Frazzled much? The challenges of writing fact-based fiction

Frazzled much? The challenges of writing fact-based fiction

I’ve been stuck for nearly a week over a chapter in the WIP. (The whip, I think ruefully, as I type those letters.) The problem has many causes. One is that I have a stubborn need to know where-the-heck my heroine (Elizabeth Tudor, in this instance) is, in fact. It’s a period of only two days, and historians don’t provide the details—which should lead me to suspect that the information simply isn’t available.

Edward VI with flowers by William Scrots, circa 1550

It’s an important moment, so I’m surprised not more is known. Fifteen-year-old King Eddie VI has died, and (after something of a bloodless battle) his half-sister Mary has been proclaimed queen.

Portrait of Queen Mary I of England by Antonis Mor, 1554.

Mary’s much younger half-sister Elizabeth (not yet twenty), is now the heir to the throne. She is riding out to meet Mary—to bow before her sister queen.

Elizabeth, a good ten years later.

First, the frazzled timeline

This is what is said:

On Friday, July 28, 1553, news of her sister Mary’s accession reaches Elizabeth at Hatfield. (Tudors—Twenty-eight Days to Wanstead by Alan Cornish)

This website account is fantastic, but this one date is unlikely, in my view, because Mary was proclaimed queen in London on July 19.

According to historian Tracy Borman in Elizabeth’s Women (page 136), Elizabeth wrote Mary on that day to congratulate her, but also …

Showing all due deference, she also humbly craved Mary’s advice as to whether she ought to appear in mourning clothes out of respect for their brother, Edward, or something more festive.

(This is the type of detail I relish.)

It would have taken time for Elizabeth’s missive to reach Mary, for she was in the northeast, at her Framlingham castle, already attending to matters of state business and debating whether or not to go to London. Some advised her that it would be wise to return soon while the public was so enthusiastic about her. On the negative side, it was stinking hot in London and there were rumours of plague.

Mary was apparently prepared to be magnanimous in her triumph. She therefore invited Elizabeth to accompany her to London. (Borman’s Elizabeth’s Women)

Mary set out for London on Monday, July 24. It was a long journey: Ipswich (two nights), Colchester (one night), Newhall (three nights), Ingatestone (two nights), Havering (one night), finally arriving at Wanstead House on Tuesday, August 1, where she welcomed Elisabeth the next day, on August 2. (This overnight stay is rarely mentioned in biographies.) Together they set out for London on Thursday, August 3—with a combined entourage of over twenty thousand—arriving late that afternoon in London.

Elizabeth set out to meet Mary on Saturday, July 29, and by most accounts, she stayed for only one night in London before heading out the next day, Sunday, July 30, to meet Mary.

The puzzle

The journey from the London gate to Wanstead takes but a few hours on foot. (See my note below.) If Elizabeth was in London on July 29 for only one night, and met Mary on August 2 near Wanstead, where was she on July 31 and August 1? She was travelling with an entourage of over a thousand, so it was not as if she could drop in just anywhere.

This question foolishly cost me several days of work. I finally found support for the likelihood that Elizabeth had simply stayed at Somerset House, her new (to her) manor in London, for the full three nights. (Elizabeth I; The Word of a Prince, by Maria Perry, page 83.)

Second, the frazzled meet-up

A few historians state that Elizabeth stayed with Mary for one night at Wanstead House, and the consensus seems to be that they met on the road, and that Elizabeth dismounted and knelt in the dirt before Mary.

The problem with writing fact-based fiction — at least for me — is that things have to make sense. So now my question was: If Mary was expecting Elizabeth at Wanstead House, why did she meet her on the road? I didn’t want to spend another week on this, so I decided to sketch out a draft where they meet on the road, Elizabeth kneels, and they move on to Wanstead House from there.

But then what?

However Elizabeth and Mary meet, the sheer size of their entourages boggled my mind. Elizabeth had an entourage of over a thousand, but it was nothing to compare with her sister’s following. Imagine:

In the late afternoon of 3 August, Mary Tudor set out in procession from Wanstead to take possession of her kingdom. Those who stood along the processional route to London were astounded by the great number in her party. Mary had an escort of some ten thousand people with her – ‘gentlemen, squires, knights and lords’, and not to mention, the various peeresses, clergymen, judges, heralds, and foreign dignitaries come to pay her tribute.

