Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Question from Lesley M - Origins of court dwarves

Can anybody tell me if court dwarves were born, or 'produced'. I seem to recall hearing at a lecture that there used to be a village in Sussex or Suffolk that was the centre of 'production'! I think it may have been done using herbs eg knot grass or daisy.


shtove said...

I have no idea about dwarfs, but doubt they can be produced. Nice idea, though.

Interesting life of an English dwarf:

Foose said...

I found a tantalizing snippet on Google Books, identifying Ebernoe village in Sussex:

"In about the 15th century, fortunes were made by exporting Ebernoe dwarfs to the courts of Spain and Russia. Unwanted children were taken from all around and dwarfed by the use of the juice of knotgrass, the dwarf elder and the daisy ..." (David Atkins, The Cuckoo in June)

Alas, I couldn't find any full extracts or any supporting information.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence that herbal treatment can cause dwarfism. However, the most common form of dwarfism is hereditary and dominant. If a dwarf and a person of normal stature have a child, chances are 50/50 that the child will be a dwarf. If a male and a female dwarf have children, The children will, on the average, be like this. One in four will be of normal stature (and not carry genes for dwarfism), two in four will be dwarfs (and carry one gene for dwarfism), and the fourth child will have two genes for dwarfism, and not survive.

So perhaps the village of Ebernoe had a family line with frequent dwarfs, and a tradition of placing these children as royal entertainers.

Anonymous said...

At this years Ebernoe Horn Fare, 25th July Lord Egremont, during his speech mentioned the villages Dwarf Breeding history.

Anonymous said...

If there are plant biologists who can confirm or refute this ... I was once told that the reason daisies spread so well is because they secrete an enzyme that stunts the growth of surrounding plants ... so would it be possible that the extracts of the plants mentioned above could stunt the growth of a child and produce a faux dwarf ... it sounds a bit gruesome but then medieval times were a bit brutal.