History A’la Carte April 2017


It can’t possibly be a surprise that I read tons of history articles each week. I just can’t help myself–I’ve got to share some of the fascinating things I’ve come across. Here are a few of my recent favorites: 



Childhood in Medieval London

In Medieval London and throughout all England, parents were concerned about the rearing and education of their children, just as society is today. In the later Medieval period as guilds became more strict, professions were more formally established, among other things, parents worked hard to prepare their children to pass successfully into adulthood, something evident from the many manuals from that time that address these issues.

–When in doubt about anything, get a book. Always get a book!

Sick Servants in Early Modern Britain

There is one group of patients, however, who sometimes slip through the net. What happened when servants fell sick? Who cared for, and looked after them? How far did employers pay for their care or treatment?

18th Century Advertising Standards – or lack of

When you read through 18th century newspapers it’s quite astonishing the number of adverts there were for health and well-being with many so-called doctors offering cures for every conceivable medical complaint. Today, Advertising Standards, not to mention the police would have a field day with some of the claims made in these! Some of these are truly shocking, so we warn you in advance.

–And we think the advertising on the internet is bad!

How to Cure Melancholy, c. 1303

–apparently depression is not a new phenomenon.

Feeling melancholy? No problem – just tell your beautiful family to play music and serve you some fine wine in bed.

Prominent Theatre Fires in the 1800s in Europe

–Frightening then and still frightening today!

Theatre fires were a big problem in the 1800s. Some fires happened after hours when theatres were closed, but fires also occurred when people were in the building, on stage, or seated in the auditorium. Fires with people present were the most worrisome as lives were endangered and people were often injured or killed.

The Foundling Hospital

Although the prints in this post are much earlier, the Foundling Hospital would have been well known – and in fact a fashionable place to visit – right through the 19th century. It was founded in 1742 by the man in the portrait below, Captain Thomas Coram, master mariner and shipwright, who was appalled by the plight of the homeless children he saw on the streets of London when he came there to live.

 Politics in Late Georgian Art

There was no political art in England in the 1790s and 1800s – no art ‘of or relating to the government or public affairs of a country’. It is a surprising assertion, given that the era was one of upheaval, change and scandal, and that the arts in general proliferated.  The annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy, the British Institution, the Society of Painters in Water-colours and their fellows were well attended. And these institutions were supported and patronised by the aristocracy, even royalty. The Prince Regent was noted for his support of the arts.

George Washington: A Descendant of Odin?

George Washington: first President of the United States, father of his country, crosser of the Delaware, and descendant of Odin. This, at least, was the claim put forward by the late nineteenth-century genealogist Albert Welles. In the floridly titled, four-hundred-page tome The Pedigree and History of the Washington Family Derived from Odin, the Founder of Scandinavia. B.C. 70, Involving a Period of Eighteen Centuries, and Including Fifty-Five Generations, Down to General George Washington, First President of the United States (1879), Welles created a family tree for Washington of truly mythical proportions, and one which shows just how useful nineteenth-century Americans found the Middle Ages to be when it came to shaping their understandings of their country’s origins.


What can you say after that? Until next time!


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    • Sheila L. Majczan on May 27, 2017 at 7:20 pm
    • Reply

    Your tidbits are always interesting. But I wonder how you find the time to do as much as you do and then the research! Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Sheila, sometimes it feels a little crazy-making!

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