On this day:
Jean-Baptiste Denys (1643 – 3 October 1704) was a French physician notable for having performed the first fully documented human blood transfusion, a xenotransfusion. He studied in Montpellier and was the personal physician to King Louis XIV.
Attempts to transfuse blood
Denys administered the first fully documented human blood transfusion on June 15, 1667. He transfused about twelve ounces of sheep blood into a 15-year-old boy, who had been bled with leeches 20 times. The boy survived the transfusion. Denys performed another transfusion into a labourer, who also survived. Both instances were likely due to the small amount of blood that was actually transfused into these people, which allowed them to withstand the allergic reaction. Denys’ third patient to undergo a blood transfusion was Swedish Baron Gustaf Bonde. He received two transfusions, and died after the second. In the winter of 1667, Denys administered transfusions of calf’s blood to Antoine Mauroy, a madman. Mauroy died during the third transfusion. Much controversy surrounded his death. Mauroy’s wife asserted Denys was responsible for her husband’s death, and Denys was charged with murder. He was acquitted, and Mauroy’s wife was accused of causing his death. After the trial, Denys quit the practice of medicine. It was later determined that Mauroy actually died from arsenic poisoning. Denys’ experiments with animal blood provoked a heated controversy in France, and in 1670 the procedure was banned. It wasn’t until after Karl Landsteiner’s discovery of the four blood groups in 1902 that blood transfusions became safe and reliable.
Blood transfusion is generally the process of receiving blood or blood products into one’s circulation intravenously. Transfusions are used for various medical conditions to replace lost components of the blood. Early transfusions used whole blood, but modern medical practice commonly uses only components of the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, clotting factors, and platelets.
Born on this day:
1330 – Edward, the Black Prince of England (d. 1376)
Edward of Woodstock KG (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376), called the Black Prince, was the eldest son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, and the father of King Richard II of England. He was the first Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362–72).
He was called “Edward of Woodstock” in his early life, after his birthplace, and since the 16th century has been popularly known as the Black Prince. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular in England during his lifetime. In 1348 he was made a Founding Knight of the Garter.
Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III.
Richard Barber comments that Edward “has attracted relatively little attention from serious historians, but figures largely in popular history.”
Edward was born on 15 June 1330 at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. He was created Earl of Chester on 18 May 1333, Duke of Cornwall on 17 March 1337 (the first creation of an English duke) and finally invested as Prince of Wales on 12 May 1343 when he was almost 13 years old. In England, Edward served as a symbolic regent for periods in 1339, 1340, and 1342 while Edward III was on campaign. He was expected to attend all council meetings, and he performed the negotiations with the papacy about the war in 1337. He also served as High Sheriff of Cornwall from 1340–1341, 1343, 1358 and 1360–1374.
Edward had been raised with his cousin Joan, “The Fair Maid of Kent”. Edward gained permission for the marriage from Pope Innocent VI and absolution for marriage to a blood-relative (as had Edward III when marrying Philippa of Hainault, his second cousin) and married Joan on 10 October 1361 at Windsor Castle. The marriage caused some controversy, mainly because of Joan’s chequered marital history and the fact that marriage to an Englishwoman wasted an opportunity to form an alliance with a foreign power.
When in England, Edward’s chief residence was at Wallingford Castle in Berkshire (since 1974 in Oxfordshire), or at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire.
He served as the king’s representative in Aquitaine, where he and Joan kept a court which was considered among the most fashionable of the time. It was the resort of exiled kings such as James IV of Majorca and Peter of Castile.
Peter of Castile, thrust from his throne by his illegitimate brother Henry of Trastámara, offered Edward the lordship of Biscay in 1367, in return for the Black Prince’s aid in recovering his throne. Edward was successful in the Battle of Nájera (April 3), in which he soundly defeated the combined French and Castilian forces led by Bertrand du Guesclin. However Peter did not pay fully and refused to yield Biscay, alleging lack of consent of its states. Edward retreated to Guienne by July.
The Black Prince returned to England in January 1371 and died on 8 June 1376 (a week before his 46th birthday), after a long-lasting illness that was probably amoebic dysentery contracted ten years earlier while campaigning in Spain.
Edward and chivalry
Edward lived in a century of decline for the knightly ideal of chivalry. On one hand, after capturing John the Good, king of France, and Philip the Bold, his youngest son, at the Battle of Poitiers, he treated them with great respect — at one point he gave John permission to return home, and reportedly prayed with John at Canterbury Cathedral. Notably, he also allowed a day for preparations before the Battle of Poitiers so that the two sides could discuss the coming battle with one another, and so that the Cardinal Périgord could plead for peace. However, some argue “he may have been playing for time to complete preparation of his archers’ positions.”
On the other hand, his chivalric tendencies were overridden by expediency on many occasions. The Black Prince’s repeated use of the chevauchée strategy (burning and pillaging towns and farms) was not in keeping with contemporary notions of chivalry, but it was quite effective in accomplishing the goals of his campaigns and weakening the unity and economy of France.
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