Regency Bicentennial Eve

Today is indeed New Year’s Eve, but it is a very special New Year’s Eve, since it is the eve of the first day of 2011. And 2011 is exactly two hundred years after 1811, the year in which the Regency began in England. The year in which poor King George III suffered his final descent into madness and his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, became Regent, to rule in his stead for the remaining ten years of the mad king’s life.

A bit about New Year’s Eve around the world in 1811 and news about the celebration of the Regency Bicentennial in 2011 …

Though 2011 starts on Saturday, all around the world, such was not the case in 1811. As I explained in my previous article on the two calendars in use in the world during the Regency, New Year’s Day of 1811 depended on which calendar was in use where you happened to be at the turn of the year. The Gregorian calendar was in use throughout all of Britain, so the first day of 1811, throughout the British Isles, was a Tuesday. But in those countries where the Julian calendar was still in use, New Year’s Day, 1811, fell twelve days later, on a Sunday.

France had abandoned the calendar of the French Republic, on the orders of Napoleon, in 1806, thus New Year’s Day of 1811 in France fell on the Tuesday, just as it did in Britain. It also fell on the Tuesday in both Spain and Portugal, where the Peninsular War was in progress, as well as in Austria, Italy, Prussia and most of the German principalities. But in the countries of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the Ottoman Empire, Romania, Russia, and Yugoslavia, New Year’s Day was celebrated twelve days later, on a Sunday. It would have been possible for a traveller on the Continent to have celebrated New Year’s Day of 1811 twice. For example, once in Italy, on the Tuesday, and then, twelve days later in Greece, on the Sunday.

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This past spring, I wrote about the Regency Bicentennials, and my personal plans to celebrate the various significant dates of this decade. Until last week, I thought I would be one of the very few who would be recognizing these somewhat esoteric anniversaries. But last week, Olga, the editor of the Harlequin Blog, posted a comment to that article to say that the Harlequin Blog would be celebrating the Regency Bicentennial during the month of February 2011. She wrote that many of the authors of their Regency novels would be participating in their online celebration. I was delighted by the news and I have added a link to the Harlequin Blog to my blogroll, in order to make it easier to get there, for those who are interested in taking part in those Regency Bicentennial celebrations.

I think that February is the perfect choice for Harlequin’s Regency Bicentennial celebrations. The Prince of Wales took the oath by which he became Regent at Carlton House, on 6 February 1811, so the Regency did begin in February. Perhaps nearly as important, Valentine’s Day also falls in February, the annual holiday dedicated to love and romance over much of the globe. I find it quite fitting that Harlequin, the publisher of many Regency romances, will be hosting a celebration of the English Regency on their blog this coming February. I do not know what form these celebrations will take, but I hope that all of you who enjoy the Regency as much as I do will stop by the Harlequin Blog regularly to partake of their online Bicentennial celebrations.

I wish you all a health, happy and historical New Year!

About Kathryn Kane

Historian with a particular interest the English Regency era.   An avid reader of novels set in that time, holding strong opinions on the historical accuracy to be found in said novels.
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