The Magician, the Marabout and the Muzzleloader – LECTURE

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Date / time: 7 February, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Royal Armouries Museum (and Online)

The Magician, the Marabout and the Muzzleloader - LECTURE


Speaker: Dr Taliesin Coward, Member of the Magic Circle

How do you counter claims of supernatural powers? With a magician! Join Dr Taliesin, master magician and historian, as he explores how, armed with only his wits and a pistol, the greatest magician of the 19th century changed the course of international history and helped avert a bloody conflict, using the worlds most deadly magic trick.

From unmasking a magician’s true identity to causing the death or maiming of more than 20 performers, the bullet-catch enjoys a perilous reputation balanced, bizarrely, by its role as a genuine life-saver. Following France’s Algerian invasion in 1830, revolt and uprising was fostered in no small part by the Marabouts, the traditional wizards of the region. Gun illusions featured prominently, including demonstrations of supernatural powers rendering the Marabouts and whoever they selected, immune to gunfire.

In perhaps one of the most inspired political decisions, the French government of the day fought magic with magic, engaging the Father of Modern Magic, Robert-Houdin (after whom Houdini took his name), culminating in a magical gun duel with a Marabout, which remains celebrated by Algerians to this day. Join Dr Taliesin as he explores this fascinating historical episode and the plausibility of the duel between the Magician and the Marabout.

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