Posted by: internationalroutier | March 9, 2010

Spike’s believe it or get *@#$!

A favourite feature of the printed International Routier was always “Spike’s believe it or get *@#$!”. At last, we can now enjoy the same (albeit titularly censored to allow maximum workplace viewing suitability) hilarity and oddments of the 17thC world here on IR-the Blog. Thank you Spike!

Ties that Bind

Croatians are very proud of inventing the necktie. During the early 17th century, soldiers began wearing narrow scarves, with high ranking officers wearing fine silk neckties and lower ranking soldiers wearing plainer, coarser material. They visited the court of King Louis XIII in the early 17th century and the chic French were so impressed by the neckwear, the fashion took off in a big way. King Charles II took the fashion to England, and it spread, symbolizing a man of elegance and culture.

The Original Hanging Judge

Benedict Carpzow was President of the Court of Sessions in Leipzig from 1620 to 1666. During his long term on the bench, he passed more than 30,000 death sentences, principally for theft and witchcraft. About 20,000 of these sentences were on women convicted of sorcery. He often attended the hangings in person, reputedly making sure that a dead dog and a rodent were interred with each of the culprits. A devout man, he was proud of the fact that he had read the Bible from cover to cover 50 times. He probably would have read the Bible a few more times and issued a lot more death sentences, but he died in 1666, reportedly of heartbreak, a few minutes after the expiration of his favorite pet dog.

Cold Comfort
In 1627 Arab corsairs from Algiers and Tunis raided Iceland, carrying some 300 people off into slavery in North Africa.

A Moth Trial

In 1540, a clothes-moth was brought to trial before a Spanish provincial court. It was charged with having destroyed a tapestry “of a priceless and luxurious weave”, valued at 10,000 maravedis. Eventually, it was found guilty and sentenced to have its throat cut. (!) Judge Corrector Portillero further decreed that the entire moth tribe be forever banished from the kingdom. The moths’ compliance is not recorded.



  1. Hence the name “cravat” for the natty neckware.

    The second one sounds pretty dodgy, though. Since esimates for witchcraft executions (ones based on actual historical evidence rather than on feminist-neo-pagan foundation myth) range from 40-60 thousand for the whole period, that would make Carpzow personally responsible for a third to a half of the lot! Are there any records extant, I wonder?

    I think on this occasion I’ll get #$%, thanks.

  2. Heheh.

    You’re welcome to, Andy.

  3. Yes, 30,000 does seem a little high. A Polish source says that, though fond of the concept of death sentence as a deterrent, he only personally gave it 200 times – pretty moderate for those days.
    I suspect that the truth is yet to be found.
    Since this man was a champion of due process of law, and use of evidence, and is regarded as the founder of modern German jurisprudence, perhaps this is an example of the big lie?
    I’d stand by my sources, but they keep moving. 🙂

    PS no feminist wimmen sources used – ever. I do have some standards!

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