Many of our ancestors were living in this fascinating period. It’s tumultuous on multiple fronts, multiple continents, in ways both micro and macro. 1787 marks a major milestone for the still fledgling United States: the signing of the Constitution. Uranus, Oberon, and Titan are discovered by Herschel. Mozart’s Don Giovanni is performed for the first time. In 1788, England’s George III experiences his first bout of madness, ushering in the Regency crisis which will last for the next twenty-plus years. London’s Daily Universal Register becomes the Times. The first convicts are transported from Britain to Australia, and Sydney is founded. 1789 marks the beginning of the Revolution in France, and the world will never be the same. The guillotine is invented. Fashion is also undergoing a major transformation, the likes of which will not be seen again until the flappers burst onto the scene more than one hundred years later. Hoops have been discarded in favor of false rumps, and soon even those will be gone as the fashion turns toward a Greek ideal. Vigee Le Brun has already painted the scandalous portrait of Marie Antoinette in her Robe a la Reine and the fashion has taken England by storm. The young Prince of Wales is illegally married to Catholic Mrs. Fitzherbert, and has likely already sired an illegitimate son. The Whigs and the Tories are locked in combat in Parliament, each marshaled behind their leaders, Charles Fox and his former protégé, William Pitt.
Imagine our ancestors living in this world poised on the brink of almost unimaginable change.