—The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens by Roland Hui (p. 322).

This is an image of the coronation procession of Elizabeth’s brother, King Edward VI. Imagine the traffic congestion!

This was at a hot time of year: the dust clouds of Mary’s procession coming through rural Essex must have been horrendous.

It did not take long to run into another time-consuming research question: Once they reach London, followed by well over ten thousand, what route do they take to the Tower of London? I decided that one hint might be to find out what the traditional route for a regal procession to or from the Tower of London might have been. This (eventually) led me to an amazing book (in four volumes): The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth by John Nichols on https://books.google.ca. On page 115 of Volume 1, there is this map:

Knowing this, I was able to chart the route on the fabulous interactive Agas Map of Early Modern London: Entering at Aldgate, they would wend their way down Aldgate Street, take the left fork onto Fenchurch Street, left onto Mark Lane, right on Tower Street and right again on Petty Wales to the entry into the Tower.

To the Tower!

My second puzzle, also solved today, was to determine where were the queen’s apartments in the Tower of London. Several maps later, including the one below, I discovered that the queen’s apartments were in the lower right-hand corner of the Tower premises, fairly cut off from any unpleasantness.

For what queen’s apartments might have looked like, I found an excellent blog post on The Tudor Travel Guide: The Royal Apartments at the Tower & the Scandalous Killing of Anne Boleyn.

In addition to great details, the site provides this image of what the Great Hall at the Tower likely looked like:

This helps give me a feeling for what the rooms beyond might have been like.

How much of this is likely to end up mentioned in the novel? Likely very little, but knowing what’s what helps me imagine the scenes.


Confession: two research tricks

To estimate approximate walking distances, I find it useful to use maps.google.com.

(Too bad maps.google doesn’t have an “on horseback” option. For this, I suspect that somewhere between “walking” and “by bike” might be an approximation, given all the stops horseback travel requires to give the horses rest, food, and water, or possible exchanges.)

Another part of knowing what’s what is determining when the sun rises and sets, and (particularly in this time) when the moon is full. I can’t track that for 16th century England, so instead, to at least keep the sun and moon on realistic trajectories I’m using the current calendar for the UK using this fantastic site: timeanddate.com.

And so? So now “all” I have to do is write the #%&@ scenes.


Resources mentioned

Books Google

Elizabeth’s Women by Tracy Borman.

Elizabeth I; The Word of a Prince, by Maria Perry.

Google Maps

The Agas Map of Early Modern London

The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth by John Nichols.

The Royal Apartments at the Tower & the Scandalous Killing of Anne Boleyn, a blog post on The Tudor Travel Guide.

The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens, by Roland Hui.

Timeanddate.com

Tudors — Twenty-eight Days to Wanstead by Alan Cornish. This website post is a wonderfully detailed account.

On Plague, Sweating Sickness, and Covid-19

On Plague, Sweating Sickness, and Covid-19

The novel I’m writing now is set in mid-16th century England. During this time period episodes of black plague and the quickly lethal “sweating sickness” came and went. With each epidemic, enormous numbers of people died.

Long ago, when I started to research, these events were simply blips on a timeline. With the advent of our Covid-19 world, such facts became far more vivid to me. I hadn’t understood the fear and heightened state of caution epidemics caused.

A 16th-century story to set the stage: a man and woman in a village in England lost children to the plague. Another child was born, and when plague returned to their town, they sealed shut the windows and doors of their home. Thanks to their precautions, their child survived: his name was William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” (and “Macbeth,” and “Antony and Cleopatra”) during plague years when the London theatres closed down. (The rule was that once the death toll went over 30, playhouses had to close.) In short, he was out of work and had time on his hands.

“King Lear” is one of his bleakest plays, written while living in a bleak time:

The mood in the city must have been ghastly – deserted streets and closed shops, dogs running free, carers carrying three-foot staffs painted red so everyone else kept their distance, church bells tolling endlessly for funerals … (The Guardian, March 22, 2020)

Plague also changed the nature of the plays he wrote. Plague killed off men in their 30s, so the demographic of both his actors and audience changed.


