My sister (who knows me so well) got me A Grim Almanac of Georgian London
for my birthday. It’s an amazing little book, filled with snippets of horror (pigs eating discarded babies), scandal (the Duchess of Kingston’s bigamy trial [she got away with it!!!]), duels, and murders too numerous to recount.
One of the things I found very interesting was the number of killings that were found to be manslaughter rather than murder, for which the penalty was a burning on the hand (and nothing more). So, steal a handkerchief and go to the gallows (also, having sexual relations with an animal was a punishable by death!), stab a love rival in a fit of jealousy, get a burn on your hand and go about your business.
Today’s entry reads as follows:
15 April 1795 Daniel Mendoza was a world-champion boxer, whose style was scientific and included many defensive manoeuveres. This incorporated side-stepping, moving around,, ducking, blocking and avoiding punches. At the time, this was revolutionary; as a result of this new style, although he was only 5ft 7in and 160lb, Mendoza was able to overcome much larger opponents. He is the only middleweight ever to win the heavyweight championship of the world. However, on this day, Mendoza lost his title to John Jackson, who employed a tactic that would be considered ungentlemanly at least: he grabbed Mendoza’s long hair, held him, and beat him unconscious in the ninth round. Jackson’s own head was shaved, so other boxers could not play this dirty trick on him.
It’s a great book if you have an interest in the grittier aspects of life in London during the Georgian era. I already have several grim plot bunnies jumping about ...