Friday, October 23, 2015

Top Five CRAZIEST Facts I learned while researching for Historical Romances

1.       Female duelists

Apparently not as uncommon as one might think. I did quite a bit of research on this when I wrote Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure. One of the most notable accounts, is probably the incident where Princess Pauline Metternich and the Countess Kielmannsegg came to arms because of a disagreement regarding a floral arrangement. This duel achieved particular notoriety because both ladies fought topless due to the danger of minor wounds turning septic as a result of fabric being driven into the wounds with the point of the sword.

Artistic rendering of Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone dueling. The event took place after Mrs. Elphinstone accused Lady Almeria Braddock of lying about her age. You can read the reputed dialogue between them here - it's quite amusing.

2.       Women could be sold at market by their husbands

Turns out that during the Regency period, a husband who wanted to be rid of his wife, could in fact lead her to market and officially sell her. Oftentimes, the wife would be in agreement, but due to the high expense/scandal of divorce, a transaction of this nature was a much cheaper and simpler option, though there were many people who disapproved.

A contemporary French print of an English wife sale. The scene is set at a cattle market, which places it in the context of livestock sales and implies that the wife already has a lover, as the husband is shown apparently "wearing horns", a traditional symbol that he has been cuckolded. - From Wikipedia

3.       Men wore unmentionables but women wore…nothing

I pretty much knew this after all the fashion history classes I took in college, but I didn’t realize that few women prior to the Victorian era had a solution to ‘that time of the month’. Menstruation belts were worn after 1800, but many women, especially those from the lower classes, would just refrain from leaving the house.

4.       The flush toilet was an Elizabethan invention.

I’ve always thought that flushing toilets were invented during the Victorian era by George Jennings and somewhat later by Thomas Crapper, but apparently that’s not the case. The very first flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596, a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I's court.

5.       Hang him!

When we read Regency romances, the fairy-tale setting and plot distract from the more unpleasant aspects of that day and age. In fact, I don’t recall ever reading a romance novel in which a public hanging was mentioned, and yet they continued to take place until 1868 when Michael Barrett was hanged for his part in the Clerkenwell bombing.

Originally posted on FOREVER BOOK LOVER, April 30th 2015

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