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DEVIL IN THE MAKING by Victoria Vane: The History Behind the Story

By Authoremerylee @authoremerylee

Devil In the Making Illustrated 1650X2550


Every devil has a beginning…A rebellious young nobleman’s prank with the king’s lion goes comically awry, leading to a startling chain of events.

**This title is NOT a romance but a riotous Georgian romp in the tradition of Fielding’s Tom Jones and a prequel to the Devil DeVere series.**

A Note from the Author:

As fans of my work as both Emery Lee and Victoria Vane are already well aware, I delight in nothing more than using true historical details, to include real events and people, in order to give my fictional stories greater depth and dimension. Here are a few of those titillating tidbits from Devil in the Making:

1) Birching was a very common and frequently abuse practice of corporal punishment in the English School system with the humiliation of exposed buttocks considered a vital part of the punishment:

Birching“a birch rod should be  ‘green,’ or freshly cut before use, while  English tradition was often to steep the rods in strong brine and vinegar for storage so as to be ready for use. The effectiveness of a birch rod for punishment is determined by the length and weight of the withes. The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine suggested that a governess birch should be a minimum of three feet long, with six to nine withes and weigh no less than six ounces for application to the bared bottom of a 16-year-old girl. With three inches and approximately two ounces added for each year of growth, “saving that the rod should not greatly exceed 42 inches” in length or 10 ounces in weight.

2) While my lion-napping episode is entirely fictional, the idea was inspired by a true incident regarding Philip Duke of Wharton who was probably much like the young Lord DeVere.

When Philip tired of his tutor while on the grand tour, he purchased a young bear and left it in his pedagogue’s chambers with the following note:  

“Being no longer able to bear with your ill-usage I think proper to be gone from you. However, that you may not want company, I have left you the bear as the most sociable companion in the world that could be picked out for you.”

3) The brief anecdotes pertaining to the polar bear, and Indian Nawab’s gift of exotic species to King George are true.

For a long time, powerful rulers tried to impress each other by exchanging living gifts. The exotic animals kept at the Tower showed the wealth and strength of the king. Animals were sent to London from the furthest corners of the known world. In 1235, King Henry III received three lions (or leopards) from Emperor Frederick II. The animals matched the three lions on the King’s shield, which still appear on the badges of the English football and cricket teams. The Emperor had just married Henry’s sister Isabella so this gift was a sign of their alliance and friendship.

Polar bear illustration by Tim ArchboldThe ‘white bear’ who loved to fish 
Henry III received ‘a white bear’ from King Haakon of Norway in 1252 (believed to be a polar bear). The bear was one of the luckiest animals at the Tower as it was given a long leash so it could swim in the river Thames and catch fish.

4) Treatment of Syphylis and Virgin cleansing

Interestingly, the work “Quack”  originates from the German word for mercury or quicksilver — quacksalber and was first applied to those who poisoned their patients with mercury.  Because the Arabians had successfully used mercurial ointment in the treatment of scabies (itch) and because “syphilis” produced sores somewhat like scabies, the ungentum Saracenicun was adopted by European physicians  for treating  the scurge of  ”syphilis.” Jacob Carpensic was the first to use mercury in treating syphilis in 1502.

In 1630 Fracastorius  advised infusions of mint, hops, thyme, and guaiac. He insisted on sweating, saying: “when one perspires, the rottenness leaves the body with the drops of sweat.” He also advised purging and bleeding, but above all, he praised mercuric inunctions, which he pushed up to the point of salivation. In 1648 Femel sustained the original claim of Paracelsus that mercury is a specific and the only specific for “syphilis.”

Eventually, mercuric inunctions were employed to such an extent that the gums of “the patients softened and their teeth fell out.”   The quacks, however, promising quicker results gave such huge doses that as many patients succumbed to the drug as to the disease.

“They filled their patients’ stomachs with mercury pills; painted and greased them with mercury salves, and as an afterthought baked them in ovens until one early author observed that ‘the stench of frying fat was through the air.’”

Mercury, however, was almost as dangerous to the patient as the disease, especially when supplemented by the bleeding, the purging, and the sweating that characterized the treatment of the day. With no standardized dosage, many patients were poisoned, and died at the hands of over zealous physicians. In the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries German candidates for the doctor’s degree were made to take an oath that they would under no conditions prescribe mercury for their patients. Doctors who did so were denounced as ‘poison mixers and murderers.’”   (

Worse than mercury treatment was the insidious myth that syphilis could be cured through sexual intercourse with a virgin (usually a child). It was not only a real practice in the 18th century, but sadly persists even today in AIDS infected third world nations.

5) Charles James Fox certainly would have been a contemporary of Ludovic DeVere. He was indeed raised by an absurdly indulgent father who took him on his Grand Tour at age fourteen, taught him to gamble, and arranged the loss of his virginity at a Parisian brothel. Fox’s subsequent escapades are the stuff of Georgian legend.

From Gale Encyclopedia of Biography:

The third son of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, Charles James Fox seemed destined almost from birth to follow his father’s political career. Although he held high office for a shorter time than his father, he became more famous and far better loved. He also seemed destined to continue with William Pitt the Younger the intense political rivalry that their fathers had begun.

Of his two older brothers, one died in infancy and the other was sickly, so the father heaped affection and attention on Charles. Overindulged in his youth, Charles never developed the qualities of restraint or self-discipline. Indeed, Charles’s father apparently preferred to encourage a lack of inhibition, for he introduced his son at a tender age to an extravagant and dissipated way of life that was to remain with him always.

Fox’s carefree, easygoing manner and his great personal charm won for him a large number of friends, although many people were shocked by his wild and irresponsible behavior. He was completely self-indulgent and undisciplined, and his manner of life was thoroughly irregular. Nothing better typifies that aspect of his character than his later relationship with his mistress, Mrs. Elizabeth Armistead. After his connection with her had lasted more than 10 years, he married her in 1795 but kept the marriage a secret until 1802.

6) The Hôtel Aphrodisiasis also entirely fictional, but was inspired by The famed Parc aux Cerfs of Louis XV, a private residence where the king housed his “harem.” From The Memoirs of the Comtesse Du Barry:

 Since this word Parc-aux-Cerfs has escaped my pen, I will tell you something of it. Do you know, my friend, that but little is known of this place, of which so much has been said. I can tell you, better than any other person, what it really was, for I, like the marquise de Pompadour took upon myself the superintendence of it, and busied myself with what they did there. It was, entre nous, the black spot in the reign of Louis XV., and will cost me much pain to describe.

The vices of Louis XV. were the result of bad education. When an infant, they gave him for governor the vainest, most coxcombical, stupidest of men—the duc de Villeroi, who had so well served the king (si bien servi le rot).*Never had courtier so much courtiership as he. He saw the young prince from morning till night, and from morning till night he was incessantly repeating in his ears that his future subjects were born for him, and that they were all dependent on his good and gracious pleasure. Such lessons daily repeated, necessarily destroyed the wise instructions of Massillon. When grown up, Louis XV. saw the libertinism of cardinal Dubois and the orgies of the regency: madame de Maillis’ shameless conduct was before his eyes and Richelieu’s also. Louis XV. could not conduct himself differently from his ministers and his family. His timid character was formed upon the example of others. At first he selected his own mistresses, but afterwards he chose some one who took that trouble off his hands. Lebel became purveyor in chief to his pleasures; and controlled in Versailles the house known as the Parc-aux-Cerfs.

As soon as the courtiers knew of the existence and purposes of this house, they intrigued for the control of it. The king laughed at all their efforts, and left the whole management to Lebel, under the superintendence of the comte de Saint-Florentin, minister of the royal household. They installed there, however, a sort of military chief, formerly a major of infantry, who was called, jestingly, M. de Cervieres; his functions consisted in an active surveillance, and in preventing young men from penetrating the seraglio. The soldiers at the nearest station had orders to obey his first summons. His pay was twelve thousand livres a year.

A female styled the surintendante had the management of the domestic affairs; she ruled with despotic sway; controlled the expenses; preserved good order; and regulated the amusement of her charges, taking care that they did not mix one with the other. She was an elderly canoness of a noble order, belonging to one of the best families in Burgundy. She was only known at the Parc as Madame, and no one ventured to give her any other title. Shortly after the decease of Mme. de Pompadour, she had succeeded in this employ a woman of low rank, who had a most astonishing mind. Louis XV. thought very highly of her, and said that if she were a man he would have made her his minister. She had put the harem on an admirable system, and instructed the odalisques in all the necessary etiquette.

The Madame of my time was a woman of noble appearance, tall, ascetic, with a keen eye and imperious manner. She expressed a sovereign contempt for all the low-born beauties confided to her trust. However, she did not treat her wards ill, for some one of them might produce a passion in the heart of the king, and she was determined to be prepared for whatever might fall out. As to the noble ladies, they were her favourites. Madame did not divide her flock into fair and dark, which would have been natural, but into noble and ignoble.

Besides Madame, there were two under-mistresses, whose duties consisted in keeping company with the young ladies who were placed there. They sometimes dined with new comers, instructed them in polite behaviour, and aided them in their musical lessons, or in dancing, history, and literature in which these tftves were instructed. Then followed a dozen women of lower station, creatures for any service, half waiting women, half companions, who kept watch over the young ladies, and neglected nothing that could injure each other at every opportunity. The work of the house was performed by proper servants and male domestics, chosen expressly for their age and ugliness. They were paid high, but in return for the least indiscretion on their part, they were sent to linger out their existence in a state prison. A severe watch was kept over every person of either sex in this mysterious establishment. It was requisite, in fact, that an impenetrable veil should be cast over the frailties of the king; and that the public should know nothing of what occurred at the Parc-aux-Cerfs.

Further reading:

Charles James Fox: a commentary on his life and character,  By Walter Savage Landor, Stephen Wheel

The harlot and the statesman: the story of Elizabeth Armistead & Charles James Fox by I.M. Davis

Memoirs of the Comtesse Du Barry: with minute details of her entire career … By Etienne-Léon Lamothe-Langon (baron de)

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