Venetian Midwives–Who Knew? | seductivevenice

Anatomical theater at University of Padua

At the presentation I recently made about Sarra Copia Sulam at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco, one audience member showed a remarkable knowledge of Venetian history. He approached me…

Source: Venetian Midwives–Who Knew? | seductivevenice

Celebrating Women’s Equality | seductivevenice

One of the journals edited by Caminer Turra

Happy Women’s Equality Day! In the US, August 26, 1920, was the day women were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified.To celebrate this, I’d like to share with you the story of an early pioneer in women’s equality: Elisabetta Caminer Turra. Here’s a video where I outline her life story and contribution to women’s rights. She lived…

Source: Celebrating Women’s Equality | seductivevenice

Two Women, Two Tributes | seductivevenice

On this day in 1703, Luisa Bergalli was born. Noteworthy, considering she was not born into the noble class, Luisa entered the world of letters and was warmly welcomed into the literary academies, befriending such luminaries as…

Source: Two Women, Two Tributes | seductivevenice

Guilty of a Pretense | seductivevenice

Church of San Lio

We hear about the Venetian women cloistered in convents against their will, sequestered by families who couldn’t afford their dowries, who thought they were unmarriagable, or who wanted to protect their chastity.

But here’s the story of one woman who was trying to enter the convent and wasn’t allowed in.

That’s Cecilia Ferrazzi, who died on [17th January] in 1684.

“I turned in anguish from the pain to implore that…

Source: Guilty of a Pretense | seductivevenice

Passport | seductivevenice

“A passport that belonged to Casanova?! How did you get such a wonderful thing?? That must be worth a fortune! I’m in complete shock. Are many of C’s papers and belongings in private collections? I don’t know much about these things, but I expected them to be in museums.”

This was my reaction when my wonderful friend Marco, who likes to surprise me with gifts from across the sea, recently sent me a copy of Giacomo Casanova’s passport. I overreacted, not surprisingly, so excited at the idea that I somehow thought Marco might be…

Source: Passport | seductivevenice

The Old Lady and the Rebellion

seductivevenice

(I meant to post this on June 15, but I was traveling and didn’t get to it. Here it is, a month late.)

What does this woman with a pot have to do with ending a rebellion?BajamonteTiepolo2

She is Giustina Rossi, and on June 15, 1310, she dropped her grinding mortar on the head of the rebellion’s flag bearer. This may not seem like a rebellious act. She may have been angered by the noisy ruffians outside her window on the Merceria behind the clock tower. “I’m trying to grind my cornmeal here! Quiet down, now!” I imagine her yelling. Or maybe not. But in any case, when she dropped her mortar on the flag carrier, he promptly keeled over and breathed his last. His compatriots panicked, scattered, and fled, as seen in Gabriel Bella’s painting of the scene. Notice the bleeding flag bearer on the ground, mortar by his…

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Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History | Madame Guillotine

Originally posted on Madame Guillotine

Marie Antoinette

I’m so sorry about taking a month off from my blog but I hope you’ll all forgive me when I reveal that the reason for my absence was a brand new book about Marie Antoinette, based on decades of pretty obsessive research (both primary and secondary) and thoughts and questions from all of you.

A couple of years ago I threatened my poor, unfortunate blog readers with a light-hearted ‘pulp’ biography of Marie Antoinette, which at the time I intended to call ‘Teen Queen to Madame Guillotine’. However, other projects intervened and my plan was temporarily shelved as I worked on my historical fiction instead. I couldn’t stay away forever though as although my blog covers all sorts of different periods and people, Marie Antoinette is a subject that I often return to and one that I have always really enjoyed writing about as evidenced by the fact that my university dissertation was on the topic of different representations of her both before and after the revolution.

This book was originally intended as an extremely short biography (longer than a pamphlet but shorter than a novella) giving a basic précis of the doomed Queen’s life for readers who perhaps don’t know all that much about her (the better known biographies can be a bit impenetrable to beginners) and maybe answering some of the most commonly asked questions about her along the way. I envisioned it as a sort of ‘beach read biography’ – in other words, an entertaining and not at all weighty read that could be dipped in and out of at leisure and didn’t require a massive background knowledge of the period to be enjoyed. I wanted to convey something of Marie Antoinette’s life and times without getting too bogged down in the politics of the era, although naturally they can’t help but intrude, especially from 1789 onwards.

However, as the project developed…

via Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History | Madame Guillotine

Guest Blog: Meeting Catherine – My Journey from Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’ to ‘Catherine de Valois’

Interesting Literature

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

Henry V is one of the most beloved plays of all time. Though mostly about King Henry’s war with France and his victory at Agincourt on 25th October 1415, the play introduces us to Henry V’s future queen Catherine de Valois from Henry’s decidedly biased point of view.

But was Shakespeare’s version of Queen Catherine truly historical?

Following my successful launch of my short biography Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni aimed at primary- and middle-school children in March, I decided to take on this very question. What I discovered along the way now makes me wonder how Shakespeare ever kept his head on his shoulders in light of the fact that Queen Elizabeth I was Catherine’s – but not King Henry’s – descendant.

Catherine_of_FranceCatherine de Valois was born 27th October 1401 in Paris, the youngest daughter of the paranoid schizophrenic King Charles VI and…

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The First Casualty is Truth

writerlywitterings

This, you may have noticed, is the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. I think generally, so far, it has been handled quite well. After fifty years of denigrating those who wanted to celebrate the fallen in two world wars, even the BBC decided to get on message.

I have always had an especial interest in the wars. The day on which the dead and injured are supposed to be remembered happens to be my birthday. From a very early age I was aware of and studied warfare, particularly the Great War. Not from any ghoulishness, but because I felt very strongly, and still do, that it was such an important forge of English and British nationhood.

Britain and France stood alone in the Great War for so long. If it were not for the British Navy preventing the Germans from leaving port, it is quite likely that the…

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[Intermezzo] Wherein I Offer You a Few Disjointed but Heartfelt Memories of My Dead Friend Frank on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

A touching tribute to a man who fought in WWII and Korea.

A Small Press Life: Books. Art. Writing. Life. Tea.

Dear World,

Frank died at 87 1/2 years old. Picture this: When he was a tow-headed little boy, just a toddler, his parents dressed him in short pants and a striped shirt and posed him on the hood of the family Model T, grinning. Feisty. He was named after a prominent ancestor, Benjamin Franklin, and they shared more than a name: both were brilliant, larger-than-life, charismatic. Actually, he came from a long line of characters: a grandfather who died, in his 90s, as the result of a bar fight, a father who was an early aviator. That family bred their men big, bold, and memorable. Frank, my Frank, my friend, came of age during the Great Depression. He had an older brother, equally brilliant; when it came time for Frank to attend college in ’37 or ’38, there was no money left. None. His brother had the degree that Frank…

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My Letter to an Unknown Soldier has now been published!

Update: I should point out that it’s not as grand as it sounds since they are publishing everyone’s contributions as it is a special UK project to commemorate the First World War.

First Night Design

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

My imagined letter to an unknown soldier has now been published on the 14-180-Now website! Click here.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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