The Ever-present, Yet Imperceptible Threat: Poisoning at Early Modern Courts
On the Saturday before Easter in 1687, Prince Ludwig of Brandenburg ate an orange and drank some coffee. Shortly thereafter, he complained of stomach pains and had trouble sleeping. A week later, he was dead. The death of the otherwise healthy twenty-year old prince sparked rumors of poisoning, which fueled tensions related to international diplomacy, dynastic politics, and confessional divides. Poisoning was an ever-present threat at early modern courts against which no amount of physical might or vigilance could protect. The early modern “culture of poisoning” offers a telling juxtaposition to the power that food at court normally projected. Fears of poisoning at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, expose the interconnections between seventeenth-century political culture, quotidian habits, and the production of medical knowledge.
Monday, April 26, 2021, 4:15 pm
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