When I was searching for the next portrait for the What Was Worn series, I came across this portrait, Lady Holding an Orange Blossom and knew with the first glance that this one was it. Why? Her face captured me. This unknown lady reminded me of a friend I had during my teenage years. My friend and I had grown apart and I have seen her in decades but I wonder about her and her life. Where she happens to be, I hope she is healthy and happy.
Now back to our post.
Who’s That Girl?
Lady Holding An Orange Blossom is an oil canvas dated mid-eighteenth century with the fashion style circa 1775. The unknown artist was trained in the European Style yet, the artistic treatment of fabric and bodice was a style that dates to the 1750s and as stated the fashion timeline is later. This information tells us that the artist was a less prominent style and safe to say to resided in the Caribbean or Central or South America.
As for our sitter, she is unknown and ranges in age from twelve to fifteen years of age. She is a mystery that gazes out at us with a Mona Lisa quality that snares the viewer. For the purpose of this post, I’m naming her Grace. Our amazing Grace has medium-dark skin, with dark, deep brown eyes and hair to that matches and arranged of her face and pinned up.
Art historians believe Grace is from the British or Spanish colonies and possibly, mixed race since formal Spanish portraiture was used. Because of her fine clothing and accessories as well as the fact that her family possesses the money to commission a portrait of her, Grace was a free young lady of color. Since the Renaissance, free Africans had married into white English families and experienced wealth and status. Though, in the colonies, enslavement still occurred during this timeless so some Africans were subjected to that great sin. (If you wish to read about Black people in the Regency then visit Vanessa Riley at https://vanessariley.com/blackpeople.php)
Dress You Up
Our Grace is dressed in a matching blue silk bodice trimmed with blue silk box-pleated trim on the square neckline and a matching blue skirt/ petticoat. A lace fichu is tucked in her bodice. Her sleeves are trimmed in two tiers of lace box-pleated trim with a small festoon trim between the two tiers with lace engageantes (ruffles or flounces of linen, cotton or lace tacked to elbow-length sleeves) Grace has donned a fine, sheer apron trimmed with a ruffled edge.
The final touches of Grace’s outfit are simple in design. Grace wears a cap of lace with blue silk trim band with a bow. Her jewelry are understated with cut steel earrings and a choker of pearls that match the pearl bracelet on her right wrist and two bead bracelets on her left one.
She is holding an orange blossom. The white and orange blossom is a symbol or marriage and purity, which most likely relates to her age. An orange tree is in the background. The tree were expensive in European colonies and the tree reinforces her family’s wealth.
Grace’s true identity may never be discovered but she has captured our imagination.
The Prince of Wales, George, (who would go on to be crowned George IV—son of George III—the Mad King who lost America) loved the finer things in life—fashion, art, architecture, and fine food. He spent every shilling of his allowance on his interests.
And he had a very fine allowance. The Prince received an annual allowance of 60,000 pounds from the Privy Purse and as the Duke of Cornwall (as Prince Charles is now), he received an income of 13, 000 a year from the duchy. Yet, this spoiled, indulged man was in debt for over 600,000 pounds. So, the Prince went to his daddy, the King, who he never enjoyed a good relationship with, but the king refused to pay his bills yet the Prime Minister (a title that didn’t exist at this time and was actually called the First Lord of the Treasury) promised that when the Prince married, his income would increase to 100,000 a year.
Two Princesses were put on the marital block—Princess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, niece to the Prince’s mother, Queen Charlotte. The other was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, niece to George III.
Instead of following his mother’s lead, the Prince listened to his scheming mistress, Lady Jersey, and settled upon Princess Caroline of Brunswick, who the Queen had heard many “unsavory rumors” about her.
“The Brunswicker Princess was said to be coarse and uninhibited. She was said to have had several affairs, one with an Irish officer in her father’s army, and it was known that earlier marriage negotiations had been broken off without reason.”
The Prince must not have heard these tales because he sent James Harris, Baron Malmesbury to Brunswick to escort the Princess to England. The Baron arrived on 20 November 1794. The woman presented to him shocked the man. “It was clear from the disheveled state of her clothes that no one had helped her to dress and that no one had ever taught her how to do it herself: it was also obvious for other reasons that it was at least several days since she had washed herself.”
However, he described her as “pretty face–not expressive of softness–her figure not graceful–fine eyes-good hand–tolerable teeth but going–fair hair and light eyebrows, good bust…”
Her father, the Duke of Brunswick, informed the baron that she is no fool but that she lacks judgment.”
