When the Victorian era began in 1837, the medical community was still in relative danger. Hospitals can hasten your illness as much as they cure you, surgeries are done without reliable medicines to numb pain (let alone stop infections), and even everyday medicines are toxic. was full of addictive ingredients. But by 1901, everything had changed.
In the latest issue of All About History, Dr. Agnes Arnold-Forster explains how the Victorian world of surgery, health care and medicine evolved from the early medical “deconstruction art” to something closer to modern science. provides insight into what Familiar today.
And this incredible journey is revealed in issue 128.
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Also, in issue 128, All About History, explore some of the great rebel philosophers of ancient Greece, delve into the bizarre history of micronations, and successfully fool the Nazis during World War II. I will reveal the story of the forger who did it.
Related: Read the free version of All About History
In issue 128, learn about rock ‘n’ roll history, find out why Georgia (one of Europe) still loves Tamer the Great, and learn the breakdown of the Battle of Trenton, including Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River. I can. It’s all there in All About History 128.
Early in Queen Victoria’s reign, a surgeon called Dr. Robert Liston worked in a London hospital. He had quite the reputation. In one of his many notorious cases, he amputated a patient’s leg. His paring knife had accidentally removed his assistant’s finger. The patient died of infection, as did the ill-fated assistant, but someone watching the operation died of shock after Liston’s knife slit the poor man’s coat tail. This is the only operation in the history of surgery with a mortality rate of 300% for him.
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The problem with this story is that it’s probably not true. The only evidence that it happened comes from a book called “The Great Medical Disaster” written more than a century later in 1983 by physician and author Richard Gordon (1921-2017). There are no primary sources confirming that Liston’s apocryphal manipulation ever took place. In fact, Gordon was more a fan of fiction than fact. He is best known for his series of novels Doctor in the House, which satirized the medical world in the 1950s and his 1960s.
Despite this lack of evidence, stories of Liston’s 300% mortality rate are everywhere: medical journals, history books, and every biography of a man ever written. It doesn’t just shape your reputation. This invention contributes to the popular notion that Victorian medicine, especially surgery, was cruel, dramatic and gory, and that nineteenth-century physicians were emotionally detached and even barbaric. But the real story is much more complicated and much more interesting.
read more all about history 128 (opens in new tab).
Tamar the Great
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, Georgia experienced a golden age. It was a time when Georgia’s power was at its height and art and culture flourished. As the state’s territories expanded, a single woman became head of state. Queen Tamar (c.1160 — c.1213) was the most prominent monarch of the period as she led the transformation of Georgia at the peak of her power and influence. This much-loved queen has remained a symbol of Georgian pride for centuries after her death.
Especially as a medieval woman, Tamar’s path to the throne was unusual. Her exact date of birth is unknown, but historians believe she was born between her 1160 and her 1165. A member of the prestigious Bagrationi dynasty, George faced opposition to his leadership from factions that claimed that his nephew was the rightful ruler of Georgia. After successfully suppressing the revolutionary army, George decided that his rule and succession needed to be as secure as possible, especially since he had no son to take the throne. Tamar is the eldest of her daughters and he decides to proclaim her as her successor.
Learn more about King Tamar all about history 128 (opens in new tab).
Counterfeiters who tricked the Nazis
But it was his relationship with another Nazi leader, the notorious art-plunderer Hermann Göring, that grabbed the public’s attention. A few years ago, the German Federal Marshal had purchased a painting believed to be his Vermeer work by the famous 17th-century artist Johannes. Except he didn’t. What Goering bought was a “real” van Meegeren counterfeit, a highly satisfying scam that instantly elevated its maker’s status from traitor to cunning antihero. Most importantly, it rocked the art world out of the harsh realities of fakeness.
Read more about Han van Meegeren all about history 128 (opens in new tab).