Saturday, March 31, 2012

17th Century Garden Design for Women

by Deborah Swift



William Lawson is credited with making gardening popular for women, with his book, A New Orchard and Garden which was printed together with the first horticultural book written solely for women, The Country Housewife's Garden. Beautifully illustrated with charming woodcuts, it tells the 17th century woman everything she needs to know to have a productive and visually attractive garden.

The concept of a "pretty" garden would have been an anathema to most women of the 17th century, as gardens were primarily about producing food and herbs, unless you were very wealthy, in which case the gardening was left to your servants. The 17-century  author of The English Housewife, Gervase Markham, claimed the “complete woman” had
“skill in physic, surgery, cookery, extraction of oils, banqueting stuff, ordering of great feasts, preserving of all sorts of wines…distillations, perfumes, ordering of wool, hemp and flax: making cloth and dying; the knowledge of dairies: office of malting; of oats…of brewing, baking, and all other things belonging to a household.” 

Guess that did not leave much time for planting pretty flowers!

Because kitchen gardens were about supplying the table, and as much ground as possible was covered with edible plants, every garden was different, planted according to the whims of the women of the household. William Lawson's book for the country housewife was designed to be read in conjunction with his New Orchard and Garden, thus giving women access to the idea of garden design, in print, for the very first time.

William Lawson lived from 1553 to1635 and was the vicar of Ormesby, a country parish in Yorkshire. No doubt his gardening passion led him to be so long-lived for an age where most people did not reach fifty. Gardening was a national passion in the 16th and 17th centuries, as more species came from abroad, and an interest in subjects concentrating on the useful qualities and medical virtues of plants became popular.

But the war against garden pests was just as hard then as now - he calls them  the 'whole Army of mischiefs' and says that 'Good things have most enemies' . The enemies in his Yorkshire Garden were apparently deer and moles.

Lawson's garden plan included long walkways, a maze, and even a bowling alley.The illustration below depicts the overall plan.


Its rectangular shape is split into six  sections  over three  terraces, with flights of stairs and paths to go from one to the other. Its design demonstrates the vogue in the 16th and 17th century for symmetry and patterns. In the top left square he planned to have topiary, signified by the man with the sword and a horse. A river runs at the top and bottom of the garden where he says 'you might sit in your mount and angle a peckled trout, sleighty eel or some other daintie fish'.



In The Lady's Slipper, Alice Ibbetson is an obsessive gardener - a pioneer if you like, testing out the knowledge handed down from her father who was a plantsman much like William Lawson. She finds relaxation in communing with nature. Her maid, Ella, featured in The Gilded Lily, would try to avoid garden work if at all possible. Her sights are set on becoming a fine lady, just like Alice Ibbetson, and leaving manual labour behind for good.

More information from my blogs
www.deborahswift.blogspot.com
www.royaltyfreefictionary.blogspot.com


Thanks for reading!

Child’s Play ...or is it?

Political meaning in 18th Century nursery rhymes (part one)

by LUCINDA BRANT


Nursery Rhymes are the first poems and songs children learn, generally before they go to school. They help broaden vocabulary, with learning to count, and to sharpen memory. They are nonsense and hold no more meaning than what is intended within the rhyme. Nonsense? That’s all well and good for children to believe, but we adults know better, don’t we? Or do you?

Of course they are not meaningless, nor are they nonsense (not if you are the intended target). In this post I’ll focus on three nursery rhymes from the Georgian era: Humpty Dumpty, The Grand Old Duke of York, and my all-time favorite Who Killed Cock Robin?


Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses, And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!


There are several theories as to the origin of Humpty Dumpty and from my research the most popular is that Humpty Dumpty was a large canon used during the Civil War to defend the town of Colchester. A walled town with a castle and several churches, it was a Royalist stronghold. The Parliamentarians (Roundheads) aimed at the wall on which Humpty Dumpty sat and caused the Royalist cannon to fall and eventually the Royalists were beaten. The Siege of Colchester lasted for 11 weeks 13 Jun 1648–27 Aug 1648.

However, the rhyme wasn’t published until 1810 in Gammar Gurton’s Garland, where there is no mention of the King’s men or his horses:

Humpty Dumpty sate [sic] on a wall,
Humpti Dumpti [sic] had a great fall;
Threescore men and threescore more,
Cannot place Humpty dumpty as he was before.


This first published version leads to the more obscure theory (I can’t find a reference anywhere, and I would like to claim it as my own but alas I think one of my history teachers told me) that Humpty Dumpty is not a canon at all but a specific person. I believe it refers to King George the Third and that the rhyme is about his mental illness.


Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall—this makes him higher than anyone else, alluding to his kingly status. There was no one higher in England’s Georgian society than the King. He has a great fall—George the Third had several bouts of mental illness. Threescore men and threescore more —that’s 120 men! This suggests that it made no difference to the King’s condition how many men were called to attend on him, they cannot place Humpty as he was before—the King’s mental illness cannot be cured and thus he can no longer rule as king.

Life will never be the same again, for King George or his subjects. As a consequence of the King’s mental illness, the Prince of Wales becomes Prince Regent. The date of the rhyme’s first publication, 1810, is significant, and perhaps no mere coincidence, because this was the year the Regency was established and the Prince of Wales became Prince Regent.

George the Third was not the only one in his family to be represented in a Nursery Rhyme. His second son, Prince Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany was also the subject of a rhyme that satirized his abilities as a military field commander.


The Grand old Duke of York

The Grand old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down.


Of course there are those who contend that it is not Frederick the Nursery Rhyme is about but another old Duke of York, Richard, claimant to the English throne and Protector of England during the Wars of the Roses, and the battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460. Richard marched his army to his castle at Sandal, built on top of the site of an old Norman motte and bailey fortress. Its massive earthworks stood 33 feet (10m) above the original ground level, and so he marched them [his soldiers] up to the top of the hill. Then, in what many scholars believe to be a moment of madness, he left his stronghold in the castle and went down to make a direct attack on the Lancastrians and so he marched them [his soldiers] down again. Richard’s army was overwhelmed and he was killed.


The theory I prefer involves Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second and favorite son of King George III and Commander-in-Chief of the British Military throughout the Napoleonic Wars. The Grand old Duke of York is said to refer to his fighting in Flanders in 1793. The Duke won a cavalry conquest at Beaumont in the April of 1794 and then was roundly defeated at Turcoing in May and recalled to England. The "hill" in the rhyme is the township of Cassel, built on a mount that rises 176 meters (about 570 feet) over the otherwise level lands of Flanders in northern France. Though he was a bad field commander, Frederick was a competent military organizer who raised the professional level of the army, playing a significant behind-the-scenes role in the Duke of Wellington's victories in the Peninsular War. The Grand old Duke of York also founded Sandhurst College.


Who killed Cock Robin?


And finally there is my all-time favorite nursery rhyme: Who Killed Cock Robin? There is no mystery here, no rhyming for the sake of it as with other children’s rhymes we would recite without really knowing what they were about. The sparrow confesses at once, and those animals gathered around poor dead Robin, offer in one way or another to help with his burial. There are versions of Who Killed Cock Robin? in German and Norwegian, and some scholars suggest that the poem is a parody on the death of William Rufus, who was killed by an arrow in the New Forest (Hampshire) in 1100. (4)

The earliest written record for this rhyme is in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, which was published c.1744, with only the first four verses being printed. Speculation is that 'Cock Robin' refers to the political downfall of Sir Robert Walpole, Robin being a diminutive of Robert. Walpole was First Lord of the Treasury and England’s first Prime Minister and his government was toppled in 1742. Walpole had many enemies and Who Killed Cock Robin? was a taunt to his downfall.


The extended edition wasn’t printed until 1770 and it’s this extension of the poem that has lead to speculation that Who Killed Cock Robin? in its entirety was written to inform the eighteenth century child as to what occurs after someone dies, so that they are familiar with the burial process. After all, at this time, most burials occurred at night when most people, particularly children, were in their beds so that there was no fear of the spread of disease as the body was transported to the graveyard.

"Who killed Cock Robin?"
"I," said the Sparrow, "With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?"
"I," said the Fly, "With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?"
"I," said the Fish, "With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?"
"I," said the Beetle, "With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?"
"I," said the Owl, "With my little trowel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?"
"I," said the Rook, "With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?"
"I," said the Lark, "If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?"
"I," said the Linnet, "I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?"
"I," said the Dove, "I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?"
"I," said the Kite, "If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall?
"We," said the Wren, "Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?"
"I," said the Thrush, "As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?"
"I," said the bull, "Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.

And on that cheerful note, I’ll be uncovering the meaning behind a few more favorite Nursery Rhymes in my next post but until then, next time you recite a Nursery Rhyme, look for the hidden meaning!


Bibliography

Alchin, L.K. Rhymes.org.uk (Nursery Rhymes lyrics and Origins) Retrieved March 2012 from www.rhymes.org.uk Harrowven, J. The origins of rhymes, songs and sayings (Kaye & Ward, 1977), p. 92.

Cock Robin

The Grand Old Duke of York

The Real Meaning of Nursery Rhymes

Smith, A. Grand Old Duke: The greatest scandal never told, The Independent



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elegant Extracts: Nifty News is Made!

By Lady A~, Authoress of 'The Bath Novels of Lady A~'


It has been conjectured that the tabloid craze we know today was begun in the English Regency. Cartoon satirists had a field day, razoring into the Monarchy and politicians alike. Salacious, tasty, tacky & terrible tidbits were a driving force behind rampant reader interest and, as the following excerpts from papers dating from as early as 1802 reveal, it seems nifty news was always hot gossip!

{{PD-US}}

"A woman at Hopkin's town, in America, lately cut her husband's throat with a razor, while he lay asleep, and then alarmed the neighbourhood, asserting that he had committed the horrid act himself. Surgical assistance was procured, and the wound sewed up; the man obtaining little strength, declared, in the most solemn manner, that it was his wife who did it. She was committed to prison, and since acknowledged, that an attachment she formed for another man, induced her to kill her husband, in order to marry her lover."

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"A discovery was made in Lincoln-Inn, on Saturday night, which is likely to excite much attention in Westminster-Hall. A Lady of distinction, it seems, either forgetting herself, or her way home, strayed with a Learned Gentleman into his Chambers, and did not become sensible of her mistake till three o'clock on Sunday morning!" (Bravo!)



"A London paper of last week has informed the public that a loaded pistol was fired inadvertently against a young woman, in Manchester; the ball struck against her breast, but having a silk handkerchief on, it did no other injury than producing a violent contusion. Since this, the experiment has been tried on a dog, it is added, covered with a silk handkerchief, near Liverpool, and without any other effect than bruising that part which the ball struck. This is a new and wonderful quality of silk handkerchiefs, and most certainly will enhance their value greatly with those who have any faith in the experiment." (I'm not sure the hound would con-cur!)



"At Clerkenwell Sessions, on Monday last, Joseph Naples was indicted for stealing dead bodies from the Spa Fields burial ground, of which ground the prisoner was the grave digger; and also for stealing the caps, pillows, shrouds, nails, screws, and coffin-plates belonging thereto, and the coffins wherein they had been buried." (A most comprehensive pilferer!)



"The following singular occurrence lately took place at Harrowgate. A servant had been riding a small stallion poney [sic], the property of a physician at Manchester, and on alighting, slackly retained the rein while he stood with his back towards him. The poney directly seized the man, threw him to the ground, knelt on him, and in the most vengeful manner, worried him to death. The mangled corpse was rescued with difficulty by the devouring beast."

{{PD-US}}


"The company at Ramsgate are now enjoying a new species of entertainment. A young lady exhibits her expertness in swimming, and great numbers of persons resort to the shore to witness her manoevures. She dives, floats, and ducks and produces her fair form in such a variety of attitudes, as cannot fail to astonish the wondering spectators of both sexes." (Heyday, no bathing machine!)



"The French are making the greatest and most unremitting exertions to seduce our manufacturers and artificers over to France, and we are afraid that in many instances they have been successful. They are also anxious to procure models of machinery; we therefore hope that the greatest vigilance will be used at the different ports to put a stop to a practice, the consequences of which may be so destructive." (For shame! Outsourcing--even then.)

"A family were this week robbed of all their wearing and household linen by a girl, who pretending to have come from the washerwoman, who she said wanted to soap-in a night earlier than usual, obtained the whole wash. The appearance of the real laundress at her usual hour discovered the fraud. The same attempt was made the same evening at a lady's house in the Vineyards, but without effect."



"A fine little boy, one day this week, being left alone in a house in Bristol Road, by some means caught his clothes on fire; his shrieks alarmed the neighbours, and the poor little innocent was dreadfully burnt; but being immediately conveyed to that noble institution the Casualty Hospital, and immediate and proper remedies resorted to, we are happy to hear he is now in a fair way to recovery. Parents are often highly reprehensible and deserve severe punishment for their negligent conduct, after the many awful warnings we have given them, in this idly leaving children exposed to the danger of being burnt to death."

"LOST on Tuesday the 12th inst. A BROWN TERRIER DOG about 3 months old. Whoever will bring him to No 4 Chapel Row, Queen Square will receive ONE GUINEA reward. Whoever detains him after this notice will be prosecuted." (A fine reward by half!)



"Whereas a Report having been circulated by me, tending to injure the character of Abednego Foster, of the Parish of Newton St Loe, Mason, and for which he has threatened to prosecute an action of law against me, but in consideration of me making a public acknowledgement, he has consented to drop all proceedings against me. Now I do hereby acknowledge the said report to be totally false and malicious, and humbly ask pardon for the same - As witness by my hand.
The mark of Hannah Hewitt
Witness Simon Minty" (Well confessed in contrition H.H.!)

& to close, a most painful petition...

