Five surprising things in Bridgerton that actually happened in real life
Yes, they had gossip mags
If you aren’t currently obsessed with Bridgerton season two, what are you even doing? The ton has returned for another season, this time focused on Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton child and his “vexing” enemies-to-lovers arc with Kate Sharma.
Whilst Bridgerton is known for being not so historically accurate (I’m fairly sure Regency orchestras didn’t actually play Taylor Swift or Harry styles songs at balls), there are a few things in the show that really happened in real life. So, for all you history nerds, here’s the five most interesting facts:
Yes, the dramatic “season” depicted in Bridgerton was real.
The season would last for around half of the year, and involved just as many balls and soirees as we see in the show. High society would come to London from all over the country to conduct business and more importantly, find a romantic match.
The stakes were just as high as we see in the show, too. Leaving the season without a match would not bode well for the next season and most families would rather their daughters dead than unwed. So, Cressida Cowper, if you’re reading this: you better get a move on love.
However, the dresses and decor wouldn’t have been nearly as colourful as Bridgerton – the costume designer has said that colour, glitter and sequins were added into the show to make it more appealing to a modern viewer. This is a huge shame, since Violet’s pink themed Hearts and Flowers ball was the most gorge thing I’ve ever seen.
Although Lady Whistledown and Penelope Featherington are totally fictional, there were gossip papers in the Regency era.
Referred to as “scandal sheets”, these papers exposed all of the juicy gossip that occurred during the season. However, unlike Bridgerton, full names would be redacted and instead there would be coded hints to give the readers a clue on who was being referred to.
One specific popular sheet was Mrs. Crackenthorpe’s “The Female Tatler”. It ran for less than a year, though excerpts from it can be found online. Unlike Lady Whistledown, Mrs. Crackenthorpe’s true identity was never revealed. After this season, I reckon Penelope should take a leaf out of her book.
The existence of some characters
Although I think we can all agree that we’re devastated the Bridgertons weren’t a real family, since we’ve all fantasised about being the season’s diamond and marrying at least one of them (haven’t we?), a lot of the characters we see in the show did really exist.
The most obvious are the King and Queen; King George the Third really did marry Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and he really was mad (remember that Horrible Histories song?). Plus, Prince Freidrich of Prussia really was Charlotte’s nephew, the son of her niece Princess Fredericka of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, though it’s unlikely she’d every try and marry him off to a non royal bride.
Will Mondrich was real too, based on Black British boxer Bill Richmond. He was every bit the family man and entrepreneur we see in the show, having several children and being highly educated.
Queen Charlotte as a woman of colour
Whilst real life regency society was unfortunately not as diverse as the world of Bridgerton, there may have been one element of this that rings true; Queen Charlotte’s heritage.
Many historians believe that there is significant evidence that the real life Queen had African ancestry. It is thought that she was directed descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black noblewoman from the Portuguese royal family.
There was also nobility of colour, though they were few and far between. One specific example is Dido Elizabeth Belle, an heiress who was the child of a British navel officer and an African slave who was brought up in English high society.
The double sexual standard between men and women
In the show, Daphne and Eloise are shown to be totally in the dark about all things sex and babies, asking their mother how Miss Thompson could be pregnant if not married.
This naivety is totally accurate; although there would’ve been some sex education, high class women would be kept in the dark in an attempt to preserve their purity. It would only be after marriage that they would become more educated. As seen throughout Bridgerton, it was totally scandalous for a woman to be alone with a man unchaperoned and could cause ruin to their purity and reputation.
Men, however, could pretty much do as they pleased. They were expected to be worldly and experienced, just like the Bridgerton brothers. Paid sex, like the kind we see Anthony the capital R Rake indulging in, was accepted and a “grand tour” across the continents like the one Colin embarks upon would be encouraged, allowing a man to experiment with drugs as well as sexuality.
Therefore, the double standard seen in Bridgerton was unfortunately very real. A sexual revolution did come about in the 19th century, which is lucky because I don’t think all that lusty heavy breathing in the gardens could’ve been good for anyone.
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