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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Making your own 18th century shoes

Gosh everyone is writing books but you're safe with me. I have a hard enough time posting on a regular basis.
OK, making 18th century shoes!
Yes I've considered it but it might be the next millenium before I have a go. However if you are all fired up at the prospect of making your own historical footwear then Nicole Rudolph (The Diary of a Mantua Maker) has written a book about making 18th century ladies turn method shoes.
While not a 'how to', the book does detail the methods Nicole has used herself.
The book, conveniently is available both as a PDF as well as in print.
Get all the details at her blog.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Richard found and a grrrrr!

When Richard the well beloved's* body was found last year in a council car park in Leicester, England I was as rapt as the rest of you.
I mean the chances of finding his remains were goodness knows what but lo and behold they found Richard III. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the two TV programs I watched on the topic.
A big high five to Philippa Langley who tracked him down and wouldn't give in and kept fighting to discover his whereabouts.
I am sad there is an argument about where he should be buried but the courts will decide that.  Leicester seems appropriate as it is where he has lain all these years but I get the York connection too. Although I don't think I'd consider I had much right if I were one of the distant relatives fighting that challenge.  The King belongs to the country and its people. 
HOWEVER we now come to my GRRRRRR of the title.
They did a wonderful job doing the facial reconstruction.
But for pity sake, what the hell is going on with those eyes? 
They make him look cross-eyed!
It doesn't matter which way I look at that bust he still looks cross-eyed!

You'd think someone would have said "Geez Louise the eyes aren't right! He's the King, fix them!"
OK I've got that out of my system now, so you can all resume normal programming.
Thankyou.
* Yeah I know some of you will still be Richard III haters but what the heck, he was called well beloved by the people of York which tells me there is another side to the story so assiduously pedalled by the Tudors, who did a real dirty PR job on him to bolster their own snatching of the throne. Encourage Shakespear to write a play about and voila you have the legend we have been encouraged to believe. Perhaps he did connive at the murder of the princes, I don't know but that's another story!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Royal substitution story

Well I don't know where to start. At times I stumble upon some really bizarre stories. 
This one involves Madame Royale swapping identities with an illegitimate half-sister because she preferred to forego public life after the revolution or because she had been raped and was pregnant.
What the?  An illegitimate half-sister? Whose illegitimate child?  
Well the story goes that Louis XVI was not sure who was at fault for no babies so he tested himself out with a serving maid who then had a daughter who was said to resemble the King.
Is this the same Louis I have read about who had trouble consummating his marriage and was deeply moral?
And the grounds for this theory are that Madame looked so different in her older portraits when compared to those when she was young and that she had been shy and affectionate before her imprisonment and was gruff and unfeeling afterwards so she must be a different person.
Really, could anyone expect that child to grow up unscathed after what she went through? 
Then we add in the clincher!
In 1807 a mysterious woman who always wore a dark veil over her face and was subsequently called 'the Dark Countess' went to live with some aristocrats in Germany.
Obviously that veil had to hide Madame Royale.
It couldn't be because the poor Countess had had some terrible disfigurement or was hiding from a nasty husband or was just very, very private?  NO obviously not.
Good grief Charlie Brown! 
Anyway this has all led to the exhumation of the remains of the 'Dark Countess' from a grave in Germany last year so that DNA testing can be done to determine if she was indeed Madame Royale or in fact Ernestine the supposed illegitimate half-sister. She has mercifully been reinterred. 
So what's the back story? 
Well it is said Madame Royal was so traumatised by her experiences during the revolution (unsurprising) that she preferred to forego public life and so swapped identities with the look-alike illegitimate half-sister who in fact married the Duc d' Angouleme. There are several variations of this story on the net, including the rape and pregnancy one.
What really happened I don't know but if Louis had an illegitimate child I feel sure historians would have found hard evidence of same.
Ernestine?  Well she was indeed the daughter of a serving maid and was adopted as were other children by Marie Antoinette because she loved children. 
Me?  I'll be waiting to see what the DNA evidence turns up. If I'm wrong and Louis had an illegitimate child I think we might as well tear up history as we know it and start again.
I'd love to hear your views on this story -  agree or disagree.