Saturday, 27 September 2014

Victorian keep-fit exercises and gym regimes

Victorian keep-fit exercises and gym regimes revealed



Illustration from 19th Century exercise book
 
Ernst's manual has more than 20 different exercises for the whole family
The idea of buying fancy fitness equipment and smugly installing it in a corner at home may not be just the modern-day craze some would expect.
A leather-bound book written in 1861, found in the archives of London's Wellcome Library, describes a portable gymnasium for the discerning Victorian.
The manual shows women in full, puffy petticoats and tight-fitting bodices attempting activities such as leg extensions, downward traction, jumping exercises and chest expansions.
And the men are resplendent in long coats, shirts and accompanying neckties, looking remarkably dapper as they work up a sweat.

19th century exercise book
 
The manual suggested short bursts of exercise with periods of rest in between
This comprehensive series of exercises was recommended by Gustav Ernst, an orthopaedic machinist based in London, who invented the portable home gym.
The apparatus, consisting of wooden boards of the finest mahogany with various pulleys, weights and cords attached, was designed for families wishing to reap the benefits of exercise and people with spinal problems.
Ernst offered encouragement to those reluctant to step up to the daily regime, suggesting that although the activities may have been "devoid of all interest and reduced to a mere display of physical power", there were substantial gains to be made.
Of course this contraption would have only been available to those rich enough to have the luxury of spare time, according to Dr Vanessa Heggie, a health historian at Birmingham University.

19th century exercise book
 
Ladies were advised to use this contraption for forward and backward extension of the neck
The masses were more likely to partake in involuntarily vigorous activity - through hard manual labour.
But some of the exercises seem quite like gym techniques now.
"I'm surprised quite how similar this contraption is to a modern-day cable machine," said Julia Attias, a personal trainer and exercise physiologist.
"There are some exercises in this book I still use today - though, of course, with a few safety modifications."
Ernst recommended short bursts of training, suggesting: "Far more benefit is to be derived from a quarter of an hour's practice repeated four times a day than from one hour's continuous use."

picture of exercise
 
Some exercises in the book would raise serious health and safety concerns today
The most powerful exercise mentioned in the book is described as combined traction and extension.
And the accompanying illustration shows a skirted woman straining her arms on something akin to the modern-day cross-trainer.
The author suggested this worked all the muscles of the human frame.
But he did voice some rare health-and-safety concerns, saying: "Generally invigorating as this exercise is, it is correspondingly fatiguing and should not therefore be recklessly persevered, especially by pupils possessing but a small amount of physical strength."
19th century exercise book
 
Combined traction and extension - the hardest exercise in the book
And though gym equipment may be shinier and safer today, the idea of maintaining physical fitness spans thousands of years.
According to research by Prof Domhall MacAuley of the University of Ulster, Hua T'o, a legend of ancient Chinese surgery, encouraged exercises modelled on the movements of animals, dating as far back as 2500 BC.
And the ancient Olympics, thought to have started around 776 BC, are considered by many to mark the birth of professional athletics.
But it is often a German, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who is credited as the father of gymnastics and gym equipment, designing parallel bars and the balance beam in the early 19th Century.
Long before Jane Fonda, Mr Motivator and Shaun T, there seems to be a long line of people we can thank for the often unrelenting call to tone those muscles.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Myth busting: inheritance law in the Regency Era

Myth busting: inheritance law in the Regency Era



This is a republication of a previously posted article from http://www.austenauthors.com on June 2, 2011


For most fans of historical fiction and period films, English inheritance law is one of the most confusing parts of understanding English society. Unfortunately, it is also a major part of many novels from that period, as the inheritance of property could make the difference between living well and abject poverty. I am going to talk about some of the myths which I hear frequently and then talk about what the law really was during the Regency Era.


Myth #1: Women could not own property.

Wrong. This is completely untrue, as even a casual reading of Pride and Prejudice (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) or Sense and Sensibility (Mrs Ferrars) will demonstrate. Both Lady Catherine and Mrs Ferrars have complete control over their fortunes owning property and running their own estates. The catch to this is that when a woman married all her property became her husbands, to do with as he pleased. The exception would be the money set aside as her settlement when they married, which was to support the wife and any children still at home if the husband should die. He cannot touch the settlement. If she is widowed this money provides her with what is called a jointure, which is basically an allowance for a widow.


