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
Captain Corbet James D’Auvergne could lay claim to knowing Jane Austen. The authoress mentions him in two letters to her sister Cassandra. Read more about Captain D’Auvergne connection to Jane Austen, and his achievements as Acting Governor of a tiny island in the North Sea called Heligoland.
After a ball at the Dolphin Hotel in Southampton in December 1808, Jane Austen – proficient as ever in summing up a gentleman’s potential as a spouse – noted that Corbet James D’Auvergne was both a captain in the Royal Navy and a ship owner. The remark might have been a joke about husband-hunting, but the Captain was indeed a good catch for a lady looking for hero-material in her husband. Besides, he was still single. Any lady furthering her acquaintance with him should know, however, that he had his hands in large-scale smuggling.
For persons interested in small arms, the 18th century has much to offer. Small arms were common in the army, but also in the everyday life of the rich, be it for sports, hunting or self-defence. Thus, gun-makers produced fascinating pieces for their clients. Find here three unusual small arms with interesting features. Continue reading
On 25th September 1799, shortly before 5 o’clock in the morning, the Wickhams woke up by the sound of guns. Were the French marching against Zurich again? William Wickham (1761 – 1840), England’s leading spy on the Continent, placed his wife Eleonore (1763-1836) under the care of his private secretary, the Count of St. George. He himself rode out reconnoitring the situation. Continue reading
Imagine it is 1793 and you are a member of the Board of Ordnance in London. Your country faces war with Revolutionary France. There is an army, of course, but the number of muskets in stock is deplorable. It is the task of the Board to equip both the army and the navy with small arms and ammunition. Are you up to the challenge? Continue reading
The uniform dress for the army became the norm in the mid-17th century. Styles and decoration depended on status and image of the troop, and the wearer of the uniform. In contrast to today’s camouflage, uniforms of the 18th and 19th centuries displayed bright and contrasting colours. The idea was to make it easier to distinguish units in battle, and to enable commanders to spot their troops on battlefields that often were obscured by smoke from cannons.
Uniforms for lower ranks
In the 18th century, uniforms for the lower ranks were often mass-produced. Uniforms usually had standard sizes and designs to make it easier to replace them on campaign. In Britain, troops were equipped with new uniforms once a year.
from left to right: infantry soldier (France, 1780); 95th rifles uniform (British, Peninsular Wars era)
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a man in regimentals strongly appeals to the fair sex. When he is also famous, his favour with the ladies rises. However, it is his income that makes him a desirable husband, as the novels of Jane Austen point out.
How would national icon Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, have fared on the marriage market? Was he as sought after as Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy – or even more popular? Find out here – and don’t miss the video at the end of the post!
Our modern world was born in the 18th century. Numerous inventions, ideas and concepts developed during the Romantic Age can still be found in our everyday life. In the previous part of this series I had presented roller skates, the steel pen and the financial instrument ‘pfandbrief’ as brainchildren of the 18th century. Today, we discover how a chef and a baronet shaped our world. Continue reading
On board the HMS Victory
On 21th October we commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar. On this day in 1805, the British fleet defeated the French and Spanish allies west of Cape Trafalgar. 50,000 men were involved in the fighting. 5,000 of them died, among them the commander of the British fleet, Admiral Horatio Nelson. The victory confirmed Britain’s role as “ruler of the waves” and put a stop to Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain.
Being a Regency Enthusiast, you certainly know a lot about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. But did you also know these 10 facts about the battle and the private life of its hero, Horatio Nelson? Continue reading
Mont Orgueil Castle on the Isle of Jersey (photo by Lady Dorothy)
In this post:
– Working as an agent in the 18th century: Tasks and Methods
– Deadly Dangers
– A Thorn in Napoleon’s Side
Angelique Le Tourneur was a spy. She looked like an ordinary fisherwoman, and her little boat sailing from village to village along the French coast was loaded with fish. But Angelique belonged to a network of spies that was operated from the Isle of Jersey for 18 years.