Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann (27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891), was a French official who served as prefect of Seine (1853–1870), chosen by Emperor Napoleon III to carry out a massive urban renewal programme of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris commonly referred to as Haussmann's renovation of Paris. Critics forced his resignation for extravagance, but his vision of the city still dominates central Paris.
Georges Eugène Haussmann, communément appelé le baron Haussmann, né le 27 mars 1809 à Paris et mort le 11 janvier 1891 dans la même ville, est un haut fonctionnaire et homme politique français.
Préfet de la Seine de 1853 à 1870, il a dirigé les transformations de Paris sous le Second Empire en approfondissant le vaste plan de rénovation établi par la commission Siméon, qui vise à poursuivre les travaux engagés par ses prédécesseurs à la préfecture de la Seine, Rambuteau et Berger. Les transformations sont telles que l'on parle de bâtiments « haussmanniens » pour les nombreux édifices construits le long des larges avenues percées dans Paris sous sa houlette, les travaux réalisés ayant donné à l'ancien Paris médiéval le visage qu'on lui connait aujourd'hui.
Georges-Eugène Haussmann was born on 27 March 1809, at 53 Rue du Faubourg-du-Roule, in the Beaujon neighbourhood of Paris, the son of Nicolas-Valentin Haussmann and of Ève-Marie-Henriette-Caroline Dentzel, both of German families. His paternal grandfather Nicolas was a deputy of the Legislative Assembly and National Convention, an administrator of the department of Seine-et-Oise and a commissioner to the army. His maternal grandfather was a general and a deputy of the National Convention: Georges Frédéric Dentzel, a baron of Napoleon's First Empire.
He began his schooling at the Collège Henri-IV and at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, and then began to study law. At the same time, he studied music as a student at the Paris Conservatory, as he was a talented musician. Haussmann joined his father as an insurgent in the July Revolution of 1830, which deposed the Bourbon king Charles X in favor of his cousin, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
He was married on 17 October 1838 in Bordeaux to Octavie de Laharpe. They had two daughters: Henriette, who married the banker Camille Dollfus in 1860, and Valentine, who married Vicomte Maurice Pernéty, the chief of staff of his department, in 1865. Valentine divorced Pernéty in 1891. She then married Georges Renouard (1843–1897).
On 21 May 1831, Haussmann began his career in public administration. Despite proving himself as a hard worker and able representative of the government, his arrogance, dictatorial manner, and habit of impeding his superiors led to his being continually passed over for promotion.
Only after the 1848 Revolution swept away the July Monarchy, establishing the Second Republic in its place, did Haussmann's fortunes change. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, became the first elected president of France in 1848. Haussmann travelled to Paris in January 1849 to meet the Minister of the Interior and the new president. He was deemed to be a loyal holdover from the civil service of the July Monarchy, and shortly after their meeting Louis Napoléon granted Haussmann a promotion to prefect of the Var Department at Draguignan.
In 1850, Louis Napoléon started an ambitious project to connect the Louvre to the Hôtel de Ville in Paris by extending the Rue de Rivoli and create a new park, the Bois de Boulogne, on the outskirts of the city, but he was exasperated by the slow progress made by the incumbent prefect of the Seine, Jean-Jacques Berger. Louis-Napoleon was highly popular, but he was blocked from running for re-election by the constitution of the Second French Republic. At the end of December 1851, he staged a coup d'état, and in 1852 declared himself Emperor of the French under the title Napoleon III, and he soon began searching for a new prefect of the Seine to carry out his Paris reconstruction program.