Myth #2: The Law of Primogeniture requires that estates always go to the eldest son.

Wrong. The Law is only involved in passing on property if the owner dies intestate (without a will). In this case, the entire estate will go to the eldest son and the others will have nothing, unless the new owner chooses to help him. Society would look down on a man who tossed his elderly mother out of the house to starve, but anything he does to help her and any unmarried sisters or underage brothers is done because he wants to; or at least he does not want to look like a complete toad. If there is no will and no male children, then the property would be divided among the daughters.
If a man left a will when he died, then he could leave freehold (not entailed) property however he wished, but there were a couple of societal pressures that would probably affect his decisions. First, custom was on the side of keeping the estate intact and passing it to the eldest son. Very few landowners would divide the property between all his children, or even between all his sons. In pre-twentieth century England, your place in society and your power were determined by how much land you owned. Although canny men would also have other investments, their land was what gave them both money and status. If, as an example, a man divided his land between his three sons when he died, they would each have 1/3 the power that their father had. If they then divided their pieces upon their death, it would not take many generations for the property to be cut up into pieces too small to support a family. Since a gentleman could not work for a living, loss of his land and the necessity of going out to work would drop him from the peerage or the gentry down to the level of a tradesman and he would no longer be associated with by his previous friends.


Myth #3: All land is entailed and must go to the nearest male relative.

Wrong. Entailment of land (as in Mr. Bennet’s property in Pride and Prejudice) is something which is voluntarily done by some previous owner. An entail specified that the estate went to the nearest male relative. It was active for a variable period, most often three or four generations, depending on how it was set up. It could not be set up for an unlimited time as English law forbade tying up land in perpetuity. An entail with no end could eventually, if all of the males in a family died, cause the estate to be sitting there with no owner forever. An entail could be removed before the end date if the owner and his heir (two generations of owners, in other words) both agree to break it. This is what Mr. Bennet wanted to do in Pride and Prejudice; if he had had a son they could have gotten together and removed the entail and the daughters could be given a share. This could only be done by the actual heir. In the case of Mr Collins, he could not break the entail (if he was stupid enough to agree to it) because he was only the heir presumptive. This means that he was only the heir if there was no closer male; if Mr Bennet was widowed and remarried with a young woman he might have had a son, who would then be the true heir. No one can displace the eldest legitimate son as heir to an entailed estate.
The benefit of an entail for the estate was that it protected the estate from being broken up or sold off. This might be a problem if the son inheriting it was a ne’er-do-well wastrel who gambled indiscriminately, or who in some other way wasted his money and got into debt. Many large estates would have some land entailed and some not, usually because the unentailed pieces were purchased after the entail was in place and not added to the entail.
The disadvantage to an entail is that if a man has no sons the property could end up going to nephews, or even more distant relatives if there are no males closer. This could leave the widowed or unmarried women of the family in desperate straits if the heir chooses not to help these distant relations.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Robin Hood ~ Truth or Fiction by Author Sharon Lathan

Robin Hoods

Robin Hood ~ Truth or Fiction?

by Author Sharon Lathan 
 
 
 
We all know the legendary story of Robin Hood. In the time of Richard the Lionheart a minor noble of Nottinghamshire, one Robin of Loxley, was outlawed for poaching deer. At that time the deer in a royal forest belonged to the king, and killing one of the king’s deer was therefore treason and punishable by death. So Robin took to the greenwood of Sherwood Forest, making a living by stealing from rich travelers and distributing the loot among the poor of the area. In the process he gained a band of followers and a spouse, Maid Marian. Despite the best efforts of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood avoided capture until the return of King Richard from the Crusades brought about a full pardon and the restoration of Robin’s lands. In some versions he dies at the hands of a kinswoman, the abbess of Kirklees Priory.
 
That, in a very nutshell, is the legend. The question is: What is the truth behind it?
 


RobinHood paintingRobin Hood entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest, 1839 by Daniel Maclise
Many historians are convinced that Robin Hood was a real person, placed in the 13th century. Alternatively, the origin of the legend is claimed by some historians to have stemmed from actual outlaws, such as Hereward the Wake, Eustace the Monk, Fulk FitzWarin, and William Wallace. And there are other historians convinced Robin Hood is entirely a creation of the ballad-muse, with origins purely mythological. The truth of it will probably never be known for certain.
A large part of the problem is that “Robert” was in medieval England a very common given name, and “Robin” (or Robyn), especially in the 13th century, was its very common diminutive. The surname “Hood” (or Hude or Hode etc.) was fairly common because it referred either to a Hooder, who was a maker of hoods; or alternatively to somebody who wore a hood as a head-covering. Unsurprisingly, therefore, reference is made to a number of people called “Robert Hood” or “Robin Hood” in medieval records. Some of these individuals are even known to have fallen afoul of the law.
 
RobinHood gelt
Gest of Robyn Hode, 1510-1515 edition
Court records of the York Assizes refer to a “Robert Hod” who was a fugitive in 1226. In the following year the assizes referred to the same man as “Robinhud.” By 1300 at least eight people were called Robinhood, and at least five of those were fugitives from the law. It has long been suggested that “Robin Hood” became a stock alias used by thieves. What appears to be the first known example of “Robin Hood” as stock name for an outlaw dates to 1262 in Berkshire, where the surname “Robehod” was applied to a man because he had been outlawed. From there it is logical to see how a number of different outlaws built upon the reputation of a fugitive in the forest, and over time, the legend grew.
In 1439 a Parliament petition cites one Piers Venables of Aston, Derbyshire, as “who having no liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be Robyn Hude and his meyne.”
The first literary reference to “rhymes of Robin Hood” is from the 1362 poem Piers Plowman. However, the earliest surviving written copies of the narrative ballad dates to the late 15th century or first decade of the 16th century. In these early accounts, Robin Hood’s partisanship of the lower classes, outstanding skill as an archer, and animosity towards the Sheriff of Nottingham are well established. Little John, Much the Miller’s Son and Will Scarlet (as Will “Scarlok” or “Scathelocke”) appear, but not Maid Marian or Friar Tuck.
 
Nor do the early ballads place Robin Hood as a contemporary of Richard the Lionheart. A Gest of Robyn Hode, printed between 1492 and 1534, names the king as “Edward” and while it does show Robin Hood accepting the King’s pardon, he later repudiates it and returns to the greenwood. The oldest surviving ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, existing in manuscript from about 1450, gives even less support to the picture of Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king.
RobinHood statue
Robin Hood statue in Nottingham
As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by “Robin Hood games” or plays that were an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities. The first record of a Robin Hood game was in 1426 in Exeter, but the reference does not indicate how old or widespread this custom was at the time. The Robin Hood games are known to have flourished in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It is commonly stated as fact that Maid Marian and a jolly friar (at least partly identifiable with Friar Tuck) entered the legend through the May Games.
One thing to note about the early legends is that Robin Hood was not an aristocrat, but a simple yeoman (commoner) driven to a life of crime by the harsh rule of the law of the rich. In the 16th century the attempts to elevate Robin Hood to the nobility began. In the decades and centuries to follow, the Robin Hood legend was expanded upon by dozens of writers, including Sir Walter Scott in 1819.
In essence Robin Hood developed a fan-fiction following like the characters in Pride and Prejudice!

Monday, 22 September 2014

King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn ... still around in Hemel Hempstead

I'm from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, a place full of history.

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII courted in Gadebridge Park. The association is recorded in the Town badge, outside the modern town hall. Apparently, their ghost are seen in the Olde King's Arms in the old High Street. Ghosts are supposed to scream at midnight on the bridge of the disused Nicky train line over Queensway, following a crash earlier this century. There are supposedly ghosts in Briery Woods and at the Crabtree Pub (old plague house).              
To unite new families deliberate "traditions" were begun in the 1950s.
Most have died out, but some still exist e.g. Spring Bank Holiday Fair and August Fair & Carnival in Gadebridge Park. The Queen Elizabeth II opened Queen's Square in 1953 and neighbouring road names reflect this and main events of the time (e.g. Everest Way and Reith Fields).
 
Early drawing of Hemel Hempstead Market HouseThe connection to King Henry VIII continues today in Hemel Hempstead. He was the reason the town has such a long history as a market town. Many markets and fairs were already flourishing before the earliest records mention them, but the date of the charter for Hemel Hempstead’s market is well-known. Henry VIII granted a Charter of Incorporation to Hemel Hempstead on 29 December 1539. (Local people used the markets of Berkhamsted or St Albans before then.) The charter gave them a weekly Thursday market of their own, together with the right to hold a ‘Court of Piepowder’. This was a corruption of the French ‘Pieds Poudres’, meaning ‘dusty feet’, at which any visiting traders could be tried and punished, or disputes settled, before the dust of the town was off their feet. The names of the Jury for 1653 included Richard Combe, Richard Salter, Francis, John and Daniel How and Nicholas Stratford. The market bell, which still exists, was rung at eleven o’clock in the morning on market days.
 
intermediate building between 1857 and 1861The Charter also allowed the annual election on St Andrew’s day of a Bailiff to administer the court and the market. The very first Bailiff, William Stephyns, was nominated by the King. The Bailiwick possessed its own set of weights and measures and the Underbailiff had to attend the market to check the butchers’ scales. There was a cage for transgressors and a pound for stray cattle.
The market brought prosperity to this mainly agricultural area, as Daniel Defoe noted in his A Tour through England in 1724: “The town of Hempstead, noted for its extraordinary corn market”. The nearby corn mills along the Gade and Bulbourne rivers helped towards the town’s rising status. An annual fair was an important addition to the charter and the Court of Piepowder was also in session on fair days.
 
Drawing of the Market House and Corn Exchange Hemel HempsteadBy the end of the 18th century, the market had enlarged to such an extent that it was running for several days a week. There were special markets for corn, wool, cattle, general produce and, later on, straw plait. At first they were held in the street which became known as ‘Market Street’. Gradually room was found in the fields to the east of the town for special markets. The properties by the roadside were developed in every direction, including encroachment on to the roadway, until the present width was reached.
 
The Market House in the 1920s Hemel Hempstead
The earliest stage was the replacement of the open portion by the arched section of today’s ‘Old Town Hall’ in 1851. Further developments took place towards the north in 1857 and 1861, with the addition of a Reading Room and a Vestry. Contributions to this project were made from the Box Moor Trust Surplus.
Apart from administering the market, the Bailiff gradually assumed other powers. When the inhabitants applied to become a Borough, the Charter of Queen Victoria in 1898 allowed the chief citizen of Hemel Hempstead to be called ‘Mayor and Bailiff’. This title was extinguished with the formation of Dacorum District Council on 31 March 1974, until the title of Mayor was reinstated for Dacorum Borough Council.
 
Today the ‘Old Town Hall’ building serves as an Arts’ Centre. The arched market area occasionally serves its original purpose. After the construction of the New Town in the 1950s, the market was re-sited in the square in Marlowes. Whilst the need for the corn, wool and cattle markets has long since vanished, the general market still flourishes in its new home in the pedestrianised area of Marlowes.
 
So, you see King Henry VIII is still around in Hemel Hempstead.
 
 
For more information go to http://www.dacorumheritage.org.uk/ 

Friday, 19 September 2014

George Wickham

George Wickham

As you all know by now, he is the deliciously badly-behaved hero of my latest instalment of the Pride and Prejudice Continues series.
He's very interesting to write about and it has been challenging, to say the least. Mr Wickham is a lieutenant in His Majesty's army and, therefore, he cannot avoid being sent to France to fight against Napoleon's army.

So, who is he?

George Wickham is the Godson of Fitzwilliam Darcy's father, as well as the son of his steward. In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice he was an officer in the militia stationed near Meryton. However, in my continuation he is a Lieutenant stationed in Scarborough Castle. He lost both his parents at a young age, and was raised by his Godfather, growing up alongside Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Jane Austen writes that he is a handsome man with "a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address."

Mr Wickham is a very charming man. He is an excellent conversationalist and has a gift for making friends. But, he is also immoral, a liar, and has who has no problem with using other people in order accomplish his own ends. He also has not qualms in ruining the reputation of any young woman who takes his fancy. (These traits make him a very interesting hero and such fine to write about!)
In Pride and Prejudice he threw away many of the advantages that he was given because of old Mr Darcy's patronage. Until his marriage to Lydia Bennet, he planned to marry an heiress. That never happened, as we know, and my book starts after approximately one year of his forced marriage to Lydia.


