Author Archives: Comtesse

The Comtesse DeSpair sits in sullen silence in The Castle DeSpair, obsessively reflecting upon the horrible void in which we exist. In her spare time (of which she has nothing but), she collects morbid trinkets and reads voraciously about the history of torture. She stores her trinkets in The Asylum Eclectica (http://asylumeclectica.com/). The Comtesse is hideously disfigured and thickly veiled at all hours. Once, an unfortunate servant caught a glimpse beneath the veil and was driven to madness. The Comtesse loves thunderstorms, darkness, and solitude.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For March 4, 2017

Today’s Spurting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A dehumanized enemy is easy to kill, and Japanese soldiers during World War II were instructed that they were not dealing with humans at all but kichiku, or “devils.” The idea of treating the Chinese as beasts was not informal scuttlebutt but a command from officers whose directives had to be considered orders of the emperor. Army lieutenant Shozo Tominaga recalled:

The next-to-last day of the exercise, Second Lieutenant Tanaka took us to the detention center. Pointing at the people in a room, all Chinese, he announced, “These are the raw materials for your trial of courage.” We were astonished at how thin and emaciated they looked. Tanaka told us, “They haven’t been fed for several days, and so they’ll be ready for their part in tomorrow’s plan.” He said that it was to be a test to see if we were qualified to be platoon leaders. He said we wouldn’t be qualified if we couldn’t chop off a head.

On the final day, we were taken out to the site of our trial. Twenty-four prisoners were squatting there with their hands tied behind their backs. They were blindfolded. A big hole had been dug – ten meters long, two meters wide, and more than three meters deep. The regimental commander, the battalion commanders, and the company commanders all took the seats arranged for them. Second Lieutenant Tanaka bowed to the regimental commander and reported, “We shall now begin.” He ordered a soldier on fatigue duty to haul one of the prisoners to the edge of the pit; the prisoner was kicked when he resisted. The soldier finally dragged him over and forced him to his knees. Tanaka turned toward us and looked into each of our faces in turn. “Heads should be cut off like this,” he said, unsheathing his army sword. He scooped water from a bucket with a dipper, and then poured it over both sides of the blade. Swishing off the water, he raised his sword in a long arc. Standing behind the prisoner, Tanaka steadied himself, legs spread apart, and cut off the man’s head with a shout, “Yo!” The head flew more than a meter away. Blood spurted up in two fountains from the body and sprayed into the hole.


A Chinese Prisoner Awaits His Fate

The scene was so appalling that I felt I couldn’t breathe. All the candidate officers stiffened. Second Lieutenant Tanaka designated the person on the right end of our line to go next. I was fourth. When my turn came, the only thought I had was “Don’t do anything unseemly!” I didn’t want to disgrace myself. I bowed to the regimental commander and stepped forward. Contrary to my expectations, my feet firmly met the ground. One thin, worn-out prisoner was at the edge of the pit, blindfolded. I unsheathed my sword, a gift from my brother-in-law, wet it down as the lieutenant had demonstrated and stood behind the man. The prisoner didn’t move. He kept his head lowered. Perhaps he was resigned to his fate. I was tense, thinking I couldn’t afford to fail. I took a deep breath and recovered my composure. I steadied myself, holding the sword at a point above my right shoulder, and swung down. The head flew away and the body tumbled down, spouting blood. The air reeked from all that blood. I washed blood off the blade then wiped it with the paper provided. Fat stuck to it and would not come off.

At that moment, I felt something change inside me. I don’t know how to put it, but I gained strength somewhere in my gut. Until that day I had been overwhelmed by the sharp eyes of my men when I called the roll each night. That night I realized I was not self-conscious at all in front of them. I didn’t even find their eyes evil anymore. I felt I was looking down on them. Later, when the National Defense Women’s Association welcomed us in Manchuria, they mentioned to me that they had never seen men with such evil eyes. I no longer even noticed.

Culled from: Flyboys

 

Ghost Photo Du Jour!

The Spectre of Newby Church

The photo you see here was taken by Reverend K.F. Lords in 1963. The focus of the picture was the altar in the Church of Christ the Consoler found in Skelton-cum-Newby in North Yorkshire, England.

At the time the Reverend had seen nothing out of the ordinary but, upon processing, the photos showed a curious and frightening extra. A hooded/cowled monk like figure is clearly visible (though a little transparent) standing to the right of the altar.

The figures arms seem to be folded together in a typical ‘monk-like’ pose and its long robes clearly cover the feet and drape over the step it is standing on.

But most intriguing of all is the long cloth facemask that occludes the figures face except for two eye holes. It is this mask that gives it the air of something one may see in a horror movie (it is often referred to as a ‘Scream’ mask).

Understandably the Reverend was shocked to see the figure in his photo.

On looking over the image, photographic experts have concluded that the image is not the result of double exposure, although Rick Burden, founder of the Ghost Hunters of Australia website, believes to be “probably fake.”

(Culled from The Paranormal Guide and Wikipedia.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour for March 2, 2017

Today’s Cruel Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A modification of the execution method known as ‘Broken on the Wheel’ was introduced into France in 1534 by Francis I as the punishment for no fewer than one hundred and fifteen crimes, but it was mainly reserved for traitors and murderers.

The most common technique involved binding the felon, face upwards, on a large cartwheel which lay on the scaffold. An alternative device was a St. Andrew’s cross, consisting of two lengths of timber nailed together in the ‘X’ shape. Once secured, the felon would be lifted so that the wheel or cross could be fixed to a post horizontally or inclined at an angle, thereby affording the spectators a clear and uninterrupted view.

The executioner would take up his iron bar, three feet long by two inches square, or a sledgehammer if he so preferred, and, with great deliberation, slowly and accurately proceed to smash to pulp the arms and legs of the victim. Depending on the sentence, the end would be brought about either by a blow to the heart, neck or stomach or by administering the ‘retentum’, a thin, almost invisible cord passed round the victim’s throat and pulled tight, thereby strangling him.

The more serious the crime, the greater the length of time before the coup de grâce was given. In the case of eighty-six-year-old John Calas of Toulouse, who in 1761 was believed to have killed his own son, he was first tortured to persuade him to reveal the names of his accomplices. He was then sentenced to be broken on the wheel, but not to receive the retentum until two hours had passed; and after death his body was to be burned to ashes.


The Cruel Death of Calas

Culled from: The Book Of Execution

Death Bed Photo Du Jour!


Waiting  
Circa 1855 – sixth-plate daguerreotype – 3.75″ x 3.25″
A sad young woman, her head resting on her hand, resignedly waits for death.

Culled from: Beyond the Dark Veil: Post-Mortem and Mourning Photography from the Thanatos Archive

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 24, 2017

Work is eating my life, as usual – so that’s why I haven’t been sending out the facts regularly.  Soon, very soon, the ordeal will be over and I’ll be able to resume my normal schedule.  Thank you for staying morbid in my absence!

Today’s Severe Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Peine Forte et Dure, meaning ‘severe and hard punishment’, was a dreaded procedure that started with a warning given by the court, and repeated twice, of the consequences should the accused persist in his refusal to plead. He was then allowed a few hours to consider the ultimatum and, if still defiant, Judgement of Penance would be announced.
 

That the prisoner shall be sent back to the prison from whence he came, and put into a mean room, stopped from the light, and shall there be laid on the bare ground without any litter, straw or other covering, and without any garment about him except something about his middle. He shall lie, a stone beneath his back, his head shall be covered and his feet shall be bare. One of his arms shall be drawn with a cord to the side of the room, and the other arm to the other side, and his legs shall be served in the same manner. Then there shall be laid upon his body as much iron or stone as he can bear, and more. And the first day after he shall have three morsels of barley bread, without any drink, and the second day he shall be allowed to drink as much as he can, at three times, of the water that is next the prison door, except running water, without any bread. And this shall be his diet until he dies. 

The penalty occasionally varied, the sharp stone under the back was perhaps omitted, but the result was the same. Should the prisoner continue to defy the court, death would ensue. As it did in the case of Walter Calverley who, when accused at York Assizes in 1605 of murdering his wife and two of his young children, remained mute. He maintained his silence to the end, and so was pressed to death. Not quite so stoic, or suicidal, was Thomas Spiggot, a highwayman who, in 1721, also came to the erroneous conclusion that silence was golden.

When he refused to plead, he was taken to Newgate Prison and in the Press Room was subjected to the ordeal. He endured 350 pounds weight for half an hour, lying apparently half conscious though at times he complained that the warders were putting weights on his face, doubtless due to the sensation caused by the compression of his blood vessels. With the addition of a further fifty pounds, he surrendered and begged to be allowed to plead. And on February 8, 1721 he was hanged at Tyburn.

Culled from: Rack, Rope and Red-Hot Pincers

 

Ghastly: Human Decomposition Stain Edition

Here’s a fascinating, yet ghastly, collection of human decomposition stains courtesy of Weird Creepy Shit.

Human Decomposition Stains

Thanks to Anna who says, “Some would actually make for lovely wall patterns and such.” 

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 15, 2017

Today’s Nourishing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A young Kentucky woman directed in her will that tobacco should be planted on her grave, so that her bereaved lovers could smoke the leaves which her remains had nourished.

Culled from: Weird Wills & Eccentric Last Wishes

Perhaps a secondary motivation would be lung cancer?  Wicked woman!

 

Weegee Du Jour!

Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur Fellig (June 12, 1899 – December 26, 1968), a photographer and photojournalist, known for his stark black and white street photography. Weegee worked in Manhattan, New York City’s Lower East Side as a press photographer during the 1930s and ’40s, and he developed his signature style by following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity. Much of his work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death.

Here’s a series from his book  Weegee’s New York: Photographs, 1935-1960.


Tramp on Lower East Side… 


… is hit by a taxi…


… and is receiving the last rites.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 12, 2017

Today’s Flammable Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Eight minutes before the close of the business day on July 21, 1919, a great shadow passed over the marble rotunda of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank in downtown Chicago. Inside the bank, 150 tellers and clerks were balancing their cash drawers and were otherwise engaged in the frantic rush to go home.

Overhead, a 153-foot dirigible powered by 95,000 cubic feet of flammable hydrogen hovered over the central business district, when suddenly the craft buckled and plunged to earth. The fuselage of the Wing Foot tore through the iron supports holding the glass skylight in pace. The twin LaRhone engines and the two gasoline tanks crashed to the floor of the bank, splashing fuel on the bank employees standing within a fifty-foot radius.


The Wing Foot Dirigible

Eyewitnesses described the unfolding chaos and panic as a “blast furnace raining hell” upon the unsuspecting. The rotunda was instantly consumed in flames, trapping the tellers behind their wire cages and cutting off their routes of escape. Screaming stenographers, their long skirts on fire, raced toward the exits, but walls of fire blocked their path. Some were burned beyond recognition.

Employees trapped on the second floor of the building plunged to their deaths in a desperate attempt to flee the inferno. The intense heat made rescue work virtually impossible, and the immense site of the curious crowd outside the bank impeded efforts of firemen, ambulance drivers, and undertakers to reach the stricken and the dead.


The interior of the bank after the Wing Foot crash.


The Wing Foot dirigible falls to eath.

The death ship was owned by the Goodyear Company of Akron, Ohio, and was engaged in a test and demonstration flight, designed to promote the advantages of lighter-than-air travel to the public, when fate intervened. The craft had taken off from a hangar at the White City Amusement Park at Sixty-Third Street and South Park Avenue shortly before 9:00 a.m. and had bobbed lazily across the afternoon skies 1,200 feet above Grant Park, on up to Diversey Harbor.

The Wing Foot was piloted by Jack Boettner, a veteran of forty-two dirigible flights, who blamed static electricity and a rush of air from the propellers, which fanned the exhaust flames against the bag. Boettner and his four passengers parachuted off the blimp, but only the pilot managed to escape serious injury or death.

Though never officially charged with criminal negligence, Boettner absorbed much criticism and personal blame after repeatedly contradicting himself during the inquest chaired by future Illinois governor Henry Horner. The Goodyear Company agreed to arbitrate all claims through Horner’s three-member committee. The bank chipped in $1,000 for each victim’s family and reopened for business the very next day after the disaster. Such was Chicago in its busy, formative years, cranking along at a breathless breakneck speed, never pausing, never looking back.

Five days after the blimp plummeted to the floor of the bank, a race riot erupted on the city’s South Side, crowding this story off the front page so the daily newspapers But the Wing Foot tragedy, and others like it involving lighter-than-air craft, underscored the need for proper safety precautions and, more important, foreshadowed the end of an era. With the crash of the Hindenburg at Lake Hurst, New Jersey in 1937, the curtain closed on the dirigible as a means of commercial travel. 

The Wing Foot disaster is all but forgotten. No plaque or historical marker commemotating this horrible human calamity can be found on the walls of the Bank of America Building. Business, after all must go on. 

Culled from: Return to the Scene of the Crime

 

Morbid Auction Du Jour!

Would you like to own Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker?  Here’s your chance!

Marilyn Monroe’s Grave Marker Goes Up For Auction

Thanks to Anna for the link.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 10, 2017

Today’s Bankrobbing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Today we continue the story of the Suburban Bonnie and Clyde – bankrobbers from 1990’s Chicagoland. In yesterday’s episode, Jill and Jeffrey Erickson were nabbed while preparing to rob a bank on December 16, 1991. Rather than let the coppers take her, Jill attempted to drive away from police and shot herself when the prospect of escape became hopeless.  Today we learn what happened to Jeffrey.

Meanwhile, husband Jeff was hustled off to the Dirksen Building, where he was booked on federal bank robbing charges. In a newspaper interview just a few months later, the cynical and bemused ex-cop turned stickup man ridiculed the booking procedures and security lapses and recommended that the Marshal’s Service conduct an emergency officer’s safety training session. He boasted that it would have been easy for him to snatch a gun from the detention officer’s holster and walk scot-free through the Dearborn Street revolving doors and into the safety of the pedestrian throngs. 

“When I was fingerprinted they told me they were going to put me in prison for life. But the number one wrong thing to do they did. You never handcuff palms together, hands in front and that’s what they did,” Erickson said, literally diagramming for a reporter his intended plan of escape. The FBI, the Marshal’s Service, and court security should have been paying closer attention, but they were not. “They put me in civilian elevators. That’s how they take guys out of the lockup area.”


Smug know-it-all Jeff Erickson

The day of reckoning came on July 20, 1992 – the sixth day of Erickson’s criminal trial before Judge James Alesia of the U.S. District Court. At 5:30 in the afternoon, just as thousands of homeward-bound Loop office workers poured out of their offices and were on their way to the commuter train stations and CTA Rapid Transit lines, Erickson, dressed in a blue suit, was riding an elevator to the underground parking garage of the Dirksen Building from which he was scheduled to be transported to his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), just a few blocks away.

While standing inside the garage elevator, Erickson managed to squirm out of his handcuffs and seize the firearm belonging to Terry Pinta, a female Deputy Marshal. “He’s got my gun!” Pinta yelled, as Erickson smashed her across the head with the weapon. He turned and fired two shots at deputy marshal Roy Frakes, who had no chance to defend himself. New to the job, Frakes collapsed to the floor with wounds to the head and back. He died at Northwestern Hospital less than half an hour later.

“I’m going to jail!” raged Jeffrey Erickson in a blind fury. “I’m going to jail! I’m going to die anyway! I’m going to take everybody with me!” Erickson raced through the garage toward the auto exit ramp leading out of the Federal Building and onto eastbound Jackson Boulevard with its dingy passport-photo studios and doughnut shops.

Standing between Erickson and freedom was Harry Belluomini, a retired thirty-one-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, who had left the job with the rank detective and an honorable career on the streets already behind him. At the time of the Erickson trial, he was employed by the General Security Services Corporation as a security guard.

Belluomini, who had earned many commendations in Chicago and was looking forward to retiring to Wisconsin with his wife once his Chicago house was sold, stood in the direct line of fire. Before he could release the safety, Erickson drew down. 

Fatally wounded, Belluomini managed to fire off one round at the fleeing gunman with his dying breath. Erickson dropped to the narrow sidewalk, twenty five feet shy of the street. Though his wound was probably not fatal, the bank robber realized that his last chance to escape was squandered. He had saved a final bullet for himself, thus fulfilling his end of the death pact made with Jill, whom he had adored. 

Harry Belluomini was cited for his heroism. The section of Dearborn Street passing by the Dirksen Building was appropriately renamed “Harry Belluomini Way” by the Chicago City Council.  

Culled from: Return Again to the Scene of the Crime

 

Autopsy Du Jour!

Autopsy :  A Mothers Instinct  -  Foster Child Murdered
David brought this fascinating video to my attention. In graphic post-mortem and post-exhumation photographs, it tells the story of a little boy who was murdered in the 60’s – a crime that was allowed to go unpunished due to inept forensics until his birth mother tracked down his story and questioned the death verdict.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 9, 2017

Today’s Bankrobbing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Today we begin a two-part series on the Suburban Bonnie and Clyde – bankrobbers from 1990’s Chicagoland.

In 1991 the the Chicago banking community was under siege. An unprecedented ninety-two stickups had occurred in the six-county metro area during the preceding twelve months, setting new standards, while the FBI and various suburban task forces doggedly pressed on. 

Married couple Jeffrey and Jill Erickson were responsible for at least eight of these daring daylight bank heists beginning in January 1990 and continuing right up until the fateful moment on December 16, 1991, when Jeffrey was nabbed by FBI agents.

Erickson was seated in a stolen Mazda in a shopping plaza where Wise Road and Irving Park intersect at the south end of Schaumburg, that vast, unchecked suburban “mall sprawl” northwest of O’Hare Airport. The Erickson’s two-year crime spree, which would end in murder and suicide, brought to mind similar exploits of the famous southwestern “Dustbowl” desperadoes, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

Jeff Erickson, an “all-American” boy from Morton Grove, Illinois, was an ex-marine who had served briefly as an auxiliary police officer in suburban Rosemont and Hoffman Estates from 1985 until 1987. Erickson was a uniform-and-gun nut, obsessed with motorcycles and firepower, but his departmental evaluations on his last job were substandard, forcing his resignation.

One shudders to think just how many other psychopaths with gun fetishes manage to slip through the testing safeguards and wind up out on the street in uniform. [I think we’re beginning to know! – DeSpair]

And yet, while it seemed completely out of character for this type of individual to open a used book store and capably represent himself before a cerebral clientele of bibliophiles and Book-of-the-Month aficionados, Erickson was warmly regarded by his customers as well versed in the classics and possessing a superior mind.

Erickson closed his store on Mondays – setting aside that one day of the week to rob banks. He disguised himself with a phony beard, drove stolen Japanese imports, carried an assault rifle into the poorly guarded suburban banks, and threatened to kill everyone in sight who failed to cooperate. His adoring wife, Jill, whom he affectionately referred to as “Gorgeous,” drove the backup getaway car.


The Suburban Bonnie and Clyde

The two of them were believed to have forged a “death pact.” They would not be taken alive to face the sting of incarceration, and they had vowed to end their own lives if they were cornered by police or placed in a tight situation where escape was not possible.

Dubbed the “suburban Bonnie and Clyde” by reporters, the thrill-seeking Ericksons undoubtedly reveled in all of the publicity and media attention until the long arm of the law literally reached out and grabbed Jeffery by the collar, just before he could carry out his next bank job. FBI and suburban law enforcement had been tracking the couple’s movements for weeks. A task force had been formed, and they had kept Erickson’s Hanover Park apartment under twenty-four-hour surveillance.

Observing the arrest of her husband while seated behind the wheel of a battered Ford Econoline van, Jill Erickson whirled the vehicle around, deciding to make a run for it. She led the cops on a wild ten-mile car chase through the Northwest and Western suburbs, firing over her shoulder as she plowed through dense traffic with the Feds and as many as forty patrol cars in hot pursuit. The Chase ended at Bear Flag Drive, a residential subdivision in Hanover Park.

Her tire shot out, and struck by police gunfire, Jill realized the hopelessness of her situation. Surrender was not an option. She turned the weapon on herself. It was lights out for the “Yuppie Bonnie Parker.” She died at Humana Hospital that night.

[To Be Continued]

Culled from: Return Again to the Scene of the Crime

 

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

What a fantastic idea!

And, as Eleanor points out, with only a little modification…  hmmmm… 


Culled from the February 1932 issue of Popular Science.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 7, 2017

Today’s Sorrowful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On March 16, 1945, the Nazis liquidated the death camp at Spaichingen, located in southwestern Germany, about twenty miles north of the Swiss border. Joseph Freeman and thousands of other inmates began a six-week death march ordeal that ended in the city of Fussen in southern Germany. Joseph’s story is documented in the book The Road To Hell: Recollections of the Nazi Death March. The following is a brief excerpt from the book.

“Before embarking on our trek, I ran back to the barracks, behind the latrines, where I dug out photographs I had buried when I first came to this camp. During the liquidation of our ghetto in 1942, my father ordered me to leave so that I could save myself. With tears in my eyes, I grabbed three pictures from our photograph album, and I ran from our home without looking back. These were the only tangible remains of my past, which I had carried from one death camp to another. These pictures were my steady companions; they have accompanied me in places where I experienced the deepest sorrow, and they were with me at the moment of liberation, when I was rescued from Hell. They are still with me today.

“I remember clutching the photographs in the cattle train as I arrived in Auschwitz and watched as Mengele sent my loved ones to the gas chambers. They were with me when I was in the hospital at Veihingen, where I hovered near death as a result of dysentery. I carried the pictures to the death camp at Schomberg where an SS man split open my skull. I made sure I had them when I was transported to my final camp at Spaichingen, where I hid them near the toilets. Now on this forced march I would take them, photographs of my sister Tania and brother Isaac, neither of whom I had seen since 1942.”


Joseph Freeman with his sister Tania and brother Isaac in 1938. He had this photo with him when he passed out before his liberation from the allies.

Culled from: The Road To Hell: Recollections of the Nazi Death March

 

Another Dog Walking Find, Circa 1963

Murder Has a Public Face by Larry Millett is a collection of crime and punishment photos in the Speed Graphic era taken in the St. Paul, Minnesota area. Here’s an entry from the book.

Death in the chill of winter has always seemed particularly grim. So it was in February 1963 when a man walking his dog in Minnehaha Park discovered the body of 15-year-old Mary Bell. Here, three Minneapolis police officers examine Bell’s body. Ronald Steeves, 19, who had been dating Bell’s older sister and was angry because Mary had tried to break up the relationship, confessed to the crime. He lured Bell from a Minneapolis home where she was babysitting, drove her to the park, then bludgeoned and stabbed her to death. An autopsy revealed 55 stab wounds, which Steeves explained by telling police, “She just wouldn’t stop breathing.”  Dispatch, Don Spavin, Feb. 28, 1963.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 6, 2017

Today’s Mad Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

King George III of England (1738-1820) suffered from bouts of mental illness throughout his life. The first serious attack of mental illness – and the events covered by the film The Madness of King George – began in 1788 and lasted just a few months. In June 1788 the King had what his doctor called “a smart bilious attack,” and was sent to take the waters at Cheltenham. He returned to Windsor four weeks later apparently cured. Three months later, however, during the evening of October 17, the King fell ill with violent stomach cramps and complained of respiratory problems. His condition alarmed everyone who saw him. The veins in his face stood out; he became delirious and he foamed at the mouth. It is said that the King’s old friends rallied around him with an astonishing display of loyalty by pretending to be mad themselves. The regular court physician, Dr. Baker, reported that the King’s condition was deteriorating quickly. His speech became rapid and agitated, and he babbled feverishly and continuously. He became violent and abusive toward his family and his courtiers, and was generally “quite unlike his normal self.” At one point he lapsed into a coma and appeared to be near death.


The Young Madman

At first it was thought that the King was suffering from “flying gout” – the Georgian medical profession’s stock-in-trade diagnosis for anything they couldn’t explain, which covered pretty much everything. This mysterious affliction was thought to be relatively harmless unless one was unfortunate enough to get it in one’s head. The king’s flying gout, it was asserted, had originated in his feet but had traveled to his brain and become somehow stuck there. The answer was to apply blisters to the royal head to drive the gout back down again. When it became all too obvious that this was a painful waste of time, Dr. Baker administered large drafts of opium to his patient, but was otherwise completely baffled by the King’s illness and at a complete loss what to do about it.

Six more doctors were called in to the King, none of them any wiser than the last, but each hoping to profit by finding a fluke cure for the royal affliction. They bickered among themselves, placed his head on a pillow made from a bag of warm hops, put leeches on his temples, gave him large doses of James’s Powder to make him sweat, and stuck his feet in red-hot water to draw out the “humor.” Eventually the only thing that everyone could agree on was that the King was suffering from temporary insanity. Finally and very reluctantly, they agreed to stand aside and let a so-called expert on the treatment of the mentally ill have a go. Enter the Willises of Wapping.  

The Willises had at their disposal a complete, in-depth, contemporary understanding of how to treat the mentally ill. That is, they hadn’t a clue either. Willis Senior confidently asserted that the King’s illness was the result of “severe exercise, weighty business, severe abstemiousness and too little rest” and set about preparing his cure. The King, who had no idea what was coming to him, was at first quite relaxed about the arrival of Willis and in his lucid intervals was even able to joke with him about his treatment. The King even dubbed the dreadful iron contraption which Willis forced him into every day as his “new coronation chair.” 


Getting the Royal Treatment

The royal knockabout banter didn’t last. The Willises’ state-of-the-art equipment for the treatment of mental illness comprised a straitjacket, iron clamps, a chair and a length of rope. Additional treatment was in accordance with conventional guidelines: frequent bleedings, forced vomiting, a starvation diet, salivations, and afterward a cold bath. To divert “morbid humors” from the King’s head they applied blisters – various types of irritants – to the skin on his legs. These humors were supposed to be drawn through the serum of the blisters and through the pus that formed as they became infected, thus creating running sores that lasted for weeks. For the final eight years of the King’s life, his medical bill was a staggering £271,000.  

The old King spent the last eight or nine years of his life blind and deaf, alone in the north side of Windsor Castle. He lived in complete silence, white-haired and bearded, now and then picking at his harpsichord, or talking to dead friends, or occasionally indecently exposing himself to his servants. 


The Old Madman

Culled from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty

 

From the Some People Have All The Luck Department

A friend of a Facebook friend’s dog found this on a walk. What a good dog!  (The police found the rest of the remains and are investigating.)  (Thanks to Dena for letting me share these pics.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 4, 2017

Today’s Rebellious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Although Julius Caesar had attempted to conquer Britain in 55 and 54 BC, the Romans did not mount a successful invasion until AD 43, under Claudius. Arriving at the south coast, the Romans made their way up the Thames Estuary. Finding a spot where the tidal river proved deep enough for shipping but narrow enough for a crossing, they immediately grasped its strategic significance and created a makeshift settlement of forty acres along the waterfront. ‘Londinium’, capital of the Province of Britannia, was born. But Londinium soon became a target for the oppressed Britons.

In A.D. 60, the Britons, led by Queen Boudicca, rebelled. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Boudicca hated the Romans as they had stolen her land when she was widowed, flogged her and raped her daughters. Intent on wiping out their oppressors, Boudicca’s army descended on London and burned it to the ground. This first Great Fire of London was so intense that it melted bronze coins, scorching the earth so profoundly that archaeologists discovered a seared layer of soil centuries later. Boudicca took no prisoners. Tacitus recorded that over 70,000 Romans and their allies – men, women and children- perished in the massacre; they were lynched, burned and even crucified. Romans were beheaded and thrown into the river. The number of skulls recovered from the Walbrook near Finsbury Circus, and the Thames around Battersea and Mortlake prompted the Victorian archaeologist Henry Syer Cuming to name the river ‘our Celtic Golgotha’.


Don’t fuck with Boudicca!

The Romans soon retaliated, however, crushing the insurgents and, once they had regained control, set about creating London in the image of a Roman city. A defensive wall, nine feet wide, eighteen feet high and nearly two miles long was constructed – sections of which survive to this very day. Inside the wall was the Forum (on what is now Gracechurch Street in the City), a combination of low court, council chamber and shopping mall. With their passion for town planning, the Romans laid out streets, villas and temples. In a policy shift which the historian Guy de la Bédoyère has compared with modern Western Imperialism, the Romans converted militant Britons to their way of life with consumer enticement, introducing them to the urbane pleasures of hot spas and fine dining, encouraging them to wear togas and speak Latin.  

Culled from: Necropolis: London and Its Dead

Sadly, badass Boudicca died shortly after the failed uprising (either from illness or suicide), but they’re still finding the (possible) skulls of her victims!


Roman Skulls Found During Crossrail Dig In London May Be Boudicca Victims 

 

Aghast!  Gang Gun Edition!


VICTIM OF GANG GUNS
DECEMBER 13, 1935
Photographer: Detrick
Samuel Mandel, racketeer. Victim of gang guns in Paterson.  

Culled from: New York Noir: Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive