Posts Tagged ‘Becky Sharpe’

The East India Company, Part 1

The Opium Trade

Fans of Becky Sharpe in Makepeace Thackery’s Vanity Fair PastedGraphic2-2012-05-18-15-24.jpgwill know a little of the East India Company, or The Company PastedGraphic1-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg. The company was granted its charter from 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I PastedGraphic3-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg and survived until 1874. By the time of the Regency it was a powerhouse and its actions had much to do with Regency Life. So it is a good backdrop for our Regency novels.

One officer of the company, PastedGraphic4-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg Warren Hastings (1732-1818) who became the first Governor General of India from 1773 -1785 is reported to be the father of PastedGraphic5-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg Eliza de Feuillide, cousin to Jane Austen PastedGraphic6-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg and later her sister by marriage when she married Jane’s brother Henry PastedGraphic7-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg. Hastings of course was fabulously rich, and was even famously accused of corruption and impeached in 1787 but acquitted in 1795. He later would serve as a privy councillor in 1814.

What is fascinating though is that as the riches from India, made our members of the Ton exceedingly wealthy, becoming perhaps the richest men on the planet, some of this trade was founded on the sale of opium to China. The money then from that sale would buy tea for Britain. Which would then pay for more opium purchased in Bengal, India for sale to China. Though China had prohibited the trade of opium since 1729, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jaiqing Emperor, its use kept growing.

PastedGraphic8-2012-05-18-15-24.jpgBritain had during the Georgian era the same problem the US has now with China. China had more sterling owed it, then they wished to spend. So Britain saw that trading opium back to China was one way of reducing the trade imbalance. In India, only The Company controlled the planting, harvesting and manufacturing of opium. It was a monopoly.

This was such a problem for China that it would lead to two wars, the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1842 and the loss of Hong Kong to the English. (Which is of course the Victorian Era.)


Opium would be smuggled into China from Calcutta by respectable British trading houses. The company had a factory in Canton where the opium was off loaded. From 1826 the trade through the Straits of Malacca needed to be protected and the company set up Settlements there to do so. They also became penal colonies for Indian Civilian and Military prisoners. One of these was Singapore.

If America had its Rum-Molasses and Slave trade, it would seem that England has its Opium-Silver and Tea trade. Neither a thing to be particularly proud about in today’s sensibilities, but necessary to have taken us to where we are today.

The Regency Timeline

My last post I explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 & 1789. Now I have the entrees for 1790 and have uploaded both years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and SteinPastedGraphic-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-18-15-24.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1790 Timeline


The Writing LIfe

I am now over 400+ pages (over 130000 words) on The Crown Imposter. just finished. A fantasy that has had two different ideas about for the last few years. Neither was working by when I decided to combine them, all of sudden it worked and I wanted to write.

I enclose a few paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1–the next part

Damien shook his head, “I worry that he shall not last this winter. Do you remember when we used to visit him? He is a good man. He truly hoped that when he was elevated and became King of Altan that he would bring our two kingdoms together. He wrote father when he became heir and then King that he wished his ascension would lead to great things.”

Middlin had remembered when the old Baron had received that letter. He had been in a rotten mood for days after. Muttering that nothing good was going to come of it. And he had been right it appeared. Nothing good was coming of it. Not only did it appear that King Henry’s illness was suspicious but it was the common talk of just about everyone Middlin knew. He had been in the Baronial retinue long enough that he had seen the Duke a handful of times before the man became a King.

Middlin had good memories of the man as well, though it had been Damien who had spent time with the man, as well as the man’s family. Middlin remembered that the King’s daughters were actually quite beautiful. One, the eldest, the sergeant heard, had been promised in marriage to some haughty Altan noble. A man who had no ties to the people of Centrion and would complete the takeover of the Duchy as soon as the wedding occurred.

“You, my lord, have to deal with the realities, not the wishes.”

Damien nodded. “Aye, I know that. Why else do you think I went out in this storm? Too soon, I fear, those of Altan will cross our borders and raid our lands in strength that we will be hard pressed to meet. King Frederick would have us meet those forays with steel though he gives little direction and thought on how best to do that and survive. He, I think, waits for us to be quite carved up before he will send any to aid us.”

Middlin smiled with what many called the looks of a wolf. “That is true enough, but Prince Brion, he I think would rush to your aid in a moment. He is said to be quite the armsman.”

Now Damien laughed, as Middlin knew he would. “Ha, was it not you who told me long ago that Princes and Kings are always known as great warriors? Even the ones whose wrists would snap should they try and draw steel?”

Middlin nodded. Damien did not have that problem. The dozen years he had trained the young man from when he was a boy had built muscles that could hold a sword and shield in battle for hours. “True enough, but I had it from Sir Bartholomew when he came riding through two years gone that the Prince was quite accomplished. At least on the practice yard.”

“I talked to Bartholomew then as well. He also said that a knight he respects was asked to spar with the Prince then and Prince Brion beat the knight soundly. A knight he thinks you or I would have a difficult time besting.” Middlin had heard that as well.

Middlin knew that a few years ago, he was a better fighter than he was now. He was slowing down. Damien though, and he when younger, would have been able to best most in the Barony. They had bested most in the Barony.

“I did not believe that Sir Bartholomew truly believed that those who faced his highness would give less than they should.”

Damien shook his head, “And when you and I would spar, as well as those you had to train me, did some not lessen their skills certain days? Did they not hold back?”

Grudgingly Middlin nodded his agreement. “Not on the days that it counted.”

“No, not then, and none do so now, I am sure of it. But Bartholomew felt the need to relate this to me. He was skeptical that his highness is as good as is his reputation. Though should I need to hide my skill for fear my enemies would exploit all they knew of me, I too might arrange such rumors to flit about.” Damien had gotten a depth that Middlin did not remember teaching him. That was subtle, and perhaps wise as well. Though many knew Damien to be very accomplished as a swordsman, and with most arms, except the bow, few knew that he was much better than he even admitted to.

Middlin knew they talked around the and about what was on their minds. They often did so, having many topics that were always needing to be discussed and continued from one talk to the next. This night was really no exception for them. They had many things that they were trying to resolve and never did seem to come to a conclusion. Were the Altans sure to attack them once King Henry died, or to test that his grip was no longer strong enough to stop them, was a matter that they had no control over.

They would react to such an action.

Those of Spragfalls could not stop such an attack before it came.

There were many such things that Damien was now charged with reacting too. Things that he surely wished he had more control over and had none. And Middlin had even less. He followed the orders that the young man gave him.

But Middlin had been one of the few who had trained Baron Damien to command him so.

“Let us hope that those of Altan who have not paid heed to their king, or his wishes, when they do cross our borders in anger, will underestimate us as well.” Middlin said.

“They shall. Oh they shall. One thing about those of Altan is that they can be relied on to be arrogant. Even now after many of our old neighbors went and became their citizens, those born of Altan foolishly cling to old prejudices about us. It is why I expect that their shall be trouble soon.”

Middlin nodded. He knew that there would be trouble as well.

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