"To the Affluent and Humane is most humbly submitted the Case of BETTY SUMSION, No 10. Princes-Street, Queen Square, a Widow with five children, two unable to get their bread, who from sickness, is reduced to the utmost distress, and in hourly danger of losing her few remaining necessaries in distress for rent. She therefore earnestly implores Assistance from the Charitable and Humane. The smallest Donations will be thankfully received at any of the Libraries, at the Pump Room, and by Mr Cromwell. She returns her grateful thanks to those Ladies and Gentlemen who have already contributed to her assistance."

{{PD-US}}

Imagery courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Extracts taken from papers between 1802-1803, as variously compiled by Judy Boyd of Jane Austen's Regency World.

Wry remarks in parenthesis: Lady A~
, authoress of TBNLA's Merits and Mercenaries

Purchase & Possess Merits and Mercenaries

Follow our tidings & tattle of frothy facts & fiction upon 'Ye Bath Corner Blogge'! Now debuting in a Georgian nook near you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The West Africa Squadron

by Tess St. John

When I began working on my second historical novel, CHANCE FOR FREEDOM, I wanted my naval officer hero to do something noble. In doing research, I found a quite honorable group of men who were a part of The West Africa Squadron--a part of the Royal Navy used for shutting down the slave trade routes on the seas.

Tall Ship Rigging

A noble and right cause, but as I learned, what the squadron faced was an immensely difficult task. It would take decades to stop the slave trading.

The squadron was put together after the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was implemented by British Parliament. The British didn't actively slave-trade at the time, but illegal traders continued to smuggle enslaved people to the British West Indies. The slave ships would leave Britain (London, Liverpool, Bristol) for West Africa with cloth, guns, and other goods. On the African coast, these goods would be traded for men, women, and children either captured by slave traders or purchased from African chiefs. (While doing my research, I was dumbfounded to learn that some of the people enslaved were prisoners of war. In Africa there was so much turmoil and strife between tribes, they were constantly at war. The tribes would sell their POWs to European slave-traders.)

Ships would sail up and down the coast trading their wares for slaves until their ships were full. (Conditions on the slave boats were dire with many dying.) Then they would sail to the West Indies where the slaves were auctioned. With the money made from the auctions, the slave-traders would purchase sugar, coffee, and tobacco to bring back to Britain to sell.

Commodore Sir George Ralph Collier was the first officer to run The West Africa Squadron. He was given orders to use any means to prevent the continuance of trafficking slaves. But he was only given six ships to patrol over 3,000 miles of the West African Coast--a near impossible task.

Sunrise

In 1819 the Royal Navy captured a slave trading post and turned it into the first British colony in West Africa, which later became known as Sierra Leone. Many of the rescued slaves settled in the town, free from the fear of being enslaved again.

If the squadron intercepted and captured a ship that had slaves aboard, the ship owners were penalized by a fine and their ship captured. This caused many of the slavers to throw slaves overboard when they were in fear of being captured. (When I read this, my heart absolutely broke. My hero will have to save some of these, if only he could have back then.)

The sailors aboard the naval ships had a hard life. Not only were the days long and tedious, like looking for a needle in a haystack, their health was at great risk too. The deaths from malaria and yellow fever were high among the men.

The squadron was a huge financial undertaking for the British government. (But I think we'll all agree, a noble cause indeed.)

Between 1808 and 1860 The West Africa Squadron captured 1600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans. And although my book is not about slavery, I hope when it is finished I have given respect to the men who helped stop such a heinous crime on humanity.

You can learn more at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolitionm
The Abolition Project http://abolition.e2bn.org
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition

You can find out more about Tess and her books at www.tessstjohn.com

Giveaway! The Companion of Lady Holmeshire

This week's giveaway is The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, by Debra Brown. To read about the book, please visit HERE. You will be prompted to return to this post to enter the drawing by commenting below. Please be sure to leave your contact information!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Elizabethan Gardening Craze

by M.M. Bennetts


We tend to associate the Tudors with lots of things--most of them of the bloody, messy, power-struggle variety. Which is not necessarily an inaccurate picture. But it's only a fragment of the tapestry that was 16th century England.

Because what we don't necessarily consider when thinking about the Tudors is that they--for all their many wives and/or courtiers falling in and out of favour--gave England something it had not had for centuries: domestic peace and tranquillity.

Yes, there were the uprisings against Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, and there was Northumberland's attempt to seize power and the crown with an army (which famously melted away) from Mary...but for the most part the country was rebellion-free and troop-free. And this long period of peace gave rise to all sorts of growth.

There were fewer than 3 million people living in England in 1500. But that figure had nearly doubled by 1650, to 5.25 million.

Then too, in 1520, the Church owned roughly 1/6 of the kingdom. By 1558 when Elizabeth ascended the throne--roughly twenty years after the Dissolution of the Monasteries--3/4 of that land had been sold off, primarily into the hands of the gentry and increasingly monied middle class. And this substantial change in land ownership brought with it equally substantial shifts in political, cultural and economic power within the kingdom.

Translated into plain English, there was now a land-owning gentry and burgeoning middle class who found themselves able to spend more of their resources on pleasures and comforts, rather than on self-defence and necessities as they previously would have done.

So rather than the conversation between husband and wife that went something like, "I see York is getting resty. I think we really should build another defensive tower and a moat..." the conversation now could go something like, "Hmn, I fancy having a garden over on the south side of the house. With a rose pergola. What about you?"

And this shift in attitude was most particularly true of the second half of the century, during the reign of Elizabeth I.

For just as this forty-five year period of domestic tranquillity saw a flowering of the arts, of music and literature, so too, gardening. And it wasn't just gardening for the aristocratic few. For in this latter half of the 16th century the English really came into their own as gardeners and plant collectors. It was, without question, the first English gardening craze. (It's been going on ever since.)

They had the disposable income, they had the time, they weren't worried about marauding armies, they had the estates, and their international trade and exploration was bringing back seeds and cuttings from the farthest reaches of the globe, daily expanding the already wide variety of plants available.

And within this culture of burgeoning energy and self-confidence, the garden becomes a symbol of the nation's flowering under Elizabeth's stewardship. Flowers were everywhere in her reign. They were her symbols.
And this was the time too that the garden began to take on a distinctly modern flavour.

Whereas initially, most gardens and plant collecting had been directed toward the herbal and medicinal arts, now flowers were valued for pleasure's sake alone--for their intrinsic beauty, for their scents, for their rarity...and the pleasure garden became an element of Elizabethan status.

Always the gardens of the period were walled or enclosed in some way--by walls, hedges, fences or even moats--and generally built off the house, often accessible only from the family's main room or parlour.

Enclosing the space ensured a measure of protection from wild animals (hungry deer) or thieves, but it also protected the plants from prevailing winds and provide a warmer microclimate. Then too, in plans of Elizabethan manor houses, one will occasionally find several unconnected walled gardens leading off from the different rooms in the house--some for pleasure, others for the medicinal herbs or vegetables, still others with their walls covered in espaliered apples, figs and pear...

Also, Elizabethan gardens were always laid out formally, geometrically designed and as often as not symmetrically, with knot gardens being the most common feature of the late 16th century garden. Indeed, one could rightly call the knot garden a very English passion. (They were little known in France or Italy.)

