I will bring him to Paris in an iron cage!

Something I have always found hilarious is how, when Napoleon escaped from Elba, Marshal Ney declared, “I will bring him to Paris in an iron cage!” and then, as soon as he actually saw Napoleon, he basically fell on his neck and became his right-hand man again. There’s something beautiful about it.

Ney’s March 1815 proclamation encouraging French soldiers to abandon the Bourbons and side with Napoleon. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

A lot of people love (and loved) Marshal Ney and are (and were) very upset about his execution (Wellington actually said that if he hadn’t been in the middle of some kind of argument with Louis XVIII at the time, he would have asked him to spare Ney as a personal favor). But I kind of feel like, you know what, if you love and look up to someone so much you are going to immediately go back over to their side, don’t announce that you will bring them to Paris in an iron cage! At that point, it’s sad, but you get what you get.

Here is a description of the incident in an 1821 encyclopedia:

This officer had, in an effusion of loyalty, repaired to the Tuileries, and proffering his services, had assured the king, on receiving the command of these troops, that he would bring Bonaparte to Paris in an iron cage. To which the king replied, with mild dignity, that this was not what he required, and that he only desired of the marshal to drive back the invader[…]The king, indeed, placed the fullest confidence in this general; and meeting with Madame Ney, two days afterwards, he said to her with emotion, ‘Madame, you have a husband whose loyalty is equal to his courage.’

1855 statue of Ney, Paris. Image by Mbzt, via Wikimedia Commons.

Today I was reading the section on French folk tales in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History by Robert Darnton and I saw this: “Finally, the king assigns Petit Jean the seemingly impossible task of capturing the giant himself. The little hero sets off disguised as a monarch and driving a coach loaded with a huge iron cage.


The tale then goes on:

‘Monsieur le roi, what are you doing with that iron cage?’ the giant asks. ‘I’m trying to catch Petit Jean, who has played all kinds of tricks on me,’ Petit Jean replies. ‘He can’t have been worse to you than to me. I’m looking for him, too.’ ‘But, Giant, do you think you are strong enough to catch him all alone? He is supposed to be terrifically powerful. I’m not sure that I can keep him locked up in this iron cage.’ ‘Don’t worry, Monsieur le roi, I can handle him without a cage; and if you like, I’ll test yours.’

Predictably, once the giant climbs into the cage, Petit Jean locks it and delivers the giant to the king.

Was Ney referring to this? And if so, does that make it more or less of a weird thing to say?

New contest: copy of Sweet Disorder, plus swag pack!

ETA: The winner is LSUReader! New contest coming soon.

Sweet Disorder, the first in my Lively St. Lemeston Regency-set small town series, is out March 18th! So, I’m giving away a copy of the e-book in the format of your choice, plus I will mail the winner a swag pack of promotional materials for the book.


Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings. But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote-and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.

Read the first chapter.

swag pack

The swag pack will include: a signed promotional postcard (personalized to your specifications), 1 rosette (with 2 options to pick from), 4 bookmarks with tassels, and 5 1″ pinback buttons of your choice.

A word of explanation: Sweet Disorder focuses on a hotly contested local political election. Back in the day in England, it was common for local parties to have colors like a sports team. In Lively St. Lemeston, the party affiliated with the Whigs is orange and purple, while the Tories are pink and white. (Sweet Disorder focuses on the Whigs, while we’ll get to meet more Tories in True Pretenses.)

The rosettes are similar to something the characters themselves might have worn, and the buttons are a pastiche of old and contemporary design elements. If you want to wait to read the book before choosing your buttons and rosette, that can be arranged!

I’ve posted some close-ups of the buttons and a list of available slogans.

Just comment on this post to enter, and make sure you enter your correct e-mail address (NOT in the body of the comment, but in the form where it says Name:, Mail:, Website:, make sure the e-mail address you enter for “Mail” is right). It won’t show up to other commenters, but I’ll get it and then I can easily notify you of your win. As always, if you want to be alerted when a new contest goes up, I recommend signing up for my newsletter.

This giveaway is open internationally.


I made 1″ pinback buttons for Sweet Disorder! They are so cute! I am seriously in love with them.

Here are all the options (sorry, my camera phone cannot convey the crisp, bright, beautiful old-timey glory of these buttons, designed by the talented Matt Youngmark of choose-your-own-adventure stuffed-bunny-in-the-zombie-apocalypse fame):


A word of explanation: Sweet Disorder focuses on a hotly contested local political election. Back in the day in England, it was common for local parties to have colors like a sports team. The hero’s brother is running as the Orange-and-Purple candidate (the local political party loosely affiliated with the Whigs), and Mr. Dromgoole and Mr. Jessop are the Pink-and-White candidates (the local party affiliated with the Tories).

While buttons like this didn’t show up in politics until the Victorian era (pre-mass production they would have been prohibitively expensive to make), all the slogans are taken from political issues in the book. The top two rows are Tory slogans (in a choice of old-timey or pink):

Down with Boney
Jessop is our MP
Dromgoole for ever
God save the King
No Gas Lights

And the bottom three rows are the Whig slogans (in a choice of old-timey, orange, or purple):

No War Profiteering
Bring Our Boys Home
Police Act Now
Let Catholics serve their Country
The Duke and Freedom
Yes to Gaslight
Dymond & Reform

This still doesn’t convey how good they look (and it makes my hand look super weird), but it’s a little better (click to enlarge):



By your holy office you should be a peace maker

I just finished reading Unquiet Lives: Marriage and Marriage Breakdown in England, 1660–1800, by Joanne Bailey. There were more statistics than I wanted, and less details about individual court cases/newspaper ads/etc., but I learned a lot of fascinating stuff. Overall, I think what I learned is that separations were not that uncommon, and neither was cohabitation or even remarriage after a separation. I’m going to be posting some of the most interesting cases/plot bunnies…

[trigger warning: references to domestic violence]

The fact that their [local clergymen’s] remit included reconciling warring couples is highlighted by the church court prosecution of the curate John Turner in 1706, which claimed that ‘[you] doth breed strife and sedition amongst your Neighbors and very often between Man and Wife by adviseing them to part from one another (whereas by your holy office you should be a peace maker…)’

[…]Edward Bearparke complained[…]Turner had endeavored to widen a breach between him and his wife, by telling her to procure a warrant from a justice of the peace against him [which would require him to appear in court for “mediation, usually between wives and violent husbands or husbands who refused to contribute to the domestic economy”]. She probably saw this somewhat differently.

1. Bearparke is my new favorite name and I WILL be using it.

2. I’d love to read a romance with a separation- and warrant-encouraging curate as the hero! Who should the heroine be?