While Wickham is away at war, Lydia stays with her family. The two storylines are such a juxtaposition that it is fascinating to me that while war is waging, life in Britain carries on as normal as though they have no cares in the world!

So far, the book is going well. I know you are all looking forward to reading it and I hope to have the cover revealed to you all as soon as possible!

Thank you all for your continued support and God bless you! x

Monday, 15 September 2014

A visit to Cymer Abbey in Wales by Author Judith Arnopp.

A visit to Cymer Abbey in Wales by Author Judith Arnopp

Cymer Abbey, or to give it the correct name, Kymer deu Dyfyr means the meeting of the waters, and the abbey is sited at the meeting of the river Mawd-dach and the river Wnion. It is a peaceful setting, or it would be without the traffic roaring on the by-pass and the holiday makers in the small camping and caravanning park, that has sprung up alongside. But, despite these modern day intrusions, it is still possible to discern the original peace and quiet that first drew the Cistercians to the spot in 1198.

 
The Cistercians sought places 'far from the concourse of men'; somewhere to contemplate God and their own human failing. Cymer must have seemed ideal. It was founded in 1158-9, its first patron Maredudd ap Cynan ab Owain Gwynedd, Lord of Merioneth. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 

The first monks to settle at Cymer came from Cwmhir Abbey in Powys, a sister house of Whitland which was itself founded by monks from the mother house of Clairvaux in Burgundy. Cymer was never a large house, the monks existing in poverty and piety, their living subsidised by sheep and dairy farming and horse breeding. Cymer was noted for the fine horses it provided to Llewellyn ap Iorwerth, more widely known as Llewellyn Fawr (the Great.)


Cistercian buildings were traditionally stark and undecorated but even by Cistercian standards Cymer is remarkably plain and the buildings were never extensive. In the early days the monks lodged in wooden structures, the stone buildings being built over the following years of local boulders and rubble. Only the dressed stone around the windows and doors was cut from buff sandstone and a few carvings in red sandstone. 

Today, all that remains standing of the monastery itself are parts of the abbey church. It was never a large building, measuring no more than 105 feet internally. The aisles are separated from the central church by solid stone walls with three arcaded bays on the western side. The eastern wall has three tall windows remaining and the remains of three smaller ones are just discernible above. These windows illuminated the church interior and allowed the light of the lord to flood in. 


 
The remains of the seats used by the officiating priest, his deacon and the sub deacon during mass can still be seen. At the opposite end there is an unusual diversion from the conventional Cistercian model in the remains of a tower with a few worn steps which would once have led to the top. The lack of conventional tower is further evidence of the poverty at Cymer.

Only the footings of the cloister and other monastic buildings now remain and there is evidence that the lay brother’s range may never have been completed. The cloister, chapter house and dining hall are all in their expected positions on the south side, but their planning suggests that the monks anticipated a future enlargement of the church. 

The nearby farmhouse has been built on the site of the medieval guest house, the post dissolution building utilising much of the abbey stone. The original building, which would have contained the abbot’s lodging, was a single storey hall and the fifteenth century timber roof still survives but is not accessible by the public.


 
In 1291 the annual income at Cymer was £28 8s 3d and records show that by 1388 there were just five monks remaining; financial debt, made worse by the war waged by Edward I, is believed to have initiated the decline. By 1535 when Cromwell began his inventory of all monastic property, Cymer’s annual income was just £51. It was dissolved by 1537 but in the nineteenth century a large silver gilt chalice and paten (Eucharist plate) were discovered hidden in the hills above the monastery and are now in the National Museum in Cardiff. You can read more about the chalice and Paten by clicking here.
 
 
It is impossible for the modern day visitor to imagine the hardships of medieval Cymer. We turn up in our waterproofs, our bellies recently filled at the local hostelry, our bodies strong from years of good nutrition and modern day dentistry. The monks at Cymer had to work hard for every mouthful, they were frozen by the wind and snow, wet through by the wicked Welsh rains, and their rough woolen habits probably left to dry on their bodies. Their accommodation was stark and windowless and the stone floors upon which they prayed were cold and unyielding. Records suggest that toward the end of the abbey’s life religious observation had slipped. The state rolls of Henry VIII claim that many monastic settlements were nests of evil where “manifest synne, vicyous carnall and abhomynable lyvyng, is dayly used and comytted comonly in suchlytell and smalle Abbeys Pryoryes and other Relygyous Houses of Monks, Chanons & Nonnes...” (HOL,Henry VIII, Roll of Parliament,) but perhaps in retrospect we can be a little less judgemental. After all Henry VIII and Cromwell had an agenda, they craved the destruction of the monasteries and wanted to get their hands on monastic wealth. 

