Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hot Men of History

by Kate Carlisle

In Scotland and around the world, January 25th was Burns Night. Copious amounts of whiskey are required, but it’s not called “Burns Night” because of the way the whiskey burns your throat. No, it’s named for the man to whom the glasses are raised: the poet Robert Burns. Rabbie Burns was born on that day in 1759 and, in a short 37-year life, he became a Scottish icon. The ploughman’s poet.

We did Burns Night up big in the Carlisle household. We followed almost all of the traditions. We recited our favorite Burns poems, ate cock-a-leekie soup, and toasted the lassies (which would be me, as I’m the only lassie in our house.) One tradition, we neglected. Call me squeamish, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat haggis. Sorry, Rabbie! I’m a bitter disappointment to my Scottish forebears.

I have always been intrigued by Robert Burns and the passion he inspires in the Scots. They are very protective of their Rabbie. He was a man of the people, an everyman who rose to esteem in the eyes of laborers and aristocrats because he could turn a phrase. He worked his father’s fields and then took the time to write an ode to a mouse whose nest he disturbed. Randy Rabbie wrote many a poem to the women he encountered. He even wrote a poem called ‘The Fornicator.’

You can see why I find him so fascinating.

I’m not alone. 250 years later, the Freemasons of the Robert Burns Society consider it their mission to uphold the poet’s good name.

Rich fodder for a fiction writer’s imagination. And I’m all about the fodder. My latest book, If Books Could Kill, is set in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is my favorite city in the world, in large part because of the colorful Scots. They do everything with great passion, so setting a murder mystery there felt like a natural fit. Plus, there’s the whole city-under-a-city mystique. I once visited a modern-day pub that was built right on top of an ancient pub, and the bartender gave us an underground tour. I still get chills when I think of that dark, spooky place.

At the center of my mystery is a rumor about Robert Burns, himself. An 18th Century sex scandal that 21st Century Scots are desperate to squelch, at any cost. This scandal is completely fictional, but is based on the character traits that I learned about Robert Burns during my extensive research. It was great fun to create a fictional history for a real-life character.

If I should go missing, please tell the police to question the members of the Robert Burns Society. I fully expect to be kidnapped as punishment for taking his name in vain.

In your opinion, who are the sexiest men of history? Why? Let's dish about those yummy historical figures! The photos here are Robert Craig Burns and George Craig Washington. Had to give you some eye candy!


mariska said...

me ?

Nancy said...

Kate, Robert Burns does seem to bear a remarkable resemblance to Daniel Craig.


Hot men in history--Edward IV of England, of course! Handsome, charming, and totally unfamiliar with the concept of fidelity as applied to himself. I maintain that Elizabeth I got her vaunted people skills from her Plantagenet great-grandfather.

Mariska, congrats on the bird!

Jane said...

I imagine Lord Bryon must have been pretty hot since he was known for his affairs and scandals.

Nicola Cornick said...

Love this post! There's something very seductive about George Washington in that picture...

Charles II of England would have been hot, I think. Whilst his reputation with the women actually puts me off, his intelligence and charm intrigue me. He'd be one of my dream dinner party guests. And his cousin Prince Rupert of the Rhine was pretty dashing too!

Suzanne Welsh said...

OMG, Kate!

I swear I was hallucinating! You really need some serious help with your Daniel Craig fetish, girl!

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska have fun with him


Robert Burns was favourite in our house as well mainly because my Mum was born on 25th Jan as well and she never let us forget that she shared her birthday with the Great Robbie Burns.

As for famous men in history I rather like the idea of William Wallace but of course only what I know from the film Braveheart.

Have Fun

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Kate! I can't wait until I'm done with this deadline so I can read this book!

I think my Historical Figure Man Crush is well documented. I love Giovanni Batista Belzoni! He was a giant of a man, a strongman who traveled England performing in fairs and festivals. With determination and odd twists of fate, he eventually became one of the first Egyptologists, claiming many artifacts for the British Museum. He was the first to find the hidden entrance to the Second Pyramid of Giza, and found 6 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, among many other accomplishments.

I loved him so much I made him a character in An Improper Aristocrat. I wrote a little article about him on my webpage at

I can't wait to hear about everyone else's crushes!

Kate Carlisle said...

YOU, Mariska! Congratulations!! And what adventures will you share today with the GR?

Nancy, LOL George Washington bears a resemblance to my Danny, too. And Edward IV? RrrrrrOWWWRRRrrrrrr! Here's some eye candy for you: Edward IV

Kate Carlisle said...

Okay, let's pause a moment while I get control of my laughter....

Gannon Carr said...

I swear I was hallucinating!

Suz, I did, too! LOL

Hot men: John of Gaunt--tall, handsome, and he eventually ended up with his true love Katherine Swynford. I remember reading "Katherine" by Anya Seton when I was in high school and sighing over their story.

Sir Richard Francis Burton was most definitely an interesting man. Come on, the man who introduced the Kama Sutra to the English-speaking world has to qualify as hot. *vbg*

Kate Carlisle said...

Jane, Lord Byron really was a looker. Lord Byron One of the image captions I found said "Lord Byron the bisexual." Er, okay, maybe... but was that his biggest accomplishment in life?

Nicola, George is a hottie in that pic, isn't he? And you're right. Charles II set my heart pitter-patting with this picture! Charles II

Of course, that was Rufus Sewell playing Charles II. In paintings, the real king isn't quite as delectable. But there is a lovely flash of thigh. Charles II

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL, Suzanne! If loving Danny is wrong, I don't want to be right! I reject any psychiatric help that cures this addiction!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Helen, That's fun, that your mom's birthday was January 25. So you have celebrated Robbie Burns Day your whole life.

William Wallace is another case where the Hollywood William Wallace trumps the real life William Wallace, as far as looks go.

Kate Carlisle said...

Deb, I loved reading what you wrote about Giovanni Battista Belzoni on your site. What an amazing life he lived! His biography could make for a fascinating book! I think it's fantastic you used him as a character in An Improper Aristocrat. How did you happen to discover him in the first place?

Kate Carlisle said...

Gannon, John of Gaunt does look pretty handsome beneath all that armor. And a sigh-worthy story? That's so much more important than looks, anyway.


Daniel Craig

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay, Mariska !

Sigh, Kate, I would suggest a twelve-step program for your addiction, but I'm afraid the only twelve steps you would take would lead you to Danny-Boy's door !!

You all now I love my boy Byron, in spite of his many quirks.

And I do love John of Gaunt just because of the rare love story his is.

Edinburgh is a gorgeous city,almost like another world. I've been to the Burns Museum, but really all of Scotland is a Burns museum !!

And though many might not see it, I have always thought Admiral Lord Nelson to be a very romantic sort of hero.

MsHellion said...


I always had a crush on John Keats and *swoons* Lord Byron.

And I love this guy. His name is Thaddeus Burr and I have no idea if he did anything other than have John Singleton Copley paint him, but he's hot!!!

And that's without Craig doctoring the photo.

Kate Carlisle said...


Ah, if there were only 12 steps between my door and Danny's...

And, uh... If this is what Admiral Lord Nelson really looked like (I think it's wax - it's very realistic), then I'll stick with Danny, thank you.

Isn't Edinburgh incredible? Walking the streets, you feel connected with history in a way that's nearly impossible in the U.S.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hellion, okay, now Thaddeus could give Daniel a run for his money! Love the rakish way his buttons are undone. This painting screams confidence, which is oh, so sexy!

By the way, for anyone looking for a laugh, I posted a great video to my Facebook page the other day. It's hilarious, about how every cop must have a cool catchphrase, advertising the Catchphrase Academy. Stop by, fan me, and say hi!

JAD said...

OK, that's just a creepy look for poor Robert. LOL My "man-crush" from history would have to be the Medici boys. No, they're not exactly lookers, but I've adored that family for years. *pokes historical publishers* I wish there'd be an Italian Renaissance trend in the industry...but, alas. So thems would be my choice.

Kate Carlisle said...

JAD, I hear you, about an interesting story being more important than looks. Honestly, as I've been looking for pictures to post today, there are very few historical figures who live up to today's standards of beauty. Then again, there are very few politically prominent figures today who live up to that standard, either. And I doubt our poet laureates are as delectable as my Danny, either.

Helen said...


I gotta say Mel Gibson makes a better looking William Wallace LOL.

If Books Could Kill arrived the other day and it is next on my list to read I should be starting it today and am I looking forward to it.

Have Fun

Kate Carlisle said...

Helen, oh how wonderful! I hope you love If Books Could Kill!!! I can't wait to hear what you think.

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Beau Brummel was a bit of a pretty boy, but not unattractive, and James Purefoy playing him in the recent BBC movie *sigh*
A very young Charles Dickens, sans the whiskers, wasn't bad either, LOL!
And a Young John Quincy Adams!

Kate, I LOVED the Daniel Craig like altering of historical figures.
You have it bad, almost as bad as I do over Clive Owen.
I too, just got "If Books Could Kill" (won it at the Dish) Can't wait to start it!!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFL! That is quite a post, Kate!

But you are right about historical figures not quite living up to our current standards of beauty. If that were the only criterion then I'd have to pick whoever posed for Michaelangelo's statue of David! Okay, Okay, it was probably several models knowing how naughty ole Mike was. ;-)

As for other historical figures, since Joanie hasn't already mentioned him... Julius Cesar looks mighty fine on some of those old Roman coins and such, as do several of the other Roman Emperors (like Trajan). And Alexander the Great must have been something to see also. Maybe it is the "power" thing that makes historical figures hawt?!?!


Susan Sey said...

Kate, I nearly died laughing. Daniel Craig as a major historical figure. I'll take it!

As for my own favorite, I have to admit I'm a fan of a group of people rather than an actual person. I love the French Voyageurs who trapped for fur all over the upper midwest. They were so colorful and prickly & self-sufficient and TOUGH. Man. And the accent is lovely. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Drew, Ohhhh.....yesssss.....! James Purefoy as Beau Brummel

I hope you love If Books Could Kill!

Kate Carlisle said...

Cindy, David is the standard of male beauty, isn't he? And probably always will be. But Julius Caesar wasn't bad, either. Strong jaw, patrician nose. Stick his head on David's body and yeah, I'm there.

Kate Carlisle said...

Susan, I'm glad you liked the blog. Those pictures still crack me up! (And make me drool at the same time which, let me tell you, is not a pretty picture. LOL)

As for the fur trappers... their sense of adventure appeals to me, but the lack of bathing facilities is a big question mark. Of course, since we're talking about historical figures, bathing becomes an issue with all of our hotties, I would imagine. So let's not think about that.

Here you go, Susan. This one is just for you. French fur trapper

Kate Carlisle said...

OMG, I think I am so funny!!!!!

LOL!! Please, everyone, be sure to look at the picture of the fur trapper.

p226 said...


But... But... I don't WANNA talk about the sexiest men in history. How about the wimmins?

Ranked in order of hotness:
Abagail Adams.
Marilyn Monroe (Probably a commie, but hot anyway)
Amelia Earhart.
Annie Oakley

Kate Carlisle said...

Well, okay, but Daniel Craig's face wouldn't look nearly as good on Abigail Adams's body. Very interesting, though, that you rank Mrs. Adams above Marilyn Monroe. How enlightened of you!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Mariska, he's been flirting with other women lately!

Kate, I love your post. Did you go to the writers museum in Edinburgh? I had a wonderful couple of hours there - really great displays on the lives of Walter Scott, R.L. Stephenson and Burns. I love that the Scottish national hero (or at least one of them - William Wallace and Robert the Bruce would probably vye for the honor)is a writer. How cool is that?

Oh, sexy men in history! Lots and lots of them. I had a huge crush on Shelley when I was in my late teens. Become a bit jaded on him since (not quite the high romantic I was then!) but nonetheless he will always hold a special place in my heart. I think, however, I'm going to pick Admiral Cochrane who led an incredibly dashing life fighting Napoleon and then fighting for independence down in South America. Here's the Wikipedia entry.,_10th_Earl_of_Dundonald He's the guy Hornblower was based on - all that dashing derring do! Actually and another Scotsman!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Gannon, Katherine! That was my favorite book in the world when I was about 14. I was madly in love with J of G too!

Nicola, great to see you here. And what an interesting choice - that wasn't who I thought you'd pick, although I have to say the Rupert of the Rhine thing doesn't surprise me in the least, LOL!

Hellion, Thaddeus is hawt!

By the way, Kate, I've been to Burns's birthplace in Galloway. Can't remember much about it, sadly.

Anna Campbell said...

OK, Kate, you ARE funny! And I wanna marry the fur trapper! Snork!

P226, thank you for returning us to gender balance!

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

I am surprised Calamity Jane isn't on the list, oh wait, she wasn't hot!
(Poor Jane)
Ohhh Anna C, there is something about a man in uniform, I have all those Hornblower movies on DVD. Scotsmen, gotta love them *Cough* Gerard Butler*cough*

Oh Kate! LMAO at the fur trapper! Actually, he looks like my neighbor...

Kate Carlisle said...

Miss Anna, Yes, I spent ages at the writer's museum. There is something so romantic about a man who can write. I think men who write poetry and fiction are deeply emotional, which is what draws me to them.

You bad girl, you. Attracted to a man who was convicted of fraud. I never! Then again, you're also attracted to the fur trapper...

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL, Drew!!! Your poor neighbor!

Anna Campbell said...

Kate, I'm pretty sure the charges were trumped up! It's a bit like Robin Hood made an outlaw by the evil sherriff.

Kate Carlisle said...

Or at least that's what you want to believe. ;)

Deb said...

Hi, Kate and all. I've been popping in and out all day and I just cannot think of one famous historical person to consider hot. Can I be generic--- like a Viking or a man in a kilt? I teach Iowa History and Lewis or Clark or Julien Dubuque are a little hard to think of as hot.
It has been fun reading everyone's comments, though. :)

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL, Deb!!! It is a hard question, isn't it? Generic man in a kilt works for me!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Been thinking on this all day, Kate. As much as I adore reading about Highlanders, I think I'll choose the American explorers. Those guys that landed in the colonies, or were born there, and decided to travel inwards.

Daniel Boone and Jim Bridger come to mind.

Kate Carlisle said...

Suzanne, Jim Bridger? Hm, not exactly eye candy, but I do definitely admire the pioneering spirit!

Joan said...

Chiming in late on this but I'd have to go with Spartacus.

You've got to be attracted to a guy who rises from the depths of humiliation of slavery to say "Up yours" to the Roman Empire!!!

And, in a loincloth, he can look suspiciously like Daniel Craig walking out of the surf :-)

Joan said...

BTW, LOVED If Books Could Kill!!!

You are SUCH a talented writer!!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Joan, THANK YOU!!! What a lovely compliment! I'm over the moon that you enjoyed If Books Could Kill. Thank you for letting me know!

I've been waiting all day for someone to say Spartacus. What a story!

Caren Crane said...

Go, Mariska! Watch your whiskey. *g*

Kate, I LOVE it that you made up a rumor about Burns. What a great idea!

Okay, y'all know I'm a geek but I think Sir Isaac Newton was sexy! Strong cleft chin, long nose and all those brains! I do require brain power in my men, despite the fact that the hero of my WIP looks a lot like Dwayne Johnson. I'm sure Dwayne is a smart guy. Really,

Newton, though, was raised by his grandmother (how cute is that?) and started getting his great ideas about physics while he was in college. Father of modern science, born in 1643 (on Christmas!) AND he lived to be 85. Good genes, good looking and smart. Sir Isaac Newton - a total package!

Caren Crane said...

Uh, Deb, I think any of us who have read your books could have guessed about Belzoni. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Ms. Hellion, WOW! That Thaddeus Burr was a looker indeed. He goes well with coffee. *g*

Kate Carlisle said...

Caren, oh yes! Brains are very sexy in a man. And I truly do believe that Dwayne Johnson is a smart man. I want to believe!

And yes, Sir Isaac Newton most definitely qualifies as a hot man of history!