Miscellaneous

An 18th Century Bullfight and a Woman of Arles, France

A gentleman by the name of Wilson Moore undertook a trip to Holland, France, and Italy in the late 1700s. During his trip he wrote letters, and, later, while at the table of Duke Humphrey, he decided to send “his work into the world,” by publishing a book that described his “rambles” and was based…

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The Actress La Clairon’s Ghost Story

The girl born Clair Josèphe Hippolyte Leris became the famous French actress known as Mademoiselle La Clairon. Because of her fame, La Clairon wrote her Mémoires, a book that contained many interesting tidbits about her acting career. However, what seemed to generate the most interest from her book was “the celebrated history of the lady’s…

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Dwelling Numbers in Paris in the 1700 and 1800s

When the 1700s began, Paris was divided into twenty quarters and there were no dwelling numbers on any houses. Streets acquired their name from either the name of a noble’s mansion, a monastery or convent in the area, or from a special shop or industry. At the local level, a dwelling on a street was…

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Nine Singing Rules for 18th Century Singers

Singing was a popular activity in the 1700s. One writer noted that when there was a large group of singers, the worst singer was often the person who got the greatest pleasure from the activity. To ensure people got the most pleasure out of singing, numerous song books were published. Among them was one that…

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The Turk: An Automaton Chess Player Hoax

In 1767, an extraordinary automaton was designed by a Hungarian inventor named Wolfgang von Kempelen who promised the Empress Maria Theresa that he would construct an automaton within six months that would amuse, astound, and excite “the liveliest astonishment.” Six months later it appeared Kempelen had succeeded when he presented “The Turk.”

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Manners and Customs of the French According to Punch

Punch, or The London Charivari, was established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. It was a British weekly filled with humorous and satirical stories and illustrations, and Punch not only poked fun at the English but also the French. Here is one article published in 1851 that is related to the manners…

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The Comet Scare of 20 May 1773

Comets and the idea that one would hit the earth and destroy it, have long been a concern of humans. Seventeenth-century mathematician Jacob (also called James or Jacques) Bernoulli predicted the famous comet of 1680. It was called “Kirch’s Comet,” the “Great Comet of 1680,” or “Newton’s Comet,” and Bernoulli thought it would return and cause…

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The Hope Diamond, Its Curse, and the French

The deep sapphire blue Hope Diamond, also known as the “Tavernier Blue,” “Le Bijou du Roi” (the King’s Jewel), or “Le bleu de France” (“the Blue of France”), is an enormous 45.52 carats. This diamond, described in the 1900s as a “good sized horse chestnut,”[1] but shaped like a pear, was supposedly discovered in India…

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The Regent Diamond

A diamond, a whopping 410 carats uncut, was found by a slave in the Kollur mine in India. The slave smuggled it out of the mine: Some say in his rectum and others claim it was placed in a large wound in his leg. Then an English sea captain killed the slave, stole the diamond,…

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Words Said To or About Napoleon

Napoleon rose to prominence during the French Revolution and because of his numerous and successful military campaigns he dominated Europe for over a decade. In fact, his military prowess helped him became Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814, and then again in 1815. Although Napoleon may have ended lawlessness and disorder in post-Revolutionary…

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