5 Random Things I Learned From Historical Romance

This past weekend, I recorded an episode of Fuckbois of Literature, my friend Emily’s podcast. It’ll be out in about a month. We discussed Courtney Milan’s The Countess Conspiracy. I had so much fun doing it (ahem, there may have been a rant or two)

Because we read a historical romance book–and since historical romance is practically the default genre I read–I was thinking about the random collection of historical facts I’ve collected over the decades (decades! What do you mean I wasn’t 19 two seconds ago?) of reading historical romances.

These are, in fact, actual historical facts, practices, or incidents and not the slightly fudged history I make up for my friends’ amusement.

1. A Bizarre Knowledge of the Order of British Noble Titles

Look, apparently it’s not normal to know your dukes from your marquesses and earls. Fact is, a ton of historical romance takes place in England among the upper classes aka people who have titles. So while I was very confused for the first few historical romances I read (“So he’s a Lord, so he must be the same rank as the Earl, right?”), I figured it out eventually.

Duke/Duchess, Marquess/Marchioness, Earl/Countess, Viscount/Viscountess, Baron/Baroness
Then baronets and their wives, who are Lady. Then knights and their wives, also Lady.
Then courtesy titles.

2. The Marriage Act of 1753, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act

Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753 was the legislation on which the plot of Jo Beverley’s The Secret Wedding hinged. This Marriage Act codified marriage ceremonies in England and Wales, making it illegal for clandestine marriages to take place. The Act came into force on 25 March 1754–and yes, the story depended on whether a marriage between the hero and heroine which happened years ago was actually legal because it was definitely not done under the correct circumstances.

3. Battle of Culloden Moor

The Battle of Culloden in 1745 was a Scottish battle between the Scottish forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the English under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. The battle was the last stand in the 1745 rebellion, where many Scots wanted the Catholic Prince Charlie back as King instead of the imported, Protestant Hanoverian George II. The Scottish lost, with many Highland clans wiped out.

4. The Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars, which began in 1803 and lasted until 1815, are featured or mentioned a lot in Regency-set historical romances. (The Regency, 1811-1820, were the years when the Prince Regent effectively ruled in place of the indisposed George III of England). I’d learned about Napoleon and briefly about how he installed relatives as kings across Europe, was defeated, taken to Elba, escaped Elba, then finally defeated at Waterloo.

5. The Treaty of Amiens

A very brief truce/peace between Napoleonic France and the Allied Forces, which happened in 1803. Thanks, Petals in The Storm by Mary Jo Putney for this utterly random trivia answer!

4 thoughts on “5 Random Things I Learned From Historical Romance

  1. I used to have a list of European titles in order by rank in my idea notebook back in the day. 🙂 Also back in the day, I read a lot of American historical romance set in the wild west and the train travel era with richie rich Vanderbilt types and a lot of that nonsense. I found all of that early American stuff fascinating for some reason and learned a lot of useless stuff. I read Europe set romances, too, of course, but the only thing I remember learning about were debutantes and the Spanish Inquisition. Which was horrifying, by the way. And naturally gave me a handful of story ideas.

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