France

Thomas Jefferson’s Love Affair with Maria Cosway

Thomas Jefferson’s love affair with the Italian-English Maria Cosway began after Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Skelton, died. He had married the widowed Martha in 1772 and they had several children, but weakened by childbirth, she died several months after the birth of her last child in 1782. Of the six children the couple had only…

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James Austen: Jane Austen’s Brother

James Austen was the oldest child of George Austen and Cassandra Leigh. George was the rector of the Anglican parishes at Steventon and nearby Deane, and it was while George and Cassandra were living at Deane that she gave birth to James on 13 February 1765. A few weeks later, on 17 March, James was…

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Dr. Edmond Pommerais Murderer of the 1800s

Dr. Edmond Pommerais was a spendthrift and gambler who was not above doing whatever it took to become rich. His story begins with his efforts to become a wealthy doctor of homeopathy. When that failed, he decided it would be easier to obtain a rich wife and attempted to do so through several matrimonial agency…

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Jean-Victor Moreau and His Exile in America

Jean-Victor Moreau was exiled to America after Napoleon Bonaparte banished him to the United States. Moreau, who was a friend to Madame Récamier and Madame de Staël, had served as a general under Napoleon and had helped him gain power. However, Moreau’s alleged involvement in a plot against Napoleon (the “Pichegru Conspiracy” or “Cadoudal Affair”)…

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The Spa Town of Aix-les-Bains in the 1700s and 1800s

The spa town of Aix-les-Bains is situated about ten miles from Chambery, about three quarters of a mile from the lake of Bourget, and between two spectacular mountains: Revard and the Mont du Chat. Even though the medicinal waters became popular in Roman times, beginning in the 17th century people became more fully aware of…

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Voltaire’s Coffee Obsession in the 18th Century

Many Frenchmen were addicted to coffee, but Voltaire’s coffee obsession was one of the most enthusiastic of the eighteenth century. Perhaps his extraordinary desire for coffee occurred because of what some people claimed were its extraordinary benefits. Many people reported that he drank an inordinate amount of coffee each day, yet despite his obvious overindulgence…

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Cashmere Shawls in the 1700 and 1800s

Cashmere shawls were first introduced in Europe around the late 1700s. Joan Hart, a textile expert of today, wrote: “The artist Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun first noted the shawls at a party in 1795 in St. Petersburg where she entertained her guests with “tableaux vivants” using cashmere shawls as props. … The shawls were already…

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Interesting Facts About Napoleon Bonaparte

There are many interesting facts about Napoleon Bonaparte. For instance, you may have heard that his favorite card game was ving-et-un (twenty-one), the forerunner to blackjack, and that he liked the game “because it afforded him an opportunity of cheating.”[1] But Napoleon did not cheat to win money because according to Louis Antoine Fauvelet de…

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More Interesting Facts About Madame Tussaud the Wax Sculptor

Madame Tussaud, the wax sculptor, was christened in Strasbourg, France on 1 December of 1761 as Anne-Marie Grosholtz. To differentiate her from her mother who had the same name, the young Anne-Marie was called Marie, and her mother served as a housekeeper to a doctor named Philippe Mathé Curtius. He began to create anatomical wax…

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