France

The Duel That Shocked France

King Henri III of France had a favourite group of young courtiers – his ‘mignons’ (or ‘cuties’, ‘sweeties’, or ‘‘darlings’) – known for dressing in an effeminate and eye-catching style. On 27th April, 1578, they  engaged in a bloody duel with a rival gang in a battle that came to be known as ‘The Duel […]

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RETRO

King Henri III of France had a favourite group of young courtiers – his ‘mignons’ (or ‘cuties’, ‘sweeties’, or ‘‘darlings’) – known for dressing in an effeminate and eye-catching style. On 27th April, 1578, they  engaged in a bloody duel with a rival gang in a battle that came to be known as ‘The Duel

The Lonely Hearts Serial Killer

Henri Landru, known as ‘Bluebeard’ to the French public, was executed by guillotine on 25th February, 1922, having murdered at least ten women he dated during the First World War. He continued to protest his innocence throughout his sensational trial – despite having drawn a detailed doodle of the oven he had used to burn

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Henri Landru, known as ‘Bluebeard’ to the French public, was executed by guillotine on 25th February, 1922, having murdered at least ten women he dated during the First World War. He continued to protest his innocence throughout his sensational trial – despite having drawn a detailed doodle of the oven he had used to burn

How Not To Invade Britain

The ‘Last Invasion’ of Britain was not, as most people assume, The Battle of Hastings – but actually a farcical French attempt to conquer the Pembrokeshire town of Fishguard on 24th February, 1797.  Windy weather had already scuppered the first two prongs of this failed three-pronged attack, which was ultimately overthrown by a rag-bag militia

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RETRO

The ‘Last Invasion’ of Britain was not, as most people assume, The Battle of Hastings – but actually a farcical French attempt to conquer the Pembrokeshire town of Fishguard on 24th February, 1797.  Windy weather had already scuppered the first two prongs of this failed three-pronged attack, which was ultimately overthrown by a rag-bag militia

The Hashish Club

Theophile Gautier’s account of ‘green jam’ cannabis consumption at the drug-addled dinner parties of the ‘Club des Hachichins’ – alongside literary figures Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac – was first published in Revue des Deux Mondes on 1st February, 1846. The Club, founded by psychiatrist Dr Jacques Joseph Moreau to establish the psychedelic effects

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Theophile Gautier’s account of ‘green jam’ cannabis consumption at the drug-addled dinner parties of the ‘Club des Hachichins’ – alongside literary figures Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac – was first published in Revue des Deux Mondes on 1st February, 1846. The Club, founded by psychiatrist Dr Jacques Joseph Moreau to establish the psychedelic effects

The Ancients v The Moderns

Modern art was controversially celebrated on 27th January, 1687, when Charles Perrault read his poem ‘The Century of Louis The Great’ at the Académie Française – railing against the prevailing wisdom that believed literature should follow the strict classical templates laid down by the likes of Homer and Aristotle. The subsequent debate between rival factions

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Modern art was controversially celebrated on 27th January, 1687, when Charles Perrault read his poem ‘The Century of Louis The Great’ at the Académie Française – railing against the prevailing wisdom that believed literature should follow the strict classical templates laid down by the likes of Homer and Aristotle. The subsequent debate between rival factions

The Chastity Belt and the Frenchman

Henri Littière and his adulterous wife Suzanne thought they’d come up with a novel way to combat her philandering – by commissioning a custom-made chastity belt. But on 21st January, 1934, Littière was sentenced to three months in prison for cruelty to his spouse. It’s a strange story, but not half as weird as how

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RETRO

Henri Littière and his adulterous wife Suzanne thought they’d come up with a novel way to combat her philandering – by commissioning a custom-made chastity belt. But on 21st January, 1934, Littière was sentenced to three months in prison for cruelty to his spouse. It’s a strange story, but not half as weird as how

Napoleon’s Second Funeral

Napoleon was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Helena. But, 19 years later, on 15th December, 1840, he got buried again: this time at Les Invalides, Paris. It was an ornate state occasion, involving multiple caskets, 500 sailors, 14 semi-naked female statues… and a lot of lardy cakes.  In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and

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RETRO

Napoleon was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Helena. But, 19 years later, on 15th December, 1840, he got buried again: this time at Les Invalides, Paris. It was an ornate state occasion, involving multiple caskets, 500 sailors, 14 semi-naked female statues… and a lot of lardy cakes.  In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and

Concorde – The Future of Flight

Supersonic aircraft took a giant leap forward when the French and British governments signed a treaty to join forces on designing Concorde on 29th November, 1962. Up until this point, the two countries had been developing their aircraft separately – which had already cost the United Kingdom £150 million. Technologically superior and far more luxurious

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RETRO

Supersonic aircraft took a giant leap forward when the French and British governments signed a treaty to join forces on designing Concorde on 29th November, 1962. Up until this point, the two countries had been developing their aircraft separately – which had already cost the United Kingdom £150 million. Technologically superior and far more luxurious

When Space Mountain Saved EuroDisney

Disneyland Paris, now Europe’s most popular theme park, initially haemorrhaged money – at an estimated rate of $1 million per day. But, after three years, it finally returned its first profit on 16th November, 1995. This change in the park’s fortunes can be attributed to the popularity of two trains: the opening of the Eurostar

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RETRO

Disneyland Paris, now Europe’s most popular theme park, initially haemorrhaged money – at an estimated rate of $1 million per day. But, after three years, it finally returned its first profit on 16th November, 1995. This change in the park’s fortunes can be attributed to the popularity of two trains: the opening of the Eurostar

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Jules Leotard first somersaulted off a trapeze at Cirque Napoléon in Paris on 12th November, 1859. His act inspired gymnasts and circus performers the world over – although Leotard is now best remembered as the inventor of the skin-tight outfits he wore on stage. Leotard had abandoned his studies as a lawyer to perfect his

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RETRO

Jules Leotard first somersaulted off a trapeze at Cirque Napoléon in Paris on 12th November, 1859. His act inspired gymnasts and circus performers the world over – although Leotard is now best remembered as the inventor of the skin-tight outfits he wore on stage. Leotard had abandoned his studies as a lawyer to perfect his