The emperor's minister of the interior, Victor de Persigny, interviewed the prefects of Rouen, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux for the Paris post. In his memoirs, he described his interview with Haussmann, then prefect of the Gironde out of Bordeaux:
"It was Monsieur Haussmann who impressed me the most. It was a strange thing, but it was less his talents and his remarkable intelligence that appealed to me, but the defects in his character. I had in front of me one of the most extraordinary men of our time; big, strong, vigorous, energetic, and at the same time clever and devious, with a spirit full of resources. This audacious man wasn't afraid to show who he was. ... He told me all of his accomplishments during his administrative career, leaving out nothing; he could have talked for six hours without a break, since it was his favourite subject, himself. I wasn't at all displeased. ... It seemed to me that he was exactly the man I needed to fight against the ideas and prejudices of a whole school of economics, against devious people and skeptics coming from the Stock Market, against those who were not very scrupulous about their methods; he was just the man. Whereas a gentleman of the most elevated spirit, cleverness, with the most straight and noble character, would inevitably fail, this vigorous athlete ... full of audacity and skill, capable of opposing expedients with better expedients, traps with more clever traps, would certainly succeed. I told him about the Paris works and offered to put him in charge."
Persigny sent Haussmann to Napoleon III who made him prefect of the Seine on 22 June 1853, which post Haussmann held until 1870.
On 29 June, the emperor gave him the mission of making the city healthier, less congested and grander.
Napoleon III and Haussmann launched a series of enormous public works projects in Paris, hiring tens of thousands of workers to improve the sanitation, water supply and traffic circulation of the city. Napoleon III installed a huge map of Paris in his office, marked with coloured lines where he wanted new boulevards to be.
For the nearly two decades of Napoleon III's reign, and for a decade afterwards, most of Paris was an enormous construction site.
Beginning in 1854, in the centre of the city, Haussmann's workers tore down hundreds of old buildings and cut eighty kilometres of new avenues, connecting the central points of the city. Buildings along these avenues were required to be the same height and in a similar style, and to be faced with cream-coloured stone, creating the uniform look of Paris boulevards. Victor Hugo mentioned that it was hardly possible to distinguish what the house in front of you was for: theatre, shop or library. Haussmann managed to rebuild the city in 17 years.
The reconstruction of the centre of Paris was the largest such public works project ever undertaken in Europe, for which Haussmann spent 2.5 billion francs. never before had a major city been completely rebuilt when it was still intact; London, Rome, Copenhagen and Lisbon had been rebuilt after major fires or earthquakes.
To thank Haussmann for his work, Napoleon III proposed in 1857 to make Haussmann a member of the French Senate and to give him an honorary title, as he had done for some of his generals. Haussmann asked for the title of baron, which, as he said in his memoirs, had been the title of his maternal grandfather, Georges Frédéric, Baron Dentzel, a general under the first Napoleon, of whom Haussmann was the only living male descendant. According to his memoirs, he joked that he might consider the title aqueduc (a pun on the French words for 'duke' and 'aqueduct') but that no such title existed. This use of baron, however, was not officially sanctioned, and he remained, legally, Monsieur Haussmann.
During the first half of the reign of Napoleon III, the French legislature had very little real power; all decisions were made by the Emperor. Beginning in 1860, however, Napoleon decided to liberalise the Empire and give the legislators real power. The members of the opposition in the parliament increasingly aimed their criticism of Napoleon III at Haussmann, criticising his spending and his high-handed attitude toward the parliament.
The republican opposition to Napoleon III won many parliamentary seats in the 1869 elections, and increased its criticism of Haussmann. Napoleon III gave in to the criticism and named an opposition leader and fierce critic of Haussmann, Emile Ollivier, as his new prime minister. Haussmann was invited to resign. Haussmann refused to resign, and was relieved of his duties by the Emperor on 5 January 1870 in order to improve Napoleon III's own flagging popularity.
Six months later, during the Franco-German War, Napoleon III was captured by the Germans, and the Empire was overthrown.
In his memoires, Haussmann had this comment on his dismissal: "In the eyes of the Parisians, who like routine in things but are changeable when it comes to people, I committed two great wrongs; over the course of seventeen years I disturbed their daily habits by turning Paris upside down, and they had to look at the same face of the Prefect in the Hotel de Ville. These were two unforgivable complaints."
After the fall of Napoleon III, Haussmann spent about a year abroad, but he re-entered public life in 1877, when he became Bonapartist deputy for Ajaccio. His later years were occupied with the preparation of his Mémoires (three volumes, 1890–1893).