Princess Caroline was twenty-six years old and couldn’t be described as discreet. “She was over-familiar with everyone, and her conversation was coarse and tactless.” Poor Malmesbury spent his time there teaching the Princess the manners of a Princess and proper behavior.
On 29 December 1794, they left for England but had to head to Hanover because it was too dangerous to continue. For the next six weeks, Malmesbury lived his own version of My Fair Lady teaching Caroline how to behave like an English Princess.
Finally, on 28 March 1795, they boarded the HMS Jupiter and traveled to Gravesend, England then climbed on the royal yacht, Augusta, and sailed to Greenwich, landing on Easter Sunday. No one was there to meet her so she was taken to St. James Palace and remained until her wedding day.
Then came the meeting between the couple. Caroline waved at the crowds from an open window, the Prince of Wales entered.
Malmesbury wrote in his diary. “She very properly, in consequence of my saying it to her it was the right mode of proceeding, attempted to kneel to him. He raised her (gracefully enough), and embraced her, said barely one word, turned round, retired to a distant part of the apartment, and calling me to him, said ‘Harris, I am not well; pray get a glass of brandy.’ I said, ‘Sir, had you not better have a glass of water?’—upon which he much out of humor, said with an oath, ‘No; I will go directly to the Queen,’ and away he went…”
Well, Princess Caroline wasn’t a meek miss. She gaped and said, “My God! Is the Prince always like that?” And even added what many thought, “I think he is very fat, and nothing like as handsome as his portrait.” That night, the couple dined together. It did nothing to improve their relationship. Caroline still hurt by the Prince’s treatment of her was sarcastic and made it known that she knew of the Prince’s relationship with her lady-in-waiting, Lady Jersey. Malmesbury wrote “The Prince was disgusted and this unfortunate dinner fixed his dislike.
Three days later, Caroline was at the altar of the Chapel Royal dressed in a gown chosen by the queen. An old-fashioned confection of huge hoops, broad ribbons, and big bows wrapped around the outside.
The prince ambled his drunk self to the altar, thanks to the literal support of the Dukes of Bedford and Roxburghe. According to Caroline, now the Princess of Wales, her husband passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him.”
The marriage didn’t improve. Caroline tried to please him but she was dirty and smelled and the Prince voice his displeasure so Caroline just repeated whatever action or word that had displeased him. After three weeks, the couple was living separately. Caroline on the ground floor of Carlton House and the Prince in his luxurious apartment above his wife’s.
Yet, one day short of their ninth month anniversary on 7 January 1796, Princess Charlotte was born into this dysfunctional famil
So we are a month and a some days into 2020. Everyone seems to have been complaining about how long January seemed to be. So far, I haven’t posted any Historical Costume or Couples posts. In truth, I have been lazy and reevaluating my life.
You may have noticed, if you have been following my blog, that I have changed the look of it. This year I am all about no frills. I want clean and simple. But don’t worry, I’m researching my Historical Couples post about Elizabeth of York and her husband, Henry Tudor, or Henry VII, King of England. I had planned to do another couple but I’m searching for information for them and haven’t found much. Nevertheless, my search continues.
Also, I have decided on the topic of my new Historical Costume post. I just need to write it up. But as I confessed in the beginning, I have been lazy. No more, I have too much I want to accomplish and feel that I have a plan–finally.
So, keep an eye out for the posts and if you are not following my blog, please do so now and if you wish to tell anyone else about my post, please do.
On April 24 1567, Mary departed Linlithgow Castle for Edinburgh. Her retinue was small, consisting of a powerful men. Near the royal burgh, she came upon a scene that has been disputed through the ages.
Bothwell awaited her with a small army and with their swords drawn. When the queen drew closer, Bothwell took hold of her bridle. He told her some story about danger from insurrection in Edinburgh and was escorting her to Dunbar Castle along with the 5th Earl of Huntly, Sir Maitland and others of her party. The men were ready to defend her from Bothwell but the Queen stopped them.
Some say that she planned this abducation where others believe otherwise. Whatever is true does not matter but Mary went with Bothwell. The group rode through the night to formidable stronghold in Scotland.
Arriving at Dunbar Castle at midnight, she was separated from the others and the gates were locked. Yet, she sent a letter to the Governor of Dunbar to await rescue but no one came. Bothwell would marry Mary and this was his way to get her agreement. The Queen was against the marriage, denying the earl repeatedly. The man think he had an upper hand he produced the Ainslie’s Tavern Bond. (A bond signed by the Scottish Lords supporting the marriage). Still, Mary refused.