Although A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is not, in fact, a contemporary account—Defoe was a master of what I would call fact-based fiction—it is thought to have been well-researched. I was struck, reading it, how well-organized England was in combating epidemics. For example, if infected, people were prevented from leaving their homes. One needed a certificate of health in order to travel. Interesting!

Certainly, it is reminiscent of what we are going though today:

City authorities are sane and composed concerning the spreading plague, and distribute the Orders of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London. These set up rules and guidelines for the arrangement of searchers and inspectors and guardians to monitor the houses, for the quieting down of contaminated houses, and for the closing down of occasions in which enormous gatherings of individuals would assemble.

Here’s a truly contemporary word of caution from 1665:


This poem by U.S. poet Daniel Halpern was published—astonishingly—seven years ago in Poetry Magazine. (Likewise astonishingly, he doesn’t remember writing it.)

Pandemania

There are fewer introductions
In plague years,
Hands held back, jocularity
No longer bellicose,
Even among men.
Breathing’s generally wary,
Labored, as they say, when
The end is at hand.
But this is the everyday intake
Of the imperceptible life force,
Willed now, slow —
Well, just cautious
In inhabited air.
As for ongoing dialogue,
No longer an exuberant plosive
To make a point,
But a new squirrelling of air space,
A new sense of boundary.
Genghis Khan said the hand
Is the first thing one man gives
To another. Not in this war.
A gesture of limited distance
Now suffices, a nod,
A minor smile or a hand
Slightly raised,
Not in search of its counterpart,
Just a warning within
The acknowledgement to stand back.
Each beautiful stranger a barbarian
Breathing on the other side of the gate.

Stay safe! Stay healthy!


Links of interest:

Shakespeare in lockdown: did he write King Lear in plague quarantine? 

Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine. What are you doig with your time?

5 People Who Were Amazingly Productive in Quarantine

What Shakespeare Teaches Us About Living With Pandemics

The Game of Hope: a bibliography

The Game of Hope: a bibliography

This bibliography is the list of books and magazine articles I consulted in writing The Game of Hope. Some of them I consumed, others I simply scanned, looking for one particular fact. There are a number I’ve not listed — the annotated works of Jane Austen, for example, a number of which I consumed. Also, please note that I am not an academic, and have not used correct bibliographic style. Should you wish any further information about any of these references, please contact me.

