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what did john harington invent
why did john harington invent the toilet
The first modern flushable toilet was described in 1596 by Sir John Harington, an English courtier and the godson of Queen Elizabeth I. Harington’s device called for a 2-foot-deep oval bowl waterproofed with pitch, resin and wax and fed by water from an upstairs cistern.
why do they call the toilet the john
We’ll get the basic etymology out of the way: “John” as slang for toilet probably derived from “jakes” or “jacks,” medieval English terms for what was then a small, smelly loo inside the house if you were very fancy and outside the house if you were slightly less so.
Harington was born at Kelston near Bath on August 4, 1560. His father, also named John, had served under Sir Thomas Seymour, high admiral of the fleet of Edward IV.
Seymour was accused of treason, the senior Harington was imprisoned in the tower along with his commander.
His lot improved greatly when he became the confidential under treasurer to Henry VIII, the position in which he served at the time of Harington’s birth.
Harington senior’s first wife was the illegitimate daughter of the king. Through her, the Haringtons had acquired the family estate.
Isabella Markham, Harington senior’s second wife and John’s mother, had served as a maid of honor for Elizabeth before she assumed the throne.
Through these connections, Queen Elizabeth came to be named Harington’s godmother. Throughout his lifetime, Harington ambitiously, if not always successfully, pursued a favored place at the Queen’s court.
his first formal education at Eton
Harington received his first formal education at Eton, where he studied under William Wickham, who later became the Bishop of Winchester. Showing an early inclination for literary endeavors, Harington translated Foxe’s Book of Martyrs into Latin.
Queen Elizabeth also took an active interest in her godson, “Boye Jack” as she called him. On at least one occasion she sent him a copy of a speech she had delivered before Parliament, requesting his literary assistance.
Although not an exceptionally hardworking student, Harington performed academically well enough to matriculate at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1576, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1577 (or 1578) and master’s degree in 1581. While at Cambridge, Harington maintained the status of filius nobilis, an ancient title assigned to sons of noblemen and bishops. Considering his father’s lack of a noble designation, the entitlement bestowed on Harington gives evidence to the influence of his relationship as the Queen’s godson.
graduation from King’s College
Upon his graduation from King’s College, Harington entered Lincoln’s Inn in London to study law. However, when both his parents became deceased, his mother in 1579 and his father in 1582, Harington quickly abandoned his studies to claim his inheritance of the family estate at Somerset.
The following year he married Mary Rogers, the daughter of Sir George and Lady Jane Rogers of Cannington in Somersetshire.
Harington moved into the family estate at Kelston, which remained his primary residence until his death. He and his wife had nine children that lived beyond infancy and two that died at birth. Seven of the nine children survived Harington’s own death.
Began Life at Court
According to Townsend Rich in Harington and Ariosto: A Study in Elizabethan Verse Translation, “Harington, although living in the country, spent a good deal of time at Court.
Elizabeth favored him because of his position as her godson and because of the long years of service of his parents. He had reason to expect a brilliant career at Court.
Harington had a thorough education at Eton and Cambridge, good family connections, and a ready and amusing mind.
writer of epigrams
He began his career as a writer of epigrams as soon as he arrived at Court, and quickly obtained a reputation as a wit.” Epigrams, short, witty, and satirical poetic verses, became Harington’s trademark.
Although only one out of the 400 epigrams that he wrote was published during his lifetime, most circulated widely in unpublished form. He had a distinct talent for the succinct, biting style of poetry: “Treason doth never prosper, what the reason? / For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”
Addressing a wide variety of themes and issues, Harington often pointed his barbed remarks at individuals or certain types of people. He seemed to disdain extremes in all directions, attacking the overly pious along with the overly indulgent.
Translated Orlando Furioso
The impact of Harington’s wit upon his relationship with the Queen and his place in the Court was varied. Popular for his epigrams, he often pushed his humor to the edge, and sometimes over the edge.
thus earning the Queen’s ire. According to a traditional tale, during the 1580s, being well versed in the Italian language, he translated the indelicate and bawdy story of Giocondo from canto 28 of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. Probably in an effort to increase his popularity.
he began circulating his translation around the Court.
The story found the favor of the Queen’s maids of honor, but when the Queen discovered that her godson was behind the translation, she was furious at him for corrupting the minds of her maidens. As punishment, Harington was banned from the Court and ordered by the Queen to translate the whole of Orlando Furioso. Harington returned to Kelston and fulfilled the Queen’s command.
Metamorphosis of Ajax
Despite the fact that the translation granted Harington some measure of fame, he remained unsuccessful in securing an position of importance at Court. During the 1580s he was recognized as qualified to serve as a justice of the peace, and he traveled briefly to Ireland on a failed expedition to re-colonize the province of Munster.
Traveled to Ireland
For several years, Harington remained away from Court. By 1599, however, the stir caused by Metamorphosis of Ajax had subsided, and he was appointed by the Queen to accompany the Earl of Essex to Ireland to squelch a rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone.