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1815. A momentous year and one with which any reader of Regency romance should be familiar. It was, after all, the year of Waterloo, the battle that defeated Napoleon once and for all.static1.squarespace

We are all looking forward to the two hundredth anniversary of Waterloo this year. In fact, our Susanna Fraser is planning to attend! As is my Australian friend, Lisa Chaplin, whose first historical fiction book, The Tide Watchers, is going to be making a big splash when it is released in June, the month of Waterloo!

1815 is famous for another battle, too, though.

Freedom to Love by Susanna FraserAs Susanna told us last week, January 1815 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, another battle that ended a war, although in this one, the British lost to the Americans. (Don’t forget! Susanna’s new book, Freedom To Love, that takes place after the battle is out now!)

Did you know there was another war that ended in 1815? It began in 1815, too. March 15, 1815, Joachim Murat, King of Naples, declared war on Austria, starting the Neapolitan War. Murat was Napoleon’s brother-in-law, married to Napoleon’s sister, Caroline, and had been a charismatic and daring cavalry officer. Napoleon appointed him King of Naples and Sicily, but when Napoleon was defeated at Murat2Leipzig, Murat switched sides and reached an agreement with Austria to save his throne. At the Congress of Vienna, though, he realized he had little support, especially from the British who wanted to restore King Ferdinand IV to the throne. When Murat heard of Napoleon’s escape from Elba, he switched sides again and declared war on Austria. The war ended in May after a decisive Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino. Ferdinand IV became King of Naples and Sicily and Murat was eventually executed.

1815 is famous for other things, too

Royal_Doulton_3916699266_64f808e041 The Corn Laws were enacted by Parliament. The Corn Laws were steep tariffs on imported grain designed to keep Great Britain’s grain prices high. Food prices were steep and the laws were opposed by Whigs and workers.

Jones, Watts, and Doulton started a stoneware pottery in South London that eventually becomes the Royal Doulton Company.

Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies erupted killing almost 100,ooo people and sending sulfide gas compounds into the upper atmosphere. It is thought that the gases blocked sunlight and led to 1816 being called the Year Without A Summer. Temperatures dropped, crops failed, famine was widespread in New England, Canada, and Europe.

Geological_map_-_William_Smith,_1815_-_BLWilliam Smith published the first national geological map of England, Scotland and Wales.

Jane Austen’s Emma was published, as were Sir Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering and Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies, a collection of poems including “She Walks In Beauty.”

Speaking of Byron, 1815 is the year he married Anna Milbanke. And is also the year his daughter Augusta Ada is born. Augusta became an early computer pioneer, and is often considered the first computer programmer.

99px-Emma,_Lady_Hamilton_by_George_RomneySir Humphry Davy invented the Davy lamp, a coal mining safety lamp.

Anthony Troloppe was born in 1815.

Emma, Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress died in 1815. So did James Gillray, the famous caricaturist.

What other momentous events took place in 1815?

Diane Health Update: My back is much better. It still hurts some, though. Luckily, the dh’s pneumonia is all gone so he can do the heavy lifting!

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. On October 21, 1805, Horatio Nelson, the 1st Viscount Nelson, was in command of the British Navy fleet and defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, thus securing Great Britain from invasion. The Battle of Trafalgar is considered one of Great Britain’s greatest naval victories.

While engaged in the battle, Lord Nelson was hit by a sniper’s bullet fired from the rigging of the French ship Redoutable. After being hit he said to his captain, “Hardy, I do believe they have done it at last…my backbone is shot through.” He died four hours later, his last words being, “Thank God I did my duty” and “God and my country.”

Lord Nelson was beloved by his men and revered as a great naval commander by his country. His funeral was an event with much pageantry and he was interred in St. Paul’s Cathedral. By 1809 monuments in Dublin and Montreal were constructed. Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square was completed in 1843.

Everyone knows that Nelson’s body was preserved in brandy until transported to England, and everyone knows of his affair with Lady Hamilton. In fact on his deathbed he begged that his country take care of her and that his belongings be given to her, but these requests were ignored. She was not even allowed to attend his funeral. But did you know:

That his famous dispatch was originally requested by him to read England confides that every man will do his duty? His signalman suggested substituting the word expects for confides because expects was in the Signal book and could be represented by one flag while confides would have to be spelled out.

That before the battle, Nelson was advised to remove the decorations from his coat so he would not be so easily identified by snipers? He refused saying they were military orders and he did not fear showing them to the enemy.

That you can see Lord Nelson’s bloodstained breeches and stockings at the National Maritime Museum in London?

That you can see Lord Nelson’s famous hat at Locke and Co., hatters since 1676? Locke and Co. remains a family owned business, the oldest family business in existence as well as the oldest hat shop in the world.

Do you know any interesting facts about Admiral Lord Nelson? Did you ever see That Hamilton Woman with Vivian Leigh and Lawrence Olivier?


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