The Sériziats and Jacques-Louis David

Marguerite Charlotte Pécoul, Painted by David in 1813. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Sériziats and Jacques-Louis David were related through marriage. David’s wife was Marguerite Charlotte Pécoul, whom he had married in 1782 and who at the time was about half his age. Marguerite’s sister was Emilie Pécoul. She became Madame Sériziat when she married Pierre Sériziat. Pierre was a rather dapper and elegant looking fellow who might be described as a dandy. He was also wealthy and owned a country home in Favières (Seine-et-Marne), near Tournane-en Brie, about twenty miles east of Paris.

David was a French painter of the Neoclassical style and considered to be the preeminent painter of the Georgian era. He was also a Jacobin, supporter of the French Revolution, and a friend of Maximilien Robespierre. In addition, he was a member of the National Convention and voted for King Louis XVI’s death, which so upset his wife she divorced him in 1793.

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Duel Between Chevalier de Morande and Reverend Henry Bate-Dudley

Charles Claude Théveneau, Chevalier de Morande, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Charles Claude Théveneau, Chevalier de Morande. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Charles Claude Théveneau, better known as the Chevalier de Morande, was a Frenchman who wound up in London working as a pamphleteer and journalist. In that capacity, he found himself in trouble for comments he said in the press and once even found himself challenged to a duel. It occurred in 1778 after Morande made some unkind remarks about a man and his wife in the press. The man, Henry Bate (who in 1784 became Henry Bate-Dudley), was a reverend and an editor for the Morning Post. Bate was also nicknamed “The Fighting Parson” or “The Reverend Bruiser” for having fought some young men in Vauxhall Gardens.

The duel between Morande and Bate was scheduled for a Friday morning, 28 August 1778, at 5 o’clock at the Ring in Hyde Park. Bate’s was accompanied by Captain Bailie and a surgeon and Morande’s second was a Mr. Austin. After the pistols were loaded, Bate got out of his post-chaise and took his ground. Morande followed immediately.

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The First Pet Cemetery in the World

Postcard of Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Claimed to be the first pet cemetery in the world, Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques, (literally translated as the “Cemetery of Dogs and Other Domestic Animals”), opened in 1899.* It was originally founded as the Cimetière des Chiens (“Cemetery of Dogs”) because of a law that was passed in 1898 by Paris’s city government forbidding Parisians from throwing dead dogs into the the Seine River, gutter, or trash. One article noted the introduction of the new law stating: Continue reading

Henri, Count of Chambord

Seven-day King known as Henri V
Henri, His Mother, and His Older Sister, Louise Marie, by François Gérard, in 1822. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Henri, Count of Chambord was born on 29 September 1820 at the Tuileries Palace and named Henri of Artois. Henri was the son of Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, and his wife Princess Caroline of Naples and Sicily. Unfortunately, Henri’s father, the Duke of Berry who was also the youngest son of Charles X of France, was assassinated seven months before Henri’s birth and died on 14 February 1820.

To ensure the legitimacy of Henri’s birth by the Princess Caroline, witnesses were brought in, and among the witnesses was Maréchal Suchet who had been chosen by Bonapartists to witness and certify the birth. The birth happened so quickly the Princess refused to have Henri separated from the umbilical cord before the official witnesses arrived. Thus, when Suchet arrived, the Duchess supposedly told him to tug on the umbilical cord and see that it was still attached. According to the British ambassador Sir Charles Stuart, “Suchet proved a bit faint-hearted and she repeated, ‘Mais tirez donc, M. le Maréchal.'”

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Rules for Preserving Health in Victorian Times

health in Victorian times
Victorian ad for Smedley’s Chillie Paste that cured all sorts of ailments. Author’s Collection.

Victorians considered themselves to be health conscious. Because of their concern for their health, one Victorian publication provided a list of rules for Victorians to help preserve their health. Here is that list almost verbatim:

Habitual cheerfulness and composure of mind, arising from peace of conscience, constant reliance on the goodness of God, and the exercise of kindly feelings toward men. Peace of mind is essential to health as it is to happiness.

Strict control over the appetites and passions, with a fixed abhorrence of all excess, and all unlawful gratifications whatsoever. He that would enjoy good health must be “temperate in all things,” and habitually exercise the most rigid self-government; for every sort of vicious indulgence is highly injurious to health; first, directly, in its immediate effects on the body; and next, indirectly, in the perpetual dissatisfaction and anxiety of mind which it invariably occasions. Continue reading

Execution of the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino

Effigies of Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino With a Scene of the Execution, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Images of Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino with a scene of their execution. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock and Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino were taken prisoners at the Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Both men were tried and sentenced to death for treason. Their executions were carried out at Tower Hill on 18 August 1746.

