April 15th Holidays and Observances

Insulin Becomes Available for Diabetics, 1923

We tend to take it for granted that diabetes can be treated, but such was not always the case. Diabetes was nearly always a death sentence before the 1920’s, and children were kept in large wards, visited by their grieving families.

It was near the end of the 19th century before anyone suspected that substances created in the pancreas had anything to do with digestion, and well into the 20th century before the hormone insulin was even isolated.

Doctor Frederick Banting and his lab assistant, Charles Best, were the first to give insulin injections to diabetic patients. The first insulin injection was given on January 11, 1922. The patient was a 14-year-old boy who was dying at the Toronto General Hospital. The first American patient was the daughter of the Governor of New York. When the first large-scale injections were given, Banting and Best went through the hospital wards, injecting one child after another. Before they were finished giving the injections, the earliest patients had already begun to awaken from their comas.

Soon after the first trials, Eli Lilly and Company got involved, and were successful in producing large batches of insulin. On April 15, 1923, insulin was available for sale.

Madame de Pompadour’s Death, 1764

Being Chief Mistress to the King of France was serious business in the 18th century. The position had a title, maitresse-en-titre, and came with its own apartments, significant expense accounts, and often a title.

One of the most famous, and most successful, of the mistresses of Louis XV was Madame de Pompadour. She was born Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, and was intelligent, beautiful, and well-educated. She was taught to sing, dance, play the clavichord, paint, recite, and all the other skills that made a young woman a pleasure to be around. At the age of 19 she was married, and quickly produced two children. She and her husband were happy enough, and Jeanne quickly rose in society, conducting her own salons, inviting many of the intellectuals of the day.

King Louis met her at a masked ball, and was enchanted. However, in order to be presented at court, she needed to have a title, so the king provided her with one, purchasing an estate and making her the Marquise de Pompadour.

As the King’s new mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour was pleasant and witty, refined and modest. She was quite popular in court, and recognized as a significant power behind the throne. She maintained a pleasant relationship with the Queen (as Louis’s previous mistresses had not), which created a more pleasant atmosphere all around.

The Marquise had two miscarriages, in 1746 and 1749, and after that she was no longer to serve the King’s needs in the bedroom. She arranged for other, lesser mistresses to accommodate him, and maintained her position and power by providing entertainments, companionship, and friendship to the King. She was the King’s maitresse-en-titre until her death from tuberculosis at the age of 42.

Sources: Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2011 Edition: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months, Editors of Chase’s Calendar of Events; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_15th; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_de_Pompadour;