France

Paris Catacombs and Associated Interesting Tales

  The Paris Catacombs (Catacombes de Paris in French) are underground ossuaries that were created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries in the late eighteenth century. The same year that Marie Antoinette’s husband ascended the throne as Louis XVI was the same year that preparation for the Catacombs began after…

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Revolt at Levant Penitentiary with 14 Boys Roasted Alive

On 3 October 1866 14 boys were roasted alive because of a revolt at Levant Penitentiary, a juvenile facility, located on the Île du Levant, sometimes referred to as Le Levant. It is a French island in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Riviera, near Toulon and is the largest of the four islands…

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Philadelphia Austen Hancock: Eliza de Feuillide’s Mother

Philadelphia Austen Hancock was born on 15 May 1730 to a not so successful surgeon in Tonbridge named William Austen and his wife Rebecca Walter née Hampson, who had been married before and had a son, William Hampson Walter. In addition, three other children were born to William and Rebecca: Hampson in 1728 (who died…

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Napoleon Bonaparte Portraits: Important Historical Moments

There are many Napoleon Bonaparte portraits that provide important historical moments in his life. Yet, it is somewhat surprising that any portraits of Napoleon exist as he almost never willingly sat for any painter. In fact, he was notorious for disliking to sit and even believed that portraits should demonstrate his character rather than capture…

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Joachim Murat: The Flamboyant “Dandy King”

Joachim Murat was a handsome successful man who became King of Naples despite beginning his life in a humble way. He was born in Guyenne, France, on 25 March 1767 and was the eleventh child of Pierre Murat-Jordy (an affluent innkeeper and postmaster) and Jeanne Loubières. His parents wanted him to serve in a church…

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John Paul Jones: Pirate, Sailor, and Hero

John Paul Jones was the son of John Paul Sr. and Jean McDuff. He was born on 6 July 1747 at the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean on the southwest coast of Scotland and was christened John Paul, but later added Jones as his surname. At the age of 13 Jones began his maritime career…

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Eliza de Feuillide: Jane Austen’s Cousin and Sister-in-Law

Eliza de Feuillide was born on 22 December 1761 in Calcutta, India, and christened Elizabeth Hancock, but affectionately called “Betsy.” She was the daughter of Tysoe Saul Hancock and Philadelphia Austen, sister to George Austen, Jane Austen’s father. However, even before Eliza was born controversy surrounded her.

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Queen Victoria’s Visit to France in 1843

Queen Victoria’s visit to see the King of the French at the Château d’Eu in Normandy on 2 September 1843 made headline news. She was the first British monarch to visit a French monarch since Henry VIII of England visited Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Queen…

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Hair Powder: History of Its Popularity and Unpopularity

Hair powder was at one time used as an ornament for powdering a person’s hair or wig. It was sometimes perfumed and generally made from pulverized starch or Cyprus powder, although the poor classes were known to use flour. In addition, according to Chambers’s Encyclopaedia, the idea for hair powder was initiated in France:

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