18th Century Podcast: Episode 27 Timothy Dexter

Timothy Dexter

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-27-Timothy-Dexter-eadeie/a-a1bsod2


Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck becomes one of the most wealthy men around. Sounds pretty farfetched? Well, I supposes it’s time you hear the tale of Lord Timothy Dexter.



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be looking at the life of an interesting fellow, Timothy Dexter. Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck became extremely wealthy. This episode was inspired by the Youtuber Sam O’nella. If you haven’t seen his video yet, I highly recommend watching it. I’ll provide a link to the video on the script page for this episode. This episode will be a bit on the shorter side. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Alright, let’s get into the early life of, Timothy Dexter!


Lord Timothy Dexter was born on January 22nd, 1747, in a town called, Malden. Malden was a little north of Boston. His family originally hailed from Ireland. He was from a poor family. His family would labor on a farm and Timothy grew up working at the soil. He received very little in the way of education as well. When he was 8 years old, young Timothy went off to start his career working on a farm. He quit his job when he was 14 and moved down to Charleston, South Carolina. He would end up becoming an apprentice of leatherwork for garments. When he was 16 he headed back up to Boston and continued his apprenticeship. Though the trade he was taking up was considered to be lower class, the business was doing well. Those he apprenticed under became masters of Moroccan leather which was in high demand. When he turned 21 Timothy Dexter had completed his apprenticeship. As was the custom of the time, those he apprenticed under gave him a Freeman Suit, which he sold for $8.20. Timothy then moved to Charlestown neighborhood, which was a part of Boston. He found himself a neighbor to the likes of John Hancock and other wealthy individuals. He would set up shop, and just before The Boston Tea Party occurred, he met a woman named Elizabeth Frothingham. Elizabeth was a wealthy widow and a mother to four. Our boy Timothy charmed this woman to the point of marriage. He would set up his new shop in his wife’s home. He did want to improve his station in life by moving up the social ladder. So, he made the logical move to go into politics. Just a reminder that this man dropped out of school at the age of 8. He petitioned surrounding communities for a seat in Public Office. He kept asking and asking. Eventually, the town of Malden got sick of him asking for a Public Office, so they invented one for him. At this point in his life, young Timothy was given the government position of Informer of Deer. Under his new Office, Timothy was required to keep track of the local deer population. However, the last known deer in the area had died 19 years prior to the creation of his Office. Happy that he had fulfilled a public service, Timothy Dexter wished to expand his wealth.


Timothy Dexter's home in Newburyport Massachusetts

After the Revolutionary War had concluded, Timothy came up with the brilliant scheme of buying up Continental Dollars. Which if you didn’t know, the Continental Dollars went belly up during the war. That’s where the phrase, “Not worth a Continental” came from. Some of the wealthier men during the time took it upon themselves to buy up some of the worthless bills in an attempt to restore trust in the currency. Timothy looked at what his peers were doing and decided to do the same. However, he didn’t just purchase a few Continentals, no he spent all of his money and his wife’s money on worthless pieces of paper. His purchases were for pennies on the dollar. Anyone back then would tell you that it was a dumb decision at the time. Yet after the Constitution was ratified, the new Federal Government bought up old Continentals in exchange for Treasury Bonds for 1% of face value. Since Timothy purchased the Continentals at a fraction of the cost, he made a killing off of the Treasury Bonds and his wealth skyrocketed. His wife and himself were living in the town of Newburyport Massachusetts at this point. Newburyport was a coastal town where there was less divide between the upper and lower classes and people would mingle amongst themselves. Timothy Dexter wasn’t very liked in Boston, but he faired better in Newburyport. Though he would remain unpopular with his neighbors given his poor manner of speech and his conduct. Even though he wished for acceptance of the upper class, he never exactly got it. Timothy wanted to live in style, at his newfound home. He ordered the construction of a chateau overlooking the waters. He invested a portion of his wealth into a fleet of shipping vessels. Outside his chateau, he ordered the construction of 40 statues of important American figures. He also ordered the construction of a statue of himself, with the words inscribed below it saying, quote, “I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and the greatest philosopher in the Western world” unquote. Yet Timothy had contributed nothing to Philosophy at this point in his life. Due to embarrassment, his wife eventually moved out of their home, but still somewhat stuck around him. Timothy’s son wanted to be around his father more so the two of them lived together. They would regularly throw massive parties. His home, by some, was comparable to the likes of a brothel. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’re going to take a look into Timothy Dexter’s Business dealings. Don’t go anywhere.


Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of this episode with the Business dealings of Timothy Dexter and his later life. Timothy was making plans to break into international trade. His neighbors wanting to bankrupt him decided to give a helping hand with some business advice. They told him to sell bed warming pans to the West Indies, a very tropical and warm location. Timothy was happy with this advice and purchased about 42,000 of these bed warming pans for shipment. His neighbors and other merchants were laughing at him for taking such foolish advice. When his shipments arrived at the West Indies, the locals didn’t have much need for them as bed warming pans, but they were sold off and used as ladles to sugar and molasses plantations. Timothy sold out at a markup of 79%. The ships returned and Timothy had expanded his wealth greatly. Another business venture he indulged himself in was rounding up stray cats and shipping them to the Carribean. Which the cats were purchased to catch mice and Timothy walked away making a profit. He also had the idea of purchasing large amounts of whalebones, but as luck would have it, corsets were becoming in greater demand in France at the time so he sold off the whalebones to be used in the construction of corsets, thus making a profit off of this venture. One of his neighbors wished to make Timothy out to be a foul. His neighbor instructed Timothy to ship coal to Newcastle. Unbeknownst to Timothy, Newcastle was a large coal mining town. His neighbors thought this would do him in for sure. Besides, what idiot would ship coal to a coal-mining town? Well, our boy Timothy bought up tons of coal and had it shipped to Newcastle. But when the shipment of coal arrived at this coal-mining town, all the coal miners were on strike. Timothy sold his coal at a premium price. Another venture involved selling Bibles. Here’s what he did, he bought Bibles at wholesale at the low cost of 12% under half price, which would have been around $0.41 each. He had them shipped off to the West Indies to be sold. He had the people of the West Indies informed that if they wished to get to Heaven, ever family had to get a Bible. He had 21,000 units to sell and by the end of it, Timothy profited about $47,000.


A Pickle For The Knowing Ones Punctuation

Timothy would continue his lavish expenditures throughout his life. He would gain notoriety for his antics as well. Though he was looked down on by upper society, it didn’t faze him. As the years went on his drive for more and more attention grew. He would get an assortment of local friends but few were genuine. Some were even as eccentric as himself but without the wealth. Wanting to change things up a bit he moved to Chester, New Hampshire for a time. While he was there he gave himself the title of “Lord” and began to refer to himself as Lord Timothy Dexter. During his time in Chester, he would pursue women. He was also beaten up by a lawyer. After the stint with the lawyer, he moved back to Newburyport. He purchased a new estate for himself. Becoming more aware of his own unpopularity, he decided to fake his own death to see what the populace truly thought of him. He paid for an elaborate tomb for himself and he also commissioned a coffin for himself made from fine mahogany wood. He wanted to test it out and he ended up sleeping in the coffin to much comfort for several weeks. His wife and children where let in on this scheme and a couple of trusted men as well. He instructed his family to act the part and treat it as if it were a real funeral. On the big day, about 3,000 people were in attendance. Expensive alcohol was served. People were mourning his “passing” and his daughter seemed distraught. The only one who seemed not playing their part was his wife. He followed her into the kitchen away from his hiding spot and began beating her with a cane for not mourning enough. Eventually, some of the partisans wandered into the kitchen and saw a supposedly dead man beating his wife. Timothy then went on to the rest of the people and partied like he never pulled the stunt. After some time, he realized he was getting older and he decided to write his memoirs titled A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress. It was 24 pages long and it was published in 1802. He expressed many of his thoughts within it. And he gave the book away for free at the start, but it gained popularity and there were several reprints ordered. The book is famous for its misspellings and overall poor grammar. In the first edition, there was no punctuation anywhere in the book. After many complaints about the lack of punctuation, he added another page to the second edition of the book where the entire page was 13 lines of punction. He commented that people could now put the punctuation anywhere they pleased. Towards the end of his life, he became more generous. In his will, he had his estate divided up between his wife and children. He also gave a portion of his wealth to his friends. Lord Timothy Dexter would depart from this world on October 26th, 1806. A man with his luck was probably welcomed into the loving arms of Providence.


Wow! What a guy! I did not expect to discover a man with such an eccentric life. Again, I’d like to thank the YouTuber, Sam O’Nella for making a video about Timothy Dexter. On the script page for this episode, I will post Sam’s video for you to check out. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


Biographical Sketch of Lord Timothy Dexter, http://www.lordtimothydexter.com/Biographical_Sketch.htm.

Chalakoski, Martin. “Timothy Dexter Sold Coal to Newcastle, Faked His Funeral, Caned His Wife for Not Weeping.” The Vintage News, 30 Jan. 2018, http://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/01/23/timothy-dexter-2/.

Crockett, Zachary. “The Strange Life of ‘Lord’ Timothy Dexter.” Priceonomics, 9 Jan. 2015, priceonomics.com/the-strange-life-of-lord-timothy-dexter/.

“Timothy Dexter, the Ridiculous Millionaire Who Sold Coals to Newcastle.” New England Historical Society, 27 Aug. 2019, http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/timothy-dexter-ridiculous-millionaire-sold-coals-newcastle/.


Here’s a secret bonus that wasn’t mentioned in the podcast episode, here’s a link to, A Pickle For The Knowing Ones: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/43453/43453-h/43453-h.htm

18th Century Podcast Episode 21 Spycraft

Execution of Nathan Hale

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-21-Spycraft-e86oi3/a-auf07g


In today’s episode, we’ll be going over spycraft in the 18th Century. We’ll cover some techniques spies would use to conceal their messages, and some notable spies from the 18th Century like Nathan Hale. We’ll also discuss some spy activity during Benjamin Franklin’s time in Paris. You don’t want to miss this one!



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be going over spycraft in the 18th Century. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s kick things off by talking about a general overview of spycraft in the 18th Century.


Robert Townsend, Culper Spy Ring

Spying was frowned upon in the 18th Century. It could lead to a death sentence. There was a view that spying was ungentlemanly. It was an activity that was used but frowned upon. Though States may not openly admit that they used spies, spies were vital in times of war. There were no central intelligence organizations like there are today, but agents or rings were formed when necessary. Perhaps the most famous spy ring in the 18th Century was the Culper Spy Ring, which I did read a few of their letters, however poorly, a couple of episodes ago. I’d recommend checking out the blog post for that episode so you can read the letters yourself. I won’t be going into the Culper Ring today, as that will be a future episode in and of itself. Though spies were used, it was more common for a military to gain intelligence from local sources about their enemy. This could be through local newspapers, rumors, or gossip. People like to talk and information travels. But between spies, they would communicate mainly through letters and coded messages. Ciphers were a popular method of concealing information. Books were sometimes written to decipher the messages. These books would have typically been within the ring only. Another method which also dates back centuries was invisible ink. For example, during the American Revolution, an invisible ink was made by mixing ferrous sulfate and water. The spy would write the hidden message between lines of a letter and then pass it off. To read the message heat or another chemical could be applied. One such chemical which could bring forth the message was sodium carbonate. Now, a British method of transferring information, which could have been used by other States as well, was hidden messages. Hidden messages would be written on small pieces of paper and concealed in an object, which a courier could transfer. One method which I have seen before but I forgot about was masked messages. A masked message was when a message would be concealed in a letter that only could be read if a specially designed shaped template was placed over the letter. Spies have been used for centuries before and centuries after, but I think it’s time we take a look into a small story of spies in France during the second half of the 1770s. 


Benjamin Franklin in Paris with coon skin cap

This section will be covering part of the American Revolution, and I know I’ve talked about doing my American Revolution series on the podcast for a few episodes. It’s coming… eventually. But I do want to share a small tale concerning spies and Paris during this period. Our tale begins in 1776 when the new Congress of the United States sends Benjamin Franklin to France as a diplomat. His mission is to gain French support for the American Cause. I think it goes without saying how famous Benjamin Franklin was in Paris. The French loved him, and I’ll dive deeper into this when I do a bio on Benjamin Franklin. However, there were still some under the table dealings Franklin did while in France. Franklin had amassed a connection of friends in France and Agents working under him. Franklin would launch a series of schemes while also conducting diplomacy. One such instance was a successful piece of propaganda against the British on their turf. One ploy of propaganda was giving false newspaper stories of Britain’s Native American allies which stipulated that the Natives were committing horrendous acts on the frontier. The ploy would pay off as it caused a further division in Parliament. Franklin’s agents would amass a bounty of British Naval movements. I think this goes without saying how well connected he truly was. The British Ambassador to France was quoted as saying about Franklin, quote, “veteran of mischief,” unquote. Franklin was clever, but one thing he never found out during his time in Paris, was that his then Secretary, Edward Bancroft, was an agent for the British. Edward would write the intelligence on Franklin in invisible ink, then he would leave it at a dead drop where Paul Wentworth, the man in charge of British espionage in Paris, would pick it up. The information gathered by Edward would successfully make it’s way to the direct hands of King George III. However, the information collected on Franklin was mostly in vain. King George III, for the most part, dismissed the information collected. Franklin did come to suspect there was a mole in his midst and he would on occasion, send false information as a way to trap the British Agent. He never did figure out it was his own Secretary. Now, the French had their very own well-connected spy ring in their Capitol. The French would spy on citizens and foreigners alike. The French agents would gather their information through a plethora of ways, among which were, gossip, and pillow talk after relations. It goes without saying, the French had spies placed on Franklin. Franklin, of course, was aware he was being watched. He knew both about the British and the French, though he may not have known the exact identity of all the spies placed on him. After the Americans claimed victory of the Battle of Saratoga, the British were considering to find a way to reconcile with the Americans. Franklin became aware of this and hatched a plan which would help encourage the French to support the American cause. Though the French were not in the conflict as of yet, a prolonged conflict could have benefited the French over their most hated adversary, the British. Franklin pretended he was interested in talking with the British. Possibly, he implied opening a dialogue with them. This was discovered by French agents, and the information was passed along. The French panicked. They hastened for a deal giving support to the Americans. Through careful maneuvering, and playing the agents on him, Franklin’s plan was realized. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back for the second half of this episode, we’re going to take a look at some notable spies in the 18th Century. Don’t go away.


Nathan Hale

Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of today’s show discussing some of the most prominent spies in the 18th Century. I’m going to start this off with one of the most famous spies in the 18th Century Nathan Hale. Nathan Hale was a graduate of Yale and a schoolteacher from Connecticut. When the American War for Independence broke out Nathan joined the Connecticut regiment in 1775. He would gain the rank of Captain. During the early phases of the War, Washington needed intelligence on the British. Young Nathan volunteered to go and spy on their adversary on September 10th, 1776. He would disguise himself as a Dutch Schoolmaster and sneak past British lines on Long Island. Hale would spend the next few days collecting intelligence on British troop movements. On September 21st, Hale attempted to cross back to American lines, but he was captured by the British. Hale would be interrogated by British General William Howe. General Howe would discover incriminating documents on Hale’s person. General Howe ordered the execution of Hale for the following morning. Nathan Hale would receive no trail. The 21-year-old marched to the gallows, and purportedly his final words were, quote, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” unquote. Hale would go down as one of the most famous spies in 18th Century history, even though he failed his mission and had no training or experience in spycraft.

Charles Théveneau de Morande

Let’s transition to a successful spy, one over in Europe, a French spy named, Charles Théveneau de Morande. I will hence refer to him as Charles. Charles was a lawyer’s son, and he served in the Seven Years War. After the Seven Years War, Charles made his way to Paris where he would indulge himself in Vice. Things would get heated for him and he fled Paris in 1770 to London to avoid being arrested. In London, he would print pamphlets attacking King Louis XV’s mistress. Louis XV was furious with Charles’s activities. He wanted the man extradited or kidnaped if possible, but his attempts bore no fruit. When initial revenge attempts failed, the King decided to attempt another plan. He plotted to turn Charles into a spy, and he sent Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais to London to recruit Charles. Pierre-Augustin was in disgrace at the time from losing two court cases in the 1770s. Seeking redemption, Pierre-Augustin traveled to London to recruit Charles. The French Foreign Minister, Charles de Vergennes, also saw our Charles as someone worth investing in. Charles had a knack for uncovering secrets and publishing them in pamphlets, and his outspokenness against the French King would add a layer of protection against British suspicion. During the American War of Independence, Charles kept track of ship movements out of British ports, and very successfully at that. He continued his service spying on the British after the war as well. He would go on and recruit high up engineers to his side. Charles became the editor of a prominent French newspaper in London, Courier de l’Europe. This new position would further give him credence for information gathering. The paper was a massive hit across Europe, but not so much in Parliament. The British Parliament viewed it as a sort of open espionage during the American War of Independence. The allegations that the paper was, in fact, a form of espionage were basically true. The British eventually banned the exportation of the paper. But it’s Naval Officer and Enturepenure, Samuel Swinton, smuggled it out. Samuel was a British spy and used the paper as a means to enter France where he would conduct operations on the Americans and French. All the while Charles was printing hidden messages in paragraphs in the paper which were codded for French intelligence. During the American Revolution, The French helped set up a ring with Charles were he would have multiple couriers in a sort of loose network as not to arouse suspicion. The British did suspect Charles as an agent for France, but they never gathered proof. Charles would remain in Great Britain until 1791 when he made his return to France.

