The Cavalier Years

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"The Wounded Cavalier"

The favorite era for the Swashbuckler, this is the age in Europe when lusty musketeers dueled with each other and got sucked into intrigues involving dauphins, Corrupt Churchmen and vampish courtesans. Hats with large feathers and boots were in fashion for men. Also The Golden Age of Piracy on the High Seas, when eyepatched and peg-legged buccaneers buried stolen gold, brandished cutlasses, tied up buxom, bodice-wearing maidens and then forced them to watch as their hapless boyfriends walked the plank.

Somewhere in the middle, Britain had a civil war. Dashing Cavaliers fought dour Puritans the length and breadth of both islands, and the son of the King hid in an oak tree. The Puritans won, and abolished Christmas, then the country abolished them. The surviving puritans left England and founded the United States, Charles II climbed back out of the oak tree, London burnt to the ground, women were allowed to be actors on stage and Newton invented gravity. Somebody named Pepys kept a diary.

Later still, King James II, believer in absolute monarchy was run out of Britain in a Glorious Revolution. Parliament's invitation of Stadtholder William III of Orange as the new King made it real clear who is really in charge of the island from now on as modern democracy takes its next step into fruition. Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, this is the best kind of news to the pirate, Captain Blood and his crew, who were enslaved by James II, as they accept the new king's commission to join the British Navy.

Back on mainland Europe the Thirty Years' War was fought; France, Sweden, and Austria fighting over the Holy Roman Empire, hastening its long, painful decline. East of Germany, rowdy Polish nobility alternates between fighting in perpetual wars against Sweden, Muscovy and Turkey, and generally making a mess around themselves. While the Dutch had an economic and cultural boom, ushering their Golden Age which lasted a whole century for them.

Sometimes explicitly called the Age of Exploration, especially the more pirates are involved.

If you want to do the pirates thing on land, remember that after the Restoration in England was the heyday of The Highwayman, so adventures featuring Dick Turpin and Claude Duval will be at about this time.

Writers and artists of the first half of the 19th century LOVED this era, as a means of reaction against the Industrial Revolution and The Enlightenment of the previous century.

See also the Edo Period of Jidai Geki, the Japanese equivalent coinciding with this era.

Popular tropes from this time period are:

  • Baroque Music: Where it all began with Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach making an input.
  • The Dung Ages: 17th and 18th centuries had been the age when bathing was shunned by most European people, up to Kings. During the same age, the perfume industry flourished in France.
  • The Empire: The Holy Roman Empire in the beginning of the era, and France by the end.
  • Evil Jesuit: How they were viewed as at the time, to the point that they were expelled in 1767.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Europeans have a love/hate relationship with the Turkish culture with caftans, rugs, and Turkish delight on their wishlist.
    • Despite the Tokugawa Shogunate closing their doors to the world, the Dutch managed to get a bit of their stuff like kimonos and exotic prints. In turn, the Japanese had a thing for Dutch stuff like clocks, candy, and scientific apparatus of the time.
  • Gratuitous French: Ancien Regime French was the lingua franca for trade and diplomacy. Even for the middle class, you'd be mocked for not speaking it.
  • The Highwayman
  • Historical-Domain Character: For England, the ruling kings of The House of Stuart like James The First and VI, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II and James II and VII reigned in this era. For France, it was all about the Bourbons with Louis XIII and Louis XIV while Cardinal Richelieu spends more time in fiction than he did at Mass. Honorable mentions include the House of Vasa with King Gustavus Adolphus II and Queen Christina, and scientists like Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes.
  • Land of Tulips and Windmills: For the Dutch, the 17th century was their Golden Age economically and culturally.
  • Music of Note: The era of Baroque Music and Classical Music, though several of what we now consider to be the standouts were later Vindicated by History. The soundscape of early 18th Century Europe had a lot more Telemann and a lot less Bach than a modern listener would expect, for instance. In Britain, the music of Henry Purcell, Jeremiah Clarke, and Georg Friedrich Handel dominated the local musical scene. Towards the end of the era, Austria became a center for new composers, and the emergence of the Classical composers, like Haydn and Mozart.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Coffee production sales skyrocketed during this era.
  • The Musketeer: Musketeers served as the Praetorian Guard for the King of France.
  • Nice Hat: Plumed bicorne and tricorne hats were the rage everywhere, especially for men, complete with periwig.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: While simplistic in contrast to Elizabethan fashions and of the Rococo era, women's dresses of the 17th century still served opulence in the royal courts. The silhouette and styles became more grandoise and more diverse when Louis XIV came to the throne. For the men, cavalier gear in the first half of the 17th century, and coats, waistcoats, and breeches, and powdered wigs in the second half were the dictates in fashion.
  • Pirate: After the 17th century, they were romanticized as rogues and anti-heroes, but during that time, especially in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, they were actual threats.
  • Playing Cyrano
  • Royal Rapier: The thinner the sword, the closer you were to the king.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The Age of Exploration was still abound, now their eyes are set on Terra Australis.


Works set in this time period are:

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    Comic Books 
  • The French comic De cape et de crocs, which makes a good work in giving a feeling of being a piece of Baroque literature. Think of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, except wackier.
  • This era has been visited repeatedly by the Abrafaxe. Their very first arc (January 1976-December 1977) was set in Dalmatia and Venice in the 17th century. This was followed by an arc set in Hungary, Austria, Bavaria and France at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession (January 1978-December 1980). Many years later, in the Baroque series (Mosaik No. 406-429), brainy Brabax as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's private secretary in the 1690s while Abrax and Brabax are stuck in the France of Louis XIV.
  • Suske en Wiske: The stories "De Dolle Musketiers", "De Raap van Rubens", "De Jolige Joffer", "De Gladde Glipper", "Angst Op De Amsterdam", "De Kleppende Klipper", "Het Wondere Wolfje" and "Beminde Barabas".

    Film 

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 

    Video Games 

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