1492. In Columbus' Time by Timothy Foote

By Timothy Foote

Christopher Columbus traveled to the recent global in a golden age of exploration and discovery. Little did he comprehend that his exploits could even be the dawning of Western civilization. right here, during this short-form publication via award-winning journalist Timothy Foote, is the tale of these days of exploration and experience, advised in the course of the distinct standpoint of Columbus' existence.

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Such leniency did not always please the crowd. Records show spectators sometimes would buy a thief who was to be quickly executed and arrange to see him being drawn and quartered instead. Flaying and burial alive, head down, also were used. Cruelty permeated many pastimes. Bear baiting, dog fighting, and the worrying of badgers were common. In the Low Countries, crowds at fairs enjoyed watching blind men with clubs being penned up in a small enclosure and coerced into trying to beat each other’s brains out.

To cut down sources of contagion when plague threatened, many cities banned the resale of old clothes (which were burned instead). Communal public baths were banned, too. Florence had a city ordinance forbidding citizens to throw dead cats into the river Arno. But there, as elsewhere, people were buried in city churchyards that leached into nearby streams. In some places, garbage was burned or collected to be tossed over the city walls. ) In Italian cities, piazzas were kept clean, but in the backstreets, refuse simply lay around to be churned to a kind of black muck after rains.

Among those titles, though, was a bestseller called The Hammer of Witches. Written by a pair of Dominican scholars and made public in 1486, with help from a papal bull against the heresy of witchcraft, it helped set off two centuries of torturing, hanging, burning, and drowning. The book describes how witches consort with the devil and how they can be identified. It provided the formula for preparing the magic salve they rubbed on themselves so they could fly: First, feed stolen, consecrated wafers to toads; then burn the toads and mix with powder from the bones of hanged men and the blood of newborn infants.

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