Eva Löwen

Our final spy for today comes from Sweden. Eva Löwen was born in 1743 and the daughter of the Governor-General. Her family was well politically connected. When her father was appointed as the Governor-General, the family moved. At their new home, Eva would meet her future husband Fredrik Ribbing. Fredrik was politically well connected himself and was close to the Royal couple. Eva would find herself in the heart of Swedish politics in the mid-1760s. Eva would become popular in Swedish high society. She was characterized as witty, and admirable, but also renowned for her… escapades in the private company of others. I trust you understand what I’m getting at. She became a lover of the French Ambassador to Sweden, Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil. Gustav III attempted to initiate a relationship with Eva, but she rejected his advances. She had other relations with high ranking men in Swedish society, and this may have gained the interest of the French. In the years before Gustav III’s coup, she was on a list of recipients receiving a pension from the French Government. After Gustav III’s successful coup and coronation of 1772, Eva grew closer with him as a friend and they spent their time in grand conversation. Everything would fall apart with the death of Eva’s husband in 1783. Eva would first move in with Gustaf Macklean, a person she previously had a connection to. Gustav III began to fall out of favor. Eva’s son became a part of an assassination plot to kill King Gustav III. Her son had influence from what was occurring in France at the time. After the assassination of Gustav III, he was sentenced to death, but received a pardon and was expelled from Sweden and stripped of nobility. Eva and Gustaf Macklean accompanied her son first to Paris, and then to Switzerland. Eva and Gustaf would marry in 1796 and moved into a Manor in Sweden. Eva died at home in 1813.


This brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Spies and their history is certainly a fascinating topic. I learned a few things this week which I did not expect, and I hope you did as well. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


“Spy Techniques of the Revolutionary War.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/spying-and-espionage/spy-techniques-of-the-revolutionary-war/.

Crews, Ed. “Spies and Scouts, Secret Writing, and Sympathetic Citizens.” Spies and Scouts, Secret Writing, and Sympathetic Citizens : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site, 2004, https://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Summer04/spies.cfm.

HistoryExtraAdmin. “18th Century Espionage: the French Spy in London.” HistoryExtra, 10 Oct. 2018, https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/18th-century-espionage-the-french-spy-in-london/.

“Nathan Hale Is Executed by the British for Spying.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/patriot-executed-for-spying.

Eva Helena Löwen, http://www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/EvaLowen, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Brita Planck), retrieved 2019-10-25.

18th Century Podcast Episode 20 Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-20-Catherine-the-Great-e7s0ok/a-atdqu8


In today’s episode, we’ll be going over the life of Catherine the Great. From being a foreigner of Russia to it’s Empress, learn with me about the life of one of Russia’s greatest rulers as she brought in it’s golden age.



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be going over the life of Catherine the Great. I thought this was appropriate to make this episode now given the fact that HBO is releasing a miniseries about Catherine the Great, which comes out this Monday, October 21st, 2019. I am not endorsed by HBO. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s kick things off by taking a look at Catherine’s early life.


Catherine the Great young

Cathrine was born on May 2, 1729. But her name wasn’t Cathrine at the time. Her birth name was Sophia Frederike Auguste, and she was born in Stettin, Prussia. Her father was Prussian Prince Christian August von Anhalt-Zerbst. Her mother was Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Though her family was royalty, money was sparse. She would be educated by a French governess, among other tutors. Her education was common for a person of her rank. She was instructed in French and German. She also had lessons in history, music, and religion. She was brought up in the Lutheran faith. She would first meet her future husband who also happened to be her second cousin when she was ten. This meeting took place as a political arrangement by Peter III’s aunt, Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Sophia did not like Peter III on their first meeting, as she found him to be detestable. Empress Elizabeth took a liking to Sophia. Sophia would travel to Russia in 1744 with the prospect of marriage to Peter III. The reason for their union was pure politics. It was an arrangement between Frederick the Great and Empress Elizabeth, to strengthen the ties between their countries. Sophia would learn the Russian language, and do it with a fervent passion. Though her accent would remain foreign, She became near fluent in the language. In March of 1744, she did suffer a bout of phenomena, but it didn’t keep her down for long. In 1745, Sophia would convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and received the new name, Catherine. Her father disapproved of her conversion, as being a devout Luthern himself. The day after Catherine converted, she formally married Peter III. Their marriage ceremony took place on August 21st. Her father would not travel to Russia to attend the ceremony. After their wedding, they settled into a palace. Their marriage wouldn’t go down in history as a happy one. Peter would spend his time making people act out drills, playing with toy soldiers, and chasing women. He supposedly had a consort. Catherine was rumored to have multiple consorts herself, but she also enjoyed passing the time by reading. The pair would produce a son, who was welcomed into the world in 1754, he was named Paul and would become a future Czar of Russia. Unfortunately for Catherine, her son was taken from her almost immediately after his birth. He was to be raised under the guise of his grandmother, Empress Elizabeth. Cathrine was allowed to see her son briefly during his christening a month later, and then again six months afterward. Peter had little to no interest in being a parent, but from what I can infer, Cathrine did. She would produce another child, and this time it would be a daughter, Anna, who would tragically die an infant in 1757. She would produce one more son, Alexi. Then in 1762, Empress Elizabeth died, leaving Peter III to take the throne. 


Catherine the Great military riding a horse

In 1762, Empress Elizabeth died, which then Peter ascended to the throne as the Czar of Russia. Cathrine and Peter III moved from their Winter Palace to Saint Petersburg. Peter III had a fascination with Fredrick the Great, but his fascination seemed to alienate some of the Russian politicians. He changed sides in the Seven Years War, allying himself with his once enemy, Prussia. Cathrine wasn’t a big fan of her husband’s new policies either. There was a dispute between the Duchy of Holstein and Denmark over a province. Peter III started to gear up for war against Denmark over this dispute, but he didn’t find much support for it in the Capitol. Many politicians viewed the possible war as unnecessary, and a waste. Along with disgruntled politicians, Cathrine hatched a plot to overthrow her husband and take the throne for herself. During July of 1762, Peter III took a holiday along with his Holstein-born courtiers and relatives. He was just about six months into his reign at this point. Cathrine and her conspirators plotted the whole time, but their plan would have to move quicker than they thought. July 8th, 1762, Cathrine is woken in the night being informed that one of the conspirators has been arrested. The time to act is now. Cathrine raced out of the palace and made her way to a regiment of soldiers. She gave a speech asking for their protection, and the swore fealty to her. The regiment followed her as she made her way to the Semenovsky Barracks, where members of the clergy were waiting for her. The orthodox clergy ordained Cathrine as Empress of Russia. Now with the military backing her, the clergy, and some members of the State, she had everything in place. The only thing left was for Peter III to formally abdicate. Under Catherine’s orders, Peter III was arrested, and he signed a document formally abdicating. On July 17th, Peter III was killed. He reigned for about six months in total. It is not known if Catherine had a hand in his death. But now, everything was in place for Catherine to rule. We’re going to take a short break, and when we come back we’ll discuss Catherine’s time as Empress.


