[LMB] OT: Historical observations

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 12 12:40:51 BST 2017


I just finished 'Royal Renegades' by Linda Porter, it follows the children of
Charles I. The writing is a little bumbling at times, but it's still a fascinating
look at people who usually rate only a sentence or two in  books about all
the important events. And it's a period of English history that I hadn't looked

at very closely, so it was fascinating to see what happened to them all.

One thing that I've noticed before is the heartbreakingly high death rate. If
you look at most European royal families from medieval times on up, either
there's no children, or a long list of miscarriages, still births, and deaths within
the first few years. Just looking at the Stuarts, hardly any of them made old
bones. Even the ones who got past those early years tended to fall off the
perch in their twenties. I know that in the later centuries many royals were
inbred to an astonishing degree, but even those who married out seemed to
struggle to get a few offspring to adulthood.

And that's the royals, living well, with better food and conditions than most
of the peasants. How did anyone survive? The usual figure is that 50% of
children made it past five, but the numbers seem to be far worse than that.

My dad did a lot of family (and other) history research, going back for
centuries, and covering people living in some pretty isolated and tough
conditions. And they had a far better breeding rate, despite everything.
Maybe it's just that peasants are tougher than the feeble aristos?

Gwynne


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