Some of the contemporary critics of Haussmann softened their views over time. Jules Simon, an ardent republican, and a fierce critic of Haussmann in the parliament, wrote of Haussmann in the Gaulois in 1882: "He tried to make Paris a magnificent city, and he succeeded completely. When he took Paris in hand and managed our affairs, rue Saint-Honore and rue Saint-Antoine were still the largest streets in the city. We had no other promenades than the Grands Boulevards and the Tuileries; the Champs-Élysées was most of the time a sewer; the Bois-de-Boulogne was at the end of the world. We were lacking water, markets, light, in those far-off times, which are only thirty years past. He demolished neighbourhoods- one could say, entire cities. They cried that he would create a plague; he let us cry and, on the contrary, through his intelligent piercing of streets, he gave us air, health and life. Here he created a street; there he created an avenue or a boulevard; here a Place, a Square; a Promenade. Out of emptiness he made the Champs-Élysées, the Bois de Boulogne, de the Bois de Vincennes. He introduced, into his beautiful capital, trees and flowers, and populated it with statues."
Haussmann died in Paris on 11 January 1891 at age 82 and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery. His wife, Louise-Octavie de la Harpe, had died just eighteen days earlier. At the time of their deaths, they had resided in an apartment at 12 rue Boissy d'Anglas, near the Place de la Concorde. The will transferred their estate to the family of their only surviving daughter, Valentine Haussmann.
Haussmann's plan for Paris inspired the urban planning and creation of similar boulevards, squares and parks in Cairo, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Rome, Vienna, Stockholm, Madrid, and Barcelona. After the Paris International Exposition of 1867, William I, the King of Prussia, carried back to Berlin a large map showing Haussmann's projects, which influenced the future planning of that city. His work also inspired the City Beautiful Movement in the United States. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York, visited the Bois de Boulogne eight times during his 1859 study trip to Europe. The American architect Daniel Burnham borrowed liberally from Haussmann's plan and incorporated the diagonal street designs in his 1909 Plan of Chicago.
Georges Eugène Haussmann naît à Paris le 27 mars 1809 au 53, rue du Faubourg-du-Roule, dans le quartier Beaujon. Il est le fils de Nicolas-Valentin Haussmann (1787-1876), protestant, commissaire des guerres et intendant militaire de Napoléon Ier, et d'Ève-Marie-Henriette-Caroline Dentzel. Par sa mère, il est le petit-fils du général et député de la Convention Georges Frédéric Dentzel, baron d'Empire, et, par son père, le petit-fils de Nicolas Haussmann (1760-1846), député de l'Assemblée législative et de la Convention, administrateur du département de Seine-et-Oise, commissaire aux armées.
Il fait ses études au lycée Condorcet à Paris puis entame un cursus de droit tout en étant élève au conservatoire de musique de Paris.
Il est sous-préfet de Nérac en Lot-et-Garonne le 9 octobre 1832). En poste à Nérac, il fréquente la bourgeoisie bordelaise, au sein de laquelle il rencontre Louise Octavie de Laharpe, avec laquelle il se marie le 17 octobre 1838 à Bordeaux. Ils ont deux filles : Henriette, qui épouse en 1860 Camille Dollfus, homme politique, et Valentine, qui épouse en 1865 le vicomte Maurice Pernety, chef de cabinet du préfet de la Seine, puis, après son divorce (1891), Georges Renouard (1843-1897), fils de Jules Renouard. Il a une autre fille, Eugénie (née en 1859), de sa relation avec l'actrice Francine Cellier (1839-1891), et descendance.
Sous l'administration d'Haussmann, les travaux et projets girondins ont été importants.
Présenté à Napoléon III par Victor de Persigny, ministre de l'Intérieur, il devient préfet de la Seine le 22 juin 1853, jusqu'en janvier 1870. Le 29 juin 1853, l'empereur lui confie la mission d'assainir et embellir Paris.
En 1857, il devient sénateur. Son titre de baron a été contesté. Comme il l'explique dans ses Mémoires, il a utilisé ce titre après son élévation au Sénat en 1857, en vertu d'un décret de Napoléon Ier qui accordait ce titre à tous les sénateurs, mais ce décret était tombé en désuétude depuis la Restauration.
Son œuvre n'en reste pas moins contestée à cause des sacrifices qu'elle a entraînés ; en outre, les méthodes employées ne s'encombrent pas de principes démocratiques. Les manœuvres financières sont bien souvent spéculatives et douteuses, ce qui nourrit le récit d'Émile Zola dans son roman La Curée.
Haussmann est destitué par le cabinet d'Émile Ollivier le 5 janvier 1870, quelques mois avant la chute de Napoléon III.
Après s'être retiré pendant quelques années à Cestas près de Bordeaux, Haussmann revient à la vie publique en étant élu député en Corse en 1877, face au député sortant, Napoléon-Jérôme Bonaparte, avec le soutien du nonce apostolique et du cardinal Guibert, archevêque de Paris. Il conserve ce mandat jusqu'en 1881 : il siège dans le groupe bonapartiste de l’Appel au peuple. Il est écarté de la vie publique en 1885 et en 1890, il perd successivement sa fille aînée et sa femme. Il consacre la fin de sa vie à la rédaction de ses Mémoires (1890-1891), un document important pour l'histoire de l'urbanisme de Paris.
Haussmann, mort le 11 janvier 1891, est enterré au cimetière du Père-Lachaise à Paris.
L'action d'Haussmann a influencé l'aménagement urbain de plusieurs villes françaises sous le Second Empire et le début de la Troisième République.
Hors de France, plusieurs capitales — Bruxelles, Rome, Barcelone, Madrid, Buenos Aires et Stockholm — s'inspirent de ses idées, avec l'ambition de devenir un nouveau Paris. Les principes haussmanniens influencent aussi Istanbul et Le Caire. Bucarest dispose d'un quartier en rupture avec la vieille ville appelé « le petit Paris ».
Giulio Berruti (born 27 September 1984) is an Italian actor, known for his roles in Monte Carlo (2011), Walking on Sunshine (2014), and Gabriel's Inferno (2020).
Giulio Berruti was born in Rome, Italy, to ophthalmologist Giuseppe Berruti of Moncalvo and lawyer Francesca Romana Reggiani. He has an older brother, Gian Luca Berruti, lieutenant colonel of the Guardia di Finanza.
After obtaining a scientific high school diploma and a professional dental technician diploma, Berruti attended the University of Rome Tor Vergata School of Dentistry, and graduated in Dentistry and dental prosthesis in 2010. He subsequently undertook the specialization in Orthodontics and achieved it in 2015.
Berruti, who is 190 cm tall, had a fashion model career while in school, walking runways and participating in several fashion campaigns, for about three years since 1998.
In 2003, he made his debut with a small role in the film The Lizzie McGuire Movie. He began rising to fame after appearing in Melissa P., La figlia di Elisa – Ritorno a Rivombrosa and Bon Appétit. In 2011, he starred in the film Monte Carlo and in 2014 he played the lead role in the musical comedy Walking on Sunshine.
Giulio Berruti published an Italian novel called "Nutshell" in 2018.
In 2019, Berruti was cast by producer Tosca Musk of Passionflix, to play the main role of Gabriel Emerson in the novel adaptation of Gabriel's Inferno.
Nasce a Roma da padre oculista e madre avvocato ed ex funzionario della Presidenza della Repubblica.
Dopo aver conseguito la maturità classica presso il Liceo Ginnasio Statale T. Lucrezio Caro e il diploma professionale di odontotecnico, si iscrive all'Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, e nel 2010 consegue la laurea in odontoiatria e protesi dentaria. Successivamente ha intrapreso la specializzazione in ortodonzia, che ha conseguito nel 2015.
Ne frattempo si dedica anche alla recitazione e frequenta corsi, tra cui il corso di Anne Strasberg e il Workshop intensivo per attori professionisti di Ivana Chubbuck.
