Bridgerton, Regency fashion, and royalty

Obsessed with Netflix series, Bridgerton? Aren't we all!

Fortunately there are several reading options if you want to delve deeper into the opulent world of Julia Quinn's Regency romances, whether it's the stately homes used as locations for the series, delicacies from the tea table, or words of wisdom from Lady Whistledown's quill.

Catalogue record for Bridgerton's EnglandCatalogue reeord for Bridgerton's BathCatalogue record for Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An unofficial cookbook for fans of BridgertonCatalogue record for The wit and wisdom of Bridgerton: Lady Whistledown's official guide

There are also plenty of titles on the fashion, history, and royalty of that period.

Regency fashion

I'm particularly in love with the costuming in the show - all those column-like empire line dresses and dazzling colour palette, but also just the Regency era in general.

But how true to the Regency period is Bridgerton though? The consensus seems to be that it's not 100% historically accurate particularly with the colour palette and lack of bonnets but then it's not trying to be - it is a romantic period drama, not a documentary.

Catalogue record for Emma

That said, if you're after a romantic watch with some glorious, and quite accurate costuming you could do worse than the 2020 film version of Emma which sees Anya Taylor-Joy romping about the countryside in some very fetching outfits. Some pieces were even based on real garments held in museums.

Speaking of which, if you want to ogle some legit regency clothing the place to go is definitely the website of the V&A Museum.

If you're keen to see more of the styles, fabrics and silhouettes that were worn in this period (Bridgerton season 2 is set in 1814) there are also library titles to try on the topic, and quite a bit of overlap with the world of Jane Austen since her novels, like Emma, were all published in the 1810s and have heavily influenced writers of Regency romances since (could there have even been an Anthony Bridgerton without first a Fitzwilliam Darcy?).

Catalogue record for Dress in the age of Jane AustenCatalogue record for Jane Austen fashionCatalogue record for Jane Austen embroideryCatalogue record for Nineteenth century fashion in detailCatalogue record for Stays & corsetsCatalogue record for Illustrated handbook of western European costumeCatalogue record for Beau Brummell The ultimate dandy

Find more in our books on the history of clothing and dress.

Regency Britain

Regency life

What were the social mores of the time? How did the gentry conduct themselves? Was it really one ball after another? Here are some titles that can answer those questions.

Catalogue record for The time traveller's guide to Regency BritainCatalogue record for The Regency revolutionCatalogue record for Voices from the world of Jane AustenGeorgette Heyer's Regency worldCatalogue record for Jane Austen's England

War and political intrigue

Bridgerton doesn't delve at all into the politics of the time though the Napoleonic Wars were raging on and off for over a decade, culminating in Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

Catalogue record for 1815: Regency Britain in the year of WaterlooCatalogue record for In these times: Living in Britain through Napoleon's wars 1793-1815Catalogue record for Waterloo: A new history of the battle and its armiesCatalogue record for The princess and the politicians

It was also during this period that conflict in America came to a head with The War of 1812 (which continued until 1815).

Catalogue record for When Britain burned the White HouseCatalogue record for American Military History. Episode 4, Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812 (Streaming video)Catalogue record for In pursuit of the Essex

Royalty

George III

The time period known as the "Regency" era is often used to cover the years towards the end of the reign of King George III. The King's health and mental faculties had deteriorated (as portrayed in The Madness of George III) and so his son, also George, ruled in his place as Prince Regent from 1811 to the King's death in 1820. The regency period is sometimes extended beyond this though to take in the very end of the 18th century and into the 1830s, during which time his sons ruled.

Catalogue record for A royal experiment: The private life of King George IIICatalogue record for The last king of AmericaCatalogue record for George III: The Life and Reign of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch

Queen Charlotte

In terms of royalty, in Bridgerton it's the Queen (formerly Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz) who reigns supreme, at least in social circles and her wigs and outfits rival those of Marie Antoinette in height and width respectively. Fashion-wise her court dress, and that of her ladies in waiting, is of an earlier era, that favoured in the 18th century, heavily embellished and embroidered.

Catalogue record for 18th-century Fashion in DetailCatalogue record for 18th century embroidery techniquesCatalogue record for The American Duchess guide to 18th century dressmakingCatalogue record for Marie Antoinette's head

For those who love The Queen as portrayed in Bridgerton, good news! The cast has just been announced for a spinoff series, a sort of "origin story" for Queen Charlotte that would also feature a young Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton. And once again the V&A website provides with an online 'Design a wig' tool that let's you create your own fanciful headpiece in the style of Queen Charlotte.

The real Queen Charlotte had 15 children with her husband and, as well as being a patron of the arts, is credited with bringing the tradition of the Christmas tree from her native Germany to Britain.

Catalogue record for Enlightened princesses

George IV

As mentioned above George III and Queen Charlotte's son, the Prince Regent was ruling Britain during the period when Bridgerton is set. He sadly did not have the long and happy marriage his parents enjoyed, marrying his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick at the behest of his father (mainly for financial reasons) in 1795. The two had only one child, a daughter, and separated within a year of her birth. By 1814 his wife had moved to Italy.

Their daughter, Princess Charlotte, died in childbirth in 1817 at the age of 21. George's antipathy towards his wife was such that he neither wrote to inform her of their daughter's death, nor allowed her to attend his coronation in 1821 despite her popularity with the people and her position as Queen.

Catalogue record for Caroline and Charlotte: Regency scandalsCatalogue record for The People's princessGeorge IV: Art and spectacle

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