Animals

Fleas Flee the Queen’s Fierce Phobia

We all have our pet peeves. Even the most reasonable person you know is bugged by some little thing. Sometimes the little things that bug us are bugs.

Queen Christina of Sweden

For most of us, we simply have to find a way to cope with life’s little annoyances. When you are a monarch, however, you can do more than cope.

Sweden’s Queen Christina ruled from 1632 to 1654. Like everyone else, there were little things that bugged her. The little things were fleas.

In an era long before commercial insecticides, Christina looked for the best way to rid her kingdom of the pesky critters. Seeing the effectiveness of advanced weaponry in the military, she thought the same principle should apply in her war against fleas.

She used her royal influence to commission a weapon that would allow her to unleash her fury upon the insects that had become a royal pain. The result was a tiny gun — a crossbow, actually — that allowed the queen to shoot at any fleas who invaded her bedchambers.

History does not record the number of fleas who lost their lives through Christina’s protracted war against the species. The queen abdicated in 1654 and died 35 years later.

Although Christina is gone, fleas can still be found in Sweden.

Perhaps a slightly larger gun would have made a difference.


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