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Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Neville Chamberlain: British Prime Minister, Downton Abbey Visitor

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey once again found the fictional Crawley family members rubbing elbows with real historical figures (previous familiar faces to interact with Lord and Lady Grantham include Dame Nellie Melba, as well as future king Edward, the Prince of Wales and his then-mistress, Freda Dudley Ward).

This time around, it was the eventual British prime minister Neville Chamberlain (portrayed by actor Rupert Frazer) who came to dine at the grand estate. But to use the words of Tom Branson, the meal “delivered more than [he] bargained for.” (SPOILER ALERT: In a deeply upsetting scene, Lord Grantham suffers a burst ulcer and proceeds to projectile-vomit blood all over the table and his guests).

While Chamberlain’s presence wasn’t vital to the episode’s plot (he was brought in by Maggie Smith's character, Violet, the Dowager Countess, as hired muscle in this season's ongoing hospital-takeover debate), his subsequent, pivotal role in British history makes this a good time to take a look at his background a little more closely.

Since Downton Abbey's final season takes place in 1925, the then-minister of health could appear as an innocuous dinner guest whose most interesting characteristic was that his brother-in-law was a notorious British prankster (he and Tom discuss this fact toward the end of the episode).

But just over a decade later, Chamberlain—having proved Downton cook Mrs. Patmore’s ever-so-prescient suggestion that he “may be prime minister one day”—would make several diplomatic decisions that would leave him in an unfavorable light as the United Kingdom edged closer into the Second World War.

In order to avoid giving the Downton Abbey characters too close of a connection to the man who would one day favor appeasement with Nazi chancellor Adolf Hitler—and be photographed shaking the murderous dictator's hand—the family link was made through Chamberlain’s real-life wife, Anne de Vere Cole. According to Violet, her late husband was Mrs. Chamberlain’s godfather.

At the time the Downton episode takes place, the idea of another world war wasn’t even a glimmer in Chamberlain’s eye, probably because the wounds from the Great War were still so fresh in everyone's minds. This is why one of the most substantial arguments that has been made for the appeasement decision is that Chamberlain was willing to do whatever was necessary to evade a repeat of the First World War.

Neville Chamberlain became prime minister in 1937, participating in what would become his most notorious act as leader of the British people one year later: the Munich Agreement. With German aggression looming, and war becoming even more of a foregone conclusion, Chamberlain met with Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and French Premier Édouard Daladier in September 1938. The resulting plan handed over the area of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland to Germany.

In Chamberlain's opinion, this diplomatic decision would assure peace within Europe, and prevent any further atrocities of war. By this time, he may have had another decade to get over the events WWI, but even 20 years after the Armistice, a world war repeat wasn't high on Chamberlain's priority list.

According to historian David Dutton, the author of Reputations: Neville Chamberlain, in a 2009 piece for The Telegraph, the Prime Minister "had been deeply scarred by the memory of the First World War. Expert opinion predicted that any future war would be even worse: to the slaughter of the battlefield would be added unspeakable destruction from the air. Extrapolating from the Spanish Civil War, it was estimated that the first few weeks of a German air assault would bring half a million casualties: Britain was defenseless in the face of the bomber."

However, Chamberlain's decision of what he called "peace with honor" and "peace for our time" would ultimately be his downfall, even before Hitler broke the Munich Agreement by invading the rest of Czechoslovakia and then Poland in 1939. The man who would succeed Chamberlain as prime minister and lead the United Kingdom through the darkest years of World War II to eventual victory, Winston Churchill, castigated his predecessor's act of appeasement upon his return from Germany: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor," Churchill said. "You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Whatever promises of peace that had been made lay in a broken mess at Chamberlain’s feet by September 1939, forcing the prime minister to declare war on Germany following its invasion of Poland. He remained in office through the following year, but his popularity steadily declined over the next several months.

Historians like Dutton, in retrospect, do offer up arguments that Churchill may not have had any success in turning the tide of history if the roles had been reversed: "He overestimated his ability to reach a settlement with the dictators," wrote Dutton of Chamberlain in the same 2009 Telegraph article. "He probably clung too long to the hope of averting war. But it is doubtful if anyone else would have done much better, Churchill included."

Bereft of political support following an unsuccessful attempt to liberate Norway from German forces, Chamberlain resigned as prime minister in May 1940, with Churchill chosen as his successor. Chamberlain died of bowel cancer in November of that year.

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What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
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From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

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25 Dapper Outfit Choices for Fashionable Pets
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Lavishing your furry friends with adorable attire is a benefit of pet ownership that they don't mention on the adoption forms. Whether you prefer practical clothing like sweaters and jackets or statement pieces like bow ties and tutus, these dapper duds are perfect for a howl-iday or "gotcha day" gift, or simply for saying, "Who's the cutest little pupper in pajamas? You are!"

1. CASHMERE DOG SWEATER; FROM $165

dog in sweater
Canine Styles

This classic cable-knit cashmere sweater is a sophisticated look for Fido or Finn. Get it from Canine Styles, a luxury dog emporium in New York City that has plenty of posh and preppy outfits.

