Longtime readers of our blog may already be familiar with many of our Funny Name Theories, built upon our mighty knowledge on the power of hilarious names. Regular readers may also have noticed that a lot of people named Cornelius feature in our blog. This has led us to formulate a new piece of theory suggesting that if you’re called Cornelius, you’re probably most of the way there to a funny name.
Cornelius Drebbel, born Cornelis Jacobzsoon Drebbel, is all of the way there. He, like most good Corneli, hailed from Holland, the promised land of the mighty species of European Cornelius (cornelis europeaus). They have been known to nest all over the world, prescribing absurd amounts of tea, large bushels of cash, and endless Neil Diamond cd’s to unsuspecting civilians everywhere.
This particular specimen of the Cornelius tribe, the finely named Drebbel, has gone down into history books for building the world’s first navigable submarine. He did so in 1620 while working for the English Royal Navy. He even took King James I for a little cruise under the Thames in his oar-powered leather-covered wood submarine. I was unable to confirm whether or not the sub was yellow.
Drebbel lived during a golden age of amusingly named Dutchmen. In university he counted the great Cornelis Corneliszoon among his professors and worked with spectacle maker Hans Lippershey. I saw “spectacle maker” in the sense that he made eyeglasses. He wasn’t a huge drama queen who made a spectacle of himself at every turn. Or maybe he was, but not professionally.
Like all good engineers, he also invented other things during his life. Unlike most submarine builders, Drebbel counted a chicken incubator among those inventions. He is also widely credited as the inventor of a microscope with two convex lenses. I don’t really know what that means but it sounds quite nice and impressive, and was apparently used by Federico Cesi to illustrate Apiarium, his “famous” book on bees. The things you learn on the internet.
I hope you have enjoyed this highbrow exploration of obscure European history, dubious biological classification, and off-handed chicken incubator references. Please do return for the next Cornelius piece – I’m sure there will be many more. We can only hope they all talk about chicken incubation.