Si avvicina al mondo dello spettacolo lavorando per tre anni come modello e partecipando agli spot pubblicitari tra cui uno diretto dal regista italiano Ferzan Özpetek
Come attore comincia da piccoli ruoli, interpreta il ruolo di Roberto nel film Melissa P. (2005), regia di Luca Guadagnino. In seguito ha un cameo nel film Scrivilo sui muri. Nel 2006 interpreta il ruolo di Thomas nella miniserie tv La freccia nera.
Tuttavia la notorietà e il successo arrivano nel 2007 grazie alla serie La figlia di Elisa - Ritorno a Rivombrosa, regia di Stefano Alleva, su Canale 5, dove interpreta il ruolo del protagonista, il marchese Andrea Van Necker.
Dal 2008 è Vicepresidente e testimonial dell'associazione culturale no profit ONLUS EFFEMERIDI che si occupa di sensibilizzazione sul tema ambientale, sanitario e dei diritti degli animali.
Nel 2016 è uno dei protagonisti sia nella serie Matrimoni e altre follie nel ruolo del cuoco Rocco Borgia e sia in Squadra antimafia - Il ritorno del boss dove interpreta il ruolo di Carlo Nigro, il nuovo vice-questore della Duomo e diventa protagonista, sostituendo Marco Bocci.
Due anni dopo, nel 2018, Berruti risalta ancora una volta grazie alla vittoria del talent show Dance Dance Dance insieme all'attrice Cristina Marino.
Nel 2019, Berruti entra nel cast del film Gabriel's Inferno, adattamento cinematografico tratto dal primo libro della trilogia omonima scritta da Sylvain Reynard. L'attore veste i panni del protagonista, il professor Gabriel Emerson. Il film è prodotto dalla nuova piattaforma americana Passionflix, ed è uscito il 29 maggio 2020.
È stato legato prima all'attrice Anna Safroncik, in seguito all'attrice Marianna Di Martino, dal 2014 a Maria Sole De Angelis e dal 2017 all'attrice Francesca Kirchmair. Attualmente è legato alla politica Maria Elena Boschi.
Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (née Spencer; 7 June 1757 – 30 March 1806), was an English socialite, political organiser, style icon, author, and activist. Of noble birth from the Spencer family, married into the Cavendish family, she was the first wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, and the mother of the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
As the Duchess of Devonshire, she garnered much attention and fame in society during her lifetime. With a pre-eminent position in the peerage of England, the duchess was famous for her charisma, political influence, beauty, unusual marital arrangement, love affairs, socializing, and gambling.
She was the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales. Their lives, centuries apart, have been compared in tragedy.
The Duchess was born Miss Georgiana Spencer, on 7 June 1757, as the first child of John Spencer (great-grandson of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and later Earl Spencer) and his wife, Georgiana (née Poyntz, later Countess Spencer), at the Spencer family home, Althorp. After her daughter's birth, her mother Lady Spencer wrote that "I will own I feel so partial to my Dear little Gee, that I think I never shall love another so well." Two younger siblings followed: Henrietta ("Harriet") and George. (The daughter of her sister Henrietta, Lady Caroline Lamb, would become a writer and lover of Lord Byron).
When her father assumed the title of Viscount Spencer in 1761, she became The Honourable Georgiana Spencer. In 1765, her father became Earl Spencer, and she Lady Georgiana Spencer.
On her seventeenth birthday, 7 June 1774, Lady Georgiana Spencer was married to society's most eligible bachelor, William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire (aged 25). The wedding took place at Wimbledon Parish Church. It was a small ceremony. Her parents were emotionally reluctant to let their daughter go, but she was wed to one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the land. Her father, who had always shown affection to his children, wrote to her, "My Dearest Georgiana, I did not know till lately how much I loved you; I miss you more every day and every hour". Mother and daughter continued to correspond throughout their lives, and many of their letters survive.
