Membership Meeting - Ed Butts: The History of Bodyguards - April 4th. 2019
The meeting opened at 10:30 am with Frank Webster, Acting President, chairing the meeting with 47 members in attendance. He welcomed two new members who have just been confirmed by the Board: Jim Tushingham and Detlef Schuldt. Frank also welcomed today’s speaker, Ed Butts. Frank also welcomed back to the meeting Martin Alderwick who is recovering from his recent surgery.
Activities: – Ray Biffis - The Anniversary Luncheon today has 42 people signed up for Lunch. - A night at the races at Elora Raceway has been booked for Monday September 23rd. - The Activities Committee is soliciting volunteers to sit on the Committee and if you can help out the next meeting is scheduled for Tues. April 9th at Angels Diner.
Coffee: – Andy Curtis - Next Thurs, April 11th coffee will be at the Boathouse or the first time this year. The Airpark Café is the alternative meeting location.
Kerry Gennings introduced today’s guest presenter, Ed Butts.
Bio: Ed Butts was born in Toronto, but grew up in Guelph and has always considered it his hometown. He attended the University of Waterloo, and spent eight years teaching at a school in the Dominican Republic. Ed has written more than twenty books for both adults and juvenile readers. They include Simon Girty: Wilderness Warrior, Wrong Side of the Law,The Mad, Bad and Dangerous, and Wartime: The First World War in a Canadian Town. Several of his books have been nominated for awards. Ed has contributed articles to many publications, including the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail. He writes a monthly column about Guelph history for the Mercury-Tribune. He is also a contributor to Historica, the online Canadian Encyclopedia. Ed lives in Guelph with his daughter and grandson.
Presentation – Ed Butts on History of Bodyguards Ed is the author of a book for young readers on the history of bodyguards, and today he’s going to tell us how that profession evolved from ancient times until the present.
Ed got the incentive to write about bodyguards from a publisher that asked him to write a book about them. He began his presentation by informing us about the various types of bullies that pick on others just to show “who’s boss.” What then sometimes happens is that the one being bullied finds a protector who acts like a bodyguard.
There have been bodyguards right down through the ages under many different names with a wealth of fascinating stories attached to them. The earliest known documentation about bodyguards comes from ancient Egypt. The Egyptian ruler known as a pharaoh was considered a god and he had to be protected otherwise bad things would happen to the populace. So, the pharaoh had priests surround him to protect him and if you wanted to talk to the pharaoh for any reason, you had to go through the priests. These priest were known as the “braves of the king.”
Both Greek and Roman emperors and rulers had bodyguards. In Greece the rulers used the Spartans as their bodyguards, Alexander the Great had the Companions, and Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony had bodyguards known as the Praetorian Guards. In ancient Japan the bodyguards were known as Samurai. The pope’s bodyguards are the Swiss Guard. In the old west gunslingers were hired as bodyguards. In the underworld, gangsters such as Al Capone, needed to have bodyguards because of the nature of being outside of the law. The need for bodyguards also extended to drug lords.
Presidents in the United States use the Secret Service which was about to become a government body around the time of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and did after his assassination. There have been other assassinations or attempted assassinations of American presidents which now has made the Secret Service a major bodyguard organization.
Celebrities now have to have bodyguards to protect them from their adoring public as well as those unbalanced individuals who want to gain notoriety from their contact or attempt to kill someone famous such as the killing of John Lennon.
Ed talked about the effects of achieving great celebrity notoriety and how having to have a bodyguard or guards affects a person’s ability to engage in public life. Princess Diana needed bodyguards to protect her from the paparazzi. The tragedy of her death was partly the fault of her bodyguard who also served as her driver and was intoxicated and driving recklessly while trying to outrun paparazzi who were chasing them.
Women have been used as bodyguards over the ages. In the eighteenth century in Dahomey (now Benin) in west-central Africa, many men were carried off by slavers. The king of Dahomey recruited women warriors to protect him. Former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddaffi, had an elite female bodyguard unit called the Amazonians to protect him.
At times animals such as dogs, donkeys, llamas, geese have been used to warn and protect people.
Ed mentioned some instances when having or not having bodyguards on numerous occasions has altered the course of history.
Ed finished his presentation by answering questions from the membership.
John Sneyd thanked Ed Butts for his presentation and gave him a token of appreciation from the Club.
Next meeting: April 18th. 2019, with Don Hamilton on Freemasonry Today