The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 in London, England

Spanish-Flu

At the end of World War I, soldiers coming back to London, England from the Western Front brought with them a particularly infectious version of influenza referred to as the “Spanish Flu”. Exact metrics are unknown because of poor data collection during the early 20th century but an estimated 50,000,000 (50 million) deaths occurred, 3x as many people than that which died during the entire span of World War I. Spanish Flu had its most devastating blitzkrieg upon London in the autumn of 1918, as thousands civilians and soldiers, weakened from 4.5 years of war, became ill within a few short days of Armistice Day. Spanish Flu works quickly to destroy the lungs of healthy victims, with those who contracted the pathogen feeling fine in the morning and often found dead, later that same evening. In 1918, 320 people died of Spanish Flu in London, but during 1919, Spanish Flu had a resurgence and exploded in severity with 16,000 – 23,000 people killed, a surge which caused a shortage of gravediggers and coffins, classifying Spanish Flu as the worst epidemic in living memory. The Spanish Flu outbreak came to an end in May of 1919 once enough of the British population had experienced the infection and either been killed or having survived, becoming immune to the point that the disease could no longer be passed through hosts efficiently enough to continue its spread

The 18th Century Gin Craze and it’s Association with Murder

19th-century-London-England-Gin-Craze

Gin was highly consumed in poorer areas of London, England as it was a cheaper alternative to beer. Gin was unregulated during the early 18th century, and was often badly distilled and filled with harmful compounds like oil of vitriol which is similar in construct to modern day turpintine, sulfuric acid, and methylated spirits. By 1750, gin consumption was at its peak, with the city of London consuming 11,000,000 (11 million) gallons per year. In the poorest areas of London, specifically upon the east end, it was not uncommon for everyone in public to be permanently drunk; an analogue to the modern day crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. All members of society consumed gin including men, women, and children, with many cases exhibiting severe addictive traits as was the case with Judith Darfour, who took her child into a heath, murdered them to sell their petticoat clothing and acquire more gin, then attended work later that day as if nothing had occurred. Gin related crime soared and Mothers Ruin which refers to “women who killed their family members to acquire funds for gin” was responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. When the death rate climbed higher than the birth rate, the British government was forced to intervene, outlawing small gin distilleries and ending the era referred to as the “Gin Craze”

The Reason Behind the Anglo-Burmese War

Burmese-woman

The annexation of Burma, which is modern day Myanmar, by England, occurred in 1885. The conquering and colonization of Burma was a long and drawn out process involving 3 wars in 1824 – 1826, 1852, and finally 1885, each a pivotal part of the Anglo-Burmese War. After successfully dominating Burma, the British made the decision to annex all of Upper Burma as a colony and to make the country as a whole, a province of British India. During the 19th century, Burma was a matriarchal society and the majority of commerce was run and ruled by Burmese women, a society which was notorious in the west for shrewd business practices. Burma was during this period a matriarchal society, and it is believed that this is due in large part to the fact that the country as a whole was primarily Buddhist and Buddhist cultures tend to hold women in higher regard than other parts of the world. The conflict between the British and the Burmese erupted because of trade, as the British wanted the absolute shortest route to China which involved crossing through Burma to avoid the Bay of Bengal

Maria Gunning; The Woman Who Was Thought to be the Most Beautiful Woman in London, England During the 16th Century

Maria-Gunning

George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, married Maria Gunning who was said to be the most beautiful woman in London, England, so beautiful in fact that grown men claim to have fainted when in her presence. Gunning wore a heavy layer of lead and mercury based makeup which caused blood poisoning and began to eat away at her skin. It is reported that Gunning only had the light of a tea kettle in her room, because she was so devastated by the damage done to her face by the makeup she wore. Venetian Ceruse, also referred to as “Spirits of Saturn”, was the 16th century cosmetic skin whitening agent which Gunning used. Venetian Ceruse was in great demand and considered the best available cosmetic during the era. The problem with lead and mercury based cosmetological products is that this compound contains acids which eat away at the skin and cause further blemishes which then in turn require even more concealer be used, causing a vicious cyclical scenario (e.g. further blemishes lead to more makeup, and more makeup, leads to ever further blemishes). It is believed that Queen Elizabeth I also used Venetian Ceruse to achieve her iconic pale beauty standard

The Unfortunate Events Which Lead to the Discovery of Tutankhamun’s Burial Site

Tutankhamun

In 1890, Lord Howard Carter took the reigns of the Highclere estate but was rapidly running short of funds. Carter married the daughter of the wealthy banking merchant Alfred de Rothschild. de Rothschild’s daughter Almina came with an $800,000 dowry and Rothschild himself agreed to pay the castles debts of $200,000. Carter loved the invention of the automobile and favored driving as fast as he could. Carter had an accident in Germany and barely fully recovered. Carters physicians suggested he stay in a warm, dry climate which is what prompted him to visit Egypt. Carter eventually ended up bankrolling the discovery of Egypt’s most famous ancient tomb, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter died 4 months after the discovery due to septicemia after being bitten by a mosquito whilst sitting upon the fringe of the Nile River. Media reports sensationalized this story as a curse due to the fact that as Carter laid dying in Egypt, his dog Susie howled and died at the exact same instant all the way back in England on the Highclere estate

King Edward II’s Homosexual Relationship with Piers Gaveston

Edward-II-and-Piers-GavestonPiers Gaveston, a minor noble who engaged in a homosexual relationship with Edward II, may have been overlooked during the 13th century if it were not for the lavish gifts Edward II showered upon Gaveston. Gaveston was exiled from the realm by Edward I for referring to Edward II as his brother. When Edward I died, his son Edward II brought Gaveston back into his kingdom and provided him with money, gold, title, and land. This caused the whole of England to murmur behind closed doors, against the king. It was not so much the act of homosexuality which infuriated the barons, it was the man of whom Edward II fell in love with. The nobles drafted a list of grievances against Edward II referred to as “The Ordinances”. Gaveston eventually fled and was captured by the Scots. Gaveston was sentenced as an enemy of the state and was executed despite Edward II’s attempted intervention

Edward “Blackbeard” Thatch’s Ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge

Edward-Thatch-Blackbeard

Edward Thatch, commonly referred to as “Blackbeard”, was most likely born in Bristol, England. Thatch’s ship was christened “the Queen Anne’s Revenge” and was originally a French ship sailing under the name “La Concorde”. When captured, Blackbeard freed the crew of La Concorde unharmed but took the ship as plundered loot found upon the high seas

The Average Lifespan of a British Employee for the East India Company 

East-India-Company

Death was quite common among the British stationed in India, with 33% of the entire British workforce dying in a single year due to the rainy season set by the monsoon. The average lifespan of a British worker in India was said to be just two monsoons, and the East India Company regularly had shipments of blank tombstones shipped from England just to keep up with the number of dying workers each month. The East India Company tried to help decrease these numbers by shipping vast quantities of spirits and wine, in the hopes that it would help increase the overall health of the workforce but unfortunately it did not do much good

Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

Queen-Elizabeth-I

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, being a Catholic was illegal and those suspected of practicing Catholicism were charged with treason against England. Elizabeth I was the cousin of Mary Queen of Scots, and after Mary Queen of Scots was forcibly removed from her kingdom, she was brought in by Elizabeth I despite their difference in religion. Mary Queen of Scots was a devout Catholic and Elizabeth I was a practicing Protestant. Eventually, rumors circulated that Mary Queen of Scots would try to usurp the throne from her cousin. Clandestine messages were sent inside the heels of shoes, within the personal private areas of servants, within the pages of books, and using many other inventive solutions. The most effective way of sending secret messages during this period, was inside the cork of beer barrels as none of Elizabeth I guards ever thought to look there. Lemon juice was used as invisible ink which when heated with a candle flame, revealed clear messages and enabled Mary Queen of Scots and her allies to conspire against Elizabeth I. Mary Queen of Scots was eventually entrapped and convicted with her co-conspirators being publicly hung nearly until death, then brought down and disemboweled and shown their bowels, after which their limbs were cut off and displayed in prominent parts of London, England. Mary Queen of Scots was stayed of her execution as Elizabeth I would not sign her death warrant. It is estimated that this period is when British intelligence, specifically MI5 and MI6, began to formulate. The abbreviation “MI” stands for “military intelligence” and each number stands for “section 5” and “section 6”

Edwardian Quicklime Kilns

quicklime

During the early 20th century during the Edwardian period, poverty was quite rampant in England and those who were homeless would often seek out quicklime kilns burning throughout the countryside in an attempt to stay warm during the night. Quicklime was produced to create mortar for buildings and is designed to neutralize the acidity of the bedrock within farming soil. Quicklime is created by mixing limestone with coal to produce and sustain a constant temperature of 900 degrees Celsius. Quicklime kilns produce carbon monoxide as a by-product among other caustic chemical vapors because of the burning limestone and those who slept beside the kilns would often be rendered unconscious while sleeping because of the carbon monoxide produced, sometimes causing them to shift or roll, and fall into the kiln which was typically few meters both in diameter and depth. These unfortunate victims would be cooked alive, only to be found days later when those producing the quicklime returned to check on their work