From the beginning of the marriage, the Duke of Devonshire proved to be an emotionally reserved man who was quite unlike the Duchess's father and who did not meet the Duchess' emotional needs. The spouses also had little in common. He would seldom be at her side and would spend nights at Brooks's playing cards. The Duke continued with adulterous behaviours throughout their married life, and discord followed pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or failure to produce a male heir.
Before their marriage, the Duke had fathered an illegitimate daughter, Charlotte Williams. This was unknown to the Duchess until years after her marriage to the Duke. After the death of the child's mother, the Duchess was compelled to raise Charlotte herself. The Duchess was "very pleased" with Charlotte, although her own mother Lady Spencer expressed disapproval.
In 1782, while on a retreat from London with the Duke, the Duchess met Lady Elizabeth Foster (widely known as "Bess") in the City of Bath, with whom she became close friends. With the Duke's acquiescence, Lady Elizabeth, who had become destitute after separating from her husband and two sons, went to live with The Duke and the Duchess.
The Duchess had been desperately lonely since her marriage to the Duke, and finally having found what she believed to be the ideal friend, she became emotionally dependent on Lady Elizabeth. When the Duke began a sexual relationship with Lady Elizabeth, a ménage à trois was established. Having no alternative, the Duchess became complicit in her best friend's affair with her husband the Duke, and it was arranged that Lady Elizabeth live with them permanently.
While it was common for male members of the upper class to have mistresses, it was not common or generally acceptable for a mistress to live so openly with a married couple, and the love triangle was a notorious topic.
Lady Elizabeth's affair with the Duke resulted in two illegitimate children: a daughter, Caroline Rosalie St Jules, and a son, Augustus Clifford.
Lady Elizabeth also engaged in well documented sexual relations with other men while she was in the "love triangle" with the Duke and Duchess.
Despite her unhappiness with her detached and philandering husband and volatile marriage, the duchess, as contemporary norms dictated, was not socially permitted to take a lover without producing an heir. The first successful pregnancy resulted in the birth of Lady Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish on 12 July 1783. Called "Little G," she would become the Countess of Carlisle and have her own issue. On 29 August 1785, a second successful pregnancy resulted in another daughter: Lady Harriet Elizabeth Cavendish, called "Harryo," who would become Countess Granville and also have children of her own. Finally, on 21 May 1790, the Duchess gave birth to a male heir to the dukedom: William George Spencer Cavendish, who took the title of Marquess of Hartington at birth, and was called "Hart." He would never marry and became known as "the bachelor duke." The Duchess had developed a strong mothering sentiment since raising Charlotte, and she insisted on nursing her own children (contrary to the aristocratic custom of having a wet nurse).
With the birth of the Marquess of Hartington, the Duchess was able to take a lover.
In 1791 she became pregnant by her lover Charles Grey (later Earl Grey). Sent off to France, the Duchess believed she would die in childbirth. On 20 February 1792, Eliza Courtney was born without complications to mother and child and Duchess was forced to give away the illegitimate daughter to Charles Grey's family. The Duchess would later be allowed to pay visits to her daughter, providing her with presents and affection.
While in exile in France, the Duchess of Devonshire suffered from isolation and felt her separation from her children. To return to England and her children, she conceded to her husband's demands and renounced her love for Charles Grey.
From childhood, Georgiana showed a characteristic need to please others and a need for attention. Her mother Lady Spencer, Georgiana Spencer, Countess Spencer raised her to behave as if she were a courtier always on show, and this training only augmented her people pleasing tendencies.
Georgiana was generous, charismatic, good-humored, and intelligent. Kindhearted, Georgiana instinctively wanted to help others and from a young age, happily gave her money to poor children or her friends as well as animals. She also lacked the condescending airs of the aristocracy; she made people of all classes feel valued and at ease in her company.
Despite being extremely self-conscious and making strenuous effort to appear perfect, Georgiana "always appeared natural, even when she was called upon to open a ball in front of 800 people. She could engage in friendly chatter with several people simultaneously" and still made each person feel special. Widely described as almost impossible to dislike, Georgiana captured the hearts of almost everyone she met.
