Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monkeys of the Macabre

For monkeys of the macabre, the British monarchy has a heap of juicy bananas (and we’re not talking about next year’s royal wedding although that will, no doubt, be a slo-mo carwreck in the making.)

Bloody Mary, aka Mary I, who died 452 years ago today got her soubriquet from the Marian Persecutions where she had 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake after restoring England to Roman Catholicism. Her dad, Henry VIII, had created the Church of England to allow a tricky divorce and after death if he didn’t actually explode in his coffin (that was William the Conqueror), his coffin did at least spring a leak of “corrupted matter of a bloody colour” big enough to provide a tasty treat for some dogs who stopped by at Syon House (fulfilling a Franciscan’s prophesy that dogs would lick his blood as they had done to Ahab).

Charles I was beheaded but his head was sewn back on afterwards, Henry I ate a surfeit of lampreys, which proved fatal. Various rumours of syphilis, leprosy and madness have been muttered about royals though the ages, while whispers about freakishly deformed relatives kept hidden from sight endure. Ghosts of monarchs are far more accessible to the public than the living ones are if the hauntings of The Tower of London, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle can be believed.

The most famous of these stories revolves around Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother. No one knows for sure whether there was any historical basis for the Monster of Glamis but considering two of the Queen Mum’s Bowes-Lyons nieces were declared dead and secretly committed to a psychiatric hospital because of mental retardation, it doesn’t seem too farfetched.

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