1700s

The Legendary French Drummer Boy Joseph Bara

The legendary French drummer boy Joseph Bara was raised to the status of hero in the 1790s. His story begins with his birth on 30 July 1779 to a woodranger and a domestic servant, both of whom worked at the Palaiseau estate of the Condés. Unfortunately, while Bara was still a youth, his father died,…

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Tales of Charlotte Corday’s Head

After Charlotte Corday’s execution for assassinating Jacques-Jean Marat, her body and guillotined head were said to have been buried in Ditch No. 5 of the cemetery of the Madeleine on rue Anjou Saint-Honore in Paris. Ditch No. 4 held the body of Louis XVI, and Ditch No. 6 would be readied shortly for Marie Antoinette…

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Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération in 1792

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération was first celebrated in 1790. It was a day set aside to commemorate the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that occurred on 14 July 1789. That event ushered in the French Revolution and each year thereafter people celebrated their patriotism for their new republic with…

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Three Popular Palais-Royal Restaurants of the 1800s

Between 1770 and 1789 hundreds of restaurants opened in Paris, and, by 1825, it was claimed there were some nine hundred of them in the city. The word restaurant was for many years specific to Paris. However, by the late 1700s, the word had come to represent any eatery and could include an inn, cookshop,…

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Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet: Their Relationship

In 1733, love came knocking at Voltaire’s door in the form of Émilie du Châtelet, the intelligent daughter of Louis Nicolas le Tonnelier de Breteuil. Through an arranged marriage, she had become the wife of an army man named Marquis Florent-Claude du Châstellet-Lomont. The Marquis was frequently absent and considered dull, formal, and cold. In…

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Conjurors and Conjuring in the 1700s

  Conjurors and conjuring existed long before the 1700s, and in its simplest form, conjuring was a performance of tricks that appeared to be magical and usually involved some sort of sleight of hand. Well before conjuring became popular in the 1700s, conjuring performances were given in antiquity and in the middle ages. However, there…

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The Asylum Pitié-Salpêtrière in the Georgian Era

On the eve of the French Revolution, what had originally been a gunpowder factory and arsenal became the largest hospital and asylum in Europe. It was called Pitié-Salpêtrière. Professor of History Mark Micale noted that “this remarkable hybrid institution housed for over two centuries every imaginable form of social and medical ‘misfit’ from the lowliest…

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Madame Romain or La Belle Limonadière of France

Lemonade was a popular drink in the 1700 and 1800s, and of all the lemonade sellers in France, Madame Romain, or La Belle Limonadière, as she was called, was said to be the most popular. La Belle Limonadière was also a Parisian personality known for her striking beauty during the First Empire and the early…

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When Napoleon Met and Married Josephine de Beauharnais

Napoleon would marry twice, but his first marriage was to Josephine de Beauharnais. Josephine was born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie in Les Trois-Îlets, Martinique, to a wealthy white Creole family that owned a sugarcane plantation. She met Napoleon in late 1795 and within weeks she was his mistress.

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