During my research for my books and manuscripts, I’ve stumbled upon quite a few interesting facts. You know, the Regency era is filled with oddities and curiosities. Some of its useful when writing a book, but other tidbits I keep on hand because of their strangeness. Like, did you know Bullet Pudding, the flinging of flour, was a popular parlor game? Or that Mad King George once addressed a tree as the King of Prussia in Windsor Park?
Research gives so many interesting tidbits, sometimes you have to laugh at what you uncover. Please, let me share a few “weird” facts with you, so you may bask in the strangeness!
1. Dandies vs. Fops. First off, these are perhaps two of my favorite words to ever exist. Secondly, these are two common words you’ll run into when reading Regency romances, but these words were used as actual classifications in the era. And it all came down to fashion. Dandies were followers of Beau Brummell, often credited as the originator of the suit(thank you!), who favored simplicity over extravagance. These men wore no wigs or makeup and their clothing was more understated. Whereas, fops, who’d seen their heyday in the Georgian era, wore wigs, makeup, and all the colors of a peacock.
Dandies vs. Fops
2. Ladies and their knickers. Regency ladies wore little to no underwear. Corsets, chemises, and stays were the usual undergarments, but little existed to protect down south!
3. Dirty Dancing. Before 1813, the waltz was a forbidden dance constrained to the European Continent. In fact, the dance came from Vienna, Austria. Men and women danced in groups in Regency England, such as during quadrilles and reels, but close contact was forbidden. This changed, however, in the social season of 1813 when the waltz was introduced—and accepted.
The Regency form of Dirty Dancing.
4. My friend, the skull. Lord Byron might’ve had many skeletons in his closet, but he also kept a skull goblet. His gardener found a skull at Newstead Abbey, and the poet had the decay fashioned into a cup.
Lord Byron, the poet. He looks docile with that baby-face. Could you see him drinking from a skull chalice?
5. Betting. Gentlemen’s clubs were popular in London. One of the most notorious, White’s, maintained a betting book. Bets encompassed the Napoleonic Wars, society notables, and the very mundane. One bet in the book, placed by Lord Alvanley for 3,000 pounds against a friend, had to do with which raindrop would slide down the club’s famous bow window the quickest.
6. On the hunt! Hunting was limited to landowners. However, lands had to be worth one hundred pounds a year to qualify. Owners of franchises and eldest sons of the peerage and squires also partook in the popular sport.
7. Napoleon, you chauvinist. Although Napoleon is sometimes seen by historians as improving the rights of women in France, the tyrant was a real chauvinist. His views and treatment of women in his life were beyond reproachable. In a letter written in 1818, Napoleon wrote, “Nature intended women to be our slaves. They are our property. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to a gardener. What a mad idea to demand equality for women! Women are nothing but machines for producing children.” On that note, I am glad the man died in exile and disgrace only four years after writing that shameful drudgery.
Napoleon Bonaparte in exile at St. Helena. He looks rather depressed, does he not? A deserved circumstance for a ruthless man.