  • —. De la naissance à la glorie: Louis XIV a Saint-Germain, 1638-1682. Musée des Antiquités Nationales; Saint-Germain-en-Laye; 1988.
  • — . A Guide to the Wrightman Galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art; NY; 1979.
  • — . Decorum; A Practical Treatise on Etiquette & Dress of the Best American Society 1879. Westvaco; 1979.
  • — . Eugène de Beauharnais; honneur & fidélité.
  • — . The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness. Hesperus Press Ltd.; London; 2014 (but first published in 1860).
  • — . The reign of terror: a collection of authentic narratives of the horrors committed by the revolutionary government of France under Marat and Robespierre, Volume 1. W. Simpkin and R. Marshall; place; January 1, 1826.
  • —. Joséphine et Napoléon; L’Hôtel de la Rue de la Victoire. Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau; Paris; 2013.
  • —. La Reine Hortense; Une femme artiste. Malmaison; Paris?; May 27 – September 27 1993. —. Lucien Bonaparte et Ses Mémoires, 1775-1840. G. Charpentier; Paris; 1882.
  • —. Madame Campan (1752 – 1822). Château de Malmaison; Rueil-Malmaison; 1972. Catalog of an exhibition.
  • Abbott, John S. C. Hortense.
  • Al-Jabarti. Napoleon in Egypt. Translated by Shmuel Moreh. Markue Wiener Publishing; Princeton & NY; 1993.Alméras, Henri d’. La Vie parisienne sous le Consulat et l’Empire.  Cercle du Bibliophile. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Anderson, James M. Daily Life during the French Revolution. Greenwood Press; Westport; 2007.
  • Atteridge, A. Hilliard. Joachim Murat, marshal of France and king of Naples. Brentanos; NY; 1911.
  • Aulard, A. Paris pendant la Réaction Thermidorienne et sous le Directoire. Tome V (July 21 ’98 to Nov. 10 ’99) Maison Quantin; Paris;1902.
  • Aulard, A. Paris sous le consulat. Vol. I. Maison Quantin, Paris; 1903.
  • Baldassarre, Antonio. Music, Painting, and Domestic Life: Hortense de Beauharnais in Arenenberg. An article published in Music in Art XXIII/1-2 (1998).
  • Bear, Joan. Caroline Murat. Collins; London; 1972.
  • Bergh, Anne de, and Joyce Briand. 100 Recipes from the Time of Louis XIV. Trans. by Regan Kramer. Archives & Culture; Paris; 2007.
  • Bertaud, Jean-Paul. Historie du Consulat et de l’Empire; Chronologie commentée 1799-1815. Perrin; Paris; 1992.
  • Bouissounouse, Janine. Julie: the life of Mlle de Lespinasse. Appleton-Century-Crofts; NY; 1962.
  • Branda, Pierre. Joséphine; Le paradoxe du cygne. Perrin; Paris; 2016.
  • Bretonne, Restif de la. Monsieur Nicolas; or The Human Heart Laid Bare. Translated, edited etc. by Robert Baldick. Barrie and Rockliff; London; 1966.
  • —. Sara. John Rodker, for subscribers; London; 1927.
  • Bruce, Evangeline. Napoleon and Josephine; The Improbable Marriage. A Lisa Drew Book. Scribner; New York; 1995.
  • Buchon, Jean Alexandre. Correspondance Inédite De Mme Campan Avec La Reine Hortense, Tome 1. (Replica.) Book Renaissance; 1835.
  • Burney, Fanny, edited by Joyce Hemlow. Fanny Burney; Selected Letters and Journals. Oxford Univ. Press; Oxford; 1987.
  • Burton, June K. Napoleon and the Woman Question; Discourses of the Other Sex in French Education, Medicine, and Medical Law 1799 – 1815. Texas Tech University Press; Texas; 2007.
  • Campan, Madame. Edited by M. Maigne. The Private Journal of Madame Campan, comprising original anecdotes of the French court; selections from the correspondence, thoughts on education, etc. etc. Nabu Public Domain Reprints of the book published by Abraham Small; Philadelphia; 1825.
  • Capellanus, Andreas. The Art of Courtly Love. Columbia Univ. Press; NY; 1960.
  • Carlton, W.N.C. Pauline, Favorite Sister of Napoleon.
  • Catinat, Maurice. Hortense chez Madame Campan (1795 – 1801), d’après des lettres inédites. Souvenir napoléonien; Paris; 1993.
  • —. Madame Campan ou l’éducation des nouvelles élites. An article in Napoléon 1er, #17. Napoléon 1er; France; Nov/Dec 2002.
  • Chevallier, Bernard. Malmaison en dates et en chiffres.
  • —. Vues du château et du parc de Malmaison. Perrin; Paris.
  • Clark, Anna. Desire; A History of European Sexuality. Routledge; NY & London; 2008.
  • Connelly, Owen. The Gentle Bonaparte.
  • Decker, Ronald; Depaulis, Thierry; Dummett, Michael. A Wicked Pack of Cards; The Origins of the Occult Tarot. Duckworth; London; 2002.
  • Delage, Irène, and Chantal Prevot. Atlas de Paris au Temps de Napoleon. Parigramme; Paris; 2014.
  • Desan, Suzanne. The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2006.
  • Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. A Reader’s Companion; Annotated Edition, With 780 Notes. Preface, Annotations, & Appendices by Susanne Alleyn. Spyderwort Press; Albany, NY; 2014.
  • Ducrest, C. Mémoires sur L’Impératrice Joséphine; La Cour de Navarre & La Malmaison. Modern-Collection; Paris.
  • Duthuron, Gaston. La Révolution 1789-1799. Librairie Arthème Fayard; Paris; 1954.
  • Dwyer, Philip. Citizen Emperor; Napoleon in Power 1799-1815. Bloomsbury; London; 2013.
