The future King Louis VXII was born on 27 March 1785, the second son of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, and named Louis-Charles. When his older brother, Louis Joseph, died of tuberculosis on 4 June 1789 when he was only seven years old, the four year old Louis Charles became the… Read more The Tragic Death of King Louis XVII and the Effect on Jane Austen’s Work
March 25 is one of the quarter days that once marked the English year, called Lady Day (Our Lady’s Day) after the Virgin Mary. It was a very important in the Middle Ages, and was considered New Year’s Day for centuries (although New Year’s presents were typically given on the 1st of January, that was… Read more Happy New Year, AKA Lady Day, AKA 25 March!
Queen Elizabeth I was a charismatic leader who inspired a cult around her virgin status and continues to fascinate historians and history buffs to the the present day. She was often associated with the virginal Roman goddess of the moon and hunting, Diana, and was often called Cynthia in prose and poetry because it was… Read more Moonset: The Death of Cynthia
Empress Catherine II of Russia didn’t earn the title of “the Great” by being a sweetie. She was, like almost all successful rulers, capable of playing hardball and cagey about maintaining her power. She was determined to make Russia a world power, and force Europe to give it the respect she believed it deserved. Catherine… Read more The Death of Catherine the Great’s Heir, on 23 March 1801
Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, the future King of Prussia and first German Emperor, was born on 22 March 1797 in Berlin to Prince Frederick William and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Wilhelm was a second son, and was steered toward a career in the military since he wasn’t expected to inherit the Prussian throne. The young Wilhelm took… Read more King Wilhelm I of Prussia, First Ruler of a Unified Germany
Most people have heard of Byron, Coleridge, and Wordsworth … but the now lesser-known Robert Southey used to be among them as England’s foremost poets. Southey died on 21 March 1843, which brought him to mind today. During his life he was one of the most influential writers of the Regency period, and was Poet… Read more Robert Southey, Poet Laureate 1813-1843
Les Cent-Jours (The Hundred Days) began on 20 March 1815 when Napoleon returned to Paris at the head of a grass-roots army comprised of soldiers (including the theoretically royalist 5th Infantry Regiment at Grenoble) who had joined him as he came overland through the Alps (now known as the Route Napoléon) and through France after… Read more The Hundred Days of Napoleon
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, judicially murdered his own brother, Thomas Seymour, in the name of their nephew King Edward VI on 20 March 1549. Why do something so vile as to kill a sibling? For power, nothing more. As I explain in my book, Edward VI in a Nutshell: The third surviving Seymour… Read more The Death of Thomas Seymour
Eliza Hancock was Jane Austen’s cousin and future sister-in-law, and many speculate she was also the model for some of Austen’s most vivacious characters, including my perpetual favorite — Mary Crawford. If so, it seems to indicate that Austen both loved her cousin and was also jealous of the attention the sparkling Eliza could command… Read more Was Eliza Hancock the Model for Mary Crawford?
The sheela-na-gig, once seen, are hard to forget. These carvings can be found on medieval churches and buildings across Northern Europe, but more frequently in the British Isles and in the greatest numbers in Ireland. A popular hypothesis is that sheela na gigs represent a pagan goddess, but academics believe the situation was more complex,… Read more Sheela-na-gig and Cultural Function