The event began at six o’clock, when “a troop of life-guards, one of horse-grenadiers, and 1000 of the foot-guards … marched from the parade in St James’s park thro’ the city to Tower-Hill.” Around eight o’clock, the sheriffs of London arrived, along with others, as well as the executioner. They then dined together at the Mitre tavern on Fenchurch-Street before being conducted to the scaffold, which was about thirty yards away from the tavern.

Preparations at the scaffold began at ten o’clock when a “blocked was fixed on the stage, and covered with black cloth, and several sacks of sawdust … were brought … to strew on it; soon after their coffins were brought, covered with black cloth, ornamented with gilt nails.” Each coffin had a plate with the appropriate person’s name inscribed and an image of their coronet: Guilelmus Comes de Kilmarnock and Arthurus Dominus de Balmerino.

Fifteen minutes later, the sheriffs left in a procession to the outward gate of the Tower. There they knocked and requested possession of the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino. The men were then delivered into their possession, and, soon after, the procession moved in a slow and solemn manner in the following order: Continue reading

Boats from the 1700 and 1800s

April Michelle Davis.

April Michelle Davis, a freelance editor, indexer, proofreader, and author, is a wife and mother of four. She loves to write and uses many avenues to express herself such as her websites, newsletters, blogs, and other social media outlets. April also homeschools her boys and sometimes find herself creating and writing their lessons. In addition, she has written three books (two technical and one fiction), and because of her fascination with princesses and castles, her fiction book includes a lot of history from the 1700s and 1800s. With this in mind, April has written the following post about boats.

Boats from the 1700s and 1800s traveled much slower than today’s boats because they were powered by the wind and sails and they usually followed trade patterns. In the early eighteenth century, the hulls were made from wood, which limited the size of the boat. The length of the hull was important because it added stability to keep the boat upright and provide space for the cargo of teas and spices, and even mail.

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Petit Ranelagh or the French Ranelagh

Petit Ranelagh or the French Ranelagh
Ranelagh Gardens Rotunda in London. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Petit Ranelagh or the French Ranelagh, sometimes called Garden of the Ranelagh, has an interesting history. It began in 1773, with a barrier guard and a lodge keeper named Morison (also sometimes spelled Morisan). Morison had an inn in the Bois de Boulogne. He obtained permission from the Prince de Soubise, who was the governor of the Château de la Muette, to erect a building in imitation of the one built by the first Earl of Ranelagh. The Earl of Ranelagh’s had been built on the banks of the Thames between 1688–89 and was called Ranelagh Gardens. Continue reading

Marie Antoinette’s White Hair

Pouf a la Belle Poule, Public Domain
Pouf a la Belle Poule. Public Domain.

Marie Antoinette’s hair was of intense interest to the French in the 18th century. In fact, the hairstyles she created and wore helped to establish her identity as a French queen. With the help of her hairdresser, Marie Antoinette created some of the most memorable styles, including one towering pouf that featured a French frigate, complete with masts and rigging, called Pouf a la Belle Poule. Eventually, however, the queen’s hair began falling out. Just as quickly as her towering pouf hairstyles had risen to extraordinary heights, short locks became all the rage when her hair was chopped off.

The Queen’s hair changed again after France found itself in the middle of a revolution. It was reported that suddenly the Queen’s strawberry blonde hair was white and that it became white practically over night. But the idea that a person’s hair can turn white over night, did not first happen to the French Queen. The first mention of someone’s hair turning white overnight was printed in the Talmud, where it was claimed that it happened to a 17-year-old Jewish scholar because of overwork. There were also apparently other cases of hair turning white over night, which were pointed out by one nineteenth-century doctor in the following description: Continue reading

The Actress La Clairon’s Ghost Story

La Clairon, Author's Collection
La Clairon, Author’s Collection

The girl born Clair Josèphe Hippolyte Leris became the famous French actress known as Mademoiselle La Clairon. Because of her fame, La Clairon wrote her Mémoires, a book that contained many interesting tidbits about her acting career. However, what seemed to generate the most interest from her book was “the celebrated history of the lady’s ghost.”

The ghost was “the spectre of a young Breton whom she had pitilessly left to die of love.” It seems the young Breton was so heartbroken when she refused to see him one last time, he vowed on his death-bed in 1743 to haunt her the remainder of her life. Supposedly, his vow came true because thereafter his ghost visited La Clairon in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times and was claimed to be “perpetual.” Continue reading