

ABILITY: “Men who undertake considerable things, even in a regular way, ought to give us ground to presume ability.”

ANTAGONISM: “He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” Continue reading

Death of Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans

Death of Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans: Duke of Orléans
Duke of Orléans by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In July of 1842, a sad event occurred. It was the accidentally death of Ferdinand Philippe when he fell from his carriage. He was the son of King Louis Philippe I and Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, and he was born in his mother’s native Sicily in Palermo, on Monday 3 September 1810, during his parents’ exile.

Ferdinand Philippe was originally given the title Duke of Chartres and for this reason affectionately called “Chartres” within the family circle. However, he had been baptized Ferdinand Philippe Louis Charles Henri, and most people knew him as Ferdinand Philippe in honor of his grandfathers, Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Philippe Égalité. In addition, as the oldest son, Ferdinand Philippe was heir to the title Duke of Orléans, which was the name he was usually referred to at the time of his death and the name that I will refer to him in this post. Continue reading

Elizabeth Armistead: Courtesan to Charles James Fox

Elizabeth Armistead. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Elizabeth Armistead was born Elizabeth Bridget Cane on 11 July 1750. Little is known about her early years and what is known is debated. Some people say that Elizabeth was born in a cellar, her father was a cheese-and-bacon vendor, and her mother “addicted herself to the culling and vending of simples.” Elizabeth supposedly first began working in London as a model for a hairdresser and then later became a dresser to the English actress Mary Robinson, who was known as “the English Sappho” and who earned the nickname “Perdita” for her role as Perdita.

By the time Elizabeth was twenty-one, she was known as Elizabeth Armistead (or Armstead) and was working at a bawdy house. It was during this time that she met the famous British Whig statesman, Charles James Fox. The meeting occurred when Fox and some friends escorted a visiting Frenchman to a bawdy house. Upon learning that another male friend, Frederick St. John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke was being entertained by a woman in a room, Fox and his friends kicked the door open. The woman entertaining Bolingbroke was Elizabeth. Continue reading