Here at Corsets, Cutlasses & Candlesticks, we talk a lot about history. We’re all a little loopy for it, in case you hadn’t noticed. But would we want to live in the time we write about? The question reminds me of when I was a little kid, and you’d say something like “I love Butterfingers!” and your friend would say, “Then why don’t you marry it?” Just because you love something doesn’t mean it will make a good spouse. Or a good time to be alive. But here are just a few of the reasons I’d love to visit Henry’s court, and a few of the reasons I’m glad I live in the 21st century.
Things I wish I could experience in the Tudor era:
1. Christmas. These people knew how to celebrate–feasts, jousts, masques, dancing, and lots and lots of gifts (mostly for the King).
2. Clothes. The cut of a bodice, the drape of a sleeve, the weight of the skirts. The heaviness of velvet and brocade, the smell of freshly washed linen.
3. Food. But as you know from my Thanksgiving post, I don’t really want to try it all.
4. Life. I’d like to know truly what Hampton Court looked like and smelled like and felt like – without tourists or umbrellas or glass covering the paintings. I have an active imagination, but I know that isn’t the real thing. Just for one night, though, and I would like to know that I could escape if I needed to.
5. People. I’d like to see for myself if Henry as a young man was really as handsome as everyone said. I want to see what my characters really looked like and sounded like. I’d like to ask them what they dream and who they want to be.
Things that make me glad I don’t live in the Tudor era:
2. I like modern amenities. Hot and cold running water, flush toilets, central heating, quick and mostly comfortable travel, electric lights, gel pens. You know, the good stuff.
3. Medicine. I’m glad to live in a time when one fear of plague is not forever hanging over my head. And obstetrics. Without modern medicine, I wouldn’t be here.
4. Hygiene. Yes, people still pee in corners when they’re ridiculously drunk, but it’s generally unacceptable. Plus, baths. For me, and for the people around me.
5. Choice. This is the biggest reason why I am glad I do not live my characters’ lives. I am free to choose my spouse, to make my own decisions about what happens to my body, to be educated, to have a career. I can vote and speak out and make myself heard. I don’t have to believe what I’m told to believe. And for that–for choice–I will be eternally grateful, and I hope I never abuse or waste the privilege.
What entices you most about history? What—out of everything—would you want to experience? And what makes you glad you live in modern times?