Prince Rupert (and his drops)

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I first came across Prince Rupert’s Drops in this YouTube video where SmarterEveryDay’s Destin shot one–a teardrop shaped glass bead–with a bullet. Without explicitly spoiling anything, these drops are peculiar. Their namesake however, might be even more interesting. 

Prince Rupert of the Rhine” was a German royal who lived a truly improbable life. As the article describes he became “a noted German soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist”–all in the mid 1600s, a time of extreme turmoil in Europe on every front.  He would go on to do a number of amazing things in all those arenas. Before becoming a scientist (just a founding member of the Royal Society of London) and discovering his drops, At the ripe ol’ age of 14,  Rupert fought fiercely in a battle in the Thirty Years’ War where he managed to be one of few on his side that survived. He was captured and imprisoned for something like five years. In that time, he charmed his captor, secured free run of the place where he was held, romanced the man’s daughter, converted religions, and swore fealty to a new king. It was from this platform that he became a general in the English Civil War where he accomplished his most famous historical feats.  And it is part of this eventful period in his eventful life that is covered by the following astonishingly wonderful excerpt:

Rupert was accordingly a prominent figure in Parliamentary propaganda. He faced numerous accusations of witchcraft, either personally or by proxy through his pet dog, Boye. Boye, a large white hunting poodle, accompanied Rupert everywhere from 1642 up until the dog’s death at Marston Moor and was widely suspected of being a witch’s familiar. There were numerous accounts of Boye’s abilities; some suggested that he was the Devil in disguise, come to help Rupert. Pro-Royalist publications ultimately produced parodies of these, including one which listed Rupert’s dog as being a “Lapland Lady” transformed into a white dog; Boye was able, apparently, to find hidden treasure, possessed invulnerability to attack, could catch bullets fired at Rupert in his mouth, and could prophesy as well as the 16th century soothsayer, Mother Shipton. Similar stories from the period relate to Rupert’s pet monkey. Like his dog, the monkey was featured in newsprint of the day and was also reputed to have shape shifting powers, being able to disguise itself behind enemy lines.

I cannot wait for the Marvel movie on this…

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