Archive for the ‘French Revolution’ Category

Grace Elliott Gainsborough Met

Grace Dalrymple Elliott

I had long wanted to post on this extremely interesting figure, who makes a cameo appearance in my first novel, Mistress of the Revolution. Then a discussion began at Ellen’s Eighteenth Century Worlds on the topic of Grace Elliott and her Journal of my life during the French Revolution. Ellen kindly summarized the discussions  at […]

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Louis XVI Temple Garneray

21st of January 1793: execution of Louis XVI

As usual on this blog, I will strive to recount this dramatic event through the testimony of eyewitnesses. Let us simply remember that, following the storming of the royal palace of the Tuileries on the 10th of August 1792, Louis XVI and his family (Marie-Antoinette, their two children, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte and Louis-Charles, and his sister Madame […]

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Antoine Parmentier by Dumont

Potatoes, the Ancien Regime and the French Revolution

Potatoes, native to the Andes in South America, were introduced in Europe in the mid-17th century. To say that they did not take the Old Continent by storm would be an understatement. When they were cultivated at all, they served as hog feed.  Yet in the course of the 18th century they slowly made their […]

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Georges Danton

Danton, by David Lawday: a review by Hilary Mantel

Thanks to Ellen of Eighteenth Century Worlds for the link to this interesting review by Hilary Mantel at the London Review of Books. The subtitle of the book, the Gentle Giant of Terror, strikes me as rather odd. Danton, gentle? He was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Revolutionary Tribunal, and […]

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Tuileries during the French Revolution

The 10th of August 1792: fall of the French monarchy

The 10th of August 1792 is one of the key dates of the French Revolution. Why was the populace of Paris so enraged at the King and Queen? The war on Austria had been declared a few months earlier, and had turned into a military disaster for France. The Austrians and their Prussian allies were […]

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Fete Federation Hubert Robert

14th of July 1790: the Festival of the Federation, first anniversary of Bastille Day

Today is the 220th anniversary of Bastille Day. But what about its very first anniversary? I will simply let Gabrielle, the heroine of my first novel, Mistress of the Revolution, recount the events. Just a note: I found the little ditty sung by the sans-culotte in this scene on an engraving of the time. But […]

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5 October 1789 Paris women march on Versailles

The Tuileries during the Revolution: the eye of the storm

As we concluded the first installment of this series, we left the Tuileries on the eve of the French Revolution as a sleepy building abandoned by the royal family for decades. The King and Court still resided at Versailles during the spring and summer of 1789, when Louis XVI summoned the Estates General, an elected […]

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Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre, Duchesse d’Orléans: a revolutionary romance

For the last few days I had been pondering suitable Valentine’s Day posts, beyond the obvious hearts, poetry and roses. Romance, maybe? Suddenly came to mind the very unlikely story of Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre, born in 1753. Unlikely? Yes, periods of upheaval like the French Revolution often spawn extraordinary stories, and bring together […]

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Bonaparte Egypt

Bonaparte and Egypt

I recently saw Bonaparte et l’Egypte: Feu et Lumières (“Bonaparte and Egypt: Fire and Enlightenment”) at the Institut du Monde Arabe. Ambitious title, and my expectations for this exhibition were high, but the show fell flat. So what was missing? For one thing the rooms were small, stifling the epic feeling the subject begged for. For […]

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Chateau Rastignac

A tale of two White Houses

The South Portico of the White House bears a striking resemblance to the  façade of the Château de Rastignac (above) in south-western France. Now is this a coincidence? Let us look at a brief chronology of these two buildings: Late 1780s: the Marquis de Rastignac makes (now lost) plans for the construction of a new château […]

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