Monday, February 15, 2016

History: The Year is 1731

I've uploaded year 1731 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Last Execution for Witchcraft in Europe -- I talk about the possibility that menopause was mistaken for possession back in those days. Yes. I told my wife I was going to write about this.

Franklin's First Public Library and Libraries Today -- It is a subscription library so I talk about how modern libraries have become mostly a subscription library hidden by a layer of government.

Significant Events -- Martha Washington is born and Independence Hall is built.

The Last Execution for Witchcraft in Europe

Catherine is 68 years old, and she has been making her way through her old age by begging and spinning wool. It is rumored that she is a Huguenot (a type of Calvinist) and a witch. The local bailiff investigates and notices that she is missing several toes on her left foot. Catherine explains that she was sleeping in a barn when two men and a woman set upon her and cut off her toes. The bailiff recalls a hunt in which he shot a fox in the leg. It screamed with a human voice and when he searched for it, it disappeared. He now believes that Catherine is the fox that he shot. He puts her on trial and people give testimony to her many crimes of sorcery. Nevertheless, the judge is not convinced so she is suspended by her arms until she confesses to flying on a broom and similar feats of magic. She is sentenced to strangulation by a rope and her body is burned at the stake. Catherine is the last woman in Europe to be executed for witchcraft. In 1782, Anna Göldi will be suspected of witchcraft but she will be executed for non-lethal poisoning. Normally people are not executed for failing to murder someone, so Anna will be exonerated in 2008. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Brace yourselves. I'm going to talk about menopause. In the 1500s and 1600s, 50% of the women who were accused of witchcraft were age 50 or above. Women going through menopause were often suspected of witchcraft. During the transition to menopause, a woman's mood swings will vary from general grumpiness to severe mood disorders. (See your doctor.) I am told this can be caused by water pressure on the brain to severe hormonal changes. As long as a husband knows what is going on he can generally resist strangling his wife in her sleep. It is easy to imagine the more severe cases being mistaken for possession, and even the women going through it might have believed that was exactly what was happening. Without information it must have been frightening. These severe mood swings do not happen to all women. My sense is that it doesn't even happen to the majority of women, but it happens often enough to cause worry. Once again, see your doctor. [5] [6] [7]

Franklin's First Public Library and Libraries Today

A few years ago Benjamin Franklin established a club for moral improvement called the Leather Apron Club. (It was also called the Junto after the Whig Junto in Great Britain which consisted of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.) Each Friday they meet and a subject is brought up for discussion. Often someone will reference a book to support his position, so the club members decide to keep their books at Mr. Grace's home. This is not as convenient as they first imagined so they take back their books and Franklin organizes a subscription library. A membership fee of 40 shillings is charged (over $400 in modern money) for free access to existing books and 10 shillings a year (over $100 in modern money) to go toward new purchases. This is a lot of money so only 50 people subscribe initially, mostly tradesmen. Non-members can borrow books after leaving a deposit equal to the replacement cost of the book. This is the first subscription library in the British colonies and it will grow into the Library Company of Philadelphia. It will remain the largest library in the United States until the Civil War. In the modern day it will become a history research library, and open to the public. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The differences between a public library and subscription library have been blurred. A public library is usually funded by taxes, but that tax money is often spent on renting books from subscription services... essentially rental bookstores. A few books are purchased for the long term but to fill the need of the public, they will rent additional books for the initial surge. Ebooks and digital audiobooks are also rented. Libraries redirect their members to subscription websites. The library pays a fee to the subscription library so that public library members can have access to the subscription service. Thus, EBooks can be checked out and downloaded to one's Smart Phone. The big-building libraries are going the way of the dinosaur, so naturally the City of Austin, Texas is spending millions to build a shiny new library, opening in November of 2016. Apparently, those digital books take up a lot of space. [15] [16]

Significant Events

  • Martha Washington née Dandridge is born to a Virginia planter. As the wife of Pres. George Washington, she will be known simply as "Lady Washington." [17]
  • Independence Hall began as the Philadelphia State House constructed this year. [18]
  • Number 10 Downing Street is constructed this year. It is the residence of the British Prime Minister. [19]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1731, Wikipedia.

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