Follies of Braveheart, Part I
Robert the Bruce and William Wallace never actually met in real life.
Marriage by Proxy —- The Wedding of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria Bourbon of France, 1625.
When King Charles I met Henrietta Maria, it was love at first sight. After a two year courtship, the couple decided to tie the knot, a marriage that not only decided a personal relationship but the fate of kingdoms. In the 17th century religion was the most important civil and political institution in Europe. Wars were fought over it, laws were passed because of it, and constitutions were signed that revolved around it.
The wedding ceremony of Charles I and Henrietta Maria hit one major snag, Charles I was Protestant and Henrietta was a devout Catholic. There was no way Charles I could be involved in a Catholic wedding ceremony, lest he enrage the English people and Parliament. However if he wanted the marriage to be deemed legitimate by the Bourbons (the ruling family of France) he needed to partake in a Catholic wedding. It seemed Charles and Henrietta were in a pickle.
Fortunately there was a simple solution to this problem, one that nobles all over the world partook in on a number of occasions; wedding by proxy. On the 11th of May, 1625 Henrietta Maria was officially wedded to Charles I in a Catholic ceremony held at Notre Dame. Only one key person was absent; King Charles I. So that the Catholic wedding would not count, King Charles I arranged a marriage by proxy. Taking his place was his good friend, George Villiers, the Duke of Bukingham. So yes, poor Henrietta took marriage vows with an absolute stranger who “filled in for Charles”. The kiss must have been awkward.
Apparently the wedding between Henrietta and Charles’ proxy did not go well, as Buckingham was in a rush to get the wedding and reception over with because he had other things to do. In the end the wedding turned into a nightmare when Buckingham and Henrietta fell into a furious argument and fight over religion.
When Henrietta arrived in England, she was officially married in person to Charles at Canterbury in a Protestant ceremony. The couple lived happily ever after until Charles I ticked off the English people and had his head chopped off by Oliver Cromwell.
The Remington Lee M1882 and M1885,
Before James Paris Lee became famous as being a weapons designer for the British military, he was a small time weapons designer in the United States. By 1879 he had created at the time the most advanced bolt action firearm in the world. The revolutionary new rifle used a new turnbolt system which fed and ejected cartridges. However its most impressive innovation was the use of a box magazine which was loaded from the top, making it easier for soldiers to load the rifle while lying prone, and faster when used with a charger or clip. First seeing production in 1879 by the Sharps Rifle Company, they were later manufactured by Remington, designated the Remington Lee 1882. In 1885 Lee would submit his rifle, chambered in .45-70govt., to Army Ordnance for consideration for military use. While a brilliant design that impressed the ordnance board, the military was happy with their single shot breechloading Trapdoor springfields. The Remington Lee saw few military contracts with 500 produced for the New Zealand Militia, and 1,500 produced for the commercial market. Later more rifles were produced in .30-40 Krag in an attempt to secure sales from the US military in the 1890’s, but to no avail.
Jame Paris Lee would modify his design into a straight pull rifle used by the US Navy. However it saw very limited use. Rather wealth and fame came to Lee when his designs were adopted by the British military in the form of the Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield rifle, which would become the most famous British Bolt Action rifle and one of the most famous bolt action military rifles in the world.
A silver-gilded greave dating to the mid-4th century BCE from the Yambol region of Bulgaria.
Only recently rediscovered in 2005, this greave was part of a set of grave goods found in an Odrysian aristocrat’s grave in Golyamata Mogila tumulus. This greave appears to have been for the left leg.
Engraved Remington Model 1867 Navy single shot pistol with relief carved ivory grips.
Sold at Auction: $4,250
Gold decorated flintlock pistol originating from Liege, Belgium. Crafted by Phllippe Desellier, circa 1700.
Dr. Walter Freeman and the Ice Pick Lobotomy,
During the late 19th and early 20th century many doctors began to experiment with psycho-surgery, the use of brain surgery to treat mental illness. In 1935 a Portuguese scientist named Antonio Egas Moniz introduced the lobotomy, a procedure that won him the Nobel Prize in 1948. Moniz believed that by severing the connections between the frontal lobe and grey matter of the brain, he could calm a patient’s wild emotions and stabilize personality. In the world of psycho-surgery the lobotomy was a groundbreaking procedure that revolutionized treatment of the mentally ill. Eventually the lobotomy became a cure-all for almost any mental illness or developmental disorder. 40,000 were conducted in the US, another 17,000 in the UK. Tens of thousands more were conducted in mainland Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the Commonwealth Nations.
While many patients did benefit from the lobotomy, many more suffered terrible effects of the surgery. It was not uncommon for patients symptoms to worsen. Others suffered permanent brain damage, emotional and psychological instability, memory problems, and decreased cognition. About 5% of all lobotomy patients died from the procedure. One notorious case of a botched lobotomy was that of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy.
Rosemary Kennedy had many learning disabilities during her childhood, but regardless was a very intelligent and sociable young woman. In her late teens and early 20’s she suffered from occasional wild moods swings which psychologist would now diagnose as manic depression. An embarrassment to the Kennedy family, she was coerced into undergoing a lobotomy. In 1941, at the age of 23 she underwent a lobotomy at the hands of Dr. James Watts and Dr. Walter Freeman. The results of the lobotomy caused permanent brain damage that reduced her intelligence to that of a 2 year old. She had to be hand fed, bathed, diapered due to incontinence, and institutionalized until her death in 2005.
Regardless of it’s negative consequences, physicians only focused on successful cases and continued practicing lobotomies. Originally the lobotomy was a complex procedure. Then in 1945 Dr. Walter Freeman, the same man who helped perform Rosemary Kennedy’s procedure, invented the transorbital lobotomy. Also called the “icepick” lobotomy, the procedure was very simple and crude. After administering an anesthetic, the surgeon placed an orbitoclast (essentially an icepick with depth increment markings) above the eye but below the upper margin of the eye socket. The surgeon would then tap the orbitoclast with a mallet to puncture the thin plate of the sphenoid bone located behind the eyes. The orbitoclast was then inserted 5 cm into the brain and rotated to sever the connections in the frontal cortex. The procedure was then repeated through the other eye.
The icepick lobotomy was so simple that surgeons were not even required to perform the procedure. As a result the icepick lobotomy was a common procedure in mental asylums, then terrible hell holes run by people who had little or no credentials. Dr. Freeman himself performed icepick lobotomies on an outpatient basis from his office. It even became common for parents to have their children lobotomized for minor problems such as minor depression or even misbehavior.
Eventually, health care professionals began to realize the negative effects of the lobotomy, with the procedure being recognized as dangerous pseudoscience by newer physicians. By the 1960’s lobotomy procedures began to decline in prevalence as it was replaced with new treatments such as therapy and administration of medications. By the 1970’s the lobotomy died out all together, and was banned in many countries.