Parisian Gaming Houses in the Early 1800s

French Roulette Wheel in 1800. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Gaming houses were first licensed in Paris in 1775 with the idea that the profits would be applied to aid Parisian hospitals. Soon there were twelve gaming houses, with a couple of illegal ones tolerated. Although gaming houses were primarily a man’s place for fun and relaxation, women were permitted to enjoy themselves as such establishments two days a week.

Three years after gaming houses were licensed, gaming was banned, but gaming still occurred in these houses and in the hotels of ambassadors, where police did not have jurisdiction. When punishment was meted out for gaming, it was always trivial. For that reason, gaming houses continued to exist during the French Revolution, but they were frequently “prosecuted and licenses withheld.”[1]

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Turkey the French Way

turkey the French way
Turkey. Courtesy of Free Stock Image.

The French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they do eat turkey, and in the 1800s turkey was in season during the months of December, January, February, and March. When the French made turkey in the 1800s, there were plenty of tips about how to select the right turkey, how to truss it, roast it, and carve it. They also knew how to serve it, stating that “cranberry sauce [must always be served] … with turkey.”[1] Now to the tips:

“A young cock turkey has smooth back legs with a short spur, the eyes are bright and full; if stale, the eyes are sunk, the feet dry; which, when fresh, are soft and pliable. An old hen turkey’s legs are rough and red, the vent hard; if with egg, the vent will be soft and open.”[2]

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Count d’Artois at the Scottish Palace of Holyrood

Engraving of Count d’Artois. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

After the Bastille was stormed in July of 1789, Louis XVI’s youngest brother, the Count d’Artois, fled France with his family. They lived briefly in Italy and Germany before finally settling in Great Britain in 1792. There the Count became a leader of the French émigrés and was welcomed by King George III, who also gave him a generous allowance.

Although the Count d’Artois was welcomed in Great Britain, he wanted the Bourbon monarchy to rule in France. So, he outfitted an army on borrowed money around 1795 and became involved in a royalist uprising against revolutionaries in La Vendée. Things did not go as planned. He was beaten and returned to Great Britain defeated. However, before he landed in Great Britain, he was “advised that should he step ashore he would be liable to imprisonment for debt under British law if he did not meet the sum due.”[1] Continue reading

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