What was Princeps eating?


The History of the Sandwich:

The Sandwich apparently comes from John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich. The first Earl took the name Sandwich rather than Portsmouth as a tribute to the town of Sandwich where his fleet was anchored prior to his triumphant return to England with Charles II in 1660. In other words, had the wind been blowing differently, we could have been tucking into a cheddar cheese portsmouth, with or without the trimmings. The 4th Earl not only asked for meat to be served on his bread in 1762, but also financed Captain Cook who went on to Australia, but named the Sandwich isles in Hawaii after his sponsor in 1778. The first sandwich might, however, go back to Rabbi Hillel in Palestine, around the time of Christ, who put lamb and nuts on his matzah during the Passover.

For what it’s worth, I think the Jewish link is relevant, because my sense is that Princeps, the sandwich-eater was probably possessed. Maybe, he was driven by some evil perversion of nationalism, yet one of the great Serbian Archbishops defined Nationalism itself as a heresy, so that does not get us much further…(Sukkot shares similarities with hallowe’en. There are witches in Jewish tradition going back to The witch of Endor and in one ancient text, the spirit of Lilith who appeared as Adam’s first wife. It is the red string on the cribs that ward off the influence of Lilith, who wants revenge for being thrown over in popular mythology for the more insipid Eve. In contrast to the Dybbuk, the ru’ah tezazit, a soul, ר֣וּחַ without a body, there is the Golem, the body without a soul, the original monster of Frankenstein.)

No, I think of possession, pure and simple. It’s first appearance in the modern world is in Jewish literature really, where the play the Dybbuk achieved noteriety in the yiddish theatre. It was drawing on kabbalistic traditions going back to the 17th Century at least, but maybe, if we take the hebrew words used routinely to describe such a spirit in the Kabbalah or even in the talmud, the ruah tezazit (confusion) or evil sprit, we find the same description in the New testament again and again.

Princeps’ Sandwich:

There is a story that seems to be taken as fact today that Gavrilo Princeps was eating a sandwich, or buying a sandwich when the car carrying the Archduke and his wife passed Moritz Schiller’s delicatessen on Franz Joseph street in Sarajevo. Of course, as Necati observes, if he was eating anything it would have been burek but it is more likely that he was outside the cafe. Now, I did a bit of research and discovered that there is a source for the sandwich story in a 2003 Brazilian novel called “Twelve fingers” where the hero, Dimitri Korozec, a polydactil blessed with extreme clumsiness, meets his old friend Princeps in the cafe. At that point, Dimitri had been part of a twetve strong assassination team in Sarajevo and had himself failed to assassinate the Archduke because his 6th finger jammed in the gun. All this, and this is really the important bit, is complete fiction, the invention of Jô Soares. Later Dimitri will get caught up with Mata Hari, the invention of Spanish flu, the St Valentine’s day massacre, the attempt on the life of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933 (he accidentally saves the President rather than shoots him) and finally the killing of Brazilian Getulio Vargas (picture above) in an attempt to stop him committing suicide in 1954. This is the man, one of the Presidents of Brazil (dictator?), whose genuine suicide note reads: “Serenely, I take my first step on the road to eternity and I leave life to enter history.” Fairly solemn stuff. Anyway, to the meeting in the cafe with princeps:

this is what was written,

It’s Gavrilo Princip. Feigning surprise, he says, “Gavrilo! It’s been such a long time! What’re you doing here?” “I’m eating a sandwich.” “I can tell that. Don’t treat me like a child.” They fall silent, while Gavrilo finishes his sandwich and takes a grimy handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his hands. When he opens his coat to put away the handkerchief, Dimitri sees a Browning pistol tucked into the waistband.

As I said earlier, this is a bit of fiction. There is no evidence anywhere before 2003 of a sandwich being eaten by Gavrilo Princeps. Another point that is interesting is that the statue I mentioned earlier that was erected in Sarajevo is not the only one! There is a mosaic being assembled in Visegrad and another statue in Tobarisevo, a little way from Belgrade.


Author: timewilson

animator director and teacher

One thought on “What was Princeps eating?”

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