Thursday 12 December 2013

MAN GIVES BIRTH TO CHILD. Tabloid Stories, c. 1600

You thought tabloids were a modern invention? Read on.
The Fugger Newsletter of 26 May 1601 offers this racy item:

After seven years of marriage, Daniel Burghammer confessed to his wife that he was half man and half woman. Apparently this detail had escaped her notice  -- until he gave birth to a girl. OMG! How did this happen?  He slept only once with a Spaniard and became pregnant therefrom. A notary examined him and confirmed that he had the natural organs of a man for passing water and that he was able to suckle the child with his right breast but not on the left side, where he is a man. The child was baptized Elizabeth. The christening was attended by more than five hundred people, including soldiers from Burghammer’s regiment, as well as drummers, pipers and three trumpeters. Sad to say, the couple divorced soon afterwards.

Another item of interest to 16th century tabloid readers: A child was born covered with cat’s hair! It began to talk eight days after birth and to walk after a month. It is said that this is the Child of Perdition, the Antichrist.  A great deal more was said about the child, but our informant omitted it because it did not sound very credible (Newsletter, 14 April 1592).

For something more credible, let’s consider The Miracle of Weimar (Newsletter, 20 January 1589). A citizen of that town had a collection of antlers. In 1588 he was given a stag’s antlers with six points and stored it in the attic. A year later, he finally got around to mounting it. When he drilled a hole into the bone, it began to bleed, and neither water nor soda could remove the stains. God knows what this portends!

I say it portended the birth of the NRA.
Or else it foreshadowed the birth of The National Enquirer.

And now let’s hear it for The Wild Irish (Newsletter, 15 Sept. 1586). The Earl of Leicester had a troop of 1500 Irish. They were almost all naked. Some of them walked on stilts through castle moats and climbed walls. Handy for conquering fortresses, no?

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