Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a Victorian sage. He was an often brilliant writer, historian, philosopher, and teacher. He was born in Scotland. Carlyle was also a mathematician and developed the Carlyle circle, a method used in quadratic equations.
Carlyle is known for his theories the Great man and Hero-worship. He was influenced by William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jonathan Swift, Johann Gottlieb Fichte.
His books included The French Revolution, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, the Heroic in History, and The History of Friedrich II of Prussia. He also wrote the philosophical novel Sartor Resartus.
Emily Bronte (1818-1848) was an English Romantic era novelist and poet. She wrote a single novel Wuthering Heights. It was an imaginative story of passion and hate set on the Yorkshire moors. The book got terrible reviews when first published. It is now considered one of the English language’s finest novels.
The Bronte sisters
Emily was one of the three Bronte sisters, all writers. Her sister Charlotte was the most famous having written Jane Eyre and three other novels. The least famous Anne wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The sisters never married.
Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism. Rostand is best known for his 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano was a rom-com about a dashing swordsman with a very big nose. The crux of the play is that Cyrano falls for the lovely Roxanne. He believes that she could never love him because of his very big nose. A handsome, none to bright young man falls for Roxanne, too. The love lorn Cyrano decides to help the handsome young man whispering poetry in his ear to recite to Roxanne. Eventually Roxanne see through the rouse, Cyrano gets the girl, and all’s well that ends well.
Rostand’s romantic plays contrasted sharply with the naturalistic theatre popular during the late 19th century. Naturalistic theatre attempts to create an illusion of reality through a range of dramatic and theatrical strategies.
Plays by Rostand attracted famously talented actors. The popular stage actress Sarah Bernhardt starred as Napoleon’s only son in Edmond Rostand’s play L’Aiglon (1900) when she was 55. She played the son, a youth who dies at 21.
In the 20th century Rostand’s work continued to produce hits. His 1884 Les Romanesques was adapted to the 1960 musical comedy The Fantasticks. And likely there will be Rostand plays made into movies in the 21st century and beyond.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the great English Romantic era poets. He was married when he met Mary Wollstonecraft when she was 17. He was much older and married. Still she ran away with him. They traveled Europe. And he eventually was able to marry her. They were together at Lord Byron’s home in Switzerland when she wrote her Gothic novel Frankenstein. He died in a boating accident when he was only 30.
The Affair of the Necklace is a scandalous swindle that helped spark the French Revolution and because of its unbelievable plot twists it has been repeatedly retold in film and books.
The Con Artist
It all started with Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy. She came from a family distantly, very distantly related to Henry II. She married up, but only slightly, becoming the comtesse de La Motte and received a small pension granted by the king.
The lack of money and boredom with the marriage led to a friendship with Réteaux de Villette, a well heeled pimp, procurer, blackmailer and a forger. This gave her an idea involving her friend the ambitious Cardinal de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg.
The Cardinal was on the wrong side of both Marie Antoinette and her mother. The women stood between the Cardinal and rising within the French court.
Jeanne knew about jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge who had created a diamond necklace as a gift for Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry. With Madame du Barry out of the picture the jewelers couldn’t offload the necklace. It was worth 1,600,000 livres – over 16 million dollars today. Cutting back a tiny bit on their spendthrift ways neither and the association with a previous mistress, neither Louis XV or Marie Antoinette wanted the necklace.
So Jeanne strung all these characters together to pull off a magnificent con.
First she got Réteaux de Villette to forge letters to the Cardinal from Marie Antoinette requesting that he negotiate the purchase of the necklace for her from the jewelers.
Next Jeanne induced prostitute Nicole Leguay—a Marie Antoinette look alike—to show an interest in the Cardinal and give him the forged letters. It worked. He made arrangements with the jewelers. And through Jeanne go-between Jeanne got the necklace.
It worked perfectly until the second payment for the necklace was requested and the Cardinal didn’t have it.
The Cardinal went to Marie Antoinette for the money. He was arrested on August 15, 1785. He got off, but his reputation ruined. Nicole Leguay was cleared. But Jeanne wasn’t. She was whipped, branded and sentenced to prostitutes’ prison. Her husband was condemned to galley ships for life. And Villette was banished from France.
The necklace disappeared. Eventually Jeanne made her escape from prison taking refuge in London and published her Mémoires.
Though Marie Antoinette was innocent, her extravagant life style convinced the public of her guilt. The incident fueled the flame that sparked the 1789 French Revolution four years later.
History recalls Genghis Khan as a brutal bloodthirsty devil. But as well as being fearless he was charming. On top of personality he had an innate sense of who to trust. This allowed him to develop formidable allies. No surprise that United Northeast Asian nomadic tribes conquered most of Eurasia. Genghis Khan (1162-1227) earned the right to be called the Great Khan, Emperor of the Mongol Empire.
Along with conquering an empire Khan took 100s of women. This is likely the reason 12 percent of the world population are believed to have Genghis Khan DNA.
Here is a Timeline of when Genghis Khan fit into history
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel built the Eiffel Tower. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was a French civil engineer. A graduate of École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, he made his name with various bridges for the French railway network, most famously the Garabit Viaduct.
But he is most famous for the Eiffel Tower with its wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris His company designed and built the tower, nicknamed La dame de fer. Constructed from 1887 to 1889 the tower was the centerpiece of the 1889 World Fair. The Eiffel Tower is an iconic Paris landmark.
Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. She (1821-1912) was American and served as a hospital nurse in the Civil War. Barton was a teacher, and a patent clerk. She was self taught as nursing education wasn’t widespread.
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was a French stage actress. She starred in some of the most popular theater productions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her most famous French plays including La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils; Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, Fédora and La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, and L’Aiglon by Edmond Rostand.
Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589) was an Italian noblewoman during the Italian renaissance in Florence. As a member of the powerful Medici family she brokered into marriage. She wielded great power as Queen of France married to King Henry II and the mother of French Kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III.