This past Monday, October 29, marked the anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1618. Purely by coincidence, the history class that I teach was studying that period of time and specifically Sir Walter. A couple of things we found extremely interesting about the chap.
First of all, I love the following quote. He was sentenced to death by beheading and he actually examined the very ax that would carry out his sentence. As he looked it over, he remarked, "This is sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries."
To appreciate the next tidbit you need to realize that the class is almost equally made up of boys and girls. As boys and girls are prone to be at the ages of 8 to 13, they have some very different interest when it comes to history and life. Obviously the girls enjoy the historical characters whose lives are surrounded with great love and passion, while the boys thrive on stories of death, conquests, and plagues. Well we are in luck, for Sir Walt (we are on nickname basis by this point) was a true Renaissance Man who wrote poetry, fought battles, loved passionately, and died bravely which of course pleased everyone in the class. As we finished the study on Sir Walt, ending with his death, we concluded with one last gruesome detail for the boys. History records for us that upon his untimely head and body separation, that his body was buried in Westminster and his head was embalmed and given to . . . his wife! She kept the head of her dearly departed in a velvet bag for some time until she could no longer tolerate the stench and she had it reunited with the rest of him. At this point in the class, my 10 year old son, Caleb, raises his hand and says, "I'm guessing she never remarried. Seeing as how not many guys want to date someone who carries their dead husband's head in a bag." How very true.