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Historical Context in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Historical Context Examples in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court:


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"the Pompadour, and Lady Castlemaine..."   (Preface)

Madame de Pompadour was the mistress of France's Louis XV, and Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine, was a mistress of England's King Charles II. As mistresses, they were both very powerful women at their respective courts.

"the sixth century..."   (Preface)

Twain's inspiration for this tale was the Globe Edition (1870-1886) of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. The editor, Sir Edward Strachey, made the comment that Arthur's reign was in the sixth century.

"Whitsunday next..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

Whitsunday is the Sunday seven weeks after Easter on which the celebration of Pentecost (celebrating the appearance of the Holy Spirit to Christ's disciples) is observed.

"the seneschal..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

A seneschal was the administrative head of a nobleman's house.

"then by and by, after years, I took the journal and turned it into a book..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

Twain is referring to his own practices as an author. He routinely kept journals with bits and pieces of ideas for longer works.

""Bridgeport?" said I, pointing..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

Twain is using his familiarity with Connecticut to good effect. He knew, for example, that the Barnum & Bailey circus wintered in Bridgeport, which might explain the turrets and towers.

"and concluded he was from an asylum..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

The idea of an asylum would occur naturally to someone who was familiar with Hartford, which had an asylum for treatment of the mentally ill in what is now just south of the downtown area.

"the great arms factory..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

This refers to the Colt factory on the east side of the Connecticut river, a few miles from Hartford's city center.

"Yankee of the Yankees..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

Connecticut, because it was highly industrialized by the early decades of the 19th century, became synonymous with the term "Yankee."  The schoolmaster in Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is from Connecticut.

"perhaps maliciously by Cromwell's soldiers..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

This is a reference to the New Model Army that fought under Oliver Cromwell and Parliament in the English Civil War (1642-1651) when Parliament's  troops fought the troops of King Charles I, a war that ultimately resulted in the execution of Charles I. Warwick Castle was the site of a siege in 1642 by the Royalist troops during the Civil War.

"Warwick Castle..."   (A Word Of Explanation)

According to one of Twain's letters, he visited Warwick Castle in 1872, a very popular tourist attraction not far from Oxford, England.  The sword of the legendary figure of Guy of Warwick is displayed at the castle, and the atmosphere of the castle is very "medieval," a perfect setting for the beginning of the tale.

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