Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France. She married Louis XVI of France and became Queen upon his ascension in 1774. Famously beautiful and charming, she quickly lost popularity amongst the French as the Revolution took hold and was accused of being vapid, promiscuous and harbouring sympathy with the enemy. By the end of her life, Marie Antoinette had come to symbolise all that was corrupt and unfair in the social class system of pre-revolutionary France.
Forced to flee with her family in 1792, she attempted to secure help from her relatives in Austria, but in an escape attempt the royal family were detained and imprisoned at Temple Prison. Marie Antoinette was tried and executed by guillotine in 1793, nine months after her husband met the same fate.
Marie Antoinette, the 2006 Sofia Coppola film, is loosely based on her life.
Sandro Botticelli (c.1445-1540) was one of the most famous Italian painters of the Early Renaissance. Born in Florence, he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi at the age of fourteen and had his own workshop by 1470. As well as paintings, he created a large number of frescoes for churches and villas, including the Sistine Chapel. Somewhat disregarded by the time of his death, his career was entirely eclipsed by later masters such as Michelangelo, until nineteenth century scholars began to exhibit, study and appreciate his work. In the first two decades of the twentieth century more books were written on Botticelli than any other painter. Like many of the Renaissance masters, the women in his paintings are characterised by their voluptuous curves and flowing hair – his two most famous masterpieces are the Primavera (c.1482) and The Birth of Venus (1486).
More articles on spa towns:
Lancashire is a county on the north-west coast of England which dates back to the 12th century. The population today is around 1,500,000 and the county town, from which it derives its name, is Lancaster. Its most famous symbol is the Red Rose of Lancaster, dating back to the fifteenth century Wars of the Roses, the civil wars in which the House of Lancaster and the House of York (a white rose) fought over the throne of England. In the 19th century, Lancashire was a major centre of industry, in particular due to its wealth of cotton mills – in the 1830s, 85% of all cotton manufactured across the world was produced in Lancashire. Blackpool was also a popular seaside resort for holiday-makers from the mill towns. Increasingly urbanised during the 20th century, Lancashire’s population almost trebled between 1871 and the present day, and it remains a largely industrial county, although also experiences tourism due to its rich cultural traditions and historical heritage.
marriage became more popular than ever before. This was partly helped by the Marriage Act 1836 which legalised civil marriages (until then, only a recognised religious establishment would legalise a marriage, so Roman Catholics, Jews and other denominations could not have a legal union). There was particular pressure on upper and middle class women to marry, and as women outnumbered men in Victorian Britain the race to find an eligible bachelor and start a family was on – once a girl was past her late twenties she was considered too old and would have to be resigned to being a ‘spinster’. Young girls of the upper classes were introduced to society around the age of seventeen, carefully chaperoned and eventually married to a groom who was often decided upon by their parents. More information about Victorian courtship and marriage can be found here.
Hoxton Square is one of London’s oldest garden squares. It is in the East End London Borough of Hackney and most of its current buildings date from the Victorian era. Laid out in the late seventeenth century, it was a fashionable residential area notable for the Hoxton Square Academy, but by the nineteenth century was also home to industrial buildings and, being in the East End, no longer so fashionable. Since the 1990s, however, it has been home of the arts and media scene in Hoxton, and its restaurants, bars, galleries (notably the White Cube) and open lawns are especially popular in summer.
There used to be a parish of St Agatha’s in Shoreditch, near Hoxton, but the church no longer exists. The nearest church to Hoxton Square now is St Monica’s Roman Catholic Church.
Mozart wrote his first four piano concertos in 1767, at the age of 11. No. 4 (KV 41) is in G major and written for strings, piano or harpsichord and pairs of horns and flutes. The second movement is an Andante in G minor.
The free music score can be found here.
The British Museum has one of the world’s largest and finest collections on human history and culture. With over eight million works from across the world in its permanent collection, the museum owns a total of 13 million objects at the main site, 70 million at the Natural History Museum and 150 million at the British Library. Departments are dedicated to Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Greece and Rome, Prehistory and Europe, Prints and Drawings, Coins and Medals and more. The museum is also a centre for archives and research.
As a national institution, the British Museum is free and has the most visitors of any museum in the country and the second most of any in the world. The current director is Neil MacGregor.
Robinson Crusoe is a novel written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1719. Attributed as being the first novel, it is a fictional autobiography of a shipwrecked mariner who spends 28 years on a desert island off the coast of South America. The novel chronicles his survival, adventures, friendship with the savage Man Friday and eventual rescue.
Robinson Crusoe is also profiled on Bookdrum.
The Dutch Golden Age was a period in history spanning much of the 17th century when the Dutch Republic, newly free after the Eighty Years War, was the leading nation of Europe. Flourishing in art, science and trade, the new Dutch Republic was a prosperous, modern nation.
The painting of this era has influences from the European Baroque movement, but lacks a lot of the splendour typical of that style, instead using realist techniques. A major feature of the period was the limited amount of religious painting, and the development instead of specific genres, to one of which each painter generally adhered. These genres included historical paintings, portraits, landscape, maritime, still life and scenes of everyday life. The greatest Dutch painters of this period (the ‘masters’) included Vermeer (1632-1675), Rembrandt (1606-1669), Pieter de Hooch (1617-1684), Jan Steen (1626-1679) and Frans Hals (1580-1666).
Traditionally there were always health benefits associated with drinking hot chocolate – amongst those claimed were help for fever, liver disease and chest ailments. The French also put about that cocoa could help limit anger, bad moods or nerves. Today it is suggested that the high level of anti-oxidants in cocoa may help fight cancer, but equally, some hot chocolate recipes require a lot of sugar which can have a negative effect as well.
Try a classic hot chocolate recipe here.
St Catherine was a virgin princess and scholar from Alexandria, who lived and died in the 4th century. She became a Christian at the age of 14 when it was banned by the Roman Empire and converted hundreds of others. For this, she was condemned to death on the spiked breaking wheel by Emperor Maxentius, but in answer to her prayer the wheel was destroyed and so she was beheaded instead. Angels are supposed to have carried her body to Mount Sinai, where St Catherine’s Monastery can now be found. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Catholic Church (protecting against sudden death) and her feast day is 25thNovember. The Catherine wheel, a sparking firework which rotates quickly and resembles her destroyed instrument of torture, was named after her.
St Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint who was martyred c. 251. A nobleman’s daughter, she dedicated her life and virginity to God and rejected the advances of a Roman suitor. She was persecuted for her faith and given to a brothel owner; tortures she underwent included the cutting off of her breasts, which were healed by St Peter. Her death sentence was to be rolled over a bed of live coals, but when carried out this induced an earthquake and she was instead put in prison, where she died. Her feast day is the 5th February, celebrated in Catania, Sicily, by a three-day festival and procession, and she is the patron saint of martyrs, wet nurses, fire, earthquakes and eruptions of Mount Etna.
A list of Christian martyrs and the punishments they underwent at the hands of the Romans can be found here.
hairstyles of the Victorian period were in part influenced by the Regency period which had gone before it, in which a high, elegant bun was fashionable. The Victorian era saw the ushering-in of wearing flowers in the hair, first made popular by the Austrian Empress Elisabeth. In general, Victorian women were proud of their hair and it was extremely unusual to cut it. Towards the end of the century, hair became more natural-looking: loose locks were no longer just for children, and high, complex hairstyles were less in vogue.