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It’s the eve of the Battle of Waterloo and we Riskies have been discussing offlist whether we should the battle again or not. The topic is both finite and infinite; there is so much material but for me it comes down to one fact that I wrote about here a couple of years ago here

Today I’m talking about the ordinary soldiers, the kids who signed up for the king’s shilling out of patriotism, were fooled by unscrupulous recruiters, or because they had so few options … One in four soldiers died that June day in 1815. Read more

Forget the ball and the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon and the dashing uniforms. One in four.

And that got me thinking about how we distill and sort historical information as writers and readers. What does the Regency represent to us?

For instance it’s a period of fashion and elegance, fabulous clothes, gorgeous architecture and interior design. Yet the simplicity and gorgeous drape we associate with gowns of the period really belongs to an earlier era, well before the Regency proper (1811-1820), as does most of the classic Georgian architecture. Consider the evolution of fashion from this 1795 gown (right) to the fussiness of the 1822 one (left).

We also associate the period with a certain amount of freedom and glamor and the Romantics–except by the 18-teens it wasn’t a great time to be a poet, particularly a poet of radical leanings. Shelley and Byron fled the country, but more because of their scandalous personal lives than their writing (except their lives and writing and political beliefs were bound together).

Their friend Leigh Hunt, journalist and co-founder of the Examiner, a periodical that mixed radical politics and the arts, was imprisoned for two years in 1813 for saying rude, if true, things about Prinny.

In addition, Lord Liverpool’s government passed some extraordinarily repressive legislation cutting down on civil liberties as a result of the uproar that followed the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, when local militia cut down a peaceful demonstration in Manchester. As a sidenote, the city is seeking a more permanent tribute on the site, as reported by the Guardian:

One of the lasting memorials of Peterloo crosses the former site of St Peter’s Fields daily, tucked under the arms of passers-by or downloaded to their computers and iPods.

It is the Guardian itself, which was founded by a group of moderate Manchester reformers as a direct result of the massacre, when it became clear that demonstrations and direct action were not going to change the government’s mind on widening the vote.

The government’s reaction was to pass legislation in addition to the suspension of Habeas Corpus, the Six Acts of 1819:

  • Training Prevention Act or Unlawful Drilling limited any sort of military training to local jurisdictions, punishable by transportation.
  • Seizure of Arms Act gave local magistrates the authority to search any private property for weapons and to arrest the owners.
  • Misdemeanors Act reduced opportunities for bail and allowed for speedier court processing.
  • Seditious Meetings Prevention Act made meetings of fifty or more people illegal unless authorized by a sheriff or magistrate.
  • Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act. If Hunt had libeled Prinny in 1819 he could have been sentenced to fourteen years transportation.
  • Newspaper and Stamp Duties Act imposed taxes on publications that published opinion in addition to those that published news, and publishers were required to post a bond for their behavior.

Yikes. Not exactly the land of the free.

How do you reconcile the historical truth with the fantasy when you’re reading or writing?

I’m blogging today at Supernatural Underground and giving away ARCs of Jane and the Damned as prizes, and there’s a Damned Good Contest on my site, plus various excerpts etc. Check it out!

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First, let me pile on to Amanda and mention that I will be at the RomCon conference. I will be chairing a panel on the anti-hero so woot! Awesome! If you’re going to be at RomCon, come find me and say hi so I don’t feel lonely. I am still coming to terms with the fact that I will have to wear something besides jeans. My hair, however, should be pretty spiffy as I have a beautifying appointment this weekend.

I also learned yesterday that my 2004 historical The Spare is being re-issued in October 2010. I found this out when I came home to find a stack of cover flats in the mail that were, how odd, a little different from the original cover. The original print run of this book was on the very small side, so small that I heard from people right away that they could not find the book even when it was freshly released. I’ve not seen used copies at a very reasonable price, so buying the re-issue might be cost-effective for some of you. (HINT!!)

