Top 5 Scariest Things About the Regency

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In Regency romance novels, society and everyday living are often depicted as elegant and gentile. However, in the course of researching my historical novels, I’ve come across several cringe-inducing Regency realities.

In honor of Halloween, I’ve listed the top five scariest things about living in Regency England.

I guarantee more than one of them will make you squeamish!

 

TOP 5 Scariest Things About Living During Regency Times

Doping Up the Kids  If the baby was a bit fussy, colicky or teething uncomfortably, it wasn’t unusual to slip a little laudanum into his cup or to use laudanum-laced medicines such as Steedman’s Powder or Godfrey’s Cordial to sooth the little darling. Women also used the substance to ease anxiety or menstrual cramps. Today we know this miracle drug by its more modern name: opium.

Surgery Without General Anesthesia  Since ether wasn’t discovered in England until the 1840s, patients were generally operated on after being plied with booze or, you guessed it, laudanum! But you couldn’t give the patient too much of the drug for fear of overdose, so these methods did not always keep the patient asleep during the operation.

Gathering Leeches for Blood letting  Blood letting using leeches was a commonly used medical procedure in Regency England. Doctors believed bleeding patients could cure a variety of illnesses. That’s bad enough, but what might be more hair-raising is the way in which these leeches were collected. Women would stand in marshes, river banks and lakes, and allow leeches to attach to their legs. The leeches were then detached from the limbs and placed in a pot or basket.  

Wife for Sale  During this period and beyond, the occasional dissatisfied husband would decide to sell his wife. He would lead her to the marketplace, sometimes with a rope around her neck, and auction her off to the highest bidder. In one case, in 1835 (just after the Regency period) the wife outlived both her husband and her buyer, and was successfully able to claim her rights as her husband’s widow.

Relieving Oneself in the Dining Room (Not as scary as the top four, but this one makes the list because of the gross factor.) Once the ladies had withdrawn and left the gentlemen to their port and cheroots, it was not uncommon for one of the so-called gentlemen to relieve himself in full view of others. One can only imagine what a mess this could be if said gentleman had a little too much to drink.

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4 Comments on "Top 5 Scariest Things About the Regency"

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Joanna Shupe
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I love this. I would also like to add “lack of feminine hygiene products” to the mix. :-)

Diana Quincy
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Oh! That’s a good one, Joanna. It’s definitely scary!

kimmyl
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What about hand washing and brushing teeth after each meal.
And childbirth.

Diana Quincy
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Hi Kimmy – Those are good points! They definitely had no concept of germs back then. Louis Pasteur’s discovery of germs was ridiculed by many in the 1850s.

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