(ORDO NEWS) — Despite all of Europe’s claims to progress in the field of civil democracy and human rights, the archives are filled with something completely different.
From the blood of Roman gladiators sold as a cure for epilepsy and other illnesses, to eating the flesh and internal organs of other people, human history is filled with medical cannibalism, especially in Europe.
The elite were an integral part of these cannibalistic acts, and none of them was more famous than King Charles II and his deathbed obsession with the miracle cure known as the “Royal Drops”.
Did you know that while on his deathbed, King Charles II paid Oliver Cromwell’s physician, Jonathan Goddard, a hefty sum for the cherished formula of his drops, which later became known as “King’s Drops”.
The secret ingredient in this tincture? Powder consisting of 2 kg of crushed human skulls. Goddard, also a chemist by profession, sold this drug under the name “Goddard’s Drops” – supposedly a miracle cure for all diseases.
King Charles II and his passion for royal skull drops
Charles, who ruled from 1660 to 1685, was himself an enthusiastic chemist and even had his own laboratory where he practiced distillation.
In the king drops story, the king reportedly paid six thousand pounds to Goddard, who at the time was a Fellow of the Royal Society and was credited for a recipe for distilling the skull using a powdered substance. He also helped Cromwell on his deathbed and became famous as a kind of medicine man.
Before his death, Charles acquired the famous “elixir” distillation recipe and began creating variations of it in his laboratory. Mixing it with alcohol, he often sipped it while he worked.
The drops were often mixed into wine or chocolate and became popular for various ailments. The skulls for use in the King’s Drops were brought from Ireland after he secretly paid the gravediggers to supply them.
In the last days of the king’s life, doctors daily poured 40 drops of this miraculous elixir into his throat, but to no avail. Modern scholars and historians suggest that these drops may have hastened Karl’s death on February 6, 1985.
Although medical evidence has not confirmed the medicinal properties of this drug, as well as tests carried out on those who used it, the drops found their way into people’s first aid kits.
Cannibalism and quackery everywhere
One report from 1686 tells the story of an Englishwoman named Anna Dormer. A cursory modern analysis suggests that she suffered from some sort of depression. Dormer spoke eloquently about the supposed benefits of skull juice for her mental health and stated:
“I do my best to maintain my abnormal health and maintain my weak, broken figure, exhausted by restless nights and restless days. I take royal drops and drink chocolate, and when my soul is sad with longing, I run and play with children.”
It is important to note that the age of Reason and Enlightenment has not yet arrived in Europe. Although medical science has developed rapidly, it has lacked the tools and resources that modern science uses today.
The church also played a dominant role in socio-cultural beliefs and deeds. The assertion that the Earth, not the Sun, is at the center of the universe, known as geocentrism, was a key tenet of Catholicism, despite the invention of the telescope.
At the same time, with the opening of trade routes to Asia and America, especially the latter, Europeans came into contact with the indigenous tribes of Central and South America who practiced forms of cannibalism.
Among Native Americans, cannibalism only occurred within a well-defined set of rituals and was more of a social than a personal act.
Incorporated into mourning rituals for the purpose of reintegrating the deceased into the tribe, cannibalism was present, for example, among the Wari tribe in Brazil. There was a desire to include the deceased in the future life of the tribe, since burial in cold and damp lands seemed terrible.
The consumption of skulls by Europeans, by contrast, was a private act of consuming another, usually those who were considered barbarians – captured slaves, prisoners of war, criminals and the dispossessed. Their killing and ill-treatment was considered legal.
Aristocrats across continental Europe regularly swallowed human skulls as early as the 18th century. “Royal drops” were not the only form of eating skulls, there were a number of other skull-related treatments and related quackery. In the medical books of that time, methods for treating epilepsy with skulls were even published.
Paracelsus and the pseudoscience of remedies for the treatment of the skull
The primary source of this pseudoscience was the 16th-century Swiss alchemist, physician, philosopher, and polymath Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus. Many of Paracelsus’ ideas were influenced by ancient Roman and Greek beliefs known as Galenism.
With Galenism came great cruelty, but it was not as bad as the medical advice of Paracelsus, which was recorded in Der grossen Wundartzney (The Great Book of Surgery), published in 1536. It was one of the most influential medical texts of its time.
Paracelsus believed that the problem that arose in the skull of a sick person could be eliminated by eating part of the head of a healthy person.
Paracelsus recommended the use of the blood and powdered skulls of men in the prime of their lives who died sudden and violent deaths.
He also recommended the consumption of other parts of their corpses. The argument was that by consuming blood, their “vital spirit remained strong” and thus contributed to the restoration of the skull. This argument was not far from the idea behind the royal drops that King Charles II of England was so passionate about.
Many such remedies spread over the next two centuries, especially as the powdered skulls were commonly served with wine, chocolate, or other intoxicants.
The concomitant placebo effect and a sense of magical wonder added to these unscientific treatments. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the sale of skulls began to fade away as the scientific approach took root after the industrial revolution.
Modern understanding of physiology and anatomy, combined with the reason and logic of science, began to resist quackery and magic, paving the way for the modern pursuit of medicine that we recognize today.
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