While the Duchess of Devonshire coped with the marital arrangements on the surface throughout her marriage, she nevertheless suffered emotional and psychological distress.
She sought further personal consolation from a "dissipated existence" in passions (socialising, fashion, politics, writing), addictions (gambling, drinking, and drugs), and affairs (with several men, not just Grey, possibly including the bachelor Duke of Dorset).
With her renowned unconventional beauty and kind character, alongside her marriage to the affluent and powerful Duke of Devonshire, the Duchess of Devonshire enjoyed preeminence in society. She was a high emblem of the era. Georgiana was arguably the Princess Diana of her time, as her celebrity and her popularity with the press and public can be compared to what her ancestor experienced and became more two hundred years later. Like Diana, Princess of Wales, every move Georgiana made was watched by spies around her and then reported on by the press, her every mistake made mockery of the next day in the papers. On a personal note, Georgiana shared with Diana, Princess of Wales a famously unhappy marriage, a binging eating disorder, a passionate personality, and a mutual love for her children.
Like her dear friend Marie Antoinette, the Duchess of Devonshire was one of the fashion icons of her time, and her keen sense made her the leader of fashion in England. Every outfit the Duchess wore, including her hairstyle, was immediately copied by the masses. The fashionable styling of her hair alone reached literally extraordinary heights above her exuberant costumes.
Using her influence as a leading socialite and fashion icon, the Duchess of Devonshire contributed to politics, science, and literature. As part of her illustrious social engagements, the Duchess would gather around her a large salon of literary and political figures. Among her major acquaintances were the most influential figures of her time, including the Prince of Wales (later King George IV); Marie Antoinette of France and her favourite in court, the Duchess of Polignac; Charles Grey (later Earl Grey and British Prime Minister); and Lady Melbourne (lover of the Prince of Wales), as well as Samuel Johnson, a famed writer of the era. Newspapers chronicled her every appearance and activity.
She was called a "phenomenon" by Horace Walpole who proclaimed, "[she] effaces all without being a beauty; but her youthful figure, flowing good nature, sense and lively modesty, and modest familiarity make her a phenomenon".
The Spencer family, from which she derived, was an ardent supporter of the Whig party as were she and the House of Cavendish. However, because the duke's high position in the peerage disallowed him from participating so commonly in politics, the Duchess took it as a positive outlet for herself. In an age when the realisation of women's rights and suffrage were still more than a century away, the duchess became a political activist as the first woman to make active and influential front line appearances on the political scene. She relished Enlightenment and Whig party ideals. Her friend, The Prince of Wales, who always relished going against the grain with his father King George III (who detested the Whigs)joined the Whig party when the the duchess became involved. She was renowned for hosting dinners that became political meetings, and she took joy in cultivating the company of brilliant radicals.
During the general election of 1784, the Duchess was instrumental in the success of Whig party, but retired, after the win. In 1788, she returned to political activism though behind the scenes.
Even in the last years of her life, she pushed ahead in the field and attempted to help rebuild the Whig party, which had become fragmented; her efforts were to no avail, and the political party would eventually come to dissolve decades after her death.
Georgiana composed poetry as a young girl to her father, and some of it later circulated in manuscript. In her life, the Duchess was an avid writer and composed several works, of both prose and poetry, of which some were published.
The first of her published literary works was Emma; Or, The Unfortunate Attachment: A Sentimental Novel in 1773.
In 1778, the epistolary novel The Sylph was released. Published anonymously, it had autobiographical elements, centering on a fictional aristocratic bride who had been corrupted, and as "a novel-cum-exposé of [the duchess's] aristocratic cohorts, depicted as libertines, blackmailers, and alcoholics." The duchess is said to have at least privately admitted to her authorship. The Sylph was a success and underwent four reprintings.
