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Sir Francis Bacon is Killed by a Chicken *

Actually, it was a raw chicken stuffed with snow. Let me explain. Sir Francis Bacon, the greatest intellect of his time, had been forced to retire to his estate after being impeached by Parliament for taking bribes. Was he guilty? In modern terms, you better believe it, but in the standards of his day, not so much. He later repented his deeds and in his retirement he took up experimentation. In this experiment he wanted to find out if raw chicken deteriorated more slowly if it was cold. (For those waiting on the edge of your seat, the answer is yes.) He bought a raw chicken from the market, walked out into the cold and stuffed its innards with snow. Unfortunately, the exposure to the wet and cold brought on some difficulty in breathing and he died in bed in the home of Lord Arundel. He was 65 years old. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I watched a NOVA special on cold and the search for absolute zero. The show begins with a scientist explaining that people of the 17th century (that is... the time of Sir Francis Bacon) thought of cold as its own force. It was not simply the absence of heat. If you think about it, you can understand why. Try opening a window on a frozen winter day. You will see the cold spill over the windowsill and creep along the floor. In fact, what you are seeing is the moisture of the warmer air condensing as the colder air from outside mixes. Since cold air is denser than warm air, it tends to sink toward the floor and then mixes as it heats up. People like Sir Francis Bacon didn't realize this yet. And they didn't understand refrigeration. They won't have iceboxes until the mid-1900s. In the 17th century the world was at the mercy of the cold and the Little Ice Age was about to get a lot colder. [2]

The Dutch Buy the Deed to Manhattan! Why Are You Laughing?

The initial attempts by the Director-General of New Netherland to colonize Manhattan fails when some of the colonists join an Indian war between rival tribes. Several colonists are killed and one man is eaten... just a leg and an arm. Even though the Director-General had nothing to do with it, he is arrested and replaced by Peter Minuit. The new Director-General begins his negotiations with the local tribes. He has written instructions to not give offense but to persuade the Indians to make a deal for the entire Island of Manhattan which is about 22,000 acres. After turning over trinkets and blankets worth 60 guilders or $24 dollars (in 1898 dollars), the Director-General believes that he is now in possession of Manhattan. The actual deal he makes is lost to posterity, but he makes a similar deal for the purchase of Staten Island this year and a copy of that agreement has survived. He bought Staten Island for what we might call "junk" but the Indians are still in the Stone Age. For them, a metal drill is more valuable than gold. [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Apparently some of these Indians are cannibals, and I've heard speculation that the Indians pulled the wool over the eyes of the Dutch. I find that hard to credit. Nevertheless, it might have happened. I would not make any assumptions about people who eat other people. Does that give me permission to cheat them? It changes the rules a little. Man-eaters do not get any favors from me. If I can't avoid selling him a car, I'll sell it for a price I think is fair, but it's his job to make sure it has 4 tires and an engine. His mistakes are his mistakes. If a man-eater sells me two barrels of fish and he delivers four, that's just the price for being a man-eater. I'm not going to outright steal from him, but I'm not helping him out, either. How does this apply to my real life? I am a chaplain at the local jail. I meet all sorts of unsavory characters, people worse than one would meet in the normal course of a day. I follow the rules. I am polite. I do my job. If I'm working with someone I think is a murderer, I still do my job, but I don't go out of my way to do them any favors. Know what I mean?

The New Saint Peter's Basilica *

Quick note: St. Peter's Basilica has been rebuilt and it is dedicated this year. Yes. It's the same one that you can visit today, but it is not the original from the 4th century. That building was collapsing. They kept the altar and a few other critical features... like Saint Peter, himself, for example. [6]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1626, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558-1648, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “Seeking to test how long snow could keep flesh from putrefaction, he interrupted a journey one day in spring to buy a fowl. He killed it and stuffed it with snow, then found himself chilled. He went to the nearby home of Lord Arundel and was there put to bed. He thought the trouble would soon pass; he wrote that the experiment had "succeeded excellently well." He had preserved the fowl -- but he lost his life.” 
  2. NOVA: The Conquest of Cold. YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 16 August 2015.
  3. Peter Minuit - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 16 August 2015. “Minuit is credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the native Americans in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders. According to the writer Nathaniel Benchley, Minuit conducted the transaction with Seyseys, chief of the Canarsees, who were only too happy to accept valuable merchandise in exchange for an island that was actually mostly controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks.”
  4. Benchley, Nathaniel (December 1959). "The $24 Swindle". American Heritage Magazine 11 (1). http://www.americanheritage.com/content/24-swindle. Retrieved 16 August 2015. "By now it is probably too late to do anything about it, but the unsettling fact remains that the so-called sale of Manhattan Island to the Dutch in 1626 was a totally illegal deal; a group of Brooklyn Indians perpetrated the swindle, and they had no more right to sell Manhattan Island than the present mayor of White Plains would have to declare war on France.". 
  5. Gold Price. goldprice.org (2015). Retrieved on 17 August 2015. “1 Dutch silver guilder = 10.61 grams of silver; At $0.49 per gram (price as of 17-Aug-2015), 60 silver guilders is worth $29.40. However, if it was a gold guilder, which is what "guilder" means, then who knows? Coins at this time are not standardized, but I suspect the trinkets they used were worth more than $29.40.”
  6. St. Peter's Basilica - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 16 August 2015. “Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506. At length, on 18 November 1626 Pope Urban VIII solemnly dedicated the Basilica.”

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