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Showing posts from August, 2020

Caroline of Brunswick: England's "Injured Queen"

1804 portrait of Caroline, Princess of Wales August can be an unlucky month for European royalty, and that was especially true during the Regency. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena in August of 1815. And in August of 1821 Caroline of Brunswick, the unacknowledged Queen of England, died a lonely death in London just three weeks after her estranged husband, the erstwhile “Prinny” or Prince Regent, was crowned King George lV. 1795 portrait of Caroline An arranged marriage  Caroline was unlucky throughout her life. Growing up in the German province of Brunswick, she was kept secluded by her family. They were especially determined to keep her away from the opposite sex.  Her companions were mostly elderly females and governesses. She was sent to her room when guests came over and usually couldn't go to court functions or balls. And when she was permitted to attend a ball, she wasn't allowed to dance.  She had even less luck in her married life. Caroline’s husband, chosen for her, wa

Napoleon's last cruise

  On deck looking towards St. Helena (photo by Andrew Neaum, CC BY-SA 3.0) In this strange pandemic year, most summer cruises have been canceled. But during another summer 205 years ago it was a different story for at least one man.  That August the former Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, set out unwillingly on a special cruise, designed just for him. His ship was no luxury liner; it was more like a prison transport, taking him to his final place of exile.   Consequences of Waterloo I doubt Napoleon knew he’d wind up in St. Helena after the British coalition of armies led by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army commanded by Field Marshal von Blücher decisively defeated the French forces at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. But Napoleon probably suspected that his glorious career as a general and an emperor had run its course. St. Helena, circled in red, on a map Napoleon’s first stop after his defeat was Paris. There he methodically prepared for the next phase of

Party at Pemberley

  The exterior of Lyme Park doubled as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC version of  Pride and Prejudice . (Wikimedia Commons; photo by Mike Peel, CC-BY-SA-4.0) I’ve noticed that Jane Austen doesn’t go into a lot of details about food in her novels. But there’s one meal in Pride and Prejudice that’s described in some detail: the refreshments Mr. Darcy serves Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt when they pay a social visit to Pemberley.  By this point in the story, Elizabeth has roundly rejected Darcy’s awkward and rather insulting proposal of marriage. But Elizabeth’s hard feelings towards Darcy begin to melt when she sees him in his natural surroundings at Pemberley, his impressive country home.  Austen describes the informal meal like this: “The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss