Tag Archives | Medieval History

1000-year-old Remedy Kills MRSA Superbug

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This article was sent to us by a reader. He asks, “How did ancient people have this knowledge?”

A medieval remedy of leeks, garlic, wine, and the bile of a cow’s stomach was used as an “eyesalve” circa the 10th Century. Scientists have recently discovered, much to everyone’s surprise, that this salve is also effective against antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

via New Scientist:

Sourcing authentic ingredients was a major challenge, says Harrison. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.

As “brass vessels” would be hard to sterilise – and expensive – they used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed.

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The Dancing Plague Of 1518

dancing plagueDid you know that dance memes occurred in the Dark Ages? Wikipedia on the supreme horror of the Dancing Plague of 1518:

The Dancing Plague (or Dance Epidemic) of 1518 was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) in July 1518. Numerous people took to dancing for days without rest, and, over the period of about one month, some of those affected died of heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

The outbreak began when a woman, Frau Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. This lasted somewhere between four to six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers. Some of these people eventually died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. Historical documents, including “physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council” are clear that the victims danced.

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Skeleton Of English King Richard III Found Under Parking Lot

King for a mere two years, turned into a hunchbacked Shakespeare villain after his gruesome death, Richard III has popped up in unbelievable fashion. The BBC reports:

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as English king Richard III. Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch’s family. Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley told a press conference: “Beyond reasonable doubt it’s Richard.”

Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Mr. Buckley said the bones had been subjected to “rigorous academic study” and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540.

His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal. The wounds included stabs to the face and “humiliation” injuries, including a pelvic wound through the buttock.

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False Past And The Phantom Time Hypothesis

Phantom of Time
Wikipedia lays out the phantom time hypothesis, the odd belief that certain eras of history did not occur:

The Phantom Time Hypothesis is a conspiracy theory developed by Heribert Illig in 1991. It proposes that periods of history, specifically that of Europe during the Early Middle Ages (AD 614–911), did not exist, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.

The bases of Illig’s hypothesis include:

The scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period AD 614–911, on perceived inadequacies of radiometric and dendrochronological methods of dating this period.

The presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe. This is taken as evidence that less than half a millennium could have passed since the fall of the Roman Empire, and concludes that the entire Carolingian period, including the person of Charlemagne, is a forgery by medieval chroniclers, more precisely a conspiracy instigated by Otto III and Gerbert d’Aurillac.

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The Medieval Manuscript Heist

It sounds like part of the plot from a Javier Sierra or Dan Brown novel, so get ready to read about something like this in a potboiler coming to the bestseller list soon. Via Reuters:

A former church caretaker, his wife, son and another woman have been arrested in connection with last year’s disappearance of a priceless medieval text from the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in northwest Spain, police said on Wednesday.

The Codex Calixtinus, a 12th century collection of sermons and liturgical passages, vanished from a safe deposit box in the cathedral, the endpoint of the ancient pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago.

The elaborately illustrated manuscript, considered an important part of Spain’s cultural and religious heritage, has yet to be found, though the police say they are close.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction to crack the case … The main objective is to find the Codex,” Spanish police chief Ignacio Cosido told national radio…

[continues at Reuters]

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