An 18th-Century Soldier Was The Subject Of Many Science Experiments Thanks To One Strange Ability

As Prussia faced France in a brutal 18th-century war, one soldier was making a name for himself in a very unusual way. Beset by terrible and strange cravings, Charles Domery resorted to horrific measures that would no doubt have killed most other men. And eventually, Domery’s affliction even caused him to switch sides, betraying his superiors in his constant search for satisfaction.

Never satisfied

But Domery, it seems, could never be satisfied. And for years he roamed across Europe, terrifying his contemporaries with his strange habits. Eventually, medical experts conducted a series of experiments, trying and failing to find the source of his bizarre condition. To this day, though, it continues to defy explanation.

Charles Domery

Born in 1778 in Poland, Domery was one of nine boys, all of whom are said to have boasted unusually large appetites. Despite consuming vast amounts of food, though, the family was apparently healthy, with all members surviving an outbreak of smallpox that tore through their town. But as the sons grew, one in particular stood out from the rest.

A growing boy

From a young age, reports claim, Domery was cursed with an insatiable hunger. At first, this affliction did not seem to have too much of an adverse effect on the boy, who grew to be well over 6 feet tall. And despite the size of the meals that he was putting away, he remained of average build.

Nothing out of the ordinary

In his biography of unusual characters from history The Eccentric Mirror, author G. H. Wilson noted that Domery was of a “pleasant countenance,” with gray eyes and brown hair. And although he could not read or write, he was considered moderately intelligent for the time. In other words, on the surface at least, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the boy.