  • Eveleigh, David J. Privies and Water Closets. Shire Publications; UK; 2011.
  • Fain, Baron. Napoleon: How He Did It. Foreword by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones Publishing Co.; SF, USA; 1998.
  • Feydeau, Elisabeth de. A Scented Palace; the Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer. Translated by Jane Lizop. I.B. Tauris; London; 2006.
  • Fierro, Alfred. Dictionnaire du Paris disparu. Parigramme; 1998; Paris.
  • Flandrin, Jean-Louis. Translated by Julie E. Johnson. Arranging the Meal; A History of Table Service in France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2007.
  • Fullerton, Susannah. A Dance with Jane Austen; How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to a Ball. Frances Lincoln Ltd; London; 2012.
  • Garros, Louis and Jean Tulard. Itinérire de Napoléon au jour le jour 1769-1821. Librairie Jules Tallandier; France; 1992.
  • Germann, Jennifer. Tracing Marie-Eléonore Godefroid; Women’s Artistic Networks in Early Nineteenth-Century Paris. The Johns Hopkins University Press; place; 2012.
  • Gershoy, Leo. The French Revolution and Napoleon. Appleton-Century-Crofts; New York; 1964.
  • Giovanangeli, Bernard. (Éditeur) Hortense de Beauharnais. Bernard Giovanangeli Éditeur; Paris; 2009.
  • Girardin, Stanislas de. Mémoires. Paris; 1834.
  • Goodman, Dena. Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters. Cornell University Press; Ithaca and London; 2009.
  • Gueniffey, Patrice. Bonaparte, 1769 – 1802. Trans. by Steven Rendall. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass. & London; 2015.
  • Guerrini, Maurice. Napoleon and Paris; Thirty Years of History. Trans., abridged and edited by Margery Weiner. Walker and Company; New York; 1967.
  • Haig, Diana Reid. The Letters of Napoleon to Josephine. Ravenhall Books; UK; 2004.
  • Hibbert, Christopher. Napoleon: His Wives and Women. (On Google books.)
  • Hickman, Peggy. A Jane Austen Household Book. David & Charles; London etc.; 1977.
  • Hopkins, Tighe. The Women Napoleon Loved. Kessinger Pub Co; place; 2004.
  • Hortense. The Memoirs of Queen Hortense. Edited by Jean Hanoteau. Trans. by Arthur K. Griggs. Vol I & II.
  • Hubert, Gérard and Nicole Hubert. Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois Préau. Ministère de la Culture; Paris; 1986.
  • Hubert, Gérard. Malmaison. Trans. by C. de Chabannes. Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris 1989.
  • Huggett, Jane, and Ninya Mikhaila. The Tudor Child; Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625. Fat Goose Press; UK; 2013.
  • Jacobs, Diane. Her Own Woman; The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Simon & Schuster; NY; 2001.
  • Joannis, Claudette. Josephine Imperatrice de la Mode; L’élégance sous l’Empire.
  • Johnson, R. Brimley. Fanny Burney and the Burneys. Stanley Pau & Co. Ltd.; London; 1926.
  • Katz, Marcus, and Tali Goodwin. Learning Lenormand; Traditional Fortune Telling for Modern Life. Llewellyn Publications; Woodbury, Minnesota; 2013.
  • Knapton, Ernest John. Empress Josephine. Cabridge, Massachusetts, 1963. Harvard University Press.
  • Le Normand, Mlle. M. A. The Historical and Secret Memoirs of the Empress Josephine. Jacob M. Howard, translator. H. S. Nichols. London. 1895. Vol. I and II. Originally published in France 1820.
  • Lefébure, Amaury, and Bernard Chavallier. National Museum of the Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau. Museum; Montgeron; 2013.
  • Lofts, Norah. A Rose for Virtue. (A novel.) Doubleday; NY; 1971.
  • Mali, Millicent S. Madame Campan: Educator of Women, Confidante of Queens. Univ. Press of America; Washington DC; 1979.
  • Mangan, J.J. The King’s favour; Three eighteenth-century monarchs and the favourites who ruled them. St. Martin’s Press; NY; 1991.
  • Mansel, Philip. The Eagle in Splendour; Napoleon I and His Court. George Philip; London; 1987
  • Marchand, Louis-Joseph. In Napoleon’s Shadow. (Marchand’s memoirs.) Preface by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones; SF, Calif.; 1998.
  • Marsangy, L. Bonneville de. Mme Campan À Écouen. Champion; 1879.
  • Martineau, Gilbert. Caroline Bonaparte; Princess Murat, Reine de Naples. Éditions France-Empire; Paris; 1991.
  • Masson, Fredéric. Joséphine, impératrice et reine. Jean Boussod, Manzi, Joyant & C.; Paris; 1899. On Gallica.
  • Masson, Frédéric. La Société sous le consulat. Flammarion.
  • —. Mme Bonaparte (1796-1804). Deuxième Edition. Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1920.
  • —.Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. I (1769-1802) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1897.
  • —. Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. VIII (1812-1813) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1907.
  • Mayeur, Françoise. L’´education des filles en France au XIXiem siècle. Perrin; place; 2008.
  • McCutcheon, Marc. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s. Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1993.
