Even royalty got in on the action; Charles II of England, an alchemy enthusiast, used to peddle a popular cure-all medicine called "King's Pills," a novel mixture of opium and the powdered skull of a violently deceased man.
Frighteningly, this would not be a huge deal if you were equipped with the moral and intellectual values of the era. After all, the medical elite once used to think corpse medicine was legitimately the tits, sometimes literally. They used that shit like ibuprofen. But even taking into account the natural bell curve of stupid in relation to decreasing-year numbers, you have to admit that's pretty fucked up. It's impossible to imagine why one person, let alone an entire society, would agree that the human-ingredients version of hot dogs would make good medicine.
Water Used To Be A Video Game-Style Death Sentence
Remember all those video games where the otherwise invincible hero is so susceptible to water that the merest contact instantly murders him so hard a puddle stalks his family to the seventh generation and shanks them in a dark alley as they're hobbling home from the pub? That's not video game designers being dicks; it's them giving in to ancestral memory.
The Tudor era was suffering from a strange dilemma: Cities were getting bigger and luxuries like water pipes were becoming a thing, which hitched up the water consumption of those without pipes as well, because trends, man. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people still had to fetch their water from rivers, ponds, and whatnot, which was bad fucking news. Getting water from potentially perilous sources daily eventually became routine, and you stopped paying attention to every step, which is the exact opposite of how you should behave near water when you almost certainly can't swim for shit and are wearing extremely heavy woolen clothing. As a result, an estimated 40 percent of all premature deaths in Tudor England were due to drowning (as opposed to the 2 percent or so today).
And it wasn't just that one area and period. During the settling of New Zealand, so many settlers drowned that it was commonly known as The New Zealand Death. You can find examples all throughout history, which is just plain weird to me, because you'd think that swimming would be one of the most basic survival skills ... in an era where survival was your daily short-term goal.
But hey, at least they weren't drinking poop.
Pauli is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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For more from Pauli, check out 5 Creepy Murder Mysteries From History We'll Never Solve and 5 Real Advanced Weapons Clearly Designed By A Toddler.