The impoverished monks of Cymer were a different breed from the fat, grasping abbots of the larger houses that we are so used to hearing about. If they hid their only two treasured items up in the hills away from the greedy hands of Cromwell and his king, who can blame them? And if they sometimes skimped on Matins in favour of the meagre warmth offered by their narrow beds well, we all roll over in the morning and hide under our own pillows. And if, starved of human contact, they turned to each other to indulge in a little ‘manifest synne’ I can understand and forgive them for that too. They were after all human beings living in absolute penury and I am far too fond of the comforts of my own soft warm duvet to stand in judgement upon them.

Cymer Abbey lies near the village of Llanelltyd, just north of Dolgellau, Gwynedd, in north-west Wales, United Kingdom. Entry is free.

Growing Up Female During the Regency and Victorian Eras by Author Regina Jeffers

Growing Up Female During the Regency and Victorian Eras

 
1815
Regency and Victorian Eras: Growing Up Female in the Country
Young girls had little control over their lives during the Regency and Victorian eras. Their lives were strictly regulated by nurses and governesses. The girls were expected to practice correct moral and social standards. Responsibilities to family and name were numerous. Young girls learnt the necessity of benevolence. Charitable acts were taught by mothers and other female relatives.

1815

Other than this “insistence” on their daughters showing condescension, parental involvement in their daughters’ educations was very limited. Remaining remote and indifferent was more the mode of the day. Mothers were traditionally active with their own social lives. Children remained at home with nurses/governesses while their mothers lived an active social life. Girls remained under the control of their nannies or governesses until they were old enough to make their debut into Society. Children often knew more affection from the house’s servants than did their parents.
Even when in residence, parents often preferred formal “daily visits” with their children rather than interacting with them informally. During the “children’s hour,” the young ones “performed” for their parents in carefully prepared exhibitions of what they had learned during their studies. The children, essentially, lived in a different world upstairs, and they were at the mercy of their caregivers. Sometimes, children resided in another of the family’s properties, or they were left in the country while their parents saw to their father’s developing political career in London. And Heaven Forbid, a marriage knew its troubles. Female children might be foisted off on other relatives or sent to live abroad under the care of a distant relative or governess. Male children were sent away to school and experienced a different type of isolation.
1840The segregation from the family extended to all parts of the child’s life: meals, sleeping quarters, and entertainment. Larger houses might have both day and night nurseries, as well as separate rooms for the older children. Food was often monotonous. Separate meals were prepared for the nursery. Furniture inside the nursery was often shabby. Girls often received a doll’s house, a rocking horse, and a painted screen as toys.

1840

During the Victorian era, girls were dressed in numerous petticoats. During the winter, the petticoats were made of flannel. In the summer, they were starched stiff. Black-buttoned shoes, elaborate hats, and pelisses were worn out of doors. The same clothes were not worn for both morning and afternoon activities, and another change of clothes was required for the formal visits with their parents.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Louis XVI: Capet or Bourbon? - Author Ginger Myrick

Louis XVI: Capet or Bourbon?

 
In the introduction to my latest release, I give a brief rundown of the dynastic houses of France. Anyone who reads historically based literature pertaining to Europe is probably familiar with several French royal houses. The branches of Angoulême, Anjou, Artois, Burgundy, Orléans, Valois, etc. are prevalent throughout the Middle Ages, and when Marie Antoinette arrived at Versailles in 1770, the crown had been firmly in the possession of Bourbons for nearly 200 years. Her husband, Louis XVI, was the fifth king descended from this line, but upon his deposition, he became an ordinary citizen dubbed Louis Capet. Who were these Capets, and what impact did they have on France?
 
In ancient times, most of the area to the north and west of the Roman Empire was known as Gaul. Many a brave Roman had attempted to conquer the wild occupants of these lands, but it was Julius Caesar who was credited with the formidable accomplishment of subduing the barbarians and bringing order to their uncivilized way of life. Unfortunately, they were resentful of this presumption and recaptured their territories some 500 years later. At this time the largest portion of the natives had come to be known as Franks, the Salian branch of which was led by Childeric I son of Merovech, the namesake of the first dynastic house of France, the Merovingians. Sometime after retaking their homeland from the Romans and defending it against the Visigoths, Childeric sired Clovis I, who eventually united all of the Frankish tribes as one people.
The next dynasty to rise to prominence was that of the Carolingians. The most recognizable name among them is Charlemagne, who turned the land into a thriving center of culture and religion. He not only inherited the position of King but was also appointed Roman Emperor by the papacy. He spent a good portion of his reign defending his birthright, but despite his efforts to keep the land as a whole, upon his death it was quarreled over, divided, and subdivided amongst his descendants, until it reached a similar state of separation as before the unification achieved by Clovis.
For over a century and a half this segregation persisted until Hugh Capet came along and made himself a force to be reckoned with. Born in Paris, he was from a powerful family descended from King Robert I with substantial landholdings in West Francia. Hugh spent the early years of his adulthood establishing a reputation for fairness and allying himself with the Holy Roman Empire. Well regarded by his peers for the “goodness of his soul,” he was eventually elected to the seat of King of the Franks, uniting the splintered factions and making the position a hereditary one, though only attainable by the senior male heirs as the Salic Law, as well as that of primogeniture, was implemented at the same time.
 
Hugh centered his power base around his birthplace and duchy, Paris, restoring it as the capital and running the kingdom from there. He is held by most historians as the father of modern France, the founder of the Capetian Dynasty, and the common ancestor for many royal houses throughout Europe. The direct Capetian heirs ruled France until 1328 when a crisis of succession ensued, and the House of Valois, a cadet branch, came into ascendancy. From this point on, all of the successors to the throne, no matter which branch of the family they came from, were descended from the House of Capet.
But being from the same bloodline did little to curb the rivals’ desire to wear the crown or diminish their treacherous impulses to attain it. The House of Valois was plagued by internecine strife and commingling of tainted bloodlines for the whole of its tenure, even surrendering the crown to England on a couple of occasions and sparking the Hundred Years’ War. Eventually, Charles VII took charge and won the crown back for France and the Valois, who ruled until 1589. The last Valois, Henri III, was assassinated by a fanatic and was succeeded by Henri IV, the first Bourbon King and the ancestor of Louis XVI, who would be known as Louis Capet after being deposed, which brings us full circle.
 
 
Although it was said that Louis disliked the new surname, he lived up to its reputation of grandness and showed great strength during his final tribulations. Many of his actions, or inaction, while he wore the crown would indicate that he was an indecisive and weak ruler, but in his personal life he showed remarkable resolve, his honorable conduct winning him a fair measure of respect and admiration from his detractors. This was how I chose to portray him in INSATIABLE: A MACABRE HISTORY OF FRANCE ~ L’AMOUR: MARIE ANTOINETTE, and he has become one of my favorite characters to date. 
 
 
Kindle, paperback, and Nook editions of INSATIABLE are available at:
 
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes&Noble
 
Connect with Ginger at:
 
Amazon’s Ginger Myrick page      
Facebook
Goodreads      
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*This post was originally run at Kim Rendfeld~ Outtakes of a Historical Novelist.
 
** From www.gingermyrick.com

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

"Meet My Character" Blog Hop! ~ with Author Francine Howarth

"Meet my Character" blog hop!
 
By
 
FRANCINE HOWARTH
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The lovely D.B. Schaefer asked me to participate in a fun “Meet My Character” blog tour. 
 
 
 
 
Her latest and first release “Me and Georgette” is out on release, and you can read all about it at her blog.

Is "Me and Georgette" a Time-slip or Traditional Regency Romance novel? Well, that you must find out for yourselves...

