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Comedy by Marie Phillips and Robert Hudson. Napoleon and Wellington's horses exchange love letters against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars

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This a sort of a table listing the Cabinet positions during the period of the Peninsular War and the names of men who held them. It is by no means a definitive list, as I am sure there were Cabinet positions that I have missed. If you know any others, please do comment, so I can edit and update the file. There are a couple of normally non-cabinet positions I included, judging them to be of interest/importance.

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 So. The House. The house that Andy and I have recently moved to, Andy actually bought pretty much straight after separating from his wife. And then he didn't really live in it until now. Which means that it is full of junk. I've been able through the heartless tactic of "If you can't tell me in 15 seconds what this thing is and whether you've used it in the past month, I'm throwing it away,' to sort out the living room, kitchen, bathroom and the guest bedroom, but the dining room and what I call 'the tiny bedroom' were still of things and boxes. So what with the long weekend we decided it was time. TIME FOR BOOKCASES. 

Andy loves books, but  while he does have some in the house, pretty much all of his books went the way of rubbish heap when he separated from his wife, and that's the one thing I could punch his ex-wife for. >.< So up until we moved in he had just enough shelving for them. And then came my boxes of doom. 

So over the weekend Andy made three big bookcases (well, five big shelves each with a little space on top to put outsize books lying down). And he actually entertained the foolish hope that that will be enough. HA. While I managed by 'double-rowing' the top shelves with small books and by putting books flat on top of the ones standing up to fit in pretty much everything I had in the house (thankfully I got two small bookcases for the bedroom, so there was some space there. :) ), there are still four boxes of books in the storage Andy has been using for them and some books at Andy's mother's house. 

Andy has promised me two more bookcases. XD The Napoleonic Wars and Era took up one entire bookcase. Wellington has his own shelf, and some of the books didn't fit so I had to put them lying down on top of others. This was the first time in my life when upon taking out yet another Wellington biography I said "Oh for fuck's sake'. XDD

And there was also cleaning and stuff involved. I hurt now. x___x

GIVEAWAY: It turns out that I have two copies of "Life in Wellington's Army" by Antony Brett-James. If anyone's interested, I will gladly post it to you for free. First come, first served. :)  Has been claimed.

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Today I discovered something amazing, well it is actually pretty bad, but the kind of bad, that it is good. Apparently this January a movie came out about 1812 invasion of Russia, except it is a huge absurd comedy...anyhow, without getting bogged down in the plot, I cut out a short vid of Napoleon and his Marshals, which proves that director knew what breeches are for. ;D 


Dec. 13th, 2011 10:02 pm
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From the "Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders":

On August 9, 1822, he [Castlereagh] had an audience with King George IV in which he revealed to the King that he was being blackmailed. He confided, "I am accused of the same crime as the Bishop of Clogher." Percy Jocelyn, the Bishop of Glogher until that July, had been caught in the back room with his trousers down, accompanied by a young soldier.

How have I not come across this before? I fail as a slasher *facepalm*.

UPD: And apparently later on, after the suicide, Castlereagh's wife told Wellington that her husband preferred men. Like he didn't know. Need sources for this though!
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From the "Diaries of a Lady of Quality" by Frances Williams Wynn :

I was about sixteen or seventeen when, at Dropmore - where I was with Lord and Lady Grenville only - Mr Pitt arrived for a visit of two days. First, I was disappointed in that turned up nose, and in that countenance, in which it was so impossible to find any indication of the mind, and in that person which was so deficient in dignity he had hardly the air of a gentleman... From what I then heard and saw, I should say that mouth was made for eating; - as to speaking, there was very little, and that little was totally uninteresting to me, and I believe it had been so to everybody... On the second day arrived Lord Wellesley whom I thought very agreeable; partly, I fancy from his high-bred manners, and still more from his occasionally saying a few words to me, and thus making me feel treated as a reasonable creature. After we had retired for the night, I heard from the library, which was under my room, the most extraordinary noises - barking, mewing, hissing, howling, interspersed with violent shouts of laughter. I assumed it was the servants that had come into the room, and had got drunk and riotous; and I turned to sleep when the noise had ceased.Never can I forget my dismay (it was more than astonishment) when the next day at breakfast I heard that my wise uncle and his two wise guests, whom they had left talking, as I supposed on the fate of Europe, had spied in the room a little bird; they did not wish it to be shut out there all night: therefore, after having opened every window, these great wise men tried every variety of noise they could make to frighten out the poor bird.

P.S.: Am thinking to create a separate journal (community?) where things like that could be posted. >.>
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Joaquin Blake was an Irishman who fought for the Spanish against Napoleon – and delivered a rare victory against the French.

Article by Andrew Bamford from “Military Illustrated”.


Son of the Wild Geese.


Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, expatriate Irish soldiers fought with distinction in the Catholic armies of Europe. After the collapse of the final Jacobite rising of 1745, the trickle of rank-and-file volunteers largely dried up, but many Irish gentry families had by now established themselves in exile, giving good service as officers and assimilating themselves into the societies of their new homes. Whilst the Irish heritage of these sons of the Wild Geese led to some ludicrous names and dubiously-assumed pretensions to nobility (such as Austria’s Johans-Sigismund Maguire von Inniskillin), they rewarded the states that had adopted them with loyal and honest service.

This was nowhere more true than in Spain, where, upon the outbreak of the Peninsular War in 1808, only a handful of officers of Irish descent sided with the French, as opposed to scores of high-ranking Spanish traitors. The most distinguished of the Hispano-Irish who stayed loyal to Spain was Joaquin Blake, one of the very few Spanish generals to ever defeat the French in battle during the final six years of the conflict.

Napoleon’s Coup.


Read more... )
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The city library continues to surprise me. Pleasantly, I might add. Today I found (and borrowed) "The Dairy of a Cavalry Officer 1809-1815, Lt.-Col William Tompkinson" and "Wellington's Lieutenant, Napoleon's Gaoler: Peninsular letters and St. Helena diaries of Sir George Ridout Bingham". :D
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It's weird how I hate Martha Fiennes's Onegin movie, but don't bat an eyelash when I see Onegin/Lensky slash. *sigh*

Quote of the day (translated from Russian):

1: Napoleon was defeated [
in 1812] during a relatively warm time of the year: the temperature was rarely lower than -5 C.
2: - 5 C is lower than Napoleon's freezing point. You should really learn physics.
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Ok, I officially admit that I slash Wellington and Nicholas I. Crazy, you say? Well, read this and weep! XD

From "Tsar Nicholas I" by Constantin De Grunwald:

"When he came back to Paris a year later it was still the same: his most vivid memory was always to be the famous review at the Champ de Vertus: there, before the whole of the Allied General Staff, he took a fall which the English thoroughbred Wellington gave him."

*weeps with joy*
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From 'The Elements of Murder: A history of poison' , by Emsley.

"The Royal Navy 74-gun man-of-war HMS Triumph arrived at Cadiz in February 1810. A month later a Spanish vessel laden with mercury and destined for the mines of South American was driven ashore nearby in a gale. The Triumph sent its long boat to her assistance even though the wreck was in range of the guns of a fort held by the French, the at war with Britain. The ship was a write-off but its cargo was worth salvaging. The sailors from the Triumph were ables 130 tonnes of mercurty from the wreck by working secretly at night. The mercury was taken back to Cadiz and stowed in various parts of the Triumph and aboard a smaller ship, the sloop Phipps.
 To begin with, the mercury was placed in the hold where the crew's spirit rations were kept, but there was so much of it that soon the bags were being stowed in sleeping quarters as well, such as those of the petty officers, pursers, and surgeons, all of whom became badly affected. They found their tongues swelling and their mouths were salivating to an alarming degree. The salvaged mercury had been held in leather bags in wooden box, but it was only the bags that were salvaged. Many of these now split and spilled their contents...

By 10 April 1810 around 200 men on board the Triumph were suffering from mercury poisoning which caused excess salivation in some, while others were semi-paralysed and many suffered 'bowel complaints'.
 The sick were taken to other ships where they soon recovered, while the Triumph itself was sent to Gibraltar to be decontaminated. Not that this was effective because a new crew also started to suffer in the same way. The ship was despatched back to England on 13 June and then things did begin to improve somewhat, thanks to the movement of the vessel and the ventilating of the lower decks. Even so, 44 sailors and marines had to be transferred to other ships in the fleet and they had recovered by the time they reached Plymouth on 5 July. All the sheep, pigs, goats, and poultry on the Triumph died, as did the ships cat, a dog, the mice and rats - and a canary. Five men eventually died, two of gangrene of the cheeks and tongue. A woman passenger, who had a fractured leg and was confined to bed during the voyage, lost all her teeth and the sking on the inside of the mouth all peeled away. Doctor Burnett prescribed sulphur for those who were sick but reported that taking this did not relieve their symptoms. The only effective remedy was to be removed from the ship. He also carried 7940 pounds of ships biscuit: it was all condemned as unfit to eat, and some was even found to contain globules of metallic mercury."

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Henry Kissinger on the Congress of Vienna (from his "Diplomacy" - the bible of my fourth year course :D)

"Paradoxically, this international order, which was created more explicitly in the name of the balance of power than any other before or since, relied the least on power to maintain itself. This unique state of affairs occured partly because the equilibrium was designed so well that it could only be overthrown by an effort of magnitude too difficult to mount. But the most important reason was that the Continental countries were knit together by a sense of shared values. There was not only a physical equilibrium, but a moral one. Power and justice were in substantial harmony. The balance of power reduces the opportunities for using force; a shared sense of justice reduces the desire to use force. An international order which is not considered just will be challenged sooner or later. But how a people perceives the fairness of a particular world order is determined as much by its domestic institutions as by judgements on tactical foreign-policy issues. For that reason, compatibility between domestic institutions is a reinforcement for peace. Ironic as it may seem, Metternich presaged Wilson, in the sense that he believe that a shared concept of justice was a prerequisite for international order, however diametrically opposed his idea of justice was to what Wilson sought to institutionalize in the twentieth century."

Left to right:

Group of four on the very left: Wellington (Great Britain), Lobo (Portugal), Saldanha (Portugal), Lowenhielm (Sweden). Seated in front of them: (with the cloak on the back of the chair) Hardenberg (Prussia).

Group of six next to them and before the table. Four standing: Noailles (France), Metternich (Austria), Latour Dupin (France), Nesselrode (Russia); Two seated: Palmella (Portugal), Castlereagh (Great Britain).

The group of twelve around the table. Dalberg (France), Wessenberg (Austria). Two standing: Razumovsky (Russia), Stewart (Great Britain).  Labrador (Spain), Clancarty (leaning)(?). Group of four standing: Wacken (Austria), Gentz (Austria), Humboldt (Prussia), Cathcart (Great Britain). Two seated in front of them: Talleyrand (France), Stackelberg (Russia).

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I ordered Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna and if the review is correct and the author does succeed in describing and analysing the diplomacy of those days, I am going to be extremely happy. Though I do know it's "material" outcomes and the main idea behind it's historical significance (hello, Kissinger), I would really like to know all the grievances/demands/likes/dislikes in detail, because right now my brain refuses to come up with anything but vague dislike for Metternich, slight disappointment that Russia didn't ask for more ( :D ) and a question as to what the hell was Wellington doing there?!  It's almost as bad as trying to figure out Soviet-Chinese-US relations in the 70's and that was amazingly bad. I think I still haven't understood the essay I wrote on them. >.<

The book is told to have amazing detail on the 'movements' of the main 'characters', which is a very very good thing. ^_^

And maybe I also wanna see some real life "proof" of Castlereagh/Talleyrand slash that can be found on Russian web. ^_^;;
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This painting by Kivshenko represents the military council held at the village of Fili right after the Battle of Borodino. It was there that the decision to abandon Moscow to the French was made. Kutuzov had summoned his principal generals to it and though most of them opposed the abandonment of Moscow, and in fact proposed to attack Napoleon's forces, he ordered the retreat. Famously one of the Generals that did support his idea was Count Osterman-Tolstoy who, according to some sources said: 'Moscow does not constitute Russia: our purpose is not simply the defence of the capital, but the whole country, and for that the main object is preserving the army.'

In the Russian 1967 movie "War and Peace" when the scene opens at the council in Fili, the whole set-up copies this painting almost exactly.

Count A. I. Osterman-Tolstoy is the fifth from the left, the one who is leaning back against the wall by the window. I absolutely love the way he is placed in the painting, with the sunlight almost giving a sort of glow to him. (Yes, I am a fangirl! XD)

Click the painting for a bigger version. :D (So you can see pretty Count Osterman-Tolstoy better. ^_^)

The Complete Who is Who on this painting )

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This is the Grand Ball scene from the 1967 Russian adaptation of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. This scene takes place sometime prior to the invasion of Russia by Napoleon and here Prince Bolkonsky (the actor who plays him in my opinion could have played Wellington ^_^;;) meets Natasha Rostova.  

If the video is not working, here is the direct link to utube.

UPD: Some stills of Bolkonsky.

Read more... )


Jul. 13th, 2009 09:26 am
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Finally watched the new episode of Eureka! My favourite quote of the episode: 'You speak Dutch?!'

Was up the whole night, so that's what is responsible for the following.

See that userpic? It comes from this portrait. Portrait of General Osterman-Tolstoy (also a Count and a former governor of St.-Petersburg (squees fannishly because OMG, he was pretty! ^_^;;) Anyhow, I just gotta share this anecdote of his life, because it's just so so so... erm, something! XD

In August of 1813, during the Battle of Kulm a cannonball shattered Osterman's left arm up to the shoulder. While waiting for the operation, Ostermann was listening to three doctors arguing in Latin how to amputate the arm better. Finally one of them, the youngest, turned to look at the General and saw a mocking expression in his eyes.
- It was useless, gentlemen, to speak in Latin, - said the Doctor, - the Count knows it better than we do!
To which, Ostermann said:
- You are good! Here, you will cut, no one else!

(sighs lovingly)

Count Osterman-Tolstoy.


More paintings. Of Welly and others.  )


Jul. 11th, 2009 02:04 pm
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The following two vids contain two pieces of music that are among my best-loved. The first is quite recent, a waltz written by Eugene Doga, a Moldavian composer, for a Russian movie 'My tender and sweet beast.'  I think it is my favourite waltz ever.

The second is a finale of 1812 overture by Tchaikovsky. I loved the whole overture even before I got into the whole Napoleonic Wars thing. ^_^ Wikipedia had a very good summary of the overture's plotline, which I'm posting as well, with the bit relevant for the finale highlighted.

Music here )
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More descriptions of Wellington with emphasis on his clothing (yes, I am obsessed, can you blame me? Black leather leggins, damn it!) XD

1802, George Elers.

…Colonel Wellesley was just thrity-two, and I saw some gray hairs about his temples mixed with his fine crop of light-brown hair… He never wore powder, though it was at that time the regulation to do so. His hair was cropped close. I have heard him say he was convinced the wearing of hair powder was very prejudicial to health as impeding the perspiration, and he was doubtless right.
 … His dress consisted of a long coat, the uniform of the 33rd Regiment, a cocked hat, white pantaloons, Hessian boots and spurs, and a large sabre, the handle solid silver, and the mounting of the scabbard of the same metal, but all gilt.


We know Lord Wellington at a great distance by his little flat cocked hat (not a fraction of an inch higher than the crown,) being set on his head completely at right angles with his person, and sitting very upright in his hussar saddle, which is simply covered with a plain blue shabrack. His lordship rides, to all appearance, devoid of sash, as, since he has been made a Spanish Field-Marshal, he wears on his white waistcoat, under his blue surtout coat, the red and gold knotted sash of that rank, out of compliment to our allies. From the same motive, he always wears the order of the Toison d’Or round his neck, and on his black cockade two others, very small, of the Portuguese and Spanish national colours. His lordship, within the last year, has taken to wearing a white neckerchief instead of our black regulation, and in bad weather a French private Dragoon’s cloak of the same colour.

William Maginn

Every day during the siege of San Sebastian  I saw him, unattended by his staff, riding by my window, in a narrow street of Renteria, on his way to the besieged fortress, accompanied by an old artillery or engineer officer, - I believe Sir. R. Fletcher, - and dressed in a plain grey frock, white cravat, and cocked hat - evidently intent on the matters of the siege…’

Major Harry Ross-Lewin

‘He had been reconnoitring the enemy, and, seating himself on the grass in his well-known short white cloak, he took out some paper, and began to write; but some drizzling rain that was then falling incommoded him. Another officer and I, perceiving the inconvenience he suffered, immediately procured an umbrella, which my companion fixed near him so as to shelter the paper, his lordship having thanked him for his attention.’

John Colborne.

I remember seeing Lord Wellington in a little white cloak, sitting on a stone, writing. Charles Beckwith, who was standing near me, said, “Do you see that old White Friar sitting there? I wonder how many men he is marking off to be sent into the next world.’

And now, for variety's sake, Russian soldier's march/song of the Napoleonic Wars, specifically 1812. I provided the translation into English.


Song & Translation )
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From the memoir of Lord Ellesmere.

"... and at her arm was a gentleman, unknown, and whose features I did not, strange to say, at all recognise as those so often to be observed in shop-windows. I was, I remember, struck with the good-humoured and joyous expression of his smile, but more with the unusual length and size of his watch-chain and appendages, which seemed to me to present undue attractions to a pickpocket. Lady Harrowby did not fail to present me."

""After the Battle of Talavera he sat to a Portuguese" artist for a whole-length, of which there is an elaborate line-engraving. He is represented, I think, in Portuguese uniform, in Hessians, and it is remarkable for the size and strength of the legs, in which I believe the artist was accurate. This print I have seen in the dining-room at Walmer, and I think there is another in a bed-room at Apsley House."

Leggins, legs... People seem to have had a positive obsession with certain parts of Wellington's anatomy.  And OMG, appendages. XD And the next one just made me go 'Aaaaw'. ^_^

I next met the Duke at Woodford, Mr Arbuthnot's residence in Northamptonshire, in a very limited circle. We drove, shot, and rode together without cessation, I well remember a day's partridge-shooting, in the course of which during a heavy shower we sat down under his umbrella, which he always took with him, and he told me the history of his Danish campaign of 1807.


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