Tuesday Morning: Family

Don’t read anything into this music video. It’s the only one I could think with family as the theme.

Which is why I have to bail on you folks today: family. My folks are in town and are now subsuming the entire day here. I’ll try to have a normal post tomorrow, but no guarantees since the folks are here through Thursday. And you surely know how it works when family arrives from out of state — anything can happen.

Speaking of family, this post is worth some discussion:

The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still the richest families in Florence (QZ) — Wow. I wonder how this fits into Piketty’s work on inequality?

You can see this at work elsewhere across Europe; they protected the wealthy with peerage and pulled them into royalty.

Like the marriage this past week of Lady Charlotte Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington’s daughter, to Alejandro Santo Domingo, a Colombian investment banker.

Not just any banker; a billionaire already highly connected and swimming up to his ears in more billions from your beer consumption.

Two hundred years ago this would have been unthinkable, a scandal; peers did not wed the trade class. Apparently wars and the expensive amusements of the idle rich have a way of upending class barriers when capital accrues on the other side of the tracks.

Side note: Fear of Zika kept attendees away from the couple’s engagement party this February. If big money is afraid of Zika, why aren’t we seeing more investment in addressing prevention, infection control, vaccine, and therapy?

I guess not every family matters. Open thread as usual, play nicely!

9 replies
  1. bevin says:

    “Two hundred years ago this would have been unthinkable, a scandal; peers did not wed the trade class. ..”
    In the United Kingdom,they most certainly did. And the merchants, when rich enough, became peers.
    One example is the Philadelphia merchant William Bingham one of whose daughter Ann married Lord Ashburton. His other daughter Maria married both the Com the de Tilly and the Marquis de Blaisel.
    If you check out the wikipedia entry you will see that the family seems to have married aristo after aristo. And while Bingham was by no means typical the Peerage of England was constantly refreshed, from about 1500 onwards by marrying wealthy merchants, pirates, plunderers of land etc.
    And it fits in very well with Piketty.

    • P J Evans says:

      British nobility has never been as rigid in its boundaries as the European nobility, particularly the Germans. (In Germany, there were distinctions between classes of nobles, and marrying across those boundaries was frowned upon.)

  2. bloopie2 says:

    “Million Dollar American Princesses” comes to mind—the recent miniseries.
    “This informative three-part series recalls the brief boomlet from the late 19th century when more than 200 wealthy Americans married daughters off to titled Brits. Host Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora, explains that the tradeoff was simple. The British aristocracy was running low on cash to maintain lavish estates and lifestyle. The American families pumped in the cash and in return became instant aristocracy themselves, the parents of a titled member of British high society. The first episode, which not by coincidence airs right before the fifth season of “Downton” premieres on PBS, focuses on three most prominent American brides. Jennie Jerome, daughter of a wealthy Wall Street hustler who couldn’t crack New York society, married Lord Randolph Churchill in 1874 and shortly thereafter gave birth to a son named Winston. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Frances Work married a ne’er-do-well playboy, and while the marriage didn’t last, it did produce the grandparents of Princess Diana, whose grandson is scheduled to become king of England.”

  3. Rayne says:

    bevin (12:30) — Apparently you missed the entire reason why Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy struggled with his affection for Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Austen poked fun at the divide between classes of the time (peers/gentry/freeholders/trade/everyone else), and her work may well have contributed to the breakdown between peer/gentry and trade. Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813.

    You also missed the fact that Lord Ashburton was NOT the original heir to a title and estate as the second son of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet. He would have been encouraged to seek a profession or trade since he was not the heir — and he did, working for his (German) grandfather’s business. He was made a baronet in his own right in 1835 AFTER he’d already been married to Ann Bingham (m. 1798), and only after the Regency was over, well after the economic shifts that began with the Napoleonic wars and the Regency.

    P J Evans (1:26) — One can sense the rigidity of the German peers watching the movie The Young Victoria (2009). There was no ifs, ands, or buts about the level of society in which they would move and marry. It was absolute.

    bloopie2 (2:43) — See my comment to bevin above. You’re citing examples of cash infusions AFTER Queen Victoria’s reign began, AFTER the numerous economic threats and crises post-Napoleonic wars and post-electoral reform. The marriage last week of Wellesley to Domingo is very much like the post-Victorian marriage of New World brides to Old World peers.
    NB: I’m going to point out one more time in this comment that things were different 200 years ago. And I mean 200, on the nose, 1816. This is the same year — within the same month! — that Lord Byron had run away from his creditors to Switzerland. It’s a year AFTER the end of the War of 1812, when the economic chickens come home to roost as soldiers return home to grim prospects. It’s the Year Without a Summer thanks to the volcanic eruption of Tamboura, hurting crop yields. The mechanization of labor has begun. Luddites have already been rebelling for five years, and will continue for another year as the Industrial Revolution begins. The next 30-50 years are cataclysmic in terms of social change in Britain.

  4. Ian says:

    Rayne,—Bevin got more of the right answer than you, I;m afraid.
    Standard histories of the social development of the English(n.b. NOT British]) population have recorded the 1st infusion from the rich merchants families into the “legally recognized” nobility was Henry VIII’s destruction of the monasteries and the sale of the Church’s lands.
    Because the Industrial Revolution founding region was always confined to Northern England & Southern Scotland in the 1760-1830 period [Queen Victoria I reigned 1837-1901–& Southern England didn’t “Industrialize” until the 1930’s—and had and continues to have an economy far closer to the California model than say Pittsburgh—lots of light industry,white collar industries etc ] a much more accurate portrayal of the class mixing because of the Industrial Revolution is shown in the writings of a Manchester based novelist Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell in her epic “North & South”[published 1846] . Structured as a romantic novel—although it reads as a Parliamentary report at times– the heroine is a “respectable young lady” from the southern part of England who is moved by her father to Manchester itself—the world’s 1st Industrialized City—where she meets a young “Cotton Mill owner” —– & find’s that, though not classically educated—he could read no Latin & didn’t know his Virgil—he had many good qualities and cared deeply, in his own way, for his employees welfare.
    As for Jane Austin—she is always recorded as being from the “Regency” period [King George III’s [r. 1760-1820] insane period when his son was the “acting Sovereign” or Regent—and from the Southern part of England—all farmers and small town people.It was during the Victorian period that 50% or more of the English, Welsh & Scottish lived in a town [after 1851] [USA=1922?: the planet =2008???] still regarded as the benchmark to be used as to whether a country has “Industrialized”.
    . Finally—“the war of 1812”—–What War of 1812?
    . To the British the War of 1789-1815 was an Important part of the countries history when they provided the political philosophy to reject “Jacobin’s” [and later still Marxist-Leninists & National Socialists] and the material financing to equip all the European countries who suppressed the all-conquering Jacobin French under Robespierre and Bonaparte
    To Canadian’s the War of 1812-1814 was their War of Victory over the Americans Jacobins [US President Madison aided and abetted by ex-President Jefferson ]who tried to conquer them—and failed
    .And to Americans the War of 1812-1814 was the 1st time they had seen their President proudly be a War Criminal President[ (a)Waging an aggressive war illegally,(b) tolerating Acts contrary to the Usages of War (c) and with the infamous Kentucky Militia-tolerating members of a criminal organization.[All phrases used at Nuremburg 1945-1946]
    It was also the time that Americans saw their President:a) destroy his own countries Navy to the point of permanently deforming it (b) bankrupting the Countries Government [issuance of war scrip after Nov 1814] (c) authorize the enemy to engage in “lawful & proportionate retaliation” which they did by burning down all but two[2] of the public buildings in Washington City [aka Washington DC]—in lawful & proportionate retaliation for the burning down of public buildings in Toronto [aka York]

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