Since he couldn’t win her agreement one way, Bothwell tried another. He “…raped her, laying her open to dishonor and the risk of an illicit pregnancy, with the consequent loss of her reputation.” Melville, who was at Dunbar that night, professed as well as, “the Queen could not but marry him, seeing he had ravished her and lain with her against her will.”
Mary agreed to marry him “as soon as he was free.” Bothwell was still marry to Lady Jean Gordon, sister to the 5th Earl of Huntly–one of his captives that night. I believe that Mary agreed because he was a wedded man and believed that his marriage wouldn’t be dissolved.
There are others who claim her rape accusations are lies. Much hasn’t changed since the sixteenth century, right? Many at the time had their own story of events that took place at Dunbar and seem to be based upon whether the people support Mary, Queen of Scots or Lord James Stewart, her half-brother and Earl of Moray and leader of Confederate Lords. These events would come to be used against her with the Casket Letters and her trial in England.
But in Edinburgh, Lady Bothwell put forth her petition for divorce on the basis of adultery. Not for what occured at Dunbar but his affair with a maid that Lady Bothwell had caught him with months before this.
Mary was still at Dunbar where she sent letters to Elizabeth seeking her help. Elizabeth told her to punish all those invovled in Darnley’s death that including Bothwell and many other lords. But Mary’s reputation in Scotland, England and Europe.
On May 3, 1567, Bothwell’s divorce was granted and he also put his suit for an annulment. Two days later, Bothwell confident of the coming annulment, he left Dunbar with the Queen and an armed force. Meanwhile, the Confederate Lords were uniting against Bothwell. They were raising troops and gathering support.
On 10 May, Mary pardoned the men who assisted Bothwell in her abduction then on the 12th, she appeared at Edinburgh Tolbooth and “…declared that she was marrying Bothwell of her own free will and that in this marriage she foresaw much peace of the realm.”
On the morning of the 15th of May, Mary, Queen of Scots married Lord James Hamilton, the Earl of Bothwell, the newly created Duke of Orkney and Lord of Shetland, in a Protestant ceremony. A “solemn wedding breakfast” followed. The event was a quiet one. Not just in the sense of music and dancing and other joyous activities, people who did attend literally did not speak. When the event ended, Mary cried as she did during the breakfast. This queen was broken.
That night a placard was hung at Holyrood gates. It read “wantons marry in the month of May.” The morning after, Mary “cried aloud, then sought for a knife to stab herself or (as she cried) else I will drown myself.”
The marriage didn’t begin happily and worsened. Bothwell’s true demeanor was reveal. According to Allison Weir’s Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley , “he revealed himself as a Jekyll and Hyde chracter, sometimes dour, forbidding and even indifferent, sometimes embarrassingly over-familiar and given to using coarse and even obscene langauge in her presence. He dictated who might, and who might not have access to, and speech with, her and insisted on being present.” But in public Bothwell showed reverence to her.
Politically, the government was shattered. The Privy Council had thinned out. Mary never granted Bothwell title of King but that didn’t stop him from behaving as one. The Roman Catholic rose was wilted and all were scandalized by the marriage. Her Guise family deserted her. Nobles fled court. There were no more festivities. And Bothwell forbade Mary from visiting her son in Stirling. Meanwhile Mary’s health hadn’t improved. She suffered from fainting spells.
The Confederate Lords planned to capture Mary and Bothwell. Catching wind of this plot, Bothwell decided to move to thick, strong walls of Edinburgh Castle. But the Governor of the Castle refused them entry. It is said, “who who holds Edinburgh Castle, holds Scotland.”
Mary had lost Scotland.
So the couple headed to Borthwick Castle where Mary summoned her levies to meet at Auirshead Abbey on June 12. This summons wasn’t obeyed and those who did arrive possessed no will to fight. Also at this time, Mary discovered she was pregnant. Now,”…she had no choice but to fight or fall with Bothwell.”
That June, the Confederate Lords appeared at the fortfied walls of Borthwick Castle. The lords screamed up to the walls for Bothwell come out. Mary appeared at the castle walls and informed them of Bothwell’s absence. He had departed days before their arrival. The lords asked her to return to Edinburgh with them and help them punish Darnley’s murderer. She refused. The lords insulted her but withdrew since they had no artillery to attack the castle.
At the midnight hour, Mary escaped from Borthwick castle before the Lords returned with an army and artillery. Dressed in men’s clothing, she met up with Bothwell’s servants who escorted her to her third husband who together journeyed to Dunbar. Having left her belonging behind, the Queen of Scotland had to borrow clothes from a countrywoman. Allison Weir writes that she donned, ” a red petticoat that barely covered her knees, sleeves tied with bow, a velvet hat and a muffler.”
In the daylight hours, both sides summoned men to their banners. Bothwell had the loyalty of the Borders but not many join Mary’s side. The Confederate Lords had 4000 men. The Queen departed from Dunbar with her 600 horses and 3 cannons and met up with her husband and his 1,600 men. Mary was a woman ready to fight. On her way, the people didn’t join her side and she was dismayed by this. Mary and her husband rode to Seton Castle and spent their last night together.
On June 15, the two armies lined up at Carberry Hill, seven miles east of Edinburgh. “The Queen’s forces were drawn up on the hillside beneath pennants bearing the Lion Rampant of Scotland and the Saltire of St. Andrew. The Lords were positioned at the foot of the hill, under an emotive white banner portraying the infant James praying before his father’s murdered corpse, and bearing the legend, ‘Judge and avenge my cause, O Lord.'”
The day was spent parleying and sadly, all that talk had come to nothing. Mary wept and Bothwell bellowed and challenged the lords in single combat. One lord was found but Mary turned down that idea.
Mary asked the terms of surrender. If the Queen placed herself in the Lords’ care then they would allow Bothwell to leave and go where he wished until Parliament ruled upon his case. Bothwell wished for Mary to retreat to Dunbar and to raise another army. Mary replied with, “she owed a duty to the late King her husband, a duty which she would not neglect.” She owed Darnley justice and that she would find his killers and have them prosecuted and punished.
Bothwell was guilty in this act. He certainly played a part but to what extent I cannot nor can history determine. So, Bothwell let his wife go. The reason Bothwell wasn’t arrested that day is tied with politics and the other lords guilt in Darnley’s murder.
So, dressed in the red petticoat too short for her and the velvet hat, she surrendered to the cries of “Burn the whore!” She was pushed and shoved by the ranks then returned to Edinburgh.
Bothwell escaped to Denmark, where he was arrested. Mary meanwhile, was locked away at Loch Leven, miscarried her twins, and signed away her throne. She escaped and raised another army but lost that battle and escaped to England.
On April 14, 1578, the 4th Earl of Bothwell died imprisoned in Dragsholm Castle. Less than a decade later on February 8, 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle by her cousin Elizabeth.
Her son James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. In the end, Scotland won England.
It’s Monday so I have a little treat for you. The Chieftain’s Secret, my Highlander novella is here for your pleasure. Niall and Ermina’s story has been called “a throughly entertaining read.” And one reviewer stated, “I recommend this book most definitely.” So stop by Amazon and get your copy.
On a windswept Scottish Isle…
Many objects wash up on the shores of the rugged Isle of Mull. The Laird of Lochbuie never expected a pregnant wife to be included in that. Honorable Niall MacLean was wed to his childhood love when she died in childbirth. Now a widower, he struggles to get beyond his grief. Then a dear friend, Ermina Bruce pleaded for his help. His protective instinct came alive and he handfasted with Ermina to save her from an unsuitable marriage and one drunken night has led to forever after and a repeat of his past heartbreak.
The bonds of friendship…
Noble Ermina Bruce has loved Niall MacLean since he first fostered in her uncle’s home. But he loved another so she settled for the deep bonds of friendship. When her family arranged a marriage she didn’t want she knew Niall could save her from that miserable fate.
One night of passion…
That one night in Niall’s arms led to her pregnancy. Ermina has not told Niall of their secret baby. But his reaction isn’t her greatest fear. Her fear is even greater than the brave laird’s wrath. Every woman in her family has died in childbirth and all know the same fate awaits her. Once again, Ermina knows Niall is the only one who can save her. And if he fails, her last days shall be with the man she has loved since childhood.
*Since I write Scottish Romance novels, I naturally had to write about Robert the Bruce and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. More so after I watched Outlaw King on Netflix. In truth, I didn’t like it and my love for Chris Pine couldn’t even save it. I felt that the flick only touched on the man who became King of Scots.
No matter the movie, Robert the Bruce captured my interest years ago. I even included a Bruce relation in my upcoming Scottish historical romance novella The Chieftain’s Secret and now is the time I can write about this historical couple.
Robert the Bruce or Robert de Brus was of Anglo-Norman and Gaelic nobility as well as the Earl of Carrick. He was the fourth great-grandson of David I, King of Scotland. As the saying goes, his blood ran blue. Through this line, he had a claim to the Scottish throne after the death of Alexander III. He wasn’t the only one though.