  • McKee, Eric. Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz. Indiana Univ. Press; Bloomington & Indianapolis; 2012.
  • McPhee. Living the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Palgrave Macmillan; NY; 2009.
  • Millot, Michel. The school of Venus, or the ladies delight, Reduced into rules of Practice; Being the Translation of the French L’Escoles des filles ; in 2 Dialogues. 1680.
  • Mills, Joshua W. Imitatio Techniques from Classical Rhetorical Pedagogy. (A thesis) Johns Hopkins University; Baltimore; May 2010.
  • Montagu, Violette M. Eugène de Beauharnais; The Adopted Son of Napoleon. John Long, Limited; London; MCMXIII.
  • —. The Celebrated Madame Campan. Bibliolife, but originally published by Eveleigh Nash; 1914; London.
  • Montjouvent, Philippe de. Joséphine; Une impératrice de légendes. Timée Éditions; France; 2010.
  • Oman, Carola. Napoleon’s Viceroy; Eugène de Beauharnais. Hodder and Stoughton; London; 1966.
  • Osmond, Marion W. Jean Baptiste Isabey; The Fortunate Painter.
  • Pannelier, Alexandrine. Hortense et Eugène de Beauharnais à Saint-Germain. from her souvenirs. Bulletin 1981, Société des Amis de Malmaison.
  • Parkes, Mrs. William. Domestic Duties; or Instructions to Young Married Ladies on the management of their households, and the regulation of their conduct in the various relations and duties of Married Life. Pub; New York; 1829.
  • Pawl, Ronals. Napoleon’s Mounted Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard.
  • Pellapra, Emilie de, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess de Chimay. A Daughter of Napoleon; Memoirs of Emile de Pellapra, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess of Chimay. Introduction by Princess Bibesco. Preface by Frederic Masson. Translated by Katherine Miller. Charles Scribner’s Sons; New York; 1922.
  • Pitt, Leonard. Promenades dans le Paris Disparu. Parigramme; place; 2002.
  • Prod’homme, J.—G., and Frederick H. Martens. Napoleon, Music and Musicians. The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp 579-605, Oct. 1921.
  • Reichardt, J. -F. Un Hiver a Paris sous le Consulat. (1802-1803). Librairie Plox E. Plon; Paris; 1896.
  • Reval, Gabrielle. Madame Campan, Assistante de Napoléon. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Richardson, Samuel. Letters written to and for particular friends, on the most important occasions. Directing not only the requisite style and forms to be observed in writing familiar letters; but how to think and act justly and prudently. (reprint by Gale ECCO Print Editions); originally London; originally 1741.
  • Robiquet, Jean. Daily Life in France Under Napoleon.
  • —. Daily Life in the French Revolution. James Kirkup, trans. The Macmillan Co. New York, 1965.
  • Rogers, Rebecca. From the Salon to the Schoolroom, Educating Bourgeois Girls in Nineteenth-Century France. Penn State Univ. Press; Univ. Park, Penn.; 2005.
  • Saint-Amand, Imbert de. The Wife of the First Consul. Trans. by T. S. Perry. Scribner’s; NY; 1890.
  • Sand, George. Lettres d’un Voyageur. Penguin; Englan; 1987 (from original 1837).
  • Savine, Albert. Les Jours de la Malmaison. Louis-Michaud; Paris; 1909.
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens, A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York, 1989. Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Schlogel, Gilbert. Émilie de Lavalette; Une légende blessée. France Loisirs; Paris; 1999.
  • Seward, Desmond. Napoleon’s Family. Viking; New York; 1986.
  • Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. A Penguin Life. A Lipper/Viking Book; NY; 2001.
  • Steinbach, Sylvie. The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle. Self-published; na; 2007.
  • Stuart, Andrea. The Rose of Martinique; a life of Napoleon’s Josephine.
  • Sullivan, Margaret C. The Jane Austen Handbook. Quirk books; Philadephia; 2007.
  • Tour, Jean de la. Duroc (1772-1813). Nouveau Monde Editions; Paris; 2004.
  • Turquan, Joseph. The Sisters of Napoleon; Elisa, Pauline and Caroline Bonaparte After The Testimony of Their Contemporaries. Isha Books; India; 1908 (2013).
  • Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Jane Austen. Longman Group Ltd.; 1964; 1970.
  • Weiner, Margery. The Parvenu Princesses. William Morrow & Co; NY; 1964.
  • Whatman, Susanna. The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman (1776-1800). Century; London; 1987. Originally published in 1776.
  • Whitcomb, Edward A. Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service. Duke University Press; Durham, N.C.; 1979.
  • Williams, Kate. Josephine; Desire, Ambition, Napoleon. Hutchinson; London; 2013.
  • Winegarten, Renee. Germaine de Staël & Benjamin Constant; A Dual Biography. York University Press; New Haven and London;2008.
  • Wright, Constance. Daughter to Napoleon; a biography of Hortense, Queen of Holland. Holt, Rinehart and Winston; NY; 1961.

{Photo above by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash.}

Where Hortense’s father Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined and buried

Where Hortense’s father Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined and buried

Tracking down facts can be a time-crunching task … but a very enjoyable one when the goal is in sight.

I began with a simple question: Where was Hortense’s father executed and buried? I think these were things she might have wanted to know.

images

Portrait of Josephine and her two children, Hortense and Eugène, visiting their father in prison.

False leads

In the process, I found many wrong answers … which reinforces the common knowledge that the Net can’t be trusted. However, I knew enough to know when the answer was wrong, and kept looking.

In the process I ended up making a correction to a Wikipedia page … which rather thrilled me. Alexandre was defined, simply, as the lover of Princess Amalie of Salm-Kyrburg, a friend of Josephine’s who secretly acquired the land after the Revolution because her brother is buried there. Not only was it curious that Josephine and their children were not mentioned, but I very much doubt that Alexandre was Amalie’s lover. Other women, certainly, but not Amalie.

guillotined

Place du Trône-Renversé—now Place de la Nation—where Hortense’s father was guillotined.

Alexandre was guillotined not in the Place de la Révolution (Place de la Concorde now) or Place de Grève (in front of the l’Hôtel-de-Ville), as if often claimed, but in Place du Trône-Renversé (now Place de la Nation), on the western edge of Paris. Apparently the other execution sites had become so bloody they had to find a new spot.

Mass executions at the height of the Terror

In a matter of about 6 weeks (from June 13 to July 27, 1794) 1306 men and women were guillotined, as many as 55 people a day. I imagine that it was hard work keeping the blade sufficiently sharp.

How to dispose of all the bodies?

It was also hard work disposing of the bodies. What is now the Picpus Cemetery was then land seized from a convent during the Revolution, conveniently close to Place du Trône-Renversé. A pit was dug at the end of the garden, and when that filled up, a second was dug. The bodies of all 1306 of the men and women executed in Place du Trône-Renversé were thrown into the common pits including 108 nobles, 136 monastics, and 579 commoners … .

18

The mass graves are simply marked.

 

names of those guillotined

One of two wall listing the names and ages of the dead.

 

012

Le Cimetière de Picpus today.

Of those executed, 197 were women, including 16 Carmelite nuns, who went to the scaffold singing hymns.

Nuns to be guillotined

4623442469_ce905dc3c0 257_Carmelites

In all the research I’ve done in Paris over the decades, I’ve yet to go to either the Place du Trône-Renversé (Place de la Nation) or the Picpus Cemetery. I believe I’m due.

Was Josepine very promiscuous?

Was Josepine very promiscuous?

The above image is a portrait of Josephine before she met Napoleon.

It is always hard for me to read biographies about Josephine. I’ve yet to read one I don’t have a quibble with. The same holds for a “Great Lives” BBC broadcast I listened to recently on Josephine. It pleases me that Josephine was chosen as one of the “Great Lives,” but there were a number of statements made that I very much question. One statement made was that she was very promiscuous. I ask you: How many lovers does a “very” promiscuous woman have?

