Monday, June 13, 2022

Question from Harriet - Self-poisoning

This may seem like a redundant question, but can I ask, what would've happened if a king or queen, or nobleman or noblewoman tried to poison themselves? I mean, nobody else put anything into the food or drink, except himself/herself; like arsenic, for instance. Whether their motivation was suicide, a weight loss method, a coping mechanism to try to gain more sympathy from others, or a disturbing experimentation just to simply see what poison does to ones body, cause they were curious, what would be done about it? How would the rest of society, and their courtiers react? Thanks, I would appreciate a reply from a fellow blogger.


Howard said...

Hello! I think I can answer your question, sorry I’m a little late. Lol!😂. I’ve been an avid historian for almost 35 years, in fact, I just recently helped someone else out, from a more recent post. I think that most of the nobility and/or the royals back then couldn’t have really gotten away with doing something like this in the first place, because such a thing as “personal privacy” really didn’t exist, then, or was even an expectation. It was common for the wealthy families to always have servants around them, in at least hearing distance, if not seeing distance, in fact, the concept of escaping into a private area to this would’ve been limited, maybe not impossible, just limited. (Btw, our concept of escaping into personal privacy/having/needing complete alone time didn’t even come into play, either, until the Victorian era)!
Also, if they did manage to poison themselves, they would, unfortunately, most likely, risk getting themselves sent to a mental institution. Mental health treatment was NOT the same then, as it is now, it was very cruel and sadistic, and the sufferers of mental illnesses were demonized.
That’s just what I think, however, but I’m still not perfect!🤣 It’s possible someone else could give you a better answer, but I hope this helps,some.

Just your average historian said...

Just came across this question, didn’t see it before, but now I will answer it. Things such as poisoning yourself with arsenic, or even swallowing/infecting yourself with tapeworms to lose weight was much more a Victorian thing, rather than a Tudor era thing. Certainly doesn’t mean some people still might not have actually thought of doing something like that, but since the risk of illness and disease were already more rampant, centuries longer ago, I highly doubt most people’s first priority (if at all) used to be weight loss/how to get skinnier! Lol! And even in Victorian times, the arsenic/tapeworm diet(s) were probably just a minority, not a majority of the population, yes, even the ladies. Another great example, in fact, was the queen, herself. She openly had a big/hearty appetite, and could even be very territorial when it came to her food, and everyone knew it! Lol! Victoria certainly didn’t starve/deprive herself at mealtimes, in fact she often ate each course very fast and if the other people eating with her couldn’t keep up, they still got their plates taken away, as soon as only she was done eating!

Anonymous said...

Actually, a lot of self poisoning happened by accident. For example, women who wore makeup like royalty (definately Elizabeth I), or some nobility or other women who could afford makeup, their makeup actually contained lead. There are historians who believe that Elizabeth I suffered from lead poisoning. I don't remember if someone could be poisoned by mercury, but mercury was used at this time to treat symphilis in men. Lord Darnely, Mary, Queen of Scots second husband, was treated with mercury for symphilis shortly before he was murdered at Kirk O Field. I think people back then rarely meant to poison themselves.