Knots (yes, the name is taken from the knots one makes with string or rope) were made up of square or rectangular patterns created by the use of one of more different types of plant, usually clipped box or santolina. The lines of the knot were interlaced so that they appeared to weave in and out of each other, with greater or lesser complexity. Often, the beds were then filled with sand or grass or gravel of different colours to emphasise the overall pattern of the knot--especially when viewed from an overlooking window or gallery. Sometimes too the enclosed beds contained flowers--clove pinks were a favourite choice.

From the outset of this Elizabethan horticultural boom, London was the centre of taste and innovation. For as well as being the centre of all financial and economic activity, London's citizens had the education, knowledge and the European contacts to indulge in this growing demand for garden innovation and exotica. (Middle class London houses of the period had attached gardens.)

It was from London's nurserymen, and via their contacts in Vienna, Italy, France and the Netherlands, that the population ordered their seeds and cuttings. In 1604, if one wanted a pair of garden shears, one ordered them from London. The wealthy Banbury family traded in seeds and plants at Tothill Street in Westminster from probably 1550 to 1650...

And the newly discovered species continued to pour in from all over the globe. African marigolds from Mexico, apples and pear and apricot trees from France and the Netherlands. Clematis viticella from Italy. Oriental planes from Persia. By the 1570s, there were tulips, daffodils and hyacinths from Turkey--arriving via the circuitous route of Vienna and the Brabant. All of which expanded the already large variety of imported plants and seeds available: Madonna lilies, lupins, snowdrops, cyclamen, hollyhocks, lily of the valley, peonies, ranunculi, anemones, polyanthus...

The list was enormous and is quite unlike the monochromatic green palette to which we imagine Elizabethan gardeners were limited.

Yet perhaps the most surprising of the horticultural innovations of the period was the demand for fruit and vegetables--given that contemporary medicine was adamant in proclaiming that eating vegetables was dangerous and resulted in melancholia and bodily flatulence.

As early as the previous century, there had been those who'd praised the virtues of veg. But just as the list of available flowers grew yearly, so too did the list of vegetables available for cultivation--artichokes, cucumbers, lettuce, parsnip, endive, leek, cress, cabbage, rocket, turnips...

Fruit-growing too had long been popular and even the poorest in the land had had access to apples. For those with more money, figs, pears, plums and cherries were a regular part of the diet. But the gardeners of this period now consciously seek out better cultivars and a greater variety.

Sir John Thynne, when obsessing about his garden at Longleat, wrote to his steward to "send me word how my cherry stones, abrycocks, and plum stones that I brought out of France do grow." Equally, Sir Phillip Sidney ordered cherry and quince trees from Brabant for his orchard at Penshurst. Robert Cecil, the first Earl of Salisbury, (a passionate gardener and plant collector) sent John Tradescant the Elder to travel in the Netherlands and France to buy fruit trees for Hatfield.

(Interestingly too, it's here that one can see the Elizabethan concept of gender differentiation--the flower and kitchen gardens are the province of the women; the orchards are for men. John Tradescant the Elder was paid £50 per annum for the job of laying out the garden at Hatfield House; the Earl of Leicester paid his head gardener £20 per annum; yet weeders--who were always female--were paid threepence a day.)

Into this market of enthusiastic and energetic gardeners and plant-collectors, jobbing writer and journalist (and sometime astrologer) Thomas Hill launched the first gardening book ever written. Before his work, there had been herballs, yes. But they were nothing like The Gardener's Labyrinth, first published in 1577, which he wrote under the pseudonym of Didymus Mountaine.

For The Gardener's Labyrinth was the first practical hands-on how-to gardening manual, and every page is suffused with the infectious pleasure Hill obviously took in gardening himself. The book was a runaway best-seller and a new edition was published the following year, with four more editions published over the next 75 years.

And while Hill borrowed heavily (some might think annoyingly) from classical writers like Pliny, Palladius and Cato, and he cobbled together bits that he'd obviously garnered from other sources, and even though he often strayed into astrology or his theory that the germination of seeds is governed, like the tides, by the phases of the moon and his pest control remedies read like witches' brew. Still, at the same time, in his work, there is this genuine love of getting his hands into the soil, there are diagrams for laying out a knot, there's his advice on how to blanch vegetables, on keeping the beds well-dunged, advice on how to water, how to build a rose arch or how to lay a fast-growing rosemary hedge, how to ensure a regular supply of fresh herbs, all of which still hold true today...

And all of it was written in this engaging conversational tone--quite unlike that used by his contemporaries--it's the voice of a practicing down-to-earth garden writer--a Geoff Hamilton, an Alan Titchmarsh or the much-missed Jim Wilson.