Stuff about Waterloo

Google Books for Waterloo, 1814 to 1820 — LOTS of poetry. Today, the public response to something like this would be YouTube videos. And, of course, there would have been reporters embedded with the troops.

This is Sir Cecil Cakebeef reporting live from the camp of the Guard Dragoons just outside the charming little village of Waterloo. I’m speaking here with M. Albert DeFrenchman who’s just told me that he’s moved his cows out of Belgium and locked the barn. He’s written a poem entitled, Les Miserables complete with lyrics. My translator, Henri here (wearing the false mustache) explains that the poem is a lamentation on butter gone bad.

The Journal of the Three days of the Battle of Waterloo by an Eyewitness. Translated from the French. This book is from Oxford’s Bodelian library. ::swoon:: Having scanned through, I suspect the hand of an Englishman in this French journal.

Parliamentary Debate — on Waterloo prize money. Damn. Politics.

Anecdotes of the Duke of Wellington from The Scots Magazine,

Official Bulletins of the Battle of Waterloo – Not English ones, all the other guys.

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This week marks the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, a battle that figures prominently in history and also in our Regency Historicals. The first book in my Three Soldiers Series, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, ends at Waterloo. Book number two, Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress, begins there, smack in the middle of the battle.

I wondered what the two men whose names are nearly synonymous with the battle were doing on June 14, 1815. Both, I discovered, were writing dispatches.

Napoleon’s was in the form a a proclamation to his troops.

“Soldiers: This day is the anniversary of Marengo and Friedland, which twice
decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after the battles of Austerlitz and
Wagram, we were too generous. We believed in the protestations and oaths of
princes to whom we left their thrones. Now, however, leagued together, they
strike at the independence and sacred rights of France…After having swallowed up twelve millions of Poles, twelve millions of Italians, one million Saxons, and six
millions of Belgians, they now wish to devour the States of the second order
among the Germans. Madmen! one moment of prosperity has bewildered them. To
oppress and humble the people of France is out of their power; once entering our
territory, there they will find their doom. Soldiers: We have forced marches
before us, battles to fight, and dangers to encounter; but firm in resolution,
victory must be ours. The honor and happiness of our country are at stake! and,
in short, Frenchmen, the moment is arrived when we must conquer or die!”

Napoleon knew he was days away from engaging the Prussians and one can understand his need to inspire his troops. Still, his words are brimming with arrogance, of the certainty of his superiority.

Napoleon had the advantage. He knew he was on the attack. The Allies knew only that engagement was imminent; at this point, they did not know where or when Napoleon would meet them.

Because of this, Wellington’s dispatches of June 14, 1815, deal with more practical matters. On this day he wrote to other Allied leaders, including Prince Metternich. In his dispatch to Metternich, Wellington, like Napoleon, is looking forward in time and planning for the occupation of France. He proposes a plan that will increase the cooperation of the conquered people, ceding control to Louis XVIII. He also reiterates his characteristic policy of reimbursing the citizenry of any property the army may need to take from him.

Wellington writes:

…It tends to make partisans instead of enemies of those who shall have
given their property for the subsistence of the several armies. Every man who
shall have in his possession a voucher or receipt on the part of the officers of
Louis XVIII. will feel an interest in the success of the cause, in proportion as
he shall value the property taken from him.
…It will put an end to very disagreeable discussions between the Commanders of the several armies, myself particularly, and Louis XVIII. His Majesty…will naturally claim to take possession of the country which shall fall into the hands of the Allies… His Majesty Louis XVIII. and the Allies, will appoint officers to govern that country….By adopting this system, which is the most simple and, as I have above shown, the most beneficial to the allied armies, we should at the same time hold out something to France to which the public opinion might attach itself….We should avoid the evil of seizing the public treasures in France; an evil which it will be very difficult to avoid under any other system, and which will be fatal to the discipline and reputation of the allied armies, and will give but too much reason to the French people to believe that the Allies have forgotten, or have omitted to act upon, the system laid down in their public declarations and their

It appears that Wellington had no intention for the Allies to “swallow up” France, but rather to restore the country to the monarchy.

Neither Napoleon nor Wellington could have known the outcome of the ultimate battle. Moreover, neither one could have known that this battle would take a prominent place in history as one of the greatest battles of all time.

My friends Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw are attending this year’s Waterloo reinactment and I’m so envious I could just…..something. Check out their activities on Number One London blog.

So…what are you writing today? Any dispatches or proclamations?

Don’t forget to visit me at Diane’s blog on Thursday when I’ll give away another signed copy of Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady. I’ll announce last week’s winner there tomorrow.

Blogging at

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This week we start our discussion of Georgette Heyer’s Venetia, led by Carolyn. I’ve already read the first seven chapters and then some.

Georgette Heyer, 1902-1974, is credited with creating the Regency Romance, even now the most popular historical romance genre. Heyer’s first book came about when she was 19. She created The Black Moth, a Georgian story, as a way to entertain an ill brother. It was the start of a wonderful career of writing both Georgian/Regency novels and mysteries.

Heyer tended to depreciate the importance of her works. She wrote of one of her books to her editors:

“I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense, but it’s questionably good escapist literature and I think I should rather like it if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter, or recovering from flu. Its period detail is good; my husband says it’s witty—and without going to these lengths, I will say that it is very good fun.”

Reviewers also did not take her work seriously, dismissing her books as “froth.”

Still, Heyer was very serious about crafting her works. Her historical novels were based on impeccable research and her interpretation of the Regency world has formed the basis of the traditional regency genre (in my opinion), even though we now know Heyer did not always get it right and, to ferret out plagiarists, she is known to have inserted historical facts of her own creation.

Heyer was married to a mining engineer turned barrister. She had one son (who became a judge). She was an intensely private person. No book tours and publicity appearances for her.

The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge is a lovely biography of Heyer’s life. You can read her introduction here.

One of the vignettes Hodge writes of was how carefully Heyer researched the battle of Waterloo for An Infamous Army, claiming, for instance, that all of Wellington’s dialogue in the book was actually spoken or written by him. Around the time Heyer wrote An Infamous Army, she took her young son to the National Army Museum in Chelsea where Siborne diorama of the Waterloo battle is displayed. As she stood there explaining the battle to her son, a crowd gathered to listen, amazed that this mere woman spoke so knowledgeably. Little did they know they were in the presence of greatness!

In my 2005 trip to London we visited the National Army Museum. As I examined the diorama, I thought of Heyer explaining the battle to her son. The difference was, I knew I was standing where a great woman had stood.

I cannot wait to begin our discussion of Venetia!!! Be sure to join us for it!

What do you know of Georgette Heyer’s life? If you could, what would you like to ask her?

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My beeyoutiful Pink laptop is on the fritz. No documents lost, thank heaven, but it is doing very weird things with my browsers and anything to do with the internet. So I’m working on my old stand-by, the $400 Acer the pink laptop replaced. This Acer just keeps on ticking! My husband (a computer guy) has been working on the pink laptop all weekend.

So I got to wondering what the Regency equivalent to a broken laptop would be. A heroine who could not write a note, perhaps?

Here’s my scenerio. My heroine is out in the country. There is no time to go to the village for supplies. She must must write a note to the hero, lest he put himself in grave danger, but she’s run out of ink. What would she do?

Or she’s run out of writing paper. Where would she get paper on which to write her note?

Or all her quill pens are useless. What would she do?

I’m not solving this problem (although I have a few ideas how to do it). What do you think my heroine should do? Waste time on a Monday. Your ideas can be reasonable or fanciful.

Here for your viewing pleasure is Gerard Butler (since Megan left him to me!). He stars in Law Abiding Citizen, opening in theatres Oct 18.

My Riskies Anniversary prize, a DVD of the documentary 1815 The Battle of Waterloo (still in its shrink wrap) will be announced late tonight. Chosen from all my commenters of the month.

Thanks for supporting Risky Regencies!!

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