The Passage of the Mountain of Saint Gothard, was first published in an unauthorised version in the 'Morning Chronicle' and 'Morning Post' of 20 and 21 December 1799, then in a privately printed edition in 1800. A poem dedicated to her children, The Passage of the Mountain of Saint Gothard was based on her passage of the Saint Gotthard Pass, with Bess, between 10 and 15 August 1793 on returning to England. The thirty-stanza poem, together with 28 extended notes, were furthermore translated into some of the main languages of Western Europe such as French, Italian, German. English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge published a glowing response to the poem, 'Ode to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire' in the 'Morning Post' on 24 December 1799.
The Duchess had a small laboratory where she conducted chemistry experiments and studied geology, natural history and was most passionate for mineralogy. In pursuit of her interest, she hiked to the summit of Mount Vesuvius to observe and study the active crater and later began the Devonshire Mineral Collection at Chatsworth (the main seat of the dukedom of Devonshire). In addition to her scientific curiosity, the Duchess wanted to contribute to her children's education.
She frequently engaged in scientific dialogue with prominent scientists of the era and her knowledge of chemistry and mineralogy was regarded as genius.
The Duchess played a key role in formulating, with Thomas Beddoes, the idea of establishing the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol. Her efforts to establish the Pneumatic Institute which advanced the study of factitious airs is an important event that provided framework for modern anesthesia as well as modern biomedical research in gasotransmitters.
As was common among the aristocracy of her time, the Duchess routinely gambled for leisure and amusement. Her gaming spiraled into a ruinous addiction, however, made worse by her emotional instability.
In the first years of her marriage, she accumulated debts that surpassed the 4,000 pounds that the Duke provided her annually as pin money. The duke found out later and repaid them.
For the rest of her life, the Duchess continued to amass an immense, ever-escalating debt that she always tried to keep hidden from her husband (even though he was among the richest men in the land). While she would admit to some amount, it was always less than the total, which even she could not keep up with. In confidence, she would ask for loans from the Prince of Wales.
In 1796, the Duchess of Devonshire succumbed to illness in one eye; the medical treatment resulted in a scarring of her face. However, "Those scars released her from her fears.
During her early forties, the Duchess of Devonshire devoted her time to the coming out of her eldest daughter, Lady Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish. The debutante was presented in 1800, and the duchess saw her daughter wed Lord Morpeth, the heir apparent of the Earl of Carlisle, in 1801; it was the first and only time the Duchess of Devonshire saw one of her issue marry.
Her health continued to decline well into her forties, and her gambling addiction continued.
Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, died on 30 March 1806, at 3:30, at the age of 48. She was surrounded by her husband, the 5th Duke of Devonshire; her mother, Countess Spencer; her sister, the Countess of Bessborough; her eldest daughter, Lady Morpeth (who was eight months pregnant); and Lady Elizabeth Foster. They were all said to have been inconsolable over her death. The Prince of Wales himself lamented, "The best natured and the best-bred woman in England is gone." Thousands of the people of London congregated at Piccadilly, where the Cavendish home in the city was located, to mourn her. She was buried at the family vault at All Saints Parish Church (now Derby Cathedral) in Derby.
Immediately after her death, the Duke of Devonshire discovered the extent of her debts. He soon enough married Lady Elizabeth Foster, who became Duchess of Devonshire as his second wife.
Georgiana's children were discontented with the marriage as they never liked Lady Elizabeth at all. When William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, died on 29 July 1811, the Marquess of Hartington became 6th Duke of Devonshire. He sought to liquidate his late mother's entire debts, and dismissed Lady Elizabeth by paying her off.
Over 1,000 personal letters written by the Duchess of Devonshire remain in existence. Chatsworth, the duke of Devonshire's seat, houses a majority of her letters in historical archives.
Artwork representing the Duchess of Devonshire by reputable painters of the Georgian era remain, including a 1787 portrait by the famed Thomas Gainsborough which was once thought lost.
The legacy of the life of Georgiana Cavendish, 5th Duchess of Devonshire, has remained a topic of study and intrigue in cultural and historical spheres centuries after her death.
In 1786, Susanna Rowson, who went on to become a bestselling author, dedicated her first published work, Victoria, to the Duchess of Devonshire.
Since early 20th century, many films have been made inspired by Georigiana's story, such as: