1700s

Eighteenth Century Fans

Archaeological ruins and ancient texts indicate that fans have long been popular and could be found in ancient cultures. However, once fans were introduced to Europe, they quickly became popular and it was also not long before France became the center for fan design and production. By the eighteenth century, fans in France had reached…

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The French Executioner Charles-Henri Sanson

The French executioner Charles-Henri Sanson was born on 15 February 1739 and served as the royal execution during the reign of King Louis XVI and High Executioner during the First French Republic. He administered capital punishment in the city of Paris for over forty years and executed nearly 3,000 people, including King Louis XVI. He…

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The Sex of Chevalier d’Eon

The sex of Chevalier d’Eon (or if you want his actual name Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont) was of great interest to people in the eighteenth century. D’Eon claimed that he was born female but had been raised as a boy so that his father could inherit from his in-laws. When he was older, he joined…

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Benjamin Franklin’s Popularity with French Women

Benjamin Franklin’s popularity with French women happened long before he was appointed Ambassador of France. When he landed on French soil in December of 1776, having set sail on 26 October as agent of a diplomatic commission, women (and probably men too) wanted to catch a glimpse of the experimenter with lightning and the defender…

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The French Republican Calendar: How Time was Different

The French Republican Calendar, also sometimes called the French Revolutionary Calendar, was a calendar created and implemented by the French Republic during the French Revolution from late 1793 to 1805 (and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871). The French Republican calendar came about because the government wanted to distance itself from anything…

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Marie Antoinette’s Breguet Pocket Watch No. 160

The story of Marie Antoinette’s Breguet pocket watch begins when Abraham-Louis Breguet, arrived from his native Switzerland in Paris. Breguet’s father had died and his mother remarried a watchmaker named Joseph Tattet. Tattet had a showroom in Paris and tried to get Breguet to take up watchmaking, but he resisted.

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One of the First Feminists Olympe de Gouges

One of the first feminists, Olympe de Gouges, began her life in 1748 when she born Marie Gouze in Montauban, Quercy in southwest France. Her mother was Olympe Mouisset and her legal father, Pierre Gouze, was a butcher, but she claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of Jean-Jacques Lefranc, Marquis de Pompignan. She was forced…

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