A Writer’s Travel Guide: Encounters with Japan and the Kingdom of Ryukyu

Before reading this post, please note that The Writer’s Travel Guide does not recommend travelling to Japan in the long 18th century. In all likelihood, you will not be allowed to enter the country. If you try anyway, you are committing a capital offence.
Having read this, you are still determined to give it a try? – excellent! You are of one mind with three British captains who each had an individual adventure with an island kingdom barring itself from foreign influences. And you might also find out that not all encounters have to be riddled with conflicts. Continue reading

If the Irish Code Duello of 1777 didn’t exist, which rules guided the handling of a duel in the late 18th Century?

In Europe, duels were common from the Renaissance on among aristocrats and military men. While duels were usually fought with swords in the first part of the 18th century, pistols became popular in Britain from around the 1770ies, superseding swords as a weapon. Duelling was illegal, and killing a man in duel was considered murder. Nevertheless, duelling was commonly associated with notions of chivalry and a code of honour.

A code of honour defined rules for issuing a challenge as well as rules of engagement on the duelling ground. It regulated the conduct of seconds, and also specified which conduct would be considered dishonourable. Which rules guided duellist in the late 18th century and early 19th century? Continue reading

Travelling in the 18th century? Don’t forget your passport!

The concept of the passport is thousands of years old. King Henry V of England is credited with having invented what can be considered the first passport in the modern sense. These letters of “safe conduct” were first written in Latin and English. In 1772, the government decided to use French, the international language of high finance and diplomacy. This didn’t change until 1858. Thus, Britain’s passports were issued in French even when Britain fought Napoleon.

What did the document look like?

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Tartan! Steam! Photography! 1822 brings about change

In 1822, Britain leaves the recession of the post-war period. The Napoleonic Wars had cost the nation an estimated £83 billion in modern terms – it is the most expensive war so far. The country’s debt is almost 200% of its GDP in 1822; this, however, is already better than in 1819, when the debt peaked at around 260 percent of the GDP.
Government deficits are financed either by short‐term Exchequer Bills, or by long‐term financing as perpetual bonds, with annual interest rates about 5, respectively 3, percent. This system of financing brings important benefits: With the return of peace, their prices would rise, adding to the bondholders’ wealth in this way. This money then provides much of the finance underpinning for the “take‐off ”-stage of the Industrial Revolution.
Economic grows begins to pick up pace. The general price level falls. Additionally, reforms for free trade start. Britain sees some prosperity.
Find out more about innovations, fashion, celebrities, and social news of this exiting year in England. Continue reading

Read like it’s 1822: 12 books that hit the book market 200 years ago

1822 is a good year for readers! Many great authors are back with their latest novels. Even better: juicy scandals add extra spice to some publishing days.

Check out my list of popular fiction and non-fiction releases. I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1822! Continue reading

Love against all rules

James Ogilvy, 7th Earl of Findlater, had two passions – one was for landscape architecture, the other was for men. Circumstances to enjoy these passions were far from ideal: practising same-sex love in Britain in the 18th century was considered a crime punishable by death. Thus, James decided to leave Britain for good in 1791. As a consequence, he had to give his estates in the care of a trusty, and with it all possibilities of putting his architectural talents into action – or so it seemed.
James spent the 1790s travelling on the Continent. His unsteady life took an unexpected turn when he met a certain Johann Fischer in the year 1800.

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Behind a great dessert there has to be a great woman

Recent research shook food historians and the community of 18th-century enthusiasts alike: The beloved British dessert, Apple Charlotte, was not invented by the famous chef Marie-Antoine Carême! Credit for the sweet creation made of apples, white bread, butter, and sugar was given to a certain John Mollard. – But who was he?
Mr. Mollard was a leading chef and had run a number of prestigious restaurants catering to high-quality customers in the period from the 1780s to 1830. However, it is doubtful that he did indeed invent the Apple Charlotte.

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