The Scottish nobility and Edward I of England bestowed the Scottish crown on the head of John Balliol though he wouldn’t remain king for long. Robert had been married before to Isabella of Mar who died birthing their daughter, Majorie Bruce.
During William Wallace and Andrew Moray’s battle against Edward I, Robert was among those that battled the English for Scottish Independence. In September 1298, when William Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland, Robert the Bruce as well as John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch another claimant to the Scottish throne as well as William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews were appointed to that rank.
Bruce wouldn’t hold the position for long. He resigned in 1300. It seems that he and Comyn couldn’t get beyond their differences or most likely dislike of each other.
By 1302, Robert and his family made “peace” with Edward I as they were rumors that John Balliol would reclaim the Scottish throne. It was also this year when he would wed his second wife—Elizabeth de Burgh.
Elizabeth de Burgh was born in 1284 in Ireland and was the daughter of one of the most powerful Irish nobles—the 2nd Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burgh and his wife Margarite de Burgh. Much is not know about her life but she was about eighteen and Robert twenty-eight when they wed.
Most likely their marriage was not a love match but one of politics. Robert’s father was an ally and friend to Edward I as well as Elizabeth’s own father. The marriage was most likely also arranged to help Edward retain an ally in Scotland. Don’t think that peace existed between Scotland and England during these times. There was still unrest and bloodshed and much distrust on both sides.
Four years after their marriage, Robert slain John Comyn in the Chapel of Greyfriars Monastery in Dumfries. Now Bruce was excommunicated for his crime. However, he was given absolution from the Bishop of Glasgow. Now, Bruce claimed the crown of Scotland.
On the 25 of March 1306, Robert the Bruce had the Scottish crown placed on his head. Elizabeth became his queen consort. But this couple couldn’t have a quiet time, there were still English to be fought and banished from Scottish lands.
In June of 1306, Bruce was defeated at the Battle of Methven. Robert placed his wife, his sisters and his daughter’s protection to his brother Niall Bruce who journeyed to Kildrummy Castle. Robert fled and went into hiding.
At Kildrummy, the English laid siege. The Bruce ladies escaped while every man including Niall Bruce was hanged. Elizabeth along with the others took protection at St. Duthac at Tain. But the Earl of Ross imprisoned them and informed Edward.
Elizabeth was imprisoned in harsh conditions in England. She was moved from castle to castle.
Meanwhile, Bruce was waging war against the English. It would take eight years for Elizabeth and Robert to be reunited. During this time, Edward I died and his son Edward II became King of England.
Bruce waged war and on the 24 of June 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn was fought. The Scottish and Bruce won their independence.
In November of that year, Elizabeth was finally reunited with her husband in a prisoner exchange.
Elizabeth and Bruce would have four children together—Matilda, Margaret, David II of Scotland and John of Scotland. All their children but John (died in infancy) grew to adulthood.
How their relationship was? I imagine that they grew to have tenderness and perhaps love. Elizabeth withstood eight years of harsh imprisonment. Robert must have known that and had a respect for her at the very least.
At around forty-three years of age, Elizabeth died on 27 October 1327 at Cullen, Banffshire. She was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.
Eighteen months later, Robert followed his queen to the afterlife at the age of fifty-five.
*This post was meant to upload in early November but I got sick so it’s late.
In 1986 the MTV hosted the Video Music Awards—the VMAs—my eleven-years-old self probably watched it. Now in 2018, I cannot be bothered to watch the VMAs, Grammys or the other award shows. I’m not going to waste hours on something that bore me to death.
But back then, I loved nothing more than Norwegian pop group A-ha. The comic book style animated video blew everyone’s head away and the song was and is great. These many decades later, I still listen to it and feel excited, want to dance and can’t help but sing along.
Here is the link for the video because I refuse to infringe on copyrights. I swear that you will love this song (on the off chance that you never heard it)
If you are anything like me then you have received a great deal advice in your life—Some of it good, some of it bad, some unwanted and others much desired. One piece of writing advice that was the worst for me was “write what you know.”
NO! I do not want to write what I know.
Writing for me is about escape into another life, world, person. I read that way too. I want to experience so many lives—the hopes, the loves, the aches and the dreams.
What I know is my everyday life and while some people love to explore everyday reality, that is not my thing. I want to fall in love with the handsome duke, dance at the ball, and be a lady-in-waiting to a Tudor queen.
What is the worst advice you received? Do share so we can complain about it then stick out our tongue at it.
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