How many lovers did Josephine have?

For Josephine, there was General Hoche, and—as is claimed — Director Barras, and — also claimed — Captain Charles.

hoche copy

Portrait of General Hoche.

Although there is no absolute evidence regarding Josephine’s involvement with General Hoche, I personally believe that he might have been her lover. We really know nothing concrete, but Hoche was a lovable, attractive man, and she could very well have loved him.

Barras copy

Director Paul Barras

Regarding Director Barras, the question posed on the broadcast was, “What did she have to offer him?” The question was rhetorical: I.e. nothing, it was implied.

Au contraire. My historical consultant, Dr. Catinat, an authority on Josephine, told me that what Josephine had to offer were connections to wealthy Caribbean bankers, contacts she had made as a Freemason. (Women could be Freemasons then.) Barras, although powerful, was very much in need of financial aid, and Josephine was able to put him in contact with men who could help.

Josephine received money from Barras, no doubt, but Dr. Catinat felt that in balance, Barras was the one who came out ahead. This perspective is never mentioned. Instead, it is assumed that because Josephine was receiving money from Barras, she had to be sleeping with him.

300px-Barras1797

A UK political cartoon showing Josephine and her friend Therese dancing naked for Director Barras, Napoleon looking on.

Several mentions were made of the cartoon of Josephine and her friend Therese dancing naked for Barras, as if this was something that actually happened. They failed to note that the cartoonist was from the UK, which was at war with France. Enemies delight in portraying the enemy in a vile light. Again, while writing the Trilogy, I checked with my knowledgeable French consultants, who declared such stories untrue.

Was Director Barras heterosexual?

Dr. Catinat also told me that Barras was homosexual, possibly bisexual. He had no progeny — in spite of claims that he had many female lovers. I am personally inclined to think that he was more homosexual than bisexual, but there really is very little to go on.

Long ago someone told me that, in her opinion, Josephine was a woman who enjoyed the company of Gay men. Frankly, that rings true to me. Josephine was bohemian, and she loved men and women of the theatre and the arts.

And what about Captain Charles?

Which leads us to Josephine’s third so-called lover: Captain Charles.

Sweet Captain Charles, Josephine’s business partner.

Hippolyte Charles, too, had no progeny — that we know of — and although we know next to nothing about his personal life, in manner he was gay as a tea party. Supremely fashionable, he enjoyed dressing as a woman.

Furthermore, at the time when Josephine was supposedly having a torrid affair with the Captain, she was quite ill, suffering from fevers and violent headaches, likely brought on by a premature menopause (the result of her imprisonment during the Revolution).

The portrait of Josephine as a woman having a torrid love affair at this time is hard to fathom. I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot see Josephine in the bed of either of Director Barras or Captain Charles. And even if I could, would these three lovers make her worthy of the label “very promiscuous”? I think not.

The BBC broadcast mentioned that Josephine was mesmerizing to men. Yes, she certainly was. What they failed to mention is that she was well-beloved by women as well.  As a rule of thumb — at least in my book of Observations of the Human Species — is that a promiscuous, manipulative, calculating woman is given a wide berth by other women. Josephine was trusted by women.

I rest my case.

(For more on this theme, see Josephine: Saint or Sinner? (Who knows?)

What have I been doing?

Other than spending quite a bit of time in Physio Therapy to help my Hip Bursitis (ouch!), I continue to wrestle with the Moonsick outline. It’s a big job, but I’m happy to report that it is coming along.

Great links to share…

The news continues to be dire. I am given hope by the resilience and creative joie d’vivre of the Belgians in their response to the order not to post telling photos to social media during the lock-down. National emergency? Belgians respond to terror raids with cats. This one is one of my favourites:

Cat

This YouTube video of people dancing on a Paris Metro is pure joy to watch.

I belong to a FaceBook group of authors, and now and then one of the members asks for help with coming up with a title. One of the authors posted a link to a Title Generator. It may never come up with a usable title, but it’s fun.

I started writing historical fiction because I wanted to imagine a world “peopled” by horses. I no longer have a horse of my own, and my riding days are behind me, but I continue to be captured by these beautiful creatures. This video on wild horses is stunning.

Have a great week!