|Emperor Charles VI by Martin van Meytens|
On 10th October 1740, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV had really had his fill of problems. Beset by political intrigue, territorial disputes and possible financial ruin, fate decided that what he really needed to top it all was a nasty cold. Out of sorts and with the worries of the world piling on his shoulders, Charles decided to take the advice of the old wives' tale of "feed a cold, starve a fever," and set out to assuage his hunger, hopefully, battle the illness.
Accordingly, he dined royally on a meal of mushrooms stewed in Catalan oil, one of his favourite dishes. Unfortunately, the seemingly innocent mushrooms were anything but and, quite by accident, the Holy Roman Emperor had filled his belly with deadly death cap mushrooms.
|The Death Scene of the Emperor Charles VI from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 40, 1870|
Within hours Charles fell into a terrible sickness and his doctors were summoned yet found themselves unable to diagnose or treat their patient. For ten long days the unfortunate man lingered on in digestive agony and, at a loss as to what else could be done, his advisers had him taken to rest in the Favourite Palace in Vienna. It was here that Charles IV died, leading to a succession crisis that would engulf his lands and House for almost a decade.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)