Find It: Canine Styles

2. TOGGLE DOG COAT; $85

dog in coat
Canine Styles

This toggle coat (available in orange, navy, and tan) is as fashionable as it is warm. Made of Melton wool, it has Velcro closures to make getting dressed easy. It's great for long walks in the country.

Find It: Canine Styles

3. DOG TUXEDO; FROM $90

Dog in tuxedo
Etsy

This satin tuxedo is perfect for the canine members of your wedding party, though it will brighten up any other occasion as well. The custom, handmade outfit comes complete with a snappy bow tie.

Find It: Etsy

4. DOG BELLE DRESS; FROM $45

Dog Belle Dress
Etsy

The queen of your castle can feel like a Disney princess in her very own version of Belle's iconic yellow dress from Beauty and the Beast. This ball gown is made from yellow crepe satin with chiffon overlay on the bodice and features hand-painted gold detailing on the skirt. Enchanted rose not included.

Find It: Etsy

5. POODLE SKIRT OUTFIT FOR DOGS; $26

Rubies Pink Fifties Girl Pet Costume
Amazon

What if you could buy a 1950s poodle skirt for your poodle? This retro dress is comprised of a pink poodle skirt, striped bodice, and sequined belt, and comes with a bow headband.

Find It: Amazon

6. RIBBED CROCHET BUNNY SWEATER; $25

bunny in a sweater
Etsy

Your snuggle-bunny will look like a little fancy-pants in this ribbed crochet sweater. Choose from seven colors, including this dashing deep red.

Find It: Etsy

7. BESPOKE MONOGRAM DOG SWEATER; FROM $155

Dog in sweater
Ruby Rufus

Bespoke clothing isn't just for humans: British luxury dog clothing brand Ruby Rufus will make your pooch a custom monogram sweater made with 100 percent Italian cashmere. You can even order it in your dog's favorite color.

Find It: Ruby Rufus

8. HOT PINK DOG TUTU; $17

Dog in hot pink tutu
Etsy

Tutus look absolutely adorable on tiny humans and animals alike. If your pooch wants to get in touch with its inner ballerina, then grab this hot pink number from Etsy. Rave reviews are a sure thing.

Find It: Etsy

9. PINK DOG POLO SHIRT; $35

Dog Pink Polo Shirt
Canine Styles

This pink polo shirt is perfect for your preppy fur baby. It features not one but a veritable multitude of crocodiles. They'll be the most dapper dog at the country club.

Find It: Canine Styles

10. DOG BARN COAT WITH BROWN CORDUROY COLLAR; $85

Dog in barn coat
Canine Styles

When it's time for a walk, your dog will look effortlessly chic in this fancy barn coat. It comes in navy, cranberry, orange, hot pink, and loden and features convenient pockets for anyone with opposable thumbs.

Find It: Canine Styles

11. WHITE PET NECK RUFF; $26

Pet Neck Ruff
Etsy

Your canine or kitty will look like their painting belongs in London's National Portrait Gallery with this Elizabethan neck ruff.

Find It: Etsy

12. CHICKEN SWEATER; $25

chicken wearing sweater
Etsy

Chickens can get cold when they're strutting around outside. A sweater (well, more like sweater vest) for your bird can also help prevent feather picking during molting season. Or, it can simply keep them warm while they stare pensively across a snowy landscape.

Find It: Etsy

13. PET CIRCLE SCARF; $15

dog in scarf
Etsy

An infinity scarf is a perfect burst of color on a dreary early morning walk. The proprietor of Mitten Made on Etsy originally designed this wool snood for her miniature Dachshund to help keep her warm during the long, cold winters in Michigan.

Find It: Etsy

14. FAB DOG TRAVEL RAINCOAT; FROM $18

Fab Dog Travel Raincoat
Chewy

This timeless yellow rain slicker will look great on any puppy when it's raining cats and dogs. It's made of 100 percent waterproof nylon shell that keeps fur dry. Bonus: It's perfect for an It Halloween costume.

Find It: Chewy

15. LACE CAT OR DOG COLLAR; FROM $10

cat in lace collar
Etsy

This handmade, white lace collar is a must-have for fancy felines. It's also embellished with a large rhinestone.

Find It: Etsy

16. FITWARM PENGUIN PAJAMAS FOR DOGS; FROM $10

Fitwarm Cute Penguin Xmas Dog Pajamas
Amazon

Keep your pupper warm on cold winter nights with these penguin PJs. They're great for doggie sleepovers or lazy weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Find It: Amazon

17. PLAID CASHMERE DOG COAT; FROM $225

dog in plaid coat
Canine Styles

Your dog will look like a proper gentleman in this smart plaid peacoat. This fine garment is made of cashmere with a faux fur lining and leather buttons, and is a perfect shield against chill and fog.

Find It: Canine Styles

18. SATIN PET BOW TIE; FROM $8

Satin Bow Tie for Dog
Etsy

This satin doggie bow tie is perfect for any occasion. It comes in several colors and features a Velcro fastener that makes it easy to attach to a collar. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to charity: specifically to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Find It: Etsy

19. RED DOG DRESS; FROM $34

dog in dress
Etsy

Your good boy or girl will look red carpet-ready in this elegant gown. The voluminous tