The French Revolution – Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe

The French Revolution:

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and in the Reign of Terror that followed, scores of hapless people, whose only crime was of being of aristocratic stock or associated in some manner with the royalty, ended their lives on the guillotine. Two prominent victims were Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe.

Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe:

Madame Du Barry

Princess de Lamballe

Madame Du Barry was one of the most famous Courtesans of France and the Mistress of the former King Louis XV. She was of humble origins – a fact that made Marie Antoinette, as the new Dauphine, cold-shoulder her – and, although good-natured, without the sharp intellect and powerful political acumen of her predecessor, the King’s former lover Madame de Pompadour. However, due to her association with the King of France, Madame Du Barry for a long time enjoyed a high status and privileged position in the French Court.

After his death in 1774 though, she was made to retire from Court and, after a two year sojourn at the Convent of Pont-au-Dames, withdrew to live a comfortable, untroubled existence at her country estate, Chateau de Louveciennes. She was probably happier now than she had ever been, not having to dance to the King’s whims or keep abreast with the numerous Court intrigues against her. So she lived quietly, took on new lovers, and, when time permitted, is said to have interested herself in social work in the neighboring areas. Her ministrations for the poor were however completely forgotten in the Reign of Terror and only her former excesses remembered.

Princess Therese de Lamballe was a very close friend of Queen Marie Antoinette. She was a great support to her during the early, difficult years of her marriage to King Louis XVI, and she was to provide comfort in the later dark days of her life. Princess de Lamballe was beautiful and witty and as fond of gaiety and the good life as the Queen. She was however no giddy, featherbrained creature and displayed remarkable personal courage and loyalty towards her disgraced royal friend.

Chance of Safety:
It is a curious point to note that both Madame Du Barry and Princess Lamballe had had the chance to escape to safety in Great Britain, but both chose to return to Paris and to their subsequent deaths.

In the case of Madame Du Barry, she had gone to England on a personal matter concerning her stolen diamond jewelery in 1792. Well-received in English Society, she was strongly urged to remain in England and not return to France where an ill wind was blowing for those of Royal blood and their associates. As a Mistress of the former King, probably it should have occurred to Madame Du Barry that returning home would be especially dangerous for her. However, for reasons best known to herself, she chose to return.

Princess de Lamballe had accompanied the Royal Family to imprisonment at the Tuileries Palace after they were forced to leave the Versailles Palace. In 1791 she was allowed to go to Great Britain where she tried to gain support for the beleaguered Royal family. Like Madame Du Barry, she too no doubt was advised to remain put, but she was determined not to desert Marie Antoinette and so came back to France.

Trial and Sentencing:
Madame Du Barry was arrested in 1793 and thrown into prison – for a while she shared the same dingy cell as that of Grace Elliott, the Mistress of the Duke of Orleans. Brought to trial, she was accused of treason and quickly sentenced to death.

Princess de Lamballe remained with Marie Antoinette until the events of 10 August 1792, when the Revolutionary mob attacked the Tuileries Palace and massacred the 900 Swiss Guards. The Royal Family, which escaped in the nick of time, was now carted off to imprisonment at the Temple Fortress in Paris.

After being incarcerated here herself, Princess de Lamballe was taken to La Force Prison in Paris. Brought to trial, she was asked to embrace the Revolution and its principles and denounce the Monarchy. While she agreed to take an oath supporting the former, she firmly refused to turn against her beloved Queen. With this refusal, she signed her own death warrant.

Actually, both Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe received death sentences more for their royal connections than for any major crimes they had personally committed.

The end for the two ladies was neither peaceful nor dignified.
Madame Du Barry lost all of her former composure. As she was dragged before the blood-thirsty mob in the Place de la Concorde to be guillotined, she screamed and shouted and wept and begged for mercy. She tried to cling to life until the last, famously crying to the executioner, “Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment!” (Another moment, Mr. Executioner, just a little moment).

Princess de Lamballe was turned over to an angry mob waiting with hammers, swords, and pikes in an alley outside La Force. They converged about her as soon as she stepped out the door and it is said that she was gang-raped before they bludgeoned and hacked her to death. Her head, her breasts, and her genitals were mounted up on pikes and paraded through the streets of Paris and taken to be displayed before the window of the imprisoned Queen. Marie Antoinette, whose hair had turned white after their capture in Varennes, is said to have fainted away on seeing the gruesome fate of her friend.

By Sonal Panse

Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

The demands of 18th century fashion

18th century fashion required a lot of work. Some went to such lengths that the following rather panicky law was proposed in 1770 (but thankfully never passed):

An Act to protect men from being beguiled into marriage by false adornments. All women, of whatever rank, age, profession or degree, whether virgins, maids or widows, that shall, from and after such Act, impose upon, seduce or betray into matrimony, any of His Majesty’s subjects, by the scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes and bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanours and that the marriage upon conviction shall stand null and void.

This law makes it sound as though only ladies were vain, but men were just as careful about their appearance as women, and in some cases more so. Fashionistos called Macaronis were infamous for their eccentric styles, often wearing make-up as the ladies did, and earrings. The name comes from the Macaroni Club, founded in 1760 by a group of young men who had made the Grand Tour of Europe, of which Italy was the high spot.


Ladies (and Macaronis) had a range of cosmetics at their disposal. White lead powder mixed with egg white could be used to give a fine, pale complexion, although ladies taking the waters at Bath were warned that ‘those who use white paste as a cosmetic are liable to have skins turn entirely yellow’ from the vapours of the springs. Rouge was made from lead paste and carmine. Lips were tinted with coloured plaster of Paris. Eyebrows were blacked with lead or with green vitriol and gum Arabic, although artificial eyebrows of mouse-skin were also available to be glued on. Unfortunately the heat of the ballroom sometimes caused them to slip. Small patches of black taffeta or velvet were also worn on the face.


Contrary to popular opinion, people did wash carefully. Although bathrooms were rare, bathtubs were not, and water was piped into the houses of the rich. Bedrooms were furnished with washstands, and soap was plentiful, with 63 soap factories in London (Pears famous transparent soap was created in 1789).

Lord Chesterfield, who wrote copious advice by letter to his illegitimate son Philip, wrote in 1750, ‘In your person you must be accurately clean, and your teeth, hands and nails should be superlatively so.’ He advised the daily cleaning of teeth with a sponge and tepid water. Nonetheless, it was common to lose teeth, and ladies might wear ‘plumpers’ of cork inside their cheeks to avoid the sunken cheeks that this caused. No woman would admit to wearing them, however, and they were sold under the counter.

Soot was used as a dentifrice, as was lemon juice mixed with burnt alum and salt. Mouth washes were used, made of wine, bramble leaves, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel. Gum lacquer, brunt alum and honey infused in hot ashes. Decayed teeth could be drilled with a hand-drill and filled with tin, lead or gold. Dentures of ivory, bones, or wood were available, and set with teeth of ivory, porcelain, or even real human teeth. The prototype of the modern toothbrush was invented in 1780 by William Addis.


We remember the 18th century as a time of ridiculously elaborate hairstyles, but in fact it was only after 1770 that ladies began to wear their hair high, bulking it out with pads of wool and false hair, or arranged it over a frame, adding ribbons, flowers and feathers. Contemporary cartoons show us exaggeratedly complex styles, but one anecdote is true: at the French court, it was briefly the fashion to wear a model ship in the hair, in celebration of a famous naval victory.

Powdered hair had been in fashion since 1715, and only went out of fashion in 1795 when William Pitt put a tax on it. It was initially used sparsely, but worn more thickly after about 1750. Probably it helped disguise any differences of colour between a lady’s own hair and her pads of false hair. It was made of starch, sometimes tinted with colouring, and applied over hair which had been oiled to help it stick.

Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tudor Codpiece

Tudor Codpiece Definition
What exactly was a codpiece and what was its purpose? The codpiece was originally an inverted triangular section of cloth sewn into the hose around a man’s groin which would be held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. The codpiece worn by the Tudors was padded and boned and became so large that it was used to carry small weapons or jewels hence the reference to genetalia of a man being referred to as the “family jewels”. The codpiece came into fashion during the late Middle Ages and came into prominence during the reign of Henry VIII and disappeared during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Clothing and Fashion – Reason for the Codpiece
The main garment worn during the Middle Ages was the doublet but as fashion dictated an extremely short doublet the use of a codpiece became necessary for the sake of modesty. Early hose were fitted to the leg  similar to modern tights but open at the crotch which resulted in the genitalia simply hanging loose under the doublet.  The origin of the codpiece was a small bag with a flap at the fork of the hose which was fastened by ties.

The Tudor Codpiece and King Henry VIII
The fashion and design of Codpieces gradually evolved to emphasize the male genitalia and were eventually padded and enlarged to astounding proportions. The codpiece became prominent during the reign of King Henry VIII who is often associated with the codpiece and this peculiar, over sized, item of clothing is featured in his portraits. Codpieces retained their practical origins and doubled as pockets.

“The codpiece was exaggerated in size, the bag was puffed and slashed, and even
ornamented with jeweled pins.” 

The Decline in the fashion of the Tudor Codpiece
When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558 and she dictated many of the fashions and the fashions of men became more feminized.  The codpiece became smaller, with less bombast (padding). The Tudor codpiece fashion slowly declined and completely disappeared by the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 1603.  The Tudor codpiece was replaced by a vertical opening which was concealed in folds of material.

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

History of Pomanders

Throughout history, the importance of scent has never been denied. Mystical and powerful, scent was an offering, a force of attraction and a curse. The pomander, a ball filled with perfumes worn from the Middle Ages onward, was a form of protection against sickness and death.


The word “pomander” originates from the French “pomme d’ambre.” A common interpretation of this phrase is “apple of ambergris,” referring to the wax substance used as a base in pomander recipes. Others take the phrase to mean “apple of amber” or “golden apple,” as in the fragrant citrus fruits exchanged during holidays for good luck.


The pomander became popular during the Middle Ages when the black death and other ailments ran rampant. Sanitation during the era was lamentably lacking. The streets and even some homes were strewn with filth, bodily fluids and the discarded remnants of past meals. People thought that the cause of their problems lay in the resulting stench lingering about the city. The belief went that the pleasant scent of a pomander could repel the disease in the air.


Several recipes for pomanders survive from the era. To the base of ambergris, musk, civet, rose water, and other perfumes and spices were added. The mix would then be inserted into the pomander’s container. A pomander could be worn around the neck or waist. Many women attached them to their girdles.


Both men and women wore pomanders, most of whom hailed from the elite classes of society. Queen Elizabeth I is frequently depicted wearing one, as are other nobles and notables of the day. People took great pride in their pomanders. Simple pomanders were made of wood, while the most stunning examples were worked in silver or gold, studded with precious stones, and etched with intricate designs. Some pomanders were divided into sections, similar to an orange, into which its wearer would place several different scents.


As time wore on, the pomander began to take on the “golden apple” interpretation. By the 18th century, a pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Years. Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm  Comments (3)  

The Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose
The dynasty of the Tudors was symbolised by the Tudor Rose which was the emblem of the Tudors and represented the fusion of the Lancastrian and Yorkist noble factions. This fusion was symbolised by the White rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. An important emblem of the Tudors dynasty which marked the end of the devastating English civil war called the Wars of the Roses. This section covers the design and adoption of the Tudor Rose by the Tudors and where the emblems and designs can be found. A picture of the emblem is illustrated as follows:

The Creation of the Tudor Rose
The father of King Henry VIII was Henry Tudor (who became King Henry VII). Henry was a member of the House of Lancaster. England had entered a long period of Civil war called the War of the Roses between the two most powerful noble factions of England called the House of York and the House of Lancaster. A final Lancastrian rebellion rose against the Yorkist King Richard III following the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, who were the two young sons of King Edward IV. Henry VII defeated the Yorkist leader King Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field and claimed the throne of England becoming King Henry VII. The Dynasty of the Tudors was born, but it was shaky claim based on an illegitimate Plantagenet line. The Lancastrian King Henry VII therefore cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, the Yorkist daughter of King Edward IV. The Houses of York and Lancaster therefore merged leading to the creation of the emblem called the Tudor Rose.

The Design of the Tudor Rose
The national flower of England is the rose which was adopted as England’s emblem during the time of the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). The design took the white rose of York as the center of the flower, and the red rose of Lancaster as the outside edging. The design symbolised unity and mutual regard.

The Tudor Rose Emblem
The Tudor Rose emblem was used a badge, a distinctive device which is displayed as a mark of recognition by an individual or family and worn as a symbol of loyalty and allegiance. The emblem became part of the British heraldic tradition. The Tudor Rose Badge is still evident on the uniforms of the Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London.

The Tudor Rose of England
The Tudor Rose emblem can be found on many old buildings in England. Hampton Court Palace built by Thomas Wolsey and ‘acquired’ by King Henry VIII has many examples of the Tudor Rose. The most notable examples can be seen on Anne Boleyn’s Gate. The ceilings of many old English houses are also adorned by the emblem. Wherever it was feasible, a Tudor rose would be carved. A Tudor Rose was found carved on to a gun on the Mary Rose ship. The tradition and emblem are still used in modern-day England. Even the current 20p coin displays a Tudor Rose.

Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anne Boleyn’s Heart Continued

After doing some more research about Anne’s Heart I found these legends. So who knows what if anything happened to her heart. But in my opinion she probably never lost her heart. I also read that Historian Alison Weir believes the story of Anne wanting her heart buried at St. Mary’s Church is highly unlikely ‘since heart burial had gone out of fashion in England by the end of the fourteenth century. What do you think?

1) St Mary’s Church, Erwarton, Suffolk, legend – According to this legend, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII often stayed at Erwarton Hall in Suffolk and Anne loved the place so much that she gave instructions that her heart should be buried in the local church. In 1838, during renovations at St Mary’s church, a heart-shaped casket was found set into an alcove in the north aisle. A plaque at the church explains how this casket was reburied beneath the church organ. Legend has it that Sir Philip Parker of Erwarton Hall, Anne’s uncle, was the one who buried Anne’s heart there.

2) The Salle Church legend – The Reepham Benefice website, of which Salle Church is a member, quotes the 1858, ‘Notes and Queries’, written by B. B. Wiffen (page 119) as saying:-

“It is said in Mrs. Strickland’s ‘Queen’s of England’ (Volume 4, page 203), that there is a tradition in Salle in Norfolk that the remains of Anne Boleyn were removed from the Tower and interred at midnight, with the rites of Christian burial, in Salle Church, and that a plain black stone without any inscription is supposed to indicate the place where she is buried. Sharon Turner, in ‘History of the Reign of King Henry VIII, volume 2, page 264, cites the following passage from Crispin’s account of Anne Boleyn’s execution, written 14 days after her death:

“Her ladies immediately took up her head and the body. They seemed without souls, they were so languid and extremely weak, but fearing that their mistress might be handled unworthily by inhuman men, they forced themselves to do this duty; and though almost dead, at last carried off her dead body wrapt in a white covering”.

Claire (December 14th, 2010)

You can read more about these legends an article at

Read more:
Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Anne Boleyn’s Stolen Heart??

I was looking up information about Henry VIII on and was extremely surprised when I came across this article about how it is thought that Anne Boleyn’s heart was removed after death. Do you think this is actually true? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Anne Boleyn’s Heart

By CHRISTOPHER SHAY (Tuesday, May 10, 2011)

Henry VIII ripped England away from Catholicism to divorce his first wife and marry the witty and sophisticated Anne Boleyn. But Henry, desperate for a male heir, thought the marriage cursed after Anne produced only a daughter and multiple miscarriages. The king accused her of having affairs with commoners and even her own brother. Anne Boleyn was soon arrested and beheaded at the Tower of London in 1536, and legend has it that on the orders of King Henry, her heart was torn out. Allegedly, Henry secretly kept it in a heart-shaped casket in a church alcove in Suffolk, until it was rediscovered in 1836 and reburied underneath the church’s organ.

Read more:,28804,1988719_1988728_1988721,00.html #ixzz1OSRM9BtC

Published in: on June 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jack The Ripper Letter

‘Dear Boss’ letter

Received on September 27th, 1888 at the Central News Agency, this letter was originally believed to be just another hoax. Three days later, the double murder of Stride and Eddowes made them reconsider, especially once they learned a portion of the latter’s earlobe was found cut off from the body, eerily reminiscent of a promise made within the letter. The police deemed the “Dear Boss” letter important enough to reproduce in newspapers and postbills of the time, hoping someone would recognize the handwriting.

A postcard received at the Central News Agency on October 1st, making direct reference to both the murders and the “Dear Boss” letter, is believed to have been written by the same hand. (It is transcribed under the pictures)

Whether or not the letter is a hoax, it is the first written reference which uses the name “Jack the Ripper” in reference to the Whitechapel murderer.


Dear Boss,
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.

Yours truly
Jack the Ripper

Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha

Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

How I Found My Love For History

I was sitting here at home today just thinking about why I love history and where it all started from and it really made me think. Lets see well when I was in elementary school I had a friend who was always going on trips to historical places and she would come back and tell me all about them and usually do some kind of presentation on it and it was just always so fascinating. Then as I got older I learned that my loved history and she told me of who she had read about and so on and again I was fascinated. But I got to put it out there that I never enjoyed reading up until about a year ago so I never just wanted to pick up a book on something on history but give me a historical movie or any time or a show on the History Channel, Biography Channel, or National Geographic, etc. and I was happy. History classes through middle school were complete crap they were about our state or stuff that just didn’t interest me at all. Once I got to high school it was two years of history. One of World History (we learned the basics but all I really remember was learning about castles honestly lol) and then American History (We learned about who really discovered America, Pearl Harbor, and the Depression and my teacher was horrible so it was no good). But then when I got to college, I signed up for Western Civilization for a year and OMG I feel completely in love fully. This was what I had been looking for. My teacher (Dr. Shirk) focused the most on European History and I just couldn’t miss a class of her’s. I never payed so much attention in my life. She knew her history soooo well. Hardly ever had to look at her notes at all, and she was one of those teachers you could ask any question too and she had an answer and if she didn’t she would find out for you by the next class. She also liked to talk about the simple things that you don’t usually think about, or what a day was actually like back in the time she was talking about, what living conditions where like and just simple and out of no where facts that you would remember for life. I wish I could take her classes over and over again. She made me realize exactly what times in history I truly love, who my favorite people in history are, and just overall what in history I love. So I would definitely say I truly feel in love with history because of the wonderful Dr. Shirk.


Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Readers Choice

So I’ve been thinking lately about what I should add or what to research next (person, place, thing) and I was wondering if any of you had any ideas? I’d love to add and research your ideas. So leave a comment and let me know what you would like to see.  🙂

Published in: on May 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment