Candice’s book A Proper Companion is set in 1812.

All links are to Wikipedia entries.

Frame-breakers, or Luddites Smashing a Loom. Print by unknown artist, 1812.

Frame-breakers, or Luddites Smashing a Loom. Print by unknown artist, 1812.

Government, Politics, and War:

  • January 20: Wellington captures Ciudad Rodrigo.
  • February 27: Poet Lord Byron gives his first address as a member of the House of Lords, in defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire. Despite his eloquence, Parliament passes the Frame Breaking Act, which permits the death sentence for anyone convicted of destroying machinery.
  • April 4: U.S. President James Madison enacts a 90-day embargo on trade with the United Kingdom.
  • April 6: Wellington captures Badajoz in one of the bloodiest battles of the Peninsular wars. Afterwards, the British Army participates in some of the worst atrocities of the war — looting, vandalizing, raping, and murdering civilians of the town for 3 days before order was restored. Wellington is outraged by the solders’ conduct, and a gallows is erected to punish offenders. A few men are flogged, but no one is hanged.
  • May 11: British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated.
  • June 8 : Lord Liverpool becomes Britain’s new Prime Minister (a position he holds until 1827).
  • June 18: The United States declares war on Britain over trade restraints and territory disputes (ie the War of 1812).
  • June 24: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia begins.
  • July 22: Wellington defeats Marshall Marmont at the Battle of Salamanca.
  • August 16: American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit without a fight to the British Army.
  • August 19: USS Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerrière off the coast of Nova Scotia. The British shot is said to have bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, earning her the nickname “Old Ironsides”.
  • September: Napoleon leads his Grande Armée against the Imperial Russian army at the Battle of Borodino. It is largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 total casualties. Napoleon eventually captures the main positions on the battlefield, but fails to destroy the Russian army.
  • September 7: Napoleon enters Moscow, but most of the city’s 300,000 inhabitants have fled, and fires set by the Russians burn much of Moscow in the next 5 days.
  • October 19: Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow. His army moves west through country that has been laid waste to deny it sustenance, and the retreat turns into a rout as the army runs out of provisions. French losses in the Russian campaign amount to 570,000 against about 400,000 Russian casualties and several hundred thousand civilian deaths.
Bullock's London Museum, from Ackermann's Repository of Arts, August 1815.

Bullock’s London Museum, from Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, August 1815. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Society and Social History:

  • William Bullock’s museum of antiquities and curiosities opens in his newly built Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly.
  • February: Viscount Wellington is made Earl of Wellington for his service in the Peninsula.
  • March 15: Luddites attack the wool processing factory of Frank Vickerman in West Yorkshire.
  • April: Lord Byron begins his notorious affair with Lady Caroline Lamb.
  • October: Earl of Wellington is made Marquess of Wellington for his victories in the Peninsula.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps by J.M.W. Turner, 1812.

Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps by J.M.W. Turner, 1812. (Click on image to see a larger version and to read more about it.)

Art, Architecture, and Design:


  • Angelica Catalini performs in the first London production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
  • Beethoven completes Symphony no. 8 (Opus 92) and Symphony no. 9 (Opus 93).
  • July 17: Piano maker John Broadwood dies at age 79.

Theater and Dramatic Arts:

  • The third volume of Joanna Baillie’s Plays of the Passions is published.
  • June 29: Sarah Siddons retires from the stage after her last performance as Lady Macbeth at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. She will continue to do occasional charity performances and private readings until her death in 1831.
  • October 10: The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (which burned down in 1809) re-opens in a new building designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt with a production of Hamlet.

Science and Industry:

  • February 12: Napoleon authorizes the usage of Mesures usuelles, the basis of the Metric System.
  • April: Gas Light and Coke Company is granted a charter to operate the first gas works in London (and the world).
  • August: Henry Bell‘s PS Comet begins a passenger service on the River Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock, the first commercially successful steamboat service in Europe