Tag Archives: Moments in History

Theo’s marvelous medicine

Joseph deBettencourt Chicago, Illinois, USA   Illustration of the Wade-Dahl-Till shunt from the original patent application. Wade, Stanley C. (1966) US Patent No.3233610. Retrieved from On a cool December day in 1960, a nanny was pushing an infant in a stroller down 85th Street in New York City. Stepping into the road, the nanny saw […]

Louis XIV and his ailments

Introduction For over 300 years King Louis XIV has occupied a special place in the heart of every Frenchman. He brought glory to his country, extended its boundaries, and promoted the arts and letters so that French culture became second to none in Europe. For many decades his neighbors trembled at the sound of his […]

The gout of the Medici

Florence in the fifteenth century was one of the most important cities in Western Europe. Rich and resplendent, first in banking and in the wool trade, it even issued its own currency, the golden florin, widely used throughout Europe. For some three hundred years the city was ruled almost continuously by the Medici, at one […]

Charles VIII: the king who bumped his head

Charles VIII was proclaimed king of France in 1470 at the age of thirteen and is remembered in history chiefly for invading Italy to assert his claim to the throne of Naples. He set in motion, by this invasion, a process that left Italy languishing under foreign domination for more than 300 years. During his […]

Washington and his spectacles

Ronald S. Fishman Chicago, IL, USA   “Washington as General commanding Continental Army” by John Peale. C. 1781-1790. Independence National Historical Park Collection in Philadelphia. After accepting the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, Washington took most of the Continental Army back up to the Northeast to cover the main British army based around […]

Francesco Antommarchi, the Malvolio of St. Helena

Francesco Carlo Antommarchi (1780-1838) was a man of dubious character who served as Napoleon’s physician on the island of St. Helena from 1818 until his death in 1821. He began his education in Livorno, Italy, then in Pisa and Florence, graduating with a degree in surgery in 1812. For the next six years he practiced neither surgery […]

Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary” ) 1516-1558

During her relatively short life, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had a rough time. After her mother’s marriage was annulled, she was not allowed to see her and was declared illegitimate. Her father would have nothing to do with her and once even threatened to execute her if she did not […]

Oliver Cromwell’s illnesses and death

Many accounts of Cromwell’s health are unreliable and biased because they were written by royalists. What can be discerned, however, is that in London in 1628 at the age of twenty-nine, Cromwell consulted the greatest doctor of the day, Sir Theodore Mayerne, whose records indicate that he had excessive cough and phlegm, some digestive problems, […]

Hasting Banda: family doctor turned tyrant

In his 1936 list of Truants in medicine who “deserted medicine” and yet perhaps to his surprise or condescension “triumphed,” Lord Moynihan of Leeds listed mainly successful men of science or letters. Actors and sportsmen, however famous, were not included. But mentioned were several people who “strayed to politics,” notably Clemenceau, Sun Yat Sen, and […]

The public death of Prince Albert

Death in modern times tends to be a private affair, whether in hospital, hospice, or in the home. But in the past no such privacy was accorded to royalty, as shown in this painting of the last moments of Albert, the beloved Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. The Prince died in 1861 after a brief […]