On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

The world’s first motorsport contest took place on the 22nd of July, 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France. First, a selection event was held in which sixty-nine cars participated. The main 127 ki…

Source: On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

Jeanne de La Motte-Valois

The Characters #1: Jeanne de La Motte-Valois de St Remy (July 1756 – August 1791)

jeanne-de-la-motteJeanne de Valois de St Remy was born in the provinces, near the town of Bar-Sur-Aube, France. Her family were impoverished nobility, living in the ramshackle Chateau de Fontette. One of her ancestors, Henri de Saint-Remy, was born in 1557, the illegitimate son of Henri II of France. His descendants were given the surname “Saint-Remy” and this Henri was made Baron of Fontette. Several generations later, the family was in dire financial straits. They had kept themselves alive through a tradition of military service, but Jeanne’s father did not carry on this tradition. He married one of the maids as the family fortunes sank even lower. Jeanne had an older brother, a younger sister who died as a young child, and a sister who was near her age. Her family ended up walking to Paris to try to make their way with only a paper outlining their pedigree. The father died, the mother abandoned her children, and Jeanne and her brother were forced to…

Source: Jeanne de La Motte-Valois

The 1910 Great Flood of Paris. | If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

In the last week of January 1910, the Seine River flooded the city of Paris and its surrounding neighborhoods causing an estimated 400 million francs worth of damage. Fortunately, no deaths were recorded, but Parisians suffered the indignity of being stranded in the homes and or in the streets of Paris. Emergency services and the military were forced to make headway through the saturated streets in boats to rescue people from second-storey windows and to distribute relief aid. At the conclusion of the emergency crisis that gripped the city, many Parisians were left to wonder what happened?

In the weeks leading to the flood, heavy winter rainfall across northern France filled the Seine’s tributaries. When the deluge of water reached Paris on the 21st January, authorities became increasingly alarmed at the slowly rising Seine. Winter floods were a common occurrence in Paris, but when the Seine River began to rise a lot swifter than usual, panic gripped the city. Over the course of the following week, the Seine rose to an elevated height of 8.62 metres. In the city itself, the water threatened to…

Source: The 1910 Great Flood of Paris. | If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

Weevils on Trial


The French seemed to have cornered the practice of putting animals on trial in the past, this is from Notes & Queries, on the prosecution of weevils:

“In the celebrated case of the weevils of St Julien, their advocate, Pierre Rimbaud, argued that his clients had not rendered themselves liable to excommunications because, as is recorded in Genesis, the lower animals were created before Man and God had instructed them to be fruitful and multiply – which He would not have done had Ne not intended that they should have suitable and sufficient means of support. After a prolonged legal process – delayed somewhat by the duke of Savoy’s troop movements – the weevils were offered a nearby piece of land outside the vineyards, but this was refused by their lawyers on the grounds that it was sterile and not productive of appropriate food. the upshot and final judgement are…

View original post 30 more words

On this day: The Battle of Quatre Bras in 1815

In Times Gone By...

Fought  two days before the Battle of Waterloo, this was one of the most significant and famous battles of the Napoleonic Wars. Between four and five thousand were lost on each side. *

Black Watch at the Battle of Quatre-Bras, 1815, by William Barnes Wollen (1857 – 1936).

Wollen,_Battle_of_Quatre_BrasBlack Watch at the Battle of Quatre-Bras, 1815, by William Barnes Wollen (1857 - 1936).

View original post

Making Medical Myths – the Case of Maximilien Robespierre, by Peter McPhee

A Revolution in Fiction

Reconstructed face of robespierre acc to Philippe FroeschMassive media interest followed the digital reconstruction in late 2013 of Robespierre’s face and a new medical diagnosis by Philippe Froesch of the Visual Forensic Laboratory (Barcelona), a specialist in 3D facial reconstruction, and Philippe Charlier from the medical anthropology and medico-legal team at the Université de Versailles-St. Quentin, France. Their conclusion, reported in The Lancet in December 2013, was that Maximilien Robespierre suffered from sarcoidosis, a crippling auto-immune disorder in which the body’s defences attack its own organs and tissues.[1] He was dying from within before he was killed from without.

In making their claims Charlier and Froesch rely in large part on the evidence I adduced of his illnesses and their symptoms in a recent biography and article.[2] But they ignored my historian’s caution about the use of such evidence, raising troubling suggestions about the willingness of these medical researchers to sacrifice judiciousness for media publicity.

Some evidence…

View original post 589 more words

Happy Bastille Day! | History Is Sexy

Originally posted on History Is Sexy.

July 14, 1789

July 14, 1789

French revolutionaries storm Bastille

Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie Antoinette, were executed.

The Bastille was originally constructed in 1370 as a bastide, or “fortification,” to protect the walled city of Paris from English attack. It was later made into an independent stronghold, and its name–bastide–was corrupted to Bastille. The Bastille was first used as a state prison in the 17th century, and its cells were reserved for upper-class felons, political troublemakers, and spies. Most prisoners there were imprisoned without…

via Happy Bastille Day! | History Is Sexy.