It was Hill too who summed up the gardening spirit of the age: "The life of man in this world is but thraldom, when the Sences are not pleased and what rarer object can there be on earth...than a beautifull and Odoriferous Garden plot Artificially composed, where he may read and contemplate on the wonderfull works of the great Creator, in Plants and Flowers; for if he observeth with a judicial eye, and serious judgement their variety of Colours, Sents, Beauty, Shapes, Interlacings, Enamilling, Mixture, Turnings, Windings, Embossments, Operations and Vertues, it is most admirable to behold and mediate upon the same."

~~~~~~~~~~~~
M.M. Bennetts is a specialist in early nineteenth-century British and European history, and the author of two historical novels set in the period - May 1812 and Of Honest Fame. Find out more at www.mmbennetts.com.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Amelia Stewart, Lady Castlereagh, the Marchioness of Londonderry

by Lauren Gilbert

Born February 20, 1772, Lady Amelia Anne Hobart was the daughter of John Hobart, second Earl of Buckinghamshire and his wife, Caroline Conolly. Amelia, who also became known as Emily, was the only surviving child of that marriage (her father was married previously, and remarried after Caroline’s death). Although her place of birth is not clear, it seems possible she was born at Blickling, in Norfolk. John Hobart was a nobleman, and had served in Parliament, as Ambassador to Russia and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Her mother’s father was the nephew and heir of William Conolly who was a wealthy Irish landowner and a Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Caroline’s mother was a daughter of the first Earl of Stafford, and her brother was married to a daughter of Charles Lennox, the second Duke of Richmond. It is clear to see that Amelia had connections to status, wealth, and political power on both sides of her family.

Amelia married Robert Stewart June 9, 1794 at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London. Robert made his debut in the English Parliament in 1795. Robert’s father became Marquise of Londonderry in 1796, giving Robert the honorary title of Viscount Castlereagh. At this point, Amelia became Lady Castlereagh. Subsequently his political career took off, and he held several offices, finally becoming Foreign Secretary in 1812. It is thought that Amelia’s election to the position of Lady Patroness of Almack’s occurred sometime after Lord Castlereagh became foreign secretary. As one of the Lady Patronesses, Amelia became known as a stickler for propriety, and is credited with establishing the rule that closed the doors of Almack’s at exactly 11:00 pm. Supposedly, she caused the Duke of Wellington to be turned away for arriving a few minutes after the hour. She is also credited with introducing a dance, the quadrille, to London. She was one of the older lady patronesses, and was described by Captain Gronow as tres grande dame. Her social and political assets made her very useful to her husband, making it possible for their home to be a meeting place for his political party.

Amelia accompanied Robert to the Congress at Vienna in 1814. They lived in a twenty-two-room suite in an elegant neighborhood, where they entertained lavishly. She apparently enjoyed Vienna a great deal. She was Robert’s hostess for many entertainments and lavish soirees. At one point, the Tsar of Russia, wanting to call on Lord Castlereagh (which would have been a breach of etiquette), officially visited Amelia herself, which allowed him access to Lord Castlereagh for a private conversation. Obviously, Amelia was a useful political hostess for her husband, who ultimately concluded the alliance with France and Austria in 1815.

Amelia and Robert were, by all accounts, a loving couple. Unfortunately, they had no children of their own. In 1821, Robert became the second Marquis of Londonderry. He was suffering a great deal from the strains of political life (having been thrust into huge responsibilities and several unpopular positions, knowing himself to be publically hated), which in turn led to significant health issues. Robert was suffering from mental as well as physical disorders and finally, despite the efforts of Amelia and others around him to protect him (including hiding his razors), he committed suicide at his home August 12, 1822. After an inquest determined that he had committed suicide while insane, Amelia was able to bury him in Westminster Abbey August 20, 1822. She died in London February 12, 1829, and was buried in the cloisers of the Abbey February 20, 1829.

Sources:

Gronow, Captain Rees Howell. THE REMINISCENCES OF CAPTAIN GRONOW. McLean, VA: IndyPublish.com.

King, David. VIENNA 1814 How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna. New York: Harmony Books, 2008.

The Jane Austen Center. The Patronesses of Almack's: The Arbiters of London Respectibility, by Laura Boyle. Posted 7/17/2011. http://www.janeausten.com.uk/ Viewed 2/29/2012

The Peerage.com. Lady Amelia Anne Hobart. http://thepeerage.com/p2833.htm Viewed 3/2/2012.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Stewart,_Viscountess_Castlereagh Viewed 3/2/2012.

Westminster Abbey.org. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/robert-stewart,-viscount-castlereagh Viewed 3/2/2012.

The Romantic Query Letter and The Happy-Ever-After. The Patronesses of Almack's. http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/2009/12/patronesses-of-almacks.html Viewed 3/2/2012.

NNDB. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. http://www.nndb.com/people/357/000095072/ Viewed 3/25/2012.


By Lauren Gilbert, author of HEYERWOOD: A Novel.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A (possible) page from the London Gazette: September 1331

by Anne O'Brien

Cheapside Drama

Queen in near-death disaster ...


Today at Cheapside, in the very centre of our fair of London, we expected to celebrate the birth, one year ago, of Edward of Woodstock, the heir to our illustrious King Edward III. Instead we witnessed a drama that could have had fatal results.

Noble Edward
It began with the magnificence of all our King’s celebrations. As we know, Edward enjoys every opportunity to put the royal family on display with extravagant feasts and dressing up. Who can forget his astonishing caperings as a gigantic golden bird to mark the feast of Twelfth Night? He is a master of festivities, warming our hearts with his energy. We wish him long life and every success in his campaigns to subdue the villainous French and bring our lands across the Channel back under our rightful dominion.

England’s Glory
The tournament to celebrate the magnificence of England and England’s King is planned to thrill us over four days. This morning King Edward and his knights, who were intending to participate in the lists and the melee, were arrayed as fierce Tartars from the wild steppes of Muscovy. Clad in sumptuous robes of velvet and damask, lined with rich fur, our brave lads led in procession the most noble and the most beautiful women of the realm, all tricked out in red velvet tunics and white hoods – His Majesty’s own colours. King Edward led his fair sister Eleanor in the procession.




Our Radiant Queen ...
It was planned for our Queen and her damsels, in regal splendour, to watch the display of knightly valour from a wooden gallery constructed for the occasion, all hung about with red and white silk, swagged in banners and pennons. The crowds cheered her and our noble King, as he saluted her in true chivalric manner, and then rode towards the lists. Queen Philippa looked radiant and smiled at her loyal subjects, before seating herself on golden cushions.

Disaster!
Hardly had Chester Herald blown the blast to summon all competitors than a harsh grinding of wood could be heard by all present. The hangings on the Queen’s gallery shivered, the banners dipped and swayed. Before our horrified eyes, without more warning, the whole construction collapsed in a cloud of dust and debris. The cries of the Queen’s damsels made our blood run cold. Knights and servants ran from all sides to rescue our dear Queen. King Edward was the first to be there at Philippa’s side, lifting the wood and canvas from her with his own hands.

The Nation’s Relief
We are delighted to be able to report that Queen Philippa is unharmed, although some of her ladies were seriously injured. The whole country should give thanks in special Masses for her happy restoration to health. King Edward was noticeably overcome at the prospect of his dear wife’s possible injury or even death. An eye-witness reported that he kissed and hugged her when she was capable of standing on her own feet. It was a tender moment and moved our hearts.

Edward’s Fury
Our King was justifiably furious at the shoddy workmanship that caused the gallery to collapse, and demanded to know the workmen involved. His anger was terrible to see. Craftsmanship is not what it used to be! Even the Queen feared for their lives, for we know that our King has a temper when he is roused. If he is challenged, he will face force with force, which we have found to be a good thing in our dealings with the despicable French.

Our Queen’s Bravery
Despite her obvious shock, brave Philippa fell to her knees before her irate husband and begged his mercy for the hapless carpenters since she was not harmed. An eye-witness said she spoke soothing words in his ear. Her tears of compassion melted his anger. Our King lifted her up and promised to have mercy. The crowd cheered at his magnanimity and the Queen’s care for her subjects and for justice. The craftsmen grovelled in the dust in relief, as they should.



The Show goes on!
Reassured of his wife’s escape, in true English character Edward saw to her comfort and then ordered the tournament to proceed as normal. He might be persuaded to spare the carpenters – but a tournament he must have! The French should take note of our King’s determination and mental strength when under pressure.

The nation rejoices at Queen Philippa’s restoration to good health and King Edward’s victory over all comers in the tournament. We give thanks to God.

********************

This may be a fictitious newspaper account, but the events at the Cheapside tournament in 1331 are all true. What an astonishing reign was Edward III's, for colour and for drama.


To read more about the youthful Edward III and Queen Philippa, their struggled to throw off the domination of dowager-queen Isabella and her lover Mortimer, and Edward’s eventual taking power in England, read The Uncrowned Queen, my short story available from Amazon on Kindle on April 9th 2012.
It is a prequel to my novel of Alice Perrers, The King’s Concubine, to be released in May (UK) and June (USA).

Anne O’Brien
Author of Virgin Widow and Devil’s Consort/Queen Defiant.
www.anneobrienbooks.com
www.facebook.com/anneobrienbooks




Saturday, March 24, 2012

Edward 2nd Duke of York - part one

by Brian Wainwright

Edward was born sometime in 1373, the eldest child of Edmund of Langley, Earl of Cambridge, fourth surviving son of King Edward III, and his wife Isabella of Castile. Edmund was by some way the least rich of his brothers, of whom he was the only one not to marry an heiress. Isabella was the younger sister of Constance of Castile, who had married Edmund's brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster as his second wife. Constance claimed to be the rightful heiress to the throne of Castile, a claim which her husband was to pursue, unsuccessfully, over the next few years. Edmund and Isabella were merely pawns in this game, and were in fact required to renounce any rights in Castile. It was a very poor deal for the Earl of Cambridge, but he seems to have been an amiable cove without the excessive and distasteful ambition of most of his family.


Edward is sometimes known to historians as 'Edward of Norwich' although there is no evidence he was born there or had any connection with it. As his father was created Duke of York in 1385, it is more appropriate to refer to him as Edward of York. He was knighted at the coronation of his first cousin, King Richard II, when only four years old.

It was not long before young Edward became involved in English diplomatic manoeuvres. In 1381, he was taken by his parents to Portugal, Edmund having been placed at the head of an English expeditionary force which was intended, with the aid of Portuguese allies, to attack Castile. Edward was 'married' to the Princess  Beatriz of Portugal, and if his father had not made such a mess of the expedition Edward might eventually have become King of Portugal, because Beatriz was her father's heiress. Instead, with Edmund's army in a state of near-mutiny, her father had second thoughts and married her to the son of his enemy, the King of Castile. He also paid to send Edmund of Langley, his wife, son, and attendant unruly army back home.

Back in England the York family were to receive increasing favour from Richard II, not least because they were loyal to a fault and gave him far less trouble than his other relatives. Edward was created a Knight of the Garter in 1387 (just when Richard was starting to have serious political difficulties) and was the made Earl of Rutland in 1390 (once Richard was back in full control of his affairs.)  By late 1391 he was also Lord Admiral of England, one of the great offices of state, despite the fact that he was not yet of full age. Much more was to come...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Writing Period Pieces is Very Hard Work

by Michael Vorhis

Although I haven't written anything specifically set in old English history, I've read plenty and I enjoy writing works that weave into themselves historical realities of other cultures and times. For example, my own mystery-suspense thriller ARCHANGEL has to reconcile the realities of rural life a third of a century ago, Native American culture, Asian martial ethic, Catholic Church policies and practices, and accurately interpreted biblical fables, all into a tale that must ring true. It's not easy because many of the elements of our lives today can be so easily thought of as "staples" of daily living, even though a few short years ago that may not have been the case.

The obvious snares are things like electronics and modes of transport, of course, and we're on the lookout for those as we put a story together. You can hardly have the renegade Geronimo pause to answer his Android phone. But what of the little things? How far back in time can a character kick a tire? I don't believe that kicking them as a symbolic means of assessing value goes back quite as far as tires themselves.

I remember living in Italy back in the late '80s for a little over a year; it never occurred to me until I went to the grocery store to hunt for it that having a quick snack of a peanut butter sandwich wasn't really going to be possible. And no one at that time in that entire small city had ever heard of anything like a laundromat. These were elements of American life so common it never occurred to me they were not universal.

Same with writing stories set in English history. Errors abound in the literary world, especially if you include screenplays. The Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett a few years back had them all planting corn through the night by tossing the precious seed kernels out like grass is sown. But there are major problems with that: First, it's an excellent way to feed whole flocks of birds and scores of rodents, and to lose virtually all your seed, and more importantly, the English back then didn't have corn to begin with. Corn, or "maise," is a New World species of plant. It wasn't fed to horses or eaten by people in Europe until well after America was discovered. Robin of Locksley planting corn is about as believable as King Arthur riding a kangaroo into battle.

Same with tomatoes and pumpkins: New World species. The next time you read a book or see a film depicting these vegetables in Ye Olde Englishe village farmer's market, you know you're in the hands of a writer who didn't do his or her homework.

Equestrian tack is another commonly overlooked area, and we'll often see modern bridle bits and saddle designs on Roman or Persian or Egyptian army steeds. Same with clothing--we don't even think of lacing on discrete items like leggings nowadays, but such articles were worn for purpose at one time.

What about other small things we tend to take for granted? Hardware forever evolves with materials science, and because of that provides us ample opportunity to make story-telling mistakes. Can your character hang a cherished portrait on a nail before nails were in use? Can an iron hinge creak when most hinges were still leather? Can that wisp of hair cling to a fence's barbed wire before wire was ever barbed? When did screwdrivers hit the human scene? Or zippers, or pocket watches, or panes of glass, or soup ladles, or even round buttons? And what of those tiny setting spars that bind a stone to an heirloom ring?

We'll never catch them all, but the trick is to catch enough that not one of our readers catches any. Some readers are astute, even peculiar--there was a famous review recently wherein an author's book was rubbished simply because he'd described the instrument panel of the Air Force version of a fighter jet, when the story had the plane belonging to the Naval Air Corps. Same plane, mind you, just a different gauge layout. The reviewer was clearly doing his dirty rating deed just so he could show off that he knew something no one else knew...but although that was plain to anyone who read the review, he still dragged the rating average well below what it probably deserved.

In the reader's mind, to be published is to be an authority. And they hold us to that rigid standard. There's a status associated with being a published author, but we have to earn it by wearing that authoritative mantle well.

One of the most difficult areas to excel in is language itself--especially dialog. We must write dialog so that modern readers will understand the nuance. But words themselves evolve. Sure, we avoid obvious colloquialisms such as "to the max" and "you bet your a(r)se," but what of phrases like "no doubt about it" or "swift kick" or "who would have thought" or "now or never" or "best in class" or "Tally Ho"? Personally I'd be leery of such wording, unless I saw it used in literature actually written at the time. I know that reading Dickens lends a completely different feel to the pace and tempo of English, as compared to what we hear today.

