Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An 18th century challenge between the armies

At the historic site called Beamish, in County Durham, there is a gentleman's house recreated to the era of the 1820s. It's not very big or very impressive, but it has pretention. Part of that is mediocre but fashionable -- or maybe just past fashionable -- art in the form of engravings.

One of them is a single sheet illustrated and captioned recording the 18th century military careers of Belgrade and Clumsy. Belgrade was a widow (?) who continued to follow the British army after she lost her husband. The engraving celebrates her role in rescuing and caring for wounded soldiers.

Clumsy was her dog. And what a dog! At the battle of Dettlingen, as French and English armies faced each other, a dog emerged from the French lines and began to berate the English in dog fashion. Clumsy was having none of it. He went out, beat up the French dog, chased him away, and then calmly returned to the English lines.

The English went on to win the battle.

You can't make this stuff up. Well, I didn't. But just as I saw every modern re-creation and restoration at every historical site I visited in Britain, I can't help seeing Deeds of Arms everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. Belgrade ... a woman? With an army? Clearly a people on the move!