The Libertine Tidbit #5: The Age of Reason~ Curiousities

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Libertine Tidbit #5: The Age of Reason~ Curiousities

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Sep 19, 2004 10:38 am

The Age of Reason

Much attention is paid to the period of the Renaissance - yet very little is mentioned of the time following - The Age of Reason. Although the Renaissance introduced a world that shed the heavy darkness of the centuries before, the roots of our modern technological age had their true roots in the years of scientific and philosophical revelation of the Age of Reason.

Some Major Events in the Age of Reason
Galileo was the first "martyr" of the Age of Reason in 1633 when he was imprisoned for saying that the earth revolved around the Sun.
Isaac Newton- Explained everyday things (yes folks, including the famous apple from the tree) in mathematical equations

Rene Descartes- One of the first to declare the premise of the Age of Reason. He stated that only things that could be proved by evidence were true.

It was not until the 17th century that the church began to allow the study of cadavers in the name of medical science.

Women were allowed on stage for the first time in theatrical history (thanks anyway, Shakespeare).

Also, leading women in society, like Nino de Lenclos, discussed philosophy and science in leading salons.

John Locke began to formulate theories on the scope of human reason.

Medicine
Imagine having surgery done with no anesthetics other than maybe a drink or two. Imagine, as a woman, going into childbirth with a 1 in 10 chance of dying. Imagine that instead of medicines as we traditionally think of them - most remedies involved enemas, purging (vomiting), and being "bled." On top of all this, try to imagine that your surgeons may not be trained as a doctor, and do not have to be to practice.

These are the kinds of things a Londoner might have had to face during the Restoration - and when you taking into consideration the Plague, the prospect becomes even more frightening. Despite the encouragement that scholarly pursuits received during the Restoration (at least amongst the nobility - Charles II wasn't fond of educating the poorer classes - it gave them "ideas"), people still had very much to learn about the human body and it's processes.
****
Some assorted facts on medicine in Restoration England:
Physicians believed the human body was driven by four main elements: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile.
Surgeons were mostly not physicians. Surgeons did not study at a school: they were generally just very good with sharp instruments.
The reason the Plague killed people is because the bacteria which was in the blood of the victim multiplied so rapidly and prolifically that the blood vessels would burst. This resulted in the "bruised" appearance of the victims and why the plague was known as the "black plague" in earlier times.

The Arts
As historians are fond to point out, quite fairly I might add, Charles II enjoyed the theatre. Of course, given that he took a fancy to the ladies of the stage, he perhaps had some extra motivations above and beyond mere entertainment - but he also the Cromwellian Regime denied the people well deserved merriment.

Perhaps the most highly regarded English composer of the Restoration was Henry Purcell. Not surprisingly, though they were, in their content, quite contrary to the bright hedonism of Restoration court, were the emergence of the works of Milton and Bunyan - both sombre men of Puritan influence. Most of the works of theatre and smaller works of poetry and prose that did accurately reflect the spirit of the times were the works of an assortment of the King's most creative courtiers.

On the Subject of Witchcraft
For most North Americans, the mention of witchcraft, and the persecution of those accused of using it, probably brings forth images of the Salem witch trials. However, what you may not know is that it was visualized as a prominent enough danger that King James the First of England (who took reign after Elizabeth I) actually wrote a book on magic and sorcery called Demonologie.

While Charles II and Restoration England did not have the religious fervor, and virtual paranoia, that swept other nations, witchcraft was still considered a serious crime. As a matter of fact, King Charles II declared it to be the one crime that could not be pardoned.
It's really no wonder either - even many of the most respected scientists tended to handily file anything they couldn't quite explain into witchery. Lawyers, physicians, scientists - groups that today are probably the least likely to be considered candidates for belief in the supernatural - all gave some sway to the possibility of witchery.

Astrology, ironically, was not labeled under witchery - and while nowadays those who read the "messages" of the stars are probably taken as seriously as "witchcraft" - in these times it was an essential part of science, medicine, and even politics. Elizabeth I was known to consult an astrologer on political questions, and the trend would continue for some time.

Even More Curiosities
In Restoration England, it wasn't the blondes who had more fun; brunette was the idea color hair for a woman. If the skin wasn't naturally pale, something called ceruse - a lead-based concoction that would later be diluted. As you might guess - this did not have positive effects on a woman's health.

If a single woman was ill or depressed - it was often attributed to the fact that the woman did not have a physical relationship with a man.
Last edited by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas on Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Re: The Libertine Tidbit #5: The Age pf Reason~ Curiousitie

Unread postby scarlett » Sun Sep 19, 2004 3:10 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:The Age of Reason

If a single woman was ill or depressed - it was often attributed to the fact that the woman did not have a physical relationship with a man.


Well some things never change. :-)

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Unread postby lumineuse » Tue Sep 21, 2004 6:47 pm

Just as a point of interest, I have a fascinating book called Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine by Barbara Griggs. It is a truly frightening look at how much damage has been done by traditional medicine throughout Western history, including the treatments that DITHOT mentioned. There is about a page and a half detailing the medical tortures that Charles II was subjected to immediately preceding his death. Apparently he had a an inflammation of the kidneys and died from systemic poisoning aggravated by various treatments, including the following:

"drew off about 16 ounces of blood"

"three cupping glasses to be applied to his shoulders,to be quickly followed by scarification... and in this manner about 8 ounces of blood were drawn"

"Within a few moments after this, so as to free his stomach of all impurities, they administered an emetic"

"they gave him a little vitriol to act more energetically,and then another purgative a little later, followed by an enema"

"Blistering agents were applied all over his head"

He survived three days of these and other medical tortures. One has to wonder how sick he was to begin with!
"Oh, good!........ No worries, then."

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Sep 21, 2004 6:51 pm

Good grief! That is a case of the cure being worse than the disease, whatever it was! When I was researching him I found two different causes for his death, heart attack or stroke. Those things you mentioned could have caused either, or both!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 17, 2005 8:29 pm

Here is Tidbit #5. More information on the time of John Wilmot.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

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Unread postby Raven » Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:22 pm

I have been reading, I know a dangerous past time. King Charles II seemed so advanced in his thinking, like wanting the religious leaders and groups to get along..... and not let religion influence politics.....

and then he does not want to educate the poor, or let the masses to see a play.

WOW!

the A&E dvd had Barbara Villiers dressed up as she left the king for the last time, and her face was white, now I get it.
"In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid
and the envious."
John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester in The Libertine by Stephen Jeffreys

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:45 pm

Raven, there is a scene in the movie where the actresses have white make up on. I had forgotten this tidbit. Now it makes sense!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby gilly » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:45 pm

YUCK :-O ..I think that sums it up......What I've read about the treatment of syphilis,more people died from the treatment than the disease...It's a wonder that anyone survived beyond 20...They must have built up an incredible resistance to a lot of bugs and infections..If we were transplanted back,I don't think we'd last a day,because,generally our immune systems don't cope with much..I know the life expectancy was about 30,but it's amazing they made it to that age...It must have flavoured your attitude to life..either made you say..''What the h###'' or turn to religion for comfort...
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Unread postby Gypsylee » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:48 pm

There is about a page and a half detailing the medical tortures that Charles II was subjected to immediately preceding his death. Apparently he had a an inflammation of the kidneys and died from systemic poisoning




I am thinking here (yes, yes, really I am) ...........if only they had made him drink lots and lots of water.

No wonder people died so young. We all talk about Wilmot dying at only 33. From what I read briefly I noticed people tended to die in their 30s or 40s. It was possibly from the medical treatments they received!

Interesting tidbits ladies! Thanks.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:53 pm

You're welcome. I am enjoying reading them myself since I seem to have forgotten quite a bit! :lol: A mind is a terrible thing to lose! :banghead:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:47 am

I have always been totally saddened about how Charles II's death was hurried on in some ways by the horrible things they did to him. Death must have been a blessed relief. It is almost unbelievable the way "doctors" of the day thought they could help by doing such foul things.
I also read about the Mercury treatments when I was reading a biography of Rochester, horrible, horrible.
Charles II was very interested in Science and often did experiments himself and was founder of The Royal Society.

http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=2176

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Unread postby Bix » Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:23 pm

Very interesting reading, DITHOT. Kind of makes it even more scary that right here in the good ol' USA we have groups of people who are increasingly successful at trying to steer our country backwards 400 years or so! (And I'm not just picking on Kansas, as my own great state of Texas is right in the forefront of these hateful and misguided efforts!)
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:20 pm

And then this morning I heard a story about the plastic sealants used in fast food wrappers, popcorn packages, candy wrappers etc., that build up in our bodies and are decidedly unhealthful. Seems we have a way to go ourselves this day in age.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Merouda » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:41 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Raven, there is a scene in the movie where the actresses have white make up on. I had forgotten this tidbit. Now it makes sense!


And that makeup was white lead. Ruined their skin and eventually caused a great deal of harm.

Another tidbit on witchcraft and England. The last law re: witchcraft, that one was breaking the law if one claimed to be one, as repealed in 1951. Immediately thereafter Gerald Gardner had a ton of stuff printed and so, some say, began the modern wiccan pathway.
Merouda
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Unread postby DeppLovesBananahs » Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:30 pm

DITHOT,

I must tell you that this whole post is what we're learning about in English and part of what we learned in History last year. The Age of Reason should actually be replaced with the Age of Common Sense. Like, the whole Puritan aspects of life were the norm and I can't imagine why anyone would believe that we're all predestined and you can't do anything about it. It's insane. People back then needed a serious slap around....by the Earl himself.

But I just jumped in here because I recognized the whole topic...I haven't actually read the play...:blush:

Hannah
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Rosevelt


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