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A Shave, a Haircut and the Death of George Washington

Ever wonder why barbers display a pole? It's the law! Around 1308 the guild of the Worshipful Company of Barbers of London was formed and the law required surgeon-barbers to display a pole with red and white stripes while the barbers who only cut hair should display a white pole. Aside from pulling teeth, these early surgeons did bloodletting. They believed that illness came for an imbalance of the fluids of the body and the release of blood brought that healthy balance back. People would visit their barber and get their blood drained at the proper time depending on their horoscope. That meant they needed a good calendar to guide them. This year in Mainz, Germany, the first printed medical document is produced. It is called the "Calendar for Bloodletting." It comes with a diagram of the body called an Aderlassmann [AH-dair-loss-mahn] (bloodletting man) which shows the sites for lancing the body. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day US barbers display a red, white and BLUE pole that reflects the colors of the US flag. Bloodletting was practiced until the 19th century and may have been the death of George Washington. On a cold December in 1799 the former President of the United States went out into the snow to continue the maintenance of his plantation. Upon his return he developed a sore throat that turned bad. He believed in regular bloodletting so he had someone drain half a pint. Then three physicians were called, each draining some blood until nearly half of his body's supply was gone in the span of a few hours. His last words were "Tis well." [7]

Tudors: The Birth of Henry the 7th

Edmund Tudor, the half-brother of King Henry the 6th of England, has a second-hand wife: Lady Margaret who was recently unloaded by a young noble old whose father needed some leverage with King Henry. In such marriages, girls are passed around like trading cards, more for political purposes than for sex. However, in this case, Lady Margaret is 12 years old and gives birth to a baby boy before the year is out. Their son will grow up to become King Henry the 7th, the 1st Tudor King. [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Edmund Tudor's mother, Catherine, was the daughter of Mad King Charles of France. In 1422, her mad father sold her off to King Henry the 5th of England along with the Crown of France. Catherine was as French as French got. When her husband, Henry, died she secretly married Owen Tudor, a Welshman. Thus, Edmund was born creating a line of inheritance that will figure into the later years of the War of the Roses.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1457, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Historical Bloodletting Chart and Alchemy Symbols (also known as Aderlassmann) - Science Photo Library. 2014 [last update] (IMAGE)
  2. Bloodletting - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  3. Worshipful Company of Barbers - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Greenstone, Gerry. The history of bloodletting. BC Medical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1. January-February 2010. pp. 12-14. (ONLINE JOURNAL) Quote: "[...] Hippocrates [...] believed that existence was represented by the four basic elements - earth, air, fire, and water - which in humans were related to the four basic humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile. [...] Being ill meant having an imbalance of the four humors."
  5. Seigworth, Gilbert R., A Brief History of Bloodletting - PBS. (WEB ARTICLE) Summary: "Bloodletting Over the Centuries by Gilbert R. Seigworth, M.D. is a reprint from the New York State Journal of Medicine. December 1980." Quote: "The red-and-white barber pole designated a barber who did surgery as well as haircutting. The educated physicians avoided surgery during these years. This was to set the stage for later conflict when surgery became a respectable method of treatment. The Barber-Surgeon Company existed officially in England until 1744. However, barbers and surgeons had a clear separation of function for many years before that. The transition of surgery from disrespect to prominence was led by the French master barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510 to 1590) who is considered the father of surgery."
  6. Bloodletting Instruments in the National Museum of History and Technology by Appel et al. Gutenberg.org, p. 7. 2014 [last update] Quote: "Natural events outside the body served as indicators for selecting the time, site, and frequency of bloodletting during the Middle Ages when astrological influences dominated diagnostic and therapeutic thought. This is illustrated by the fact that the earliest printed document relating to medicine was the "Calendar for Bloodletting" issued in Mainz in 1457. This type of calendar, also used for purgation, was known as an Aderlasskalender, and was printed in other German cities such as Augsburg, Nuremberg, Strassburg, and Leipzig. During the fifteenth century these calendars and Pestblatter, or plague warnings, were the most popular medical literature. Sir William Osler and Karl Sudhoff studied hundreds of these calendars. They consisted of a single sheet with some astronomical figures and a diagram of a man (Aderlassmann) depicting the influence of the stars and the signs of the zodiac on each part of the body, as well as the parts of the anatomy suitable for bleeding. These charts illustrated the veins and arteries that should be incised to let blood for specific ailments and usually included brief instructions in the margin. The annotated bloodletting figure was one of the earliest subjects of woodcuts. One early and well known Aderlassmann was prepared by Johann Regiomontanus (Johannes Müller) in 1473. It contained a dozen proper bleeding points, each suited for use under a sign of the zodiac. Other Aderlassmanner illustrated specific veins to be bled. The woodcut produced by the sixteenth-century mathematician, Johannes Stoeffer, illustrated 53 points where the lancet might be inserted."
  7. Barber's pole - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. Meyer, Gerald J., The Tudors: the Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780385340762. (BOOK)Quote: "The wedding took place no later than 1455, the year of Margaret's twelfth birthday. Rather horribly, she was pregnant by the middle of 1456."
  9. Henry VII of England - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Catherine of Valois - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Owen Tudor - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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