Today In Fact, 04 August

Mad dog day. Sithney was a legendary holy man in Cornwall. Upon his death, God asked Sithney to be the patron saint of girls seeking husbands, but Sithney said he would rather be the patron saint of mad dogs and get some rest. Consequently he is invoked for help against rabies and mad dogs and for healing of mad dogs. It is a good thing that the British Isles is rabies free, so Sithney can get get the rest he desired.

Another kind of mad dog altogether died today doing battle against the Moors in 1578. Thomas Stukly was born around 1520 near Sithney’s home in the West country and was probably the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII, a renowned philanderer and letch.

Stukly’s life was one of adventure, war and prolific expenditures. On many occasions he found himself in prison for non payment of debts but always somehow found a way to wriggle out of the debtors’ prison. He styled himself the archduke of Ireland and was a famous Catholic recusant during his father’s and Elizabeth’s reigns. He fought with the French and Spanish, was a double agent for both the English and French crowns and famously tried to invade Ireland with a fleet of seven leaky ships.

His first wife was wealthy and this gave him some release from his debts, but his prolific spending exhausted even his wife’s fortune. He outlived her and married again into another fortune but proceeded to spend that as well.

Stukly had a brief career as a pirate around the Florida coast paid for by Queen Elizabeth. After repeated remonstrances on the part of the offended powers (France and Spain), Elizabeth disavowed Stukley and sent a naval force under the command of Sir Peter Carew to arrest him. One of his ships was taken in Cork haven, and Stukley surrendered, but he was acquitted once again.

Eventually he met his end fighting the Moors of Morocco while in command of a troops of German and Portugese mercenaries. A cannonball blew his legs off and he died of his wounds.

A mad dog indeed. Saint Sithney must have breathed a sigh of relief.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (