Category Archives: HISTORY

King George III’s illness

King George III’s illness


Recent research has thrown considerable doubt on the claim that King George III suffered from variegate porphyria, but indicates that he suffered recurrent attacks of mania as part of his bipolar disorder. George III’s last episode of ill health occurred during the final decade of his life (1810–20). This has been diagnosed as chronic mania with an element of dementia. During this period the king was blind and possibly deaf, which may have contributed to his psychiatric condition.

Civilising the cannibals

Civilising the cannibals

Western visitors to Fiji in 19th century liked to watch what they ate. Traveller John Erskine, for instance, was suspicious about some ‘pork’ he was offered and threw it away, convinced it was human. Similarly, labour recruiter John Gaggin paid close attention to the cutting up of a pig “to satisfy [himself] it was… not a baked boy or girl”.

William Herschel’s new planet

William Herschel’s new planet

After a drink-fuelled night discussing Homer, the medical student John Keats wrote his famous lines comparing his own wonderment with that of  “some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken.” Keats was referring to William Herschel, the astronomer who had enlarged the solar system with a seventh planet, now known as Uranus.

How child labour changed the world

How child labour changed the world

Britain’s industrial revolution – the first in the world – would never had happened without child labour. That’s the startling conclusion drawn by a leading economic historian following the most detailed analysis of relevant contemporary sources ever carried out.

Leprosy in Middle Ages

Leprosy in Middle Ages

Leprosy, a debilitating and disfiguring affliction, has been feared and dreaded since biblical times. The bacterium that causes leprosy was discovered in the late 19th century; before than, particularly during medieval times, it was treated as a disease caused by moral uncleanliness.