 
 
 
 
 
Waffle aside and getting to the crux at issue, which of my characters did I choose? Well, in short, I have so many charming characters riding around in the 17th century,  and others who strut their stuff in the Georgian City of Bath. Then there are those who are familiar with Bath during the Regency era, thus it was a case of straws at dawn. And so... Please meet Rupert Marquis of Rantchester, who’s a tad more familiar with pistols at dawn and oft referred to as The Dark Marquis.

 
 
 
 

There was a questionnaire for this blog hop, but Rebel that I am I’ve cast aside the questionnaire, and I think you’ll agree, the following reveals all you need to know about Rupert.

 
 
 
Rupert is a true blood Regency aristocrat who has a commodious house in Upper Belgrave Street, London; a smaller residence in the Royal Crescent, Bath; and of course, his father’s country estate a short distance from Bath serves purpose in the hunting season. Unlucky in love, Rantchester has finally met a young widow, and Estelle has indeed won his heart. But Estelle has a secret, so does Rantchester. And, when Estelle is introduced to the Duke of Leighdon her aspirations for future happiness with her beloved is dashed outright. Worse, an old flame of Ranchester’s, the luscious Caroline Lady Somerville, stirs unrest in many quarters for she too is now a widow and will resort to any means at her disposal to oust Estelle from Rupey’s thoughts.
 
 
Thus, torn by love for Estelle, sense of duty to a past fancy of his, and a bethrothed he cannot abide, Rantchester is drawn back to the darker side of his former existence.

 
 
As secrets, lies and half truths begin to surface a much greater threat is stalking in the shadows. A fatal riding accident suddenly becomes a case of murder, and when a portraitist falls foul to a dreadful death Estelle is in the wrong place at the wrong moment. Fearing she will be the killer’s next victim, her household staff rally to her aid and all find themselves besieged within her country retreat bar for one brave young soul who risks her life to save Estelle. But it is Caroline’s near murder that finally sets Rantchester on the trail of the killer. Fearing the villain will strike again, The Dark Marquis rides to death or victory his heart on his sleeve, but is it already too late?
 
A Romantic Regency Murder Mystery (steamy).
 
 
 
 
 
 
I've tagged three lovely authors to reveal a little about their chosen character/s.
 
The Lovely Sasha Cottman:
 
Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.
 
 

 
 
Sasha lives in Melbourne with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who thinks sitting on the keyboard is being helpful. Her family have managed to find all but one of her secret chocolate hiding places.When not writing, she is busy working full time as a Chartered Accountant. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while devising new ways to torture her characters.
 
"Letter from a Rake": Sasha is offering a Free copy for a Happy Winner!!
 
 
 
 
Finalist 2014 Romantic Book of the Year. (Ruby).
Winner 2013 Book Junkies Choice Award for Historical Romance.
Finalist in the ARRA Awards Best Historical Romance and Best New Author.
Sasha’s newest release An Unsuitable Match is released through Destiny Romance on 16th September 2014.
 
 
 
 
 
The Lovely Renée  Reynolds
 
 

 
 
Author Renée Reynolds grew up all over the world as the daughter of a globe-trotting Marine father and spirited and supportive mother. Their family motto: you can never learn too much, travel too much, or talk too much. She majored in majors in college, and after obtaining a handful of degrees she decided not to use any of them. Instead she writes about what she cannot do - go back in time to dance at balls, flirt with lords and scoundrels, and gallop unfashionably down Rotten Row during the most fashionable hour.
 
After dodging a few Collinses and Wickhams, Renée happily snared a Darcy. Her HEA turned out to be in Texas, where she resides with "the hubs, the kiddos, a boisterous menagerie of indoor and outdoor animals, and a yard of meticulously maintained weeds." She has happily tagged on this addendum to the family motto: you can never read too much, too often, or too late at night.
 
Buy links:
   Amazon Barnes & Noble -   Apple iTunes - Kobo -
  
 Website:   Facebook:  Twitter:   (@eenayray)
 
 
 
The lovely Catherine, better known as Madame Gilflurt.
 
 

 
 
 
Glorious Georgian ginbag, gossip and gadabout Catherine Curzon, aka Madame Gilflurt, is the author of A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. When not setting quill to paper, she can usually be found gadding about the tea shops and gaming rooms of the capital or hosting intimate gatherings at her tottering abode. In addition to her blog at  Madame G can also be spotted on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
 
 
 
 
Thank you ladies for taking time out to join with this blog hop!