Note that the following example isn't related to English Period literature per se, but in my own debut novel I needed a huge mining truck, and my characters wrote it in (well, most people would say I wrote it in, although I know better), and then afterward I went off to figure out exactly what it was called--brand, model number, nickname--only to discover that it didn't generally exist in 1976. I researched for days, finally coming up with something that I think was called "the Titan," which was huge and would suit my purposes perfectly, and with triumphant excitement I proceeded to write that specific truck in...and then thankfully took one more look. Wouldn't you know it? Despite the plethora of photos and lore surrounding it, there was only one Titan ever built, and it never left its home mine somewhere in Canada! I had to settle for the next biggest thing, and go back and redesign the entire town so that the dimensions of that smaller breed of truck--the one that was generally in use at the time--would work right for that particular street when the critical scene came. It just illustrates the need to be sure of every little thing, even though we may think we have it nailed.

Debra Brown revives life in Olde Englande (and I guess I should have checked that seemingly historical spelling first, to make certain it's authentic!) with characters I like, plot line that has enough complexity for my tastes, and language skill. Her writing feels true to the period, to me anyway. (And I love the way her next novel, "For The Skylark," begins.)

Writing any period piece requires the same kind of diligence, almost regardless of the period. If it's very recent (such as the 1980's) we can take most details from memory and need only worry about specifics such as sports figure names, political events, car models, and other highly transitory elements. Likewise, if we go back in time far enough (stone age Druids, or whatever), we can rely on the fact that there's not much other literature to contradict us, and we can hope there may be fewer experts to offend. And writing about English culture at least allows us to consume a lot of other material (which might be difficult if we were writing about a period in Yugoslavian history, or anywhere the mother tongue is not our forte).

And then there is an antithetical point of view to the whole "research every little thing" mantra. And it's a very valid one. It's a school of thought that says a writer should research, yes, but don't forget to get on with the story. Don't get so hung up on authenticity that the book is never finished or the flavor is lost.

This wise premise involves the recognition that for fiction, the author-reader relationship is a partner arrangement--a consensual marriage, if you will. The author's job is to do a skilled job of crafting reality and packaging it in falsehood; the reader's job is to WANT to believe it. Unless that second role is played properly, no fiction can deliver anything worthwhile to the reader's mind or heart. Readers incapable of holding up their end of the partnership, of WANTING to overlook little things (like a Naval Air Corps jet with an Air Force instrument panel) so that they can absorb the heart of the tale, are cheated. By themselves.

I do love English culture--the intrepid, discovering nature of the Brits, the tension between Normans and Saxons, the ubiquitous capacity for cataclysmic, history-changing turbulence, the highly defined concept of Honor--and I actually promote their moral strength ethics in my own works, and seek to endow my own heroes--even the comic ones--with those traits. My debut novel ARCHANGEL is set not in England but in western USA, and I know that's because I love the Great American West so much and wanted to begin my own literature legacy there (where, like in England, Honor and moral strength were called upon to shape history)...but that's not to say I won't produce an epic tale of the English at some point. The English are enigmatic, enduring and heroic to a fault, and so as a people they collectively make a wonderful character for spellbinding literature.


Michael Vorhis
Author of ARCHANGEL (mystery-suspense thriller)
mike@vorhis.com
Free Flight Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble
Books Inc.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hole in the Wall

by David Wilkin

As noted before and elsewhere, I have spent some time teaching the dances that have been done in the Regency Era. I have spent the time doing this because I found tremendous enjoyment performing them as well as guiding others through them. The advent of devices like the iPod and now our iPhones have allowed me to store some of these tunes on the device and carry them with me, as well as listen to them when I wish even as I write my Regency Novels, such as my latest, Jane Austen and Ghosts.

Regency Dancing has been in vogue for many years now. We owe it’s acceptance in the United States to the attendees of Science Fiction conventions, specifically the wives of the authors of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

These ladies, bored by not having much to do, took their love of Georgette Heyer Regency Romances, and asked one fan who was known for his ethnic dancing, to choreograph dances that they had read about. These dances took off. Dancing spread to other venues, where attendees of Science Fiction conventions also were members of Reenactment groups. Specifically the Society for Creative Anachronism, which ends it study of previous times in 1600. Well before our period.

Those interpreters of history however, found a resource for dance from John Playford, and the English Dancing Master. Though published in 1651, it is thought that all the dances he recorded and printed were also done before. A later dance, Hole in the Wall, made it’s way into both realms, that of the SCA and that of those dancing in the Regency genre at Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions, and events solely concerned with the Regency.

Presented for you here, notes say this dance is from 1721. Dancing certainly gives one a Regency feel. The music is from Henry Purcell and published in 1695 as Air VIII Hornpipe. The music was part of the incidental music in the revival of the 1677 tragedy of Mrs. Aphra Behn's Abdelazer or the Moor's Revenge. As far as we can tell the name of the dance has little to do with the play. The orchestration of the music make this piece related to the music of the French Court of the late 17th century.

As mentioned, re-enactment societies have taken this dance to the Regency and to the Renaissance. Many of those who dance it from those eras take the time to embellish their movements with the caricatures found at those times. The dance however, remains the same and is pleasant in any era.





1) A couple honor each other, cast out and around B couple, meet below, pass through B couple to place
B couple honor each other, cast out and around A couple, meet above, pass through A couple to place
2) A man, B lady bow and cross by right shoulders, exchanging places. B man, A lady bow and cross by right shoulders, exchanging places
3) All 4 in set join hands, circle clockwise half way to place. A couple cast around B's, B's lead up.

Breaking this down for you.

Defintions:

Set-The set is the group of dancers. In Hole in the Wall, men line up facing their partners. The first couple at the top of the line are the A couple. The next couple are the B’s and these two couples are one set. The next couple, the third in the line, are A’s once more.

Honor-An honor would be for the man to give a short bow, and the lady a curtsy.

Cast-Casting out and around means that the A man turns over his left shoulder and walks behind the B man to the place vacated by the next A man in line as he has also cast and moved down the line. The A lady does the same casting over her right shoulder and walking behind the B lady on her side of the set.

Cross-The cross is you getting to the other side of the set. In Hole in the Wall the cross is done along the diagonal, so instead of facing your partner, you face and cross with the person of the same gender next to your partner.

Hands Round-Often called as four hands round, though all four people and all eight of their hands (two each) are used. Everyone joins hands in the square, making a circle. The circle now advances a certain number of places, in Hole in the Wall, it is two, or half way around the circle. In this dance you end up back where you started so this is often called as half way to place.

Progression-The term for how couples move on to dance with new people. Advancing to your next set of partners.


The Dance Figures:

The first part of the dance:
❖The A couple exchange honors, which is the man bowing and the lady curtsying.

❖Casting-The A man turns over his left shoulder and walks behind the B man to the place vacated by the next A man in line as he has also cast and moved down the line. The A lady does the same casting over her right shoulder and walking behind the B lady on her side of the set.

❖Meet below and pass through means that the A’s are now next to the B’s, the B’s have not moved, along the line. This is often done with the active couple lightly touching inside hands at shoulder height. They walk back between the B couple and return to the place they started the dance. The entire figure is done without stopping.

❖The second part of the first figure is the B couple doing everything the A couple just did. The B couple is at this time the active couple.


The second part of the dance:
❖This is now done on the diagonal, the A man honors the B lady and she him. They cross to each others place passing right shoulders. Again many touch the fingers of their right hands to each other in our modern interpretation with a bit of flirtation. When they reach the place that was occupied by the other, they honor once more.

❖As there was repetition before, so too again. This time the B man and the A lady do what was just done by their partners.


Progression:
❖All four join hands and walk in a circle clockwise, halfway. This puts each person in the place where they started the dance.

❖As at the beginning of the dance, the A couple casts down, but not this time to where the other A’s were before. To where the couple they have been dancing with (The B’s) are standing.

❖Our B couple must get out of the way, and joining inside hands, as is done now, the B man leads his partner to the place that their A couple has vacated.

❖At the end of this the B’s find themselves with a new A couple, and the A’s have a new couple as well.


Please note that at each end of the line, after once time through, there are extra couples. The B couple at the very top of the line has no couple to dance with, and the A couple at the bottom of the line. This happens and the couples will wait one time through the dance and return to dance, but this time as they go along the line to the very other end, they are now the reverse couple of what they were before. If they started as an A, they are now a B, and vice-versa.

At the Regency Assembly Press pages there is one page devoted to Regency Dancing, as you would find at the time and that is recreated today.

Research
Kate Van Winkle Keller and Genevieve Shimer The Playford Ball, 1994

Mr. Wilkin writes Regency Historicals and Romances, Ruritanian and Edwardian Romances, Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is the author of the very successful Pride & Prejudice continuation; Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence. His most recent work is the humorous spoof; Jane Austen and Ghosts.

His work can be found for sale at: David’s Books, and at various Internet and realworld bookstores including the iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords.
He is published by Regency Assembly Press
And he maintains his own blog called The Things That Catch My Eye
You also may follow Mr. Wilkin on Twitter at @DWWilkin

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Birth of "Bloody Mary"

By Nancy Bilyeau


Bloody Mary is the name of a drink that always contains booze and tomato juice and sometimes contains a dash of Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, lemon, salt, black pepper or a vigorous celery stalk. In 1939, the newspaper This New York reported breathlessly, “George Jessel’s newest pick-me-up that is receiving attention from the town’s paragraphers is called a Bloody Mary: half tomato juice, half vodka.”


Bloody Mary is also the name of a macabre children’s game. Find a mirror, turn out the lights, and call out her name three times. When you switch on the light, Bloody Mary herself will appear in the mirror—the ghost of a woman wrongly accused of killing her own children.


And, most significantly, Bloody Mary is the moniker for Mary Tudor, the oldest child of Henry VIII. At the age of 37, she courageously took the throne by force after her half-brother Edward altered the act of succession. Young Edward wanted his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to follow him, not his Catholic sister. But Mary raised an army and overthrew Jane’s fragile government. Her five-year reign is not considered a success. She married a Hapsburg prince—the marriage was very unpopular—and had a phantom pregnancy (maybe two). England experienced bad harvests every year during her reign. A war with France ended in disaster: the loss of Calais.


 Those new to the 16th century sometimes have trouble keeping the “Mary”s straight. There is Mary, Queen of Scots, the beauty who married three times, lost her throne and was eventually executed by Elizabeth I. She was romantic. The Mary I write about in this post is the other one—the “Bloody” one who, in her zealousness to turn England back into a Catholic country had 284 Protestant martyrs burned at the stake. While more than 300 Catholic martyrs died during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Mary is the one who carries the reputation of being a merciless, bigotry-filled killer.


How that reputation evolved over the centuries is very interesting.



Mary Tudor was a woman of her time. While that may seem obvious, she was followed by a half-sister who was in some ways ahead of her time. Mary took a husband to secure the succession by having children, as every monarch was expected to do. Elizabeth refused to marry. Mary upheld the Catholic religion and did not recognize the opposing point of view. Elizabeth famously said, “There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith, all else is a dispute over trifles.” Mary and Elizabeth, while close when young, distrusted each other by the time Mary took the throne. The relationship went downhill from there. When Elizabeth succeeded, she did not honor Mary’s request to be buried with her mother, Katherine of Aragon, and rarely spoke well of her older sibling.


But it wasn’t Elizabeth who ensured that Mary would be detested for centuries. The first person to push her toward infamy—hard—was John Foxe, the Protestant author of The Book of Martyrs. Most English people did not witness the burnings of condemned heretics. But thanks to Foxe’s widespread book, first published in 1563, the horror of being burned at the stake was made starkly clear. These descriptions make for harrowing reading, then and now.


It was Foxe who wrote, “The next victim was the amiable Lady Jane Gray, who, by her acceptance of the crown at the earnest solicitations of her friends, incurred the implacable resentment of the bloody Mary.” But the nickname did not take hold then—in fact, it did not spring up until a century later.
The succession crisis over James, Duke of York, directly led to the vilification of Mary Tudor. Fear that James, who converted to Catholicism, would succeed his brother, Charles II, gripped much of England. Should a Catholic become king, one politician warned, the kingdom would see persecutions as “bloody or bloodier than the ones in Mary’s reign.” An anonymous ballad in 1674 declared that after Edward VI died “Then Bloody Mary did begin/in England for to tyrannize.” She was used as a threatening memory of tyranny and death and slavish devotion to the Pope. This was the genesis of Bloody Mary.


            The revolution of 1688 put a Protestant on the throne and the Act of Union in 1707 ensured that a Catholic could never rule England. But paranoia about Jacobite risings led to more and more denunciations of Mary I. Today historians agree that, no matter what one thinks of her later reign, Mary was an attractive young woman, well educated and exceptionally talented in music. She loved fine clothes, jewelry and gambling. She was a devoted godmother and generous friend right up until her death. But in the lowest point of Mary’s historical reputation she was depicted as not only bloodthirsty and tyrannical but also stupid and hideous.


Here is how an 18th century historian describes the Tudor queen: “Mary was not formed to please, she had nothing of the woman in either her history or her behavior; she was stiff, formal, reserved, sour, haughty and arrogant, her face plain and coarse, without any soft features to smooth its roughness or any insinuating graces to shade its defects. Everything in her looks, her air, her carriage and manner, was forbidding…scarce ever was there a person so utterly void of all the agreeable qualities.”



            A century later, no less a figure than Charles Dickens attacked Mary with ferocity. In A Child’s History of England, Dickens ranted: “As BLOODY QUEEN MARY, this woman has become famous, and as BLOODY QUEEN MARY she will ever be justly remembered with horror and detestation in Great Britain. Her memory has been held in such abhorrence that some writers have arisen in later years to take her part and show that she was, upon the whole, quite an amiable and cheerful sovereign! ‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ said OUR SAVIOR. The stake and the fire were the fruits of this reign, and you shall judge this Queen by nothing else.”


            It is not until the 20th century that attempts were made to draw a more balanced portrait of Mary. Last year saw the publication of Mary Tudor: Old and New Perspectives, a collection of scholars’ essays co-edited by Susan Doran and Thomas S Freeman. On the first page, the editors say, the purpose of the book is to reveal an “educated, resourceful and pragmatic queen.” One of the essays (bravely) takes on the issue of the martyrs: “The burning of 284 religious dissidents is morally unjustifiable from a twenty-first-century perspective. It is important to remember, however, that the values of the 21st century are not the values of the 16th century, and that in the 16th century the execution of obstinate heretics was almost universally regarded as a necessary duty of a Christian ruler.”


            Will the real Mary Tudor finally emerge from the shadows, thanks to books like this one? I look forward to new perspectives on the oldest daughter of Henry VIII. The screams of the dying martyrs of the 1550s can never be silenced.  But the time may have come for Mary’s name to stand alone—and for  “Bloody” to be no more.
           
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UK cover/Orion
US cover/S&S
            The Lady Mary Tudor is a character in The Crown and The Chalice, a series of historical thrillers now on sale in North America, the United Kingdom and Germany.
            For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com