Why is it called the Regency era?
Technically, the Regency period covers the years between 1811 and 1820, when King George III was considered too ill to rule the country. His eldest son, Prince George, was made Prince Regent and given the power to rule in his father's place. When the King died in 1820, George was crowned king in his own right, and was known as King George IV.
Whenever you have a regent, ruling a country in the absence of the king, (due to war, illness or youth) the time they spend in charge is called a regency. This particular period of regency in Britain is probably the one most people are familiar with.
However, in this book I will be covering what is often called the extended Regency period, between 1795 and 1820. This is a distinctive period of fashion, architecture and culture which differed from the first half of the 1790s, and the later styles of 1820 onwards.
It also corresponds with the French periods of "Directoire" (1795-1799) and "Empire" (1804-1815) during which the French fashions of the time influenced the clothing worn in Britain.
Although this time is also covered by the Georgian era, the word "Georgian" often conjures images of women in high wigs, with wide panniers under their dresses, while the men wore highly embroidered coloured silk coats and walked around with dress swords strapped to their sides. The Regency period was a step away from this time, where wigs and patches fell out of style, and fashions moved closer to the classical styles of ancient Greece or Rome.
What makes the Regency so popular?
This period of history is one of the most popular of modern times. We love to read the classic novels of the age, watch sumptuous period dramas, and dream of being swept off our feet by our own Mr. Darcy.
Historical romance in particular has embraced the Regency as a time of glittering fashions, high society, dangerous rakes and modest (or sometimes not so modest) females. Maybe it's because we can see ourselves in those Grecian inspired ball gowns, in a way we can't so easily imagine dressing in the wide Georgian panniers, or the unwieldy Victorian crinolines.
If, like me, you enjoy reading stories set in this era, what are your favourite bits? What draws you to Regency-set stories in particular? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
However, if you have any questions, or there's stuff you've often wondered about but didn't know who to ask, the best place to ask is on the next page...
This book is meant to be used more like an encyclopedia than a novel. It was never intended to be read from beginning to end, so feel free to jump around between subjects, depending on what you're most interested in.
The most recent "chapters" always go at the end, but I occasionally move older ones around, so similar subjects can be kept together.
Image: George, Prince Regent and Prince of Wales; later George IV, by Thomas Lawrence [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
YOU ARE READING
Reading the RegencyNon-Fiction
A guide to Regency England for readers of classic literature or historical fiction set in the early 19th century. England, as it was in the early 1800's, can sometimes be as confusing to a modern reader as travelling to a foreign country. Their clot...