[MR] BBC: Princess Who Thought She Swallowed a Glass Piano

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Mon May 20 05:04:59 PDT 2019

Noble Friends,

That subject line got your attention didn't it? Today the BBC is offering a
story about a play on the life of Princess Alexandra of Bavaria. She truly
believed that she had swallowed a piano made of glass, and that the
undigestible instrument could shatter inside her at any moment. Given that
she lived in the 19th century, you may ask how her story is relevant to our
SCA interests? Well, your can read the story at
to find out why, or just continue with this post.

During the middle ages the so-called "glass delusion" was a fashionable
mental illness, and is well-documented. One notable account from 1569 is
the story of a man who thought he was a glass flask. He was cured by a most
unusual method--his house was set on fire, with the sufferer trapped
inside. After he banged on the door in terror, he was released. It was then
pointed out to him that if he was really so fragile, he couldn't have
survived banging on the door without breaking. This apparently cured the
sufferer, though how he coped without a home and possessions isn't exactly

The most famous "glass delusion" was just one among various mental
illnesses that struck the King of France, Charles VI (aka "Charles the
Mad"). It wasn't the "glass delusion" that got him first though. He went
berserk in 1392 while leading an army to chastise the Duke of Brittany for
sheltering an assassin who had tried to off one of Charles' advisors. While
on the march, the King drew his sword and started wasting his own knights
and servants. One knight and several men-at-arms were killed before the
King was subdued. The "glass delusion" followed this incident as the king
passed in and out of madness for the rest of his life. Charles had iron
rods sewn inside his clothing to prevent accidental breakage. You can read
more about Charles and his madness at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_VI_of_France .

More about the "glass delusion" is found at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_delusion .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆

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