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Posts Tagged ‘aristocracy’

This Week’s Question:

Viscount Rochford and four other men were executed on this day in 1536. What was their crime?

Last Week’s Question:

The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, which opened on May 3, 1830, was notable for what two reasons?

Answer: The railway was the first steam-hauled passenger railway to issue season tickets (starting in 1834) and to include a tunnel.

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Previously on Downton Abbey: Matthew and William disappeared for a little while, but then came back, as did Bates, once again spouting promises of divorce from Vera the Terrible. Isobel left too, in a childish snit, to take up a position in France.

Amiens in 1918 looks like a barren, postapocalyptic wasteland. In the trenches, William helps Matthew get ready for the big push. Matthew’s nervous, and William’s sweetly trying to put a brave face on the whole thing. The other men are undergoing their own pre-battle preparations: smoking last-minute cigarettes, checking their weapons, etc. Matthew gives them a brief but reasonably rousing speech, then checks his watch, orders them all to fix bayonets, and over the top they go.

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It’s a beautiful summer day, and on the grounds of a magnificent estate (actually, I’m pretty sure this was filmed at the lake at Stourhead, which is, indeed, a magnificent estate) members of Britain’s upper crust are frolicking, flirting, and playing croquet, as they do. A pair of old biddies in black glare a young coupe off a bench and take a seat to watch events unfold. Meanwhile, a tall man in an even taller hat strides purposefully through the party while a young blonde woman plays tag with a young man.

Off in a totally separate area near a decorative temple, presumably far from the fuss and noise of the party, sits the host, the Duke. He’s snoozing with a glass of champagne in his hand, and he’s gently wakened when his nephew, Plantagenet Palliser, arrives. Plantagenet Palliser has to be the most upper crusty upper crust name in literature. Plantagenet is the tall guy from earlier, and he’s a member of the House of Commons, as the Duke helpfully tells us. He sits for his uncle’s borough, so I’m sure there was no nepotism there, but he’s one of those rare rich boy MPs who actually takes the job seriously, instead of just treating it as a way to pass the time until he inherits his title. The Duke couldn’t care less about politics, he just thinks they should adhere to family tradition by having a Palliser in the Whig party, and to thank his nephew for doing so, he’s increasing his allowance considerably. The Duke just happens to mention that, when Plantagenet gets married to “the right kind of girl,” that allowance will go through the roof. Plantagenet bids his uncle farewell and moves off.

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