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  • King’s Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    The King’s Evil (aka scrofula) was a form of tuberculosis that created horrific injuries on the skin’s surface, particular in the neck area. It could only be cured, many early modern French and British sufferers believed, by contact with royalty: a sufferer would go to the king or queen, be touched, and cured. The practice died out in the late seventeenth-century, British and French kings expressing, strangely enough, some reluctance to touch their poorest and most repulsive-looking subjects.  However, their subjects continued to believe and, for some time after, considered objects from royalty to have a special healing power for scrofula. The latest reference that Beach has encountered comes from the far north of Britain, Shetland, when in 1838 (!!) many of coins of Charles I (obit 1649) were still being happily used.

    For the cure of this fatal disorder nothing, even at the present day, is deemed so effectual as the Royal touch. And as a substitute for the actual living finger of royalty, a few crowns and half-crowns of the coinage of the first Charles, carefully handed down from father to son, have been effectual both here [in the parish of Mid and South Yell], and in every other parish in Shetland, towards removing this disease, and that to an extent which may appear somewhat incredible to many whose minds, in reference to the healing virtue still inherent in royalty, may be in a more sophisticated state, than those of her Majesty’s subjects in this latitude. Be this as it may, there are few localities in Shetland in which a living evidence is not to be found of one said to have been ‘cured by the coin,’ and who would instantly be pointed at as a sufficient evidence to warrant confidence in its efficacy, should it happen that a doubt at any time rested thereon. New Statistical Account of Scotland, XV (1845)

    At first glance the coin is important because it has the king’s head and Charles I was an enthusiastic practitioner of scrofula healing: it gave him certainty about the absolute God-given rights he so clumsily claimed. However, there is more to it than this. Charles I regularly, on meeting sufferers, touched, prayed and then hung a coin of gold of silver around their necks, something he continued to do even while awaiting his execution. These coins were surely either those that had been given or those that there were claimed to have been given by the king himself: Charles I crowns were silver. Wonder if there are still some hidden away up there?

    Can anyone do any better than a 200 year old charm on the cusp of the modern age*: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com

    *Toynbee quotes Allen in relation to the loyal Shetlanders, and Beach repeats the sentence for those like him who support a better and older cause than the ‘good old cause’: ‘Though [his enemies] surreptitiously took away his earthly emoluments, and his Life into the bargain, they could not take the honour of this from him that gave it, nor the right thereof from him that received it.’

    History Roundup 865: Far Travelled June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 865: Far Travelled

    Today’s links follow 1) Ancient Skulls: Roman Empire 2) Ancient Islamic Town: Ethiopia 3) Cats Far Travelled: Egypt 4) Aryan Migrations? Eurasia and from the archives 5) Total eclipse Any links to send in: strangehistorylinks AT gmail DOT com Other links: Who Knows Where the Time Goes

    Daily History Picture: Liberation German Prison June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Liberation German Prison

    Hamelburg Prison, American Marines

    History Roundup 864: Fakes, Lies and Rumours June 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 864: Fakes, Lies and Rumours

    Today’s links follow 1) Fake News: US 2) Tsar Survived: USSR 3) Lizzie Borden Innocent?! US 4) Ancient Roman Science Feud: the Lab and from the archives 5) Diodorus’ Island Any links to send in: strangehistorylinks AT gmail DOT com Other links: Wonderful Tonight

    Daily History Picture: Sherman Picnic June 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Sherman Picnic

    Sheltering under a Sherman tank on the Gothic line.

    History Roundup 863: War June 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 863: War

    Today’s links follow 1) Third Floor Atom Bomb: Berlin 2) Nazi Trove: Argentina 3) Horror Diaries: USSR 4) War Forts: Britain 5) Post-War Choc: Germany and from the archives 6) Decapitated head blinks Any links to send in: strangehistorylinks AT gmail DOT com Other links: The Race for Space

    Daily History Picture: Elfen Picture June 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Elfen Picture

    A Cruikshank pic: love the guy’s expression.

    History Roundup 862: Supernatural June 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 862: Supernatural

    Today’s links follow 1) Origin of Fairies: Europe 2) Fairies and Potatoes: Ireland 3) Shape-Changer: New England 4) Devil Monster: 7 Seas 5) Ritual Objects: the pentagram and from the archives 6) Ass who became a saint Any links to send in: strangehistorylinks AT gmail DOT com Other links: Hitler in Argentina

    Daily History Picture: Two Irelands June 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Two Irelands

    Love this. Late 19C British view of the two Irelands, Protestant and Catholic.

    Snowball Atrocities 7#: Ghostly Snowballs in Illinois June 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities 7#: Ghostly Snowballs in Illinois

    Beach was awfully fond of his snowball tag, and was disappointed when he simply ran out of good snowball stories. Imagine his joy then to run into some ghostly snowballs in Skinner’s Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. The year is apparently 1849 Forty-seven years ago, in the township of St.  Mary’s, Illinois, two […]

    The Lost Canyon and the Impossible Buffalo June 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Lost Canyon and the Impossible Buffalo

    This fine ‘lost valley’ story comes from Texas, but the tale of the shepherd who accidentally walks through into a hidden dell or stumbles up, while chasing a lamb, onto an unknown plateau is probably as old as our Neolithic ancestors. This particular version was collected by J. Frank Dobie at the end of the nineteenth century. West […]

    Council Séance Over Haunted House June 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Council Séance Over Haunted House

    Beach has only once been to Bedfordshire, a tiny English county near London. He got stuck in its chief town, Luton, took a room in a sordid pub (the bookshelf had a rack full of well-thumbed pornographic magazines – if only Tripadvisor had been around…) and missed his bus.* In any case, enough of Luton. […]

    History Roundup 861: Medieval Stuff June 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 861: Medieval Stuff

    Today’s links follow 1) Viking Parliament: UK 2) Medieval Cats: Spain 3) Drug-Rape: Christendom 4) Brunetto Latini’s City: Florence 5) Bastards: Medieval Christendom and from the archives 6) Irish hangwomen Any links to send in: strangehistorylinks AT gmail DOT com Other links: Riders on the Storm

    Daily History Picture: Funny Face Stalin June 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Funny Face Stalin

    Serial Killer in Chief

    History Branching June 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    History Branching

    Today is the anniversary of Britain’s vote, suicidal or brave as you see fit, to leave the European Union. Beach thought he would remember that day with a quotation that has more resonance with him than anything else he has read on the campaign because it describes a strange lived historical experience: the sense of […]

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