Belle & Thinking About What Matters To Us All

Belle, 2013, Photo from IMDb

Have you seen the movie Belle (2013)?

Set in Georgian England and based on a true story, the movie follows the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay, the daughter of a British naval officer and an African woman. Historically, very little is known about her mother or the circumstances of Belle’s birth, but her father gave her his family name and she inherited a small fortune through his will after his death.

Belle was taken to England and placed in her great-uncle’s household where she was treated as an adopted niece. Since her great-uncle was the Lord Chief Justice of England, she received a good education. However, British society could see little except her darker skin, and she faced racism and social restrictions on a daily basis at gatherings.

Lord Mansfield, her great-uncle, presided as ruling judge in the Zong Case—which decided in court of law if enslaved men, women, and children were insurable property or cargo for slave trading ships. (Historical Spoiler: his decision on this case was one of the first steps and precedents toward the abolition of the British Slave Trade several decades later.)

For years, Dido Elizabeth Belle was “lost” in history, but her uncle had paid for the creation of an art masterpiece which survived and preserved her story for future researchers.

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1863: “Exulting In The Grand Excitement Of Such Triumphs”

(Surprise! Two blog posts today…)

23 July. 1863.

I positively tremble to think of receiving any more news from America since the batch that we received last Sunday. Why can’t we sink the steamers till some more good news comes? It is like an easterly storm after a glorious June day, this returning to the gloomy chronicle of varying successes and disasters, after exulting in the grand excitement of such triumphs as you sent us on the 4th. For once, there was no drawback, unless I except anxiety about you. I wanted to hug the army of the Potomac. I wanted to get the whole of the army of Vicksburg drunk at my own expense. I wanted to fight some small man and lick him. Had I a single friend in London capable of rising to the dignity of the occasion, I don’t know what mightn’t have happened. But mediocrity prevailed and I passed the day in base repose. Continue reading

10 Things You Should Know About Queen Philippa of Hainault

This queen’s power as Regent of England and her influence on the court and country are often overshadowed by the military happenings and disease sweeping through Europe during her lifetime. Queen Philippa of England has been “lost” in many history books, and even her image may have been significantly altered through the centuries.

Today, we’ll uncover ten things you should know about this remarkable queen: Continue reading

10 Things To Know About Eleanor of Acquitaine

Queen of France and England, but at different times, Eleanor of Acquitaine became a powerful figure in 12th Century Western Europe. Praised or censored, loved or hated, noble or slandered as common, the truth about Eleanor of Acquitaine lies somewhere in the middle of how her friends and enemies perceived her.

I just finished reading a fascinating biography about this Medieval Queen and made a short list of the top ten things I think we should all know about Queen Eleanor. (The book is an older publication, 1967, entitled Eleanor of Acquitaine by Regine Pernoud, if you interested in a more in-depth biographical study.) Continue reading

1862: “A Confederate War Vessel”

UNITED STATES CONSULATE

Liverpool, July 9, 1862.

Sir: In accordance with the suggestion of Earl Russell, in a communication to Mr. Adams, the American minister in London, I beg to lay before you the information and circumstances which have come to my knowledge relative to the gunboat being fitted out by Messrs. Laird, at Birkenhead, for the confederates of the southern United States of American, and intended to be used as a privateer against the United States. Continue reading

1862: “A New Era In Warfare”

1862_-in-their-wordsLondon, April 4, 1862

The late military successes have given us a season repose. People are changing their notions of the power of the country to meet such a trial, which is attended with quite favorable consequences to use in our position. Our diplomacy is almost in a state of profound calm. Even the favorite idea of a diversion into two states is less put forward than it was. Yet the interest with which the struggle is witnessed grows deeper and deeper. The battle between the Merrimack and our vessels has been the main talk of the town ever since the news came, in Parliament, in the clubs, in the city, among the military and naval people. The impression is that it dates the commencement of a new era in warfare, and that Great Britain must consent to begin over again. I think the effect is to diminish the confidence in the result of hostilities with us. In December we were told that we should be swept from the ocean in a moment, and all our ports would be taken. They do not talk so now. So far as this may have an effect to secure peace on both sides it is good…. Continue reading