Catherine the Great Empress of Russia

Welcome back. Cathrine’s reign would bring Russia into a golden age. She was an advocate of The Enlightenment and implemented its ideas into her rule. Yet those ideas would be set in the years to come. One of her first acts as Empress was to recall the troops sent to fight Denmark, which prevented a war. This was a popular decision among the military at the time and granted her more of their favor. Under Peter, church land was seized, Cathrine returned the land to the church. However, later in her reign, she would nationalize the church. She attempted to model herself after Peter the Great. He was still a popular figure even after a few decades since his passing. She would also push for domestic reform to benefit her subjects. She advocated for a document known as the Nakaz, which would have outlawed capital punishment and torture. It also sought to see every man equal before the law. She also attempted to set reforms for the benefit of the serfs but it wasn’t popular in the Senate. She eventual got the Nakaz finalized. What happened next was the formation of the Legislative Commission, which would conduct its first meeting in 1767. No laws were brought forth from the Legislative Commission, but Russians from across the country got together to discuss matters for the first time in their history. The Legislative Commission was disbanded in 1768 when war broke out with the Ottomans. But this was triggered by conflict in Poland. She had made decent gains in Poland and gifted the country to one of her ex-lovers. Russia had a dispute by how Russian Orthodox practitioners were treated in Poland and this lead to the conflict. In 1772 the partition of Poland would occur. Her military escapades angered the Ottomans and they went to war with one another. In a way, this was a political blessing. She gained many victories over the Ottomans and established Russia as a military power in the world. She reached a peace treaty with the Ottomans in 1774, and yet again would expand Russian territory. On the homefront, however, she would face numerous peasant revolts. The peasants, or serfs, were tied to their owners, essentially being treated like slaves in all but name. between 1762 to 1769 there were around 50 minor revolts, all of which were put down. This tension would come to a head with Pugachev’s Rebellion, which lasted from 1773 to 1775. The serfs had some initial success but were eventually squashed. The leader of the rebellion was betrayed and captured. He was beheaded in Moscow in 1775, thus ending the rebellion. Cathrine’s early attitudes of liberalizing Russia were diminished after the rebellion. She wished to rescind the reforms she had made in favor of the serfs. During the 18th Century, Russia was viewed as a backwoods country with outdated ideas. Cathrine sought to bring Russia back into the light of her fellow Europeans. She implemented many education reforms and expanded educational opportunities for both boys and girls. In 1766, the Russian Cadet Corp school received some reforms. This military academy was more liberalized and began to teach other subjects along with the cadets’ military education. On the religious front, she was more relaxed in her personal life but understood the church as a political tool. The nationalization of the church would help fund the State’s treasury. She was more tolerant of other beliefs though. In 1773 she passed the Toleration of All Faiths Edict. This allowed Muslims living within Russia to practice their religion and build mosques. Though she was a little strict with Roman Catholics, she was more lenient to Jesuits. In her personal life, she was a fan of the arts. As someone who had entertained the ideas of The Enlightenment, she did have a correspondence with Voltaire.


Catherine the Great old age

In her final years of life, Cathrine grew more and more conservative in her views. In 1785 she issued the Charter of the Nobility. The Charter would grant more power to the Nobility which was a reversal of what she wished to accomplish in her younger years. During the same year, it was declared that the Jewish population was foreign. Taxes would double for the Jews within Russia. In 1794, she declared Jews to have no relation with the State of Russia. Her relationship with her son Paul was poor, and she favored her grandchildren more, in particular, her grandson, Alexander. As she grew older her mind remained active and did not falter. She would see one more war in her life, this time with the Turks or Ottomans. They declared war on Russia in 1787, and the fighting would last four years resulting in a Russian victory and expansion of territory. In the 1790s, there were rebellions from Poland, but the country eventually got annexed out of existence between Russia, and her allies. As time dragged on in the 1790s, Cathrine would grow more and more concerned with her son Paul. She saw him as emotionally unfit, and this might liken back to her late husband. She preferred her grandson Alexander to be her heir, but she did not have time to make the official change. On November 17th, 1796, Cathrine the Great, died of a stroke.


Cathrine was a towering figure of the 18th Century and truly was one of the greats. I found her story fascinating. Again, the HBO miniseries on Cathrine is premiering Monday, October 21st, 2019. I’m not endorsed by HBO. I’ll probably watch the series, and I might give a review of it once it’s finished. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Biography of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.” ThoughtCo, Sep. 15, 2019, thoughtco.com/catherine-the-great-p2-3528624.

“Catherine II.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 21 June 2019, https://www.biography.com/royalty/catherine-ii.

Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Catherine the Great”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. Published 27/02/2010. Last updated 13 February 2018.

“History – Catherine the Great.” BBC, BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/catherine_the_great.shtml.

Boundless. “Boundless World History.” Lumen, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-worldhistory/chapter/catherine-the-great-and-russia/.

18th Century Podcast Episode 16 Archduchess Maria Theresa

Archduchess Maria Theresa

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-16-Archduchess-Maria-Theresa-e5ffcq/a-ao7vas


In this episode, we will be taking a look at the life of Archduchess Maria Theresa. She was involved in one of the key conflicts of the 18th Century, The War Of Austrian Succession.



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we will be taking a look at the life of Archduchess Maria Theresa. She was involved in one of the key conflicts of the 18th Century, The War Of Austrian Succession. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s begin this episode by taking a look at her early life before she gained the crown.


Archduchess Maria Theresa young

Archduchess Maria Theresa was born on May 13th, 1717, in Vienna. She was the eldest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI of the Habsburg dynasty and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. I have to provide a little context a few years before her birth. Under the law of the time, only male heirs could assume the throne. Charles was concerned he wouldn’t have a male heir. So in 1713, he issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which would allow his eldest daughter to assume the throne if he could not provide a male heir. He would produce a male heir but tragically the heir would die an infant in 1716. When the Pragmatic Sanction was issued most of the Monarchs under Charles accepted it. Maria’s education was typical for that of a noblewoman during the time. However, she was not taught about the matters of Statecraft. In 1736 Maria would marry. The circumstances around her marriage are a bit unusual for the time. Charles VI advisor, Prince Eugene of Savoy, recommended that he should have his daughter married off to someone who held great power. This would be the conventional wisdom of the time. Instead, Charles chose to let his daughter marry someone she loved. Maria had fallen for a French Duke, by the name of Francis Stephen of Lorraine. They would marry in 1736. For the French, this was a problem. If one of their Dukes married into the Hapsburg line, the Hapsburg would have a claim over French territory. To appease the French Monarchy, Duke Francis traded his territory for the province of Tuscany. At this time, Tuscany was considered to be of lesser value. What is truly remarkable is how many children the new royal couple would produce throughout their lives. Maria would give birth to sixteen children, ten of them would survive to adulthood. They had 5 sons and 11 daughters, and one of those daughters was, Marie Antoinette. Then in 1740, Charles VI would die, and the crown would pass to Maria. The War Of Austrian Succession was about to begin.


Archduchess Maria Theresa and The War Of Austrian Succession

On October 20th, 1740, Charles VI died. At the age of 23, Maria Theresa would ascend the throne, becoming the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, and Archduchess of Austria. What she inherited was a terrible situation. She had no training in running the government, the treasury was practically empty, their army was weak, and the Capitol was seated with unrest. But to her benefit, the duchies of Austria, Bohemia, Netherlands, and Hungary accepted her as their Empress. One of the first major challenges Maria faced was when Frederick the Great invaded Silesia by December. Then the French and Bavarians invaded her to the West. Her main focus for most of the war would be on the Prussians as they were the greater threat, but she could not ignore being invaded from 2 fronts. France, Bavaria, Saxony, and Spain supported a challenger to Maria’s Thorne, Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria. Frederick the Great overtook Silesia in April of 1741. Maria’s main supporter in the war was the British. Though she had initial failures, there were some successes to come, even though Frederick would hold onto Silesia. During July of 1742, She drove off the French and Bavarians from Bohemia. She went right into the Bavarian territory. Her allies would defeat the French in 1743 at the Battle of Dettingen, in Bavaria. In September of the same year, Savoy would join Maria’s side along with the British, Hanoverians, and Hessians. The French would withdraw to their borders. Fortune would go more in Maria’s favor in January of 1745, when her Bavarian challenger, Charles Albert died. Albert’s son had little interest in continuing the conflict. He would give his support to Maria’s husband if Bavarian lands were returned. This would be made official in December, the Treaty of Dresden was signed. The Imperial Crown would pass to her husband, as the law prevented women from taking it. Though this wouldn’t be the complete end of the war. Fighting between her other foes continued until 1748. In October of 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed. This treaty granted Prussia the right to keep Silesia. It had Maria cede three territories to the second son of the King of Spain but in exchange for her Netherlands territory which was begin held by France. It wasn’t the best situation for Maria by the end of the war, and it didn’t help that she never got a General up to the job. It wasn’t her proudest moment, but the War was over. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’ll take a look at Maria’s domestic policy, and her later life. We’ll be right back.


