31.3.09

Waterloo teeth

This is a gruesome story. The genesis of this article started many years ago with my friend Alan Griffiths, a fellow historian, and a fabulous artist. Alan is a true dyed in the wool Englishman who hails from Staffordshire. We have had many long hours of beer drinking and discussing history especially the Napoleonic War. At the time I was a Bonapartist, (now I am a recovering Bonapartist.) During one of our discussions I remarked about the numbers of bodies left on the field after the Battle of Waterloo. Truly this time in the history of Europe was terrible because what had happened at Waterloo was just the final act in the European conflict known as the Napoleonic Wars. He related to me that after the battle of Waterloo that field in Belgium was literally covered in thousands of dead and in some cases dying men and horses. It is recorded that the population around the area went out, and gave the coup-de-grace to many a soldier from both sides as they robbed the bodies of valuables.

This was not the last indignity he told me that was performed on the men. Dentistry was in its first stages of development. Scavengers removed the teeth of the soldiers in order to form false teeth. It was obvious that the dead would not be using them, so removing them caused little if any amount of distress to the grave robbers.

All over England and Europe the Waterloo teeth were sought out for those whose dental hygiene was absent.

A web page concerned with this may be found here...

Dieu le Roy,
Brantigny

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