On this day:
1600 – The Linköping Bloodbath takes place on Maundy Thursday in Linköping, Sweden.
The Linköping Bloodbath (Swedish: Linköpings blodbad) on Maundy Thursday 20 March 1600 was the public execution by beheading of five Swedish nobles in the aftermath of the Battle of Stångebro (September 1598) and the de facto deposition of the Polish and Swedish King Sigismund III Vasa as king of Sweden. The five were advisors to Catholic Sigismund and/or political opponents of the latter’s uncle and adversary, the Swedish regent Duke Charles.
Detention, trial and execution
King Sigismund had earlier been crowned the rightful king of Sweden after giving assurances that he would not act to aid the Catholic cause in Sweden during the mounting religious turmoil of the counter-reformation in the late 16th century. He violated the agreement, setting off civil war in Sweden. After trying to manage the Swedish situation from afar, Sigismund invaded with a mercenary army after receiving permission from the Polish legislature, and initially was successful. The turning point of his Swedish campaign was the Battle of Stångebro on 25 September 1598, also known as the Battle of Linköping, where Sigismund became trapped in an unfavourable position and had to agree to a truce with Charles. One of Charles’ conditions for the truce was the handing over of Swedish privy counsellors from Sigismund’s camp. Sigismund complied.
Most prominent among these Swedish senators was the Chancellor of Sweden, Erik Sparre. While Charles did not detain Sigismund as well, he forced him to agree to the Treaty of Linköping and to agree that their dispute would be settled by a future Riksdag of the Estates in Stockholm. Sigismund retreated to the port of Kalmar, but instead of sailing to Stockholm, he took his sister Anna, left for Danzig in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and never returned to Sweden again. Charles then crushed the remaining military opposition from forces loyal to Sigismund and those nobles who had previously taken control of Finland in the Club War. During these campaigns, some nobles were tried, executed or detained. Executions, including the so-called Åbo Bloodbath, were carried out through decapitation or impalement, Charles himself executed a son of his adversary Clas Fleming.
When in March 1600 a riksdag met in Linköping, Charles, who was meanwhile created omnipotent ruler of Sweden and had repeatedly been offered the Swedish crown, set up a court to try his remaining prisoners. The court, headed by Axel Leijonhufvud and Erik Brahe, consisted of 155 members, with Charles himself being the prosecutor. Tried were six nobles captured in Stångebro and two Finnish nobles captured later, including Arvid Stålarm, who in 1598 had intended to aid Sigismund in Stångebro, but aborted the action when his army had reached Stockholm from Finland only after Sigismund had accepted the beforementioned truce. The other Finnish noble, Axel Kurck, was sentenced to death along with Stålarm in Finland already, but the verdict had been suspended to again try them in Linköping. These eight noblemen were eventually sentenced to death, but three of them were pardoned.
The noblemen publicly executed on the Linköping market square on 20 March 1600 were:
Erik Sparre — the Chancellor of Sweden and a senator in the Riksens ständer
Ture Nilsson Bielke — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Gustaf Banér — a senator in the Riksens ständer and father of Gustavus II Adolphus the Great’s Swedish Field Marshal Johan Banér
Sten Banér — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Bengt Falck — a senator in the Riksens ständer
Sigismund, who was allowed to return to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, did not relinquish his desire to regain the throne of Sweden. This attitude led to a series of Polish–Swedish wars, that culminated during the reign of his son, John II Casimir of Poland, with the giant Swedish invasion of Poland known as the Deluge, ending the golden age of the Commonwealth. On 24 July 1599, the Riksens ständer (Riksdag) in Stockholm officially dethroned Sigismund and named Charles IX Vasa as regent, and the Polish–Swedish union was dissolved after barely seven years of existence. Subsequently, Charles IX of Sweden was named by the Riksens ständer as the new King of Sweden in 1604, and the crown would pass to Gustavus the Great, who established his early reputation as an outstanding military leader in campaigns during the early years of the Polish–Swedish wars. Indirectly, the religious conflict in Sweden led to the Swedish Empire as Gustavus and his generals became militant in the cause of Protestants in the Holy Roman Empire.
Born on this day:
1879 – Maud Menten, Canadian physician and biochemist (d. 1960)
Maud Leonora Menten (March 20, 1879 – July 26, 1960) was a Canadian physician-scientist who made significant contributions to enzyme kinetics and histochemistry. Her name is associated with the famous Michaelis–Menten equation in biochemistry.
Maud Menten was born in Port Lambton, Ontario and studied medicine at the University of Toronto (B.A. 1904, M.B. 1907, M.D. 1911). She was among the first women in Canada to earn a medical doctorate. She completed her thesis work at University of Chicago. At that time women were not allowed to do research in Canada, so she decided to do research in other countries such as the United States and Germany.
In 1912 she moved to Berlin where she worked with Leonor Michaelis and co-authored their paper in Biochemische Zeitschrift which showed that the rate of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction is proportional to the amount of the enzyme-substrate complex. This relationship between reaction rate and enzyme–substrate concentration is known as the Michaelis–Menten equation. After studying with Michaelis in Germany she entered graduate school at the University of Chicago where she obtained her PhD in 1916. Her dissertation was titled “The Alkalinity of the Blood in Malignancy and Other Pathological Conditions; Together with Observations on the Relation of the Alkalinity of the Blood to Barometric Pressure”. Menten worked at the University of Pittsburgh (1923–1950), becoming an assistant and then associate Professor in the School of Medicine and head of pathology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Her final promotion to full Professor, in 1948, was at the age of 69 in the last years of her career. Her final academic post was as a research fellow at the British Columbia Medical Research Institute (1951–1953).
Little is known about her parents and childhood other than that the Menten family moved to Harrison Mills, where Maud’s mother worked as a postmistress. After completing secondary school, Menten attended the University of Toronto where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1904 and a master’s degree in physiology in 1907. While earning her graduate degree, she worked as a demonstrator in the university’s physiology lab.
A talented student, Menten was appointed a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City in 1907. There, she studied the effect of radium bromide on cancerous tumors in rats. Menten and two other scientists published the results of their experiment, producing the institute’s first monograph. After a year at the Institute, Menten worked as an intern at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. She returned to Canada and began studies at the University of Toronto a year later. In 1911 she became one of the first Canadian women to receive a doctor of medicine degree.
Her most famous work was on enzyme kinetics together with Michaelis, based on earlier findings of Victor Henri. This resulted in the Michaelis–Menten equations. Menten also invented the azo-dye coupling reaction for alkaline phosphatase, which is still used in histochemistry. She characterised bacterial toxins from B. paratyphosus, Streptococcus scarlatina and Salmonella ssp. that were used in a successful immunisation program against scarlet fever in Pittsburgh in the 1930s – 1940s. She also conducted the first electrophoretic separation of blood haemoglobin proteins in 1944. She worked on the properties of hemoglobin, regulation of blood sugar level, and kidney function. She wrote or co-wrote about 100 research papers.
After her retirement from the University of Pittsburgh in 1950, she returned to Canada where she continued to do cancer research at the British Columbia Medical Research Institute. Poor health forced Menten’s retirement in 1955, and she died July 20, 1960, at the age of 81, in Leamington, Ontario.
Skloot portrays Menten as a petite dynamo of a woman who wore “Paris hats, blue dresses with stained-glass hues, and Buster Brown shoes.” She drove a Model T Ford through the University of Pittsburgh area for some 32 years and enjoyed many adventurous and artistic hobbies. She played the clarinet, painted paintings worthy of art exhibitions, climbed mountains, went on an Arctic expedition, and enjoyed astronomy. She also mastered several languages, including Russian, French, German, Italian, and at least one Native-American language. Although Menten did most of her research in the United States, she retained her Canadian citizenship throughout her life.
Throughout her career Menten was affiliated with many scientific societies.
At Menten’s death, colleagues Aaron H. Stock and Anna-Mary Carpenter honored the Canadian biochemist in an obituary in Nature: “Menten was untiring in her efforts on behalf of sick children. She was an inspiring teacher who stimulated medical students, resident physicians and research associates to their best efforts. She will long be remembered by her associates for her keen mind, for a certain dignity of manner, for unobtrusive modesty, for her wit, and above all for her enthusiasm for research.” 
In 1998 she was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. She was also honored at the University of Toronto with a plaque and at the University of Pittsburgh with memorial lectures and a named chair. Port Lambton, Canada, where Menten was born, installed a commemorative bronze plaque about her in 2015.
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