Archduchess Maria Theresa old

Welcome back. Maria’s domestic policy was good and bad in some respects. Because of the War, she would increase her army’s size by about 200% and she also increased taxes. She combined the Austrian and Bohemian chancelleries. Maria would also go on to create a Supreme Court to uphold justice within her territory. Maria was also a devote Catholic, and she had a distasteful view of Protestants. In 1741 she kicked Jews out of Prague. She was very conservative in her religious views. Two academies would be established under her rule. The first being the Theresian Military Academy in 1752, and in 1754 she established an academy for engineering and science. She would also increase funding to the University of Vienna for medical research. She spent years fortifying her army and was preparing an attack on Prussia in 1756. What she didn’t expect was for Prussia to attack first. Frederick the Great would invade Saxony and this first move began the Seven Years War. The war would conclude in 1763 when Maria signed a treaty, the Treaty of Hubertusburg, recognizing Prussia’s control over most of Silesia. Tragedy would strike in 1765 when her husband perished. She truly loved her husband and grieved over his death for a prolonged period. Upon his death, she appointed her eldest son, Joseph II, as coregent and as Emperor. They didn’t see eye to eye having conflicting views on running the State. She viewed her son’s youth and inexperience as being rash. Joseph II flirted with enlightenment ideas which were more in accordance with her rival, Frederick the Great. She would have his powers limited for the time being. After the death of her husband, she would implement a new penal code to substitute local laws and make the law more standardized across the State. She wanted to centralize control more than she already had, even from the Church even though she was devout in her belief. The Church would become less involved in Secular matters. She would implement censorship among the populace, and lay the groundwork for compulsory education for primary students. Though she continually disagreed with her son, she did allow him to make reforms in the army. In 1767, the Archduchess became infected with Smallpox. Smallpox had been making the rounds around the royal family in the 1760s. Maria was nearly on death’s door. She was given her last rites, but then, recovered. After her recovery, she became a vapid supporter of inoculation. She would set an example for her subjects by making her children get inoculated. In her later years, she focused more so on reforming the law. For example, in 1771 Joseph II and herself issued the Robot Patent, which created regulation for the pay of serfs. She would also go on to abolish witch-burning, torture, and the death penalty. Though it should be noted that the death penalty was later reinstated. In 1772 she spoke out against the first partition of Poland, viewing it as immoral. In 1774 her plans for compulsory education came into fruition. She had a strict policy around decency. She set up a police force designed to enforce her decency policy. This police force was mainly centered in Vienna, and one class of people they would arrest were prostitutes. These women would be sent off to the small eastern villages. Some writers of the time noted, quote, “exceptionally beautiful women” unquote, lived in these tiny villages. Maria would physically become plumper as she grew older. Her health would waver and in 1780, Archduchess Maria Theresa would meet her end in Vienna. In the 650 year rule of the Hapsburg dynasty, she was the only woman who ruled.


Archduchess Maria Theresa was an interesting historical figure to research. What I learned about her, is not exactly what I expected to find. I hope you enjoyed this episode. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at https://18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


“Maria Theresa of Austria.” Maria Theresa of Austria – New World Encyclopedia, 14 Aug. 2018, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Maria_Theresa_of_Austria.

Pick, Robert. “Maria Theresa.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Aug. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Theresa.

“Maria Theresa.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 15 Apr. 2019, https://www.biography.com/activist/maria-theresa.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “War of the Austrian Succession.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Dec. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/event/War-of-the-Austrian-Succession.

18th Century Podcast Episode 12 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft Picture

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-12-Mary-Wollstonecraft-e505ds/a-al2a91


In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast we’ll take a look at the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Though she was not as famous as her daughter, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. This episode will act as a brief bio for her life and struggles, through failed relationships, traveling to France during the Revolution, and the loss of those closest to her. She was not as towering as other figures of the time, but she still was important.



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we will be taking a look at the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. You may be wondering who Mary Wollstonecraft was, and I don’t blame you. She wasn’t a towering figure like Frederick the Great, but she was the mother of Mary Shelley, the author of, Frankenstein. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them.


Mary Wollstonecraft was born on April 27th, 1759, in London. She would be the second child out of seven total. Her father, Edward John, received a sizable inherence from his father, but he handled the funds poorly. Edward desired to become a Gentleman Farmer, yet as time marched on life would be marked with failure. The family would move to Epping, so he could pursue his goal. Edward had a violent streak about him too and was reportedly abusive. During her youth, Mary was envious of her older brother, Edward or Ned. He was her mother’s favorite, and the only child out of seven to receive a formal education. Ned also received a portion of the inheritance, left to him by their Grandfather. He would go on to become a lawyer. Mary would gain her ability to read from a friendship she made in her youth with a retired clergyman and his wife. She would familiarize herself with The Bible and works from ancient philosophers. She also showed an interest in the works of Milton and Shakespeare. During the 18th Century, there were few occupations for women of Mary’s standing. So, in 1778 she became a Lady’s Companion to a Mrs. Dawson, who resided in Bath. She was only 19 at the time. She would accompany Mrs. Dawson across England and attend to her. Mary wasn’t content working for Mrs. Dawson, but she did have the comfort of her closest friend, Fanny Blood. Her mother fell ill, and Mary returned home during 1781 to nurse her. It would be for not, her mother would perish during the Spring of 1782. After the death of her mother, Mary’s father would remarry and move to Wales. Her sister, Eliza, also married. Mary moved in with the Blood family, though impoverished, they took her in. To help offset the cost of an extra person in their household, Mary did needlework to assist with bringing in an income. Within months of Eliza married, she became pregnant. Eliza’s husband, Meredith Bishop, wrote to Mary in 1783, asking for assistance with the baby and Eliza’s deteriorating condition, which was mostly mentally. Mary would move out of the Blood’s house, and go and attend to her sister in the winter of 1783. Once she moved in, she presumed Eliza’s mental condition was due to the treatment of her husband. Eliza and Mary left the Bishop home in January of 1784. Under the law at the time, Eliza had to leave her newborn with her husband. The baby would die that August. Marry helped her sister get a legal separation. In February of the same year, Mary would meet up with her friend Fanny, and the two of them, along with Eliza and shortly after, Everina, another one of Mary’s sisters, joined them. The four women began to plan on opening a school. They would open their school in, Newington Green. During her stay in Newington Green, Mary befriended Reverend Richard Price, who would introduce her to liberal intellectuals of the time. Fanny soon decided to marry, and shortly after, became pregnant. Fanny and her husband decided to have their baby in Lisbon, Portugal. She invited Mary to accompany her, and the three of them set off in November of 1785. On the voyage to Lisbon, Mary met a man suffering from consumption. She attended to him while they crossed the waters. She would write about this experience in her novel, Mary, a Fiction. While in Portugal, Mary came to detest Portugeges culture, viewing it as superstitious. Fanny ended up giving birth prematurely, and both the baby and herself died shortly after. Mary would return to England, and it’s safe to say that she was devastated by the passing of her friend. The school which she helped establish was in financial ruin. She ended up publishing, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, in 1787. Mary would be publishing through a man named, Joseph Johnson. The advance she received would support her for a time, but she needed new work. She became a governess for an Irish family, the Kingsborough family. She was charged with watching over the children. During her time with the Kingsborough’s, she was very unhappy and was still grieving the loss of Fanny. She would travel across England and Irland with the family. However, Mary did not see eye to eye with Lady Kingsborough. Mary would view Lady Kingsborough as everything wrong with women of the time. Mary thought that Lady Kingsborough was weak, and it contrasted against Mary’s view of a strong woman. She ended up being fired by Lady Kingsborough. Mary returned to London during 1787 and gained employment with her old publisher, Joseph Johnson. She worked translating and advising Johnson in his business. She would also continue her writing during this time. In 1788, Johnson would start his, Analytical Review, which Mary would become a contributor. In 1791, Mary would attend a dinner hosted by Johnson in honor of Thomas Paine, regarding his most recent work, The Rights of Men, which was in defense of the French Revolution. At the dinner, many intellectuals would gather, among them was William Godwin. This would mark the initial meeting between Mary and William, and things did not start on the right foot. It was purported by Johnson that they argued over dinner, which overtook the conversation. In September of 1791, Mary would begin writing arguably her most popular work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She had an interest in the events occurring in France, and in February of 1792, she would meet, Charles Talleyrand, a French diplomat. Wanting to see the Revolution for herself, Mary would set off for Paris in December. Now, I’m aware that I’m pausing at an exciting part of this bio, but a short break needs to be taken. When we return, we’ll take a look at Mary in revolutionary France, and the final years of her life. Don’t go away, I’ll be right back.


Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of this episode by going over Mary’s time spent in France and the final years of her life. When Mary got to France, she met and ended up residing with an American, Captain Gilbert Imlay. They lived in a suburb of Paris. Unfortunately for Mary, at the time she reached Paris, it was the beginning of what would be known as the Jacobin Terror. French sentiments began to grow more and more antagonistic towards the British. You could say this was shocking because it’s not like the British and the French have a Century’s long history of hating each other. After a few months away from the main conflict in Paris, Imlay and Mary headed back to the city. They grew closer together, during their time away. When they did return, they went to the American Embassy, and Mary claimed to be Imlay’s wife. Though the two of them never married, there was more security in France being an American rather than a Brit. Mary became pregnant with his child. Yet the happy couple wasn’t as happy as we’d like to think. Imlay grew disloyal towards Mary. She would give birth in Le Havre, during 1794, and name their daughter after her deceased friend, Fanny. After birth, Imlay went to Paris, and Mary followed with their child. Imlay would abandon Mary and Fanny, heading for London. During her time in France, she watched as her allies were sent to the guillotine. Thomas Paine was imprisoned. Everything was getting worse. Mary and her baby would soon return to London. She would find Imlay and attempt suicide. He stopped her. It’s safe to say their relationship was rocky. Though after a few months, Imlay would send Mary on a business trip to Scandinavia. She was granted what was essentially power of attorney and representation for Imlay’s interests. She would take her daughter and her daughter’s nurse with her on this trip. After her business was concluded in Scandinavia, they returned to London. Mary would find Imlay living with an actress, further proving his disloyalty to her. Again, Mary would attempt suicide, but it was prevented. She would break off her relationship with Imlay. Then in April of 1796, she did something unexpected for the period. She called upon her old dinner acquaintance, William Godwin. He had read her most recent work, Letters from Sweden, and gained a new perspective, more positive perspective of her. They soon began talking and discovered their common interests in nature, other cultures, etc.. Over the next few months, their friendship grew into something stronger, and by August, they had become lovers. By March of 1797, Mary had become pregnant. They talked of marriage, which was a problem because the two of them both publically spoke out against marriage as a legal institution which neglected love. But they indulged in hypocrisy and married on March 29th, 1797. A few months later, Mary would give birth of August 30th to their new daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who would become, Mary Shelley. This was a short-lived happy occasion, as Mary soon would meet her end. Mary Wollstonecraft left of the world on September 10th, 1797 due to blood poisoning from childbirth. Mary Wollstonecraft was only 38 years old when she died.


Mary Wollstonecraft had a difficult life. Yet she would usher in a child who would become one of the most important fiction writers in history. Mary’s accomplishments should not be overlooked. She was a woman who deserves to be remembered. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at https://18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


Tomaselli, Sylvana, “Mary Wollstonecraft”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/wollstonecraft/.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Mary Wollstonecraft.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Apr. 2019, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Mary-Wollstonecraft.

Biography.com Editors. “Mary Wollstonecraft.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 26 June 2019, http://www.biography.com/scholar/mary-wollstonecraft.

Todd, Professor Janet. “History – British History in Depth: Mary Wollstonecraft: A ‘Speculative and Dissenting Spirit’.” BBC, BBC, 17 Feb. 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/wollstonecraft_01.shtml.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Where Did Mary Wollstonecraft Get Her Ideas?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 2 June 2019, http://www.thoughtco.com/mary-wollstonecraft-early-years-3530791.

18th Century Podcast Episode 10 The Enlightenment

Painting of The Enlightenment

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-10-The-Enlightenment-e4qupp/a-ak3oke


The Enlightenment is perhaps one of the most important philosophical and scientific movements in history. In today’s episode we cover a brief history of The Enlightenment, we go over some of it’s core ideas, and we’ll do a mini bio for John Locke.



Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast, I am your host Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be covering one of the most important topics of the 18th Century, The Enlightenment. We’ll be going over a brief history and some of the Philosophers and their ideas in this episode. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s begin with a brief history of, The Englightenment.


The Englightenment, also known as, The Age Of Reason, began in the 17th Century. The ideas brought forth during this time will be carried over into the 18th Century and hold great influence. The Enlightenment would hold sway over many different aspects of life, such as philosophy, politics, science, etc… During my research for this episode, I found many contesting points declaring when the enlightenment began. The earliest of which started with Francis Bacon in 1620, with his publication of Novum Organum. In 1651, Thomas Hobbes would publish his book, Leviathan. In the book, he would argue, in simplest terms, for absolute monarchy. The idea of social contract theory would find its root’s with Hobbes as well. Then jumping forward to the 1680s we see two important texts published. The fist is Principia Mathematica, by Isiac Newton in 1686. The second is, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke in 1689. A year later John Locke would publish arguably his most important contribution to The Enlightenment, his Second Treatise On Government. Then from the 1730s-1780s, we get a bulk of Enlightenment texts. We’ll see the writings of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Smith, Kant, and many others as well. In 1748, Montesquieu would put forth his political work, The Spirit of the Laws. Then in 1762, Rousseau would publish his work, On the Social Contract. On March 9th of 1776, Adam Smith’s, The Wealth of Nations is published. This would mark one of the most interesting economic texts was only a few months off from the Declaration of Independence. Then heading towards the 1780s, we get the work of Immanuel Kant. What’s interesting about The Englightenment is the fact that it’s pretty much a decades-long conversation between philosophers. The Enlightenment would span across Europe and the Americas. Now that I’ve covered a very brief history, I think it’s time that we take a closer look into some of the ideas of, Then Enlightenment.


Let’s kick things off with arguably the most influential ideas of The Enlightenment, politics. When The Enlightenment begins, we see absolute monarchy being espoused by philosophers. Yet as the decades start moving forward, they begin to tend towards Republicanism. In Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, he purposed the idea of the divine right of kings. The basic idea of this is, Kings are appointed by God and thus are justified to rule over others. I think it’s obvious to say that this type of doctrine would be popular with absolute monarchs. Yet, when John Locke came in with his two treatises on government, it was basically a refutation of the idea of the divine right of kings. Also from Locke, we get more development in the area of Natural Rights. Locke would come to argue for the Natural Rights of life, liberty, and property. Locke was also a proponent of Natural Law. Then with Montesquieu, we get the idea of a few different forms of government which he lists as Republics, Monarchies, and Despotisms. I would like to note that we get more of the modern view of Republicanism from Montesquieu, which in the modern vernacular would be a Representative Democracy. If you went to school in the United States, you were probably taught about this idea. Yet as a fun fact, this idea of Republicanism as presented by Montesquieu clashes with a more classical approach as presented by Cicero. Cicero would have described a Republic as a mixed form of government which combines aspects of monarchy, democracy, and aristocracy into one system which balances itself. I thought it would be interesting to share how definitions and ideas change over time, and this was one great example. Now with Rousseau, he presents the idea of The Social Contract. The Social contract was introduced before, but he refined the idea. He would contrast with Locke’s view more so, by being in favor of direct democracy as his view on the best way to govern society. The political works of The Enlightenment influenced the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Now moving forward to the field of economics, I think it’s safe to say, Adam Smith’s, The Wealth of Nations, is perhaps the most influential economic work out of the 18th Century. It introduced the world to the economic idea of Capitalism. From then on, it revolutionized the world. Many schools of thought on economics have sprung up since Smith’s work. On the scientific side of things, we saw many advancements. The basis of the modern Scientific Method began to form. Newton made advancements in mathematics and the study of gravity. The discovery of the planet Uranus by William Herschel occurred. Also, the mass of the Sun was calculated. You would also see Benjamin Franklin’s work with electricity. Now regarding the religious side of, The Enlightenment, there were many developments too. The most prominent view associated with this period would probably be, Deism. The Deistic view is that there is God, and God did create the universe but does not interfere with the going on’s of it. The other idea of Deism was that God could be known through reason. I might make an episode in the future of Deism since it’s a pretty fascinating topic. But also during, The Enlightenment was a greater sense of religious tolerance. You see an expansion of Protestantism during the period as well. I believe what I presented here covers some of the most basic and widespread views of, The Enlightenment. Now, I’m going to take a short break, and when I come back we’ll take a brief look into the life of John Locke.

PART 3:A Brief Bio of John Locke

Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. We’ll continue our second half of the show by taking a brief look into the life of John Locke. John Locke was born on August 29th, 1632. He was born in Wrington, Somerset, England, and grew up in Pensford, which was close to Bristol. John’s father was a lawyer and a Calvery Capitan during the English Civil Wars. After the first Civil War, John’s father secured a spot for his son at Westminster School, in London. John would attend the school when he was only 14 years old. Though John was gifted in academics and elected as a King’s Scholar in 1650, he would come to despise the school system. He disapproved of corporal punishment, and some of the behavior of the students as well. In 1693 he would put pen to paper and give his thoughts on education, arguing for a private tutor over boarding schools. When he was 20 years old, he attended Christ Church, at Oxford. In 1663, John was appointed senior censor in Christ Church, which among his duties were to oversee undergraduates and give lectures. Locke eventually became a member of the Royal Society and began to study medicine. In 1675 Locke traveled to France after losing favor with King Charles II. By the time he left for France, John had earned his bachelors degree in medicine from Oxford. During his time in France, he would befriend the intellectuals and protestants. He would head home in 1679. In September of 1683, Locke would make his way to Holland. The reason being was that John’s friend a few years prior was being closely watched by the English Government and fled to Holland, which the friend died in 1683. John himself was being closely watched by the English government at the time too. John would stay in Holland for the next serval years. He returned to England in February of 1689. He became more involved in politics under the newly crowned Queen Mary II. John would assist in writing the English Bill of Rights. He spent his final years with friends and continuing with his writing. John Locke died on October 28th, 1704.


The Enlightenment was probably one of the greatest philosophical movements in history. I would have liked to have made this episode a bit longer, but I didn’t have enough time this week, my apologies. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at https://18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


Duignan, Brian. “Enlightenment.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Mar. 2019, http://www.britannica.com/event/Enlightenment-European-history.

Bristow, William, “Enlightenment”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2017/entries/enlightenment/.

“Age of Enlightenment.” New World Encyclopedia, . 8 Feb 2019, 17:14 UTC. 29 Jul 2019, 22:22 .

Editors, History.com. “Enlightenment.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Dec. 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/british-history/enlightenment.

Szalay, Jessie. “What Was the Enlightenment?” LiveScience, Purch, 7 July 2016, http://www.livescience.com/55327-the-enlightenment.html.

Blenman, Joy. “Adam Smith and ‘The Wealth of Nations.’” Investopedia, Investopedia, 26 July 2019, http://www.investopedia.com/updates/adam-smith-wealth-of-nations/.

Tuckness, Alex, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2018/entries/locke-political/.

“Charles De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu.” Charles De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu – New World Encyclopedia, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Charles_de_Secondat,_baron_de_Montesquieu.

Clayton, Edward. “Cicero (106—43 B.C.E.).” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/cicero/#SH7c.

“Experiments with Electricity.” Benjamin Franklin Historical Society, http://www.benjamin-franklin-history.org/experiments-with-electricity/.

Rogers, Graham A.J. “John Locke.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 June 2019, http://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Locke.

18th Century Podcast: Episode 8 Frederick The Great

Frederick the Great

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-8-Frederick-The-Great-e4l311/a-aivkbv


In this episode of the 18th Century Podcast we’re going to take a look at the life of Frederick the Great. We’ll take a look at the early life of this Prussian Monarch, his accession to the Throne, the War of Austiran Secession, the Seven Years War, some Domestic Policy, his Personal Life, and his Death. This man was a fascinating figure and a true pleasure to research.



Thank you for returning to the 18th Century Podcast, I am your host Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be looking at the life of the Prussian King, Frederick the Great. This will act as an overarching guide to his life. Certain wars or other events Frederick the Great was involved in maybe covered more in-depth in future episodes. The purpose of this episode is to look at his life and who he was in a short biography. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Fredrick the Great is one of the most towering figures of the 18th Century. Let’s get into the birth and childhood of a King.


Frederick the Great, young

Frederick the Great was born on January 24th, 1712 in Berlin. Frederick was born into the Hohenzollern family. His parents were King Frederick William I of Prussia and Princess Sophia Dorothea of Hanover. His mother was the daughter of King George I of Great Britan, her brother would later become King George II. His parent’s relationship was more political than romantic. In actuality, you could describe them as polar opposites. Frederick’s father was known as a “Soldier-King” who gave way to his temper. To provide an example of how bad his temper could get imagine a very angry man hitting you in the face with his cane, or if you are a woman walking down the street the King flat out kicks you. I think you could imagine how stern Frederick’s father was. On the other hand, his mother was very liberal with him. During Frederick the Great’s younger years in his education, it was very polarized. He was brought up among French Protestant governesses and tutors. He began to receive his education in subjects such as French, German, Poetry, Classical Literature, Philosophy and would acquire a taste for Italian Music. This early education was more of the influence of his mother. It’s safe to say at the very least, Frederick’s father was highly displeased with his son and heir receiving this type of education, especially in such a militarized society as Prussia. His father wanted him to indulge in more masculine activities for his education such as hunting, riding, and the military. Fredrick William I would have his son subjugated to being humiliated, and beaten which left the young Frederick the Great bloody. As time went on in his youth, Frederick the Great would draw closer with his sister, Wilhelmine. They would form a bond which would last a lifetime. When young Frederick came of age, he received a position in the military as a Junior Army Officer. He eventually befriended a young 22-year-old Hans Hermann Von Katte, who was the son of a General. Frederick and Katte had shared interests in French culture, such as literature and in music. The two of them grew closer. When Frederick was 18, Katte, Frederick, and a few other Junior Army Officers hatched a plan to run off to England. Unfortunately, their plan hopeful plan would end in tragedy. As the plan was set in motion, they were caught and promptly arrested. Frederick and Katte found themselves being accused of treason by their attempt to flee the country. Yes, the Crown-Prince of Prussia was being accused of treason against Prussia. I should note that there was a possibility that young Frederick and Katte were working with Britain to conspire against King Frederick William I. The two of them were stripped of rank and imprisoned. There was a chance Frederick could receive the death penalty, and his father, the King, wasn’t opposed to ruling it out. However, Frederick was lucky to survive the executioner’s block. His friend Katte was not as lucky. The date of execution for Hans Hermann Von Katte was November 6th, 1730. As Katte stepped out in the open air to meet his fate, Fredrick called out from behind bars to his friend, “My dear Katte, a thousand apologies.” Katte was said to have replied, “My prince, there is nothing to apologize for.” Frederick had fainted before the killing blow. He remained in prison for the next year by order of his father. During his time in prison, Frederick would befriend a couple of his fellow inmates. One of his prison friends, Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf, the son of a peasant, would eventually rise through the ranks once Frederick was crowned and become Chancellor of Prussia. Once Frederick was released, he was posted as a junior official at a local administration, without his military rank. In 1733 Frederick regained his title of Crown-Prince by marrying Elisabeth Christine von Braunschweig-Bevern on June 12th. The arranged marriage by King Frederick William I was not fruitful. In fact, Frederick the Great had little to do with his wife, they did not garner romance nor friendship. In 1734 Frederick would once again take part in the Army, and this time he would see action. He would serve under an Austrian, Eugene of Savoy, fighting against the French in the Rhineland. His father would give his son a castle, Rheinsberg which was north of Berlin. In his free time there, Frederick would be able to pursue his own interests such as composing music, playing the flute, watching plays, reading, writing, and similar activities. This period in his life would be remembered as a happy one. In 1739 Frederick finished writing a response to the ever so popular book, The Prince by Machiavelli. It was a sort of refutation of the ideas presented in Machiavelli’s book. Everything was going fine for our young Frederick, but then in 1740, everything changed. Prussia was about to get a new King.


Frederick the Great in War

May 31st, 1740, the King in Prussia, Frederick William I, is dead. Our young Frederick had just inherited the throne. In his early days as King, Frederick would dominate his ministers. They would know, he’s in charge and setting policy. Frederick had a goal in mind, and that was to unite his lands. You see, at the time, part of Prussian territory laid within the Holy Roman Empire, and part of it was external of the Empire. This more or less was a problem. Being the sovereign over different lands, where you’re subject to an Emperor, but at the same time, a King in different territory caused some conflict. Frederick wanted to unify his lands into one Prussian State. Merely a few months after gaining the throne, Frederick would get his chance. On October 20th, of the same year, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI died. He had left his daughter, Archduchess Maria Theresa as the heir. I would like to note, Charles VI was a member of the Habsburg family. Maria’s claims were somewhat disputed, her government was weak, and her only real major supporter was Russia. Frederick hoped that Maria would cede the territory of Silesia, a region of Southwestern Poland, in return for Prussian support. This didn’t turn out so well. Frederick marched his army into Silesia, in late 1740. He justified this invasion by an old treaty from 1537. This action of invasion would kick off the War of the Austrian Succession, and First Silesian War. Then in April of 1741, Frederick would receive his first military victory at the battle of Mollwitz. Maria was also facing a coalition of French, Spanish, and Bavarians. She signed a temporary peace with Prussia. Frederick would be allowed to hold Silesia so long as hostilities ceased. As time marched on, Maria found success against the French and Bavarians. Frederick was offset by these actions and in 1742, he invaded a region South of Silesia, Moravia, which was under Austrian control. Frederick would gain victory once more, and this action would force Maria to sign the Treaty of Berlin, a peace treaty with Frederick in July of 1742. The treaty allowed Prussia to stay in Silesia, but in return, Frederick had to help provide defense against French, Spanish and Bavarian forces. As the war went on, Maria would gain more in power and victory against her enemies. Frederick was alarmed by this once more, and in August of 1744, he invaded Bohemia. He was met with success and he overtook the region. Polish elector Agustus III, allied himself with Maria and the two of them invaded Prussian held Silesia. Due to the strength and discipline of his Army, Frederick won twice against the invaders. The first would occur in June, and the second in September 1745. Frederick would then respond by invading Saxony, which was controlled by Agustus III. The fighting would come to an end on December 25, 1745, with the Treaty of Dresden. Silesia was officially in Frederick’s control. There were benefits to holding Silesia, chiefly among them were the regions economic advantages. After the war, Frederick would receive the title of Frederick the Great. On the homefront after the war, Frederick made some changes in his domestic policy. There was more toleration of religious freedom, reforms in the justice system, and more freedom to the press. These reforms aligned more closely with enlightenment values. Meanwhile back with Maria, she was not so chipper about losing her territory, and after careful political maneuvers, she was forming an alliance with France and Russia. Yet again unhappy with this turn of events, Frederick decided to do the logical thing and preemptively attack. During peacetime, Frederick built up his Army to 154,000 men strong. He moved his army into Saxony. This would occur during the beginning of the Seven Years War. Among Frederick’s allies were Britain, and Hanover. He would be up against Austria, France, Russia, Sweden, and Saxony. Fredericks campaign was met with initial success in Agust of 1756, and he continued onwards into Bohemia. Bohemia was less successful, and in June 1757, he was being pushed back. He did start to get victories in November and December against the Austrians and the French. The British started to subsidize the Prussian Military in 1758 and would continue to do so through 1762. Between 1758 to 1760 Frederick would face a mixture of victories and defeats. In 1760 Austro-Russian forces had captured and occupied Berlin. Frederick was devastated by this, and he contemplated suicide. There must have been a change in the wind because lady luck turned towards his favor. The Empress of Russia died in January 1762, and Peter III ascended the Czardom. Czar Peter III had admiration for Federick. In May Prussia and Russia signed an armistice agreement. Treaty negotiations would begin, and they turned unfavorable towards Maria. Her wishes of reclaiming Silesia were dashed. Then on February 15th, 1763, the Treaty of Hubertusburg was signed. Prussia would hold onto its territory, and its reputation as a military power was cemented. Yet during the war, Frederick would lose 180,000 men. Wanting to avoid another war at such a scale, Frederick would sign a treaty in 1764, forming an alliance with Russia. This alliance would span 16 years and come to a close in 1780. Now, we’re going to take a short break and when we come back we’ll take a look at the next major event Frederick was involved in, the first partition of Poland.


Frederick the Great 1772 at the first Partition of Poland

Welcome back, everyone. Poland, everyone wants a piece of Poland. I don’t know why, but it seems like all throughout their history, everyone has wanted a piece of Poland at one point or another. This next chapter in the life of Frederick the Great begins with Russia. After the murder of Peter III, Catherine II ascended the Russian Throne. Unlike Peter III, Catherine II was not such a fan of Prussia. Though Frederick and Catherine disliked each other, they did form an alliance on April 11th, 1764, as mentioned prior. The alliance would guarantee Prussia’s control over Silesia, and Prussia agreed to back Russia if they came into conflict with the Austrians or Ottomans. In September of 1764, Catherine’s candidate for the throne of Poland was elected. Catherine’s Russia began to gain more and more influence over Poland in 1767. This disturbed Frederick. The winter of 1770 to 1771, Frederick’s brother Henry acted as a representative of Prussia in St. Petersburg. Catherine was looking to expand her borders into Southeastern Europe. However, there was great Austrian opposition to this policy. Frederick was looking to expand his territory as well. Austria also wished to expand their territory but they wanted to reclaim Silesia, or land in the Balkans. Through careful maneuvering, Henry convinced Catherine to partake in a partition of Poland, and ditch expansion into Southeastern Europe. Eventually, his brother also convinced Austria to join in as well. There was concern over the balance of power in the region, but Henry convinced the three States that expanding their territory by slicing off bits of Poland would ensure the balance. Frederick had his eyes on West Prussia, to finally unite Prussia into one State. Though the inhabitants of West Prussia were predominately Polish. In 1771 Frederick would speak his disdain for the Polish State and it’s people to Voltaire. He considered the citizens of West Prussia to be uncivilized. Then in 1772, it happened, Frederick annexed West Prussia and united the two Prussia’s into one Kingdom. Frederick had gained 20,000 square miles of land. Frederick encouraged Germans to immigrate into the newly acquired territory with the goal of displacing the local Polish population. German officials would also look down upon the Polish populace. Ironically, Frederick would eventually befriend a few Poles.


Frederick the Great performing music

Now turning towards his domestic achievements, a bit about his personal life, and his final years. Frederick the Great viewed his service as King as a duty. It was one of the few things he had in common with his father. Personally, Frederick probably hated his father, but looking at King Frederick William I as a ruler, he appreciated what he did, in particular for the Military. During his time, the Prussian education system was marveled at in Europe. Under his reign, there was an expansion of agricultural development. They would drain swamps to make way for new farmland. Also, the potato and turnip were introduced as crops. He did slightly favor indirect taxes on imported goods over direct taxes on the populace. During the Seven Years War, the Prussian currency had decreased in value, which had led to higher prices domestically. To regain their currency’s value, the Mint Edict of May 1763 was proposed. The Prussian government began to accept taxes at its prewar value. This would lower the money supply, but the overall value of their currency increased. There were also several architectural achievements which occurred during his reign, some of which still exist in Berlin. For example St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, the Royal Library which goes under a different name today, and the Berlin State Opera. If you remember back in the first section of this episode, I mentioned Frederick had an interest in music, and he played the flute. For the flute, he had composed around 100 sonatas and 4 symphonies. In 1738 Frederick joined the Freemasons. He would also strike up a friendship with Voltaire. They mostly corresponded through letters, but Voltaire did visit Frederick between 1750 through 1753. The two of them did have a falling out but reconciled some years later. Frederick was a polyglot, speaking German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and English. He also had a workable understanding of Ancient and Modern Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. His love of French culture continued throughout his life, preferring it over his native German. As Frederick got older, he began to withdraw from society. He would of course, still perform his official functions as Monarch, but socially, he began to prefer time with his greyhounds over people. Then on August 17th, 1786, Frederick the Great, died. He was buried next to his greyhounds.


I found the life of Frederick the Great to be a fascinating tale. He had a rough childhood, but he did wonderous things for his people. Like all figures through history, he wasn’t perfect, but there is no denying his accomplishments. As a bonus, I’ve added some of Frederick’s music to the bottom of the script page for this episode, click the link in the description. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at https://18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.


Anderson, Matthew Smith. “Frederick II.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 7 June 2019, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Frederick-II-king-of-Prussia.

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“Frederick II of Prussia.” Frederick II of Prussia – New World Encyclopedia, 10 May 2017, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Frederick_II_of_Prussia.

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