Weekly Web Links:
- If you ever wanted reassurance that fashion has made fantastic improvements over the years; corsets, specifically relatively unknown facts and myths about them. As I sit here and eat all the Hallowe’en candy that’s been bought for trick or treaters next Friday I can honestly say that I would have had issue living in a time that expected me to wear one…
- 16th Century dance plague anyone?
- A remarkably well preserved note from 13th century Russia, written from a father to his son on bark.
- A fantastic article that combines two of my favorite things: ten of the oldest known surviving books in the world.
- Over two centuries ago, Jane Austin wrote about men who refuse to hear the word no; unfortunately for them, not hearing it doesn’t stop women from saying it and in no circumstances means that it wasn’t said.
- History of Marijuana.
Historical Book Review for the Week:
Wedlock: the True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes By Wendy Moore
After becoming the richest heiress in Britain on the death of her father when she was just 11 years old, Mary Bowes was unsurprisingly courted by some of the more unsavory, ambitious individuals of her time. While she ended up avoiding too disastrous a match with her first husband, the ninth Earl of Strathmore, it was only the period after his death that this book really focuses on. Of all the eligible men-folk who began swarming around the widow before her husband’s body was officially old in the ground, the most effectively manipulative of them was a young army captain by the name of Andrew Robinson Stoney who, in short order:
- Fought a duel in Mary’s honor
- Claimed (and had verified by doctors) that he had been mortally wounded
- Asked, as his dying wish, to marry her – which she did 4 days later
- Staged a sudden and miraculous recovery
- Took control of her fortune
- And locked her away in the house while he went mad with money spending power
Well Mary turned out to be a bit of a badass and she managed to escape in a style that wouldn’t have been entirely out of place in a Hollywood action movie, but that wouldn’t be the end of her struggles. In the twisted societal standards of that time, Mary was viewed as the individual in the wrong as well as being completely helpless when it came to matters of the law. Regardless of the fact that, before their marriage, she was the individual of far higher standing and that all of the wealth of their relationship was hers, she was still completely under the power of Stoney and divorce was not a thing that was done.
A well written book which wonderfully explains the story of a remarkable women who would not like be known about otherwise, this was a fantastic snapshot of history and a rather bleak reminder of how restricted women (even ones with the benefit of societal rank and money) have been even in relatively recent history.