Vehicles Found in France in the 1700 and 1800s: A-Z

Ambulance Volante (Flying Ambulance) developed by Larrey to quickly transport the wounded from the battlefield to field hospitals. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

There were a variety of vehicles found in France in the 1700 and 1800s. Here is the list A to Z.

Ambulance Volante – This translates to “flying ambulance” and was developed by a French battlefield surgeon named Dominque-Jean Larrey so that the wounded could be quickly transported from the battlefield to field hospitals. They were so named because of their speed (or ability to fly) when they carried the injured off the battlefield and to the rear where surgeons could more effectively deal with their wounds. The ambulance volante was manned with a trained crew and a horse-drawn wagon modeled after the “flying artillery.” Crews assigned to each ambulance included a doctor, quartermaster, non-commissioned officer, a drummer boy (who carried the bandages), and 24 infantrymen functioning as stretcher bearers. There had been a long-held tradition of waiting to collect the injured until after the battle ended, but after 1797, flying ambulances were always present with the army’s advance-guard and cared for the wounded on the battlefield. These ambulance volantes proved so effective and so serviceable to the critically wounded that they served as the forerunner to the modern military ambulance and triage system eventually adapted by armies throughout the world. Continue reading

Rosalie Duthé was the First Dumb Blonde

Rosalie Duthé was the first dumb blonde
A Young Duthé by Lié Louis Salbreux-Perin. Public Domain.

Despite Rosalie Duthé being considered the first dumb blonde, she attracted the attention of some of the most distinguished men in Europe and France, including monarchs and future monarchs. This attraction also resulted in her becoming one of the most celebrated courtesans of her time. A nineteenth century writer noted that Duthé’s fame “equalled the renown of the Laises or Phrynes of ancient Greece, or that of the Imperias and Marozias of the Rome of the Middle Ages,”[1] and although a twenty-first century writer agreed, she described Duthé as

“[A] famously vacuous creature who had taken the polite conventions of feminine modesty to an extreme. She had developed a habit of long pregnant silences. Perhaps she had nothing to say, but her mystery and her secretive allure, combined with a number of other more tangible attributes, meant that she gathered appreciative customers from the highest social and political ranks.”[2]

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Château de Bagatelle

Château de Bagatelle. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Château de Bagatelle, located in the Bois de Boulogne, initially existed as a small hunting lodge for the Maréchal d’Estrées and was designed for brief stays while hunting. Later, the daughter of  Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé owned it. Her name was Louise Anne de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Charolais, and she occupied it for twenty years. When she died on 6 April 1758, she left it to her nephew, Louis-François-Joseph de Bourbon-Conti, who was the last Prince of Conti, and, in 1770, the Prince de Chimay became the owner. Continue reading

Keeping Victorian Preemies Warm: French Couveuse

Dr. Stéphane Étienne Tarnier, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Dr. Stéphane Étienne Tarnier. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Up to the late 1800s, it was difficult to keep a premature baby warm. This inspired the creation of infant incubators and although French Doctor Stéphane Étienne Tarnier did not invent the first infant incubator, he did invent what he called a “couveuse” or “brooder.” His baby warming device was inspired by devices used to incubate poultry. At the time, Dr. Tarnier was a well-respected obstetrician, and, today, he is often considered the doyen of French obstetrics of the late nineteenth century because of his many groundbreaking ideas related to this field. 

Prior to Dr. Tarnier’s invention of the couveuse or brooder, babies were kept warm by swaddling and were swaddled in the following manner:

Take a square baby-blanket and place it diagonally on the table or bed. Turn down one corner … four inches … to come up over the baby’s head. Spread over this blanket a lap of raw cotton. Have the baby’s napkin and binder on, and a flannel undervest. Make a cap out of the cotton, fitting it over the baby’s head and bringing it down … under the chin. Then roll the baby up in the cotton lap. Bring the blanket around this firmly, so as to hold it; the portion of the blanket on the baby’s right being brought over and tucked in on the left side, the portion on the left being correspondingly folded over toward the right. The corner of the blanket left at the feet is then folded up over the front, and the whole held in place by … a strip of muslin bandage or ribbon. The bandage is first applied beneath the chin, crossed under the back, again crossed in front, the end being brought forward [and fastened in a bow] … at the feet.[1]

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How Paris Was Painted in the Victorian Era

How Paris was painted in the Victorian Era: Charles Carroll Fulton
Charles Carroll Fulton, Public Domain

An American editor of the Baltimore American newspaper, visited Europe in the 1870s. His name was named Charles Carroll Fulton. During Fulton’s visit to Europe, one of the places he traveled to was Paris, France. While there he made several interesting observations. One interesting observation was how Paris was painted in the Victorian Era. Here are Fulton’s observations almost verbatim:

It would astonish some of our old house-painters of Baltimore if they could witness the manner in which the painters of Paris climb over the fronts of these six- and seven-story houses and paint them from roof to door-sill without the use of ladder, scaffold, or any other wooden contrivance, either for themselves or the paint-pots. One man, without assistance of any kind, can paint the entire front of one of these tall houses in two or three days. Continue reading

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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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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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

Explorer, Naturalist, and Ornithologist Extraordinaire François Levaillant

Explorer, naturalist, and ornithologist extraordinaire named François Levaillant
François Levaillant. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Explorer, naturalist, and ornithologist extraordinaire François Levaillant was born on 6 August 1753 in Paramaribo, the capital of Dutch Guiana (Surinam). His father, originally from Metz, was a rich merchant and served as French Consul. His parents had a great interest in collecting objects related to natural history, and because of their interest, they frequently traveled to various parts of the colony taking him with them.

Initially, Levaillant began collecting insects and caterpillars. By the age of ten, he had a collection, which he arranged according to his own system in order to identify insects. Later when he focused on birds and used a similar system to identify them, giving only French names to species that he discovered and refusing to use the systematic nomenclature introduced by Carl Linnaeus. Thus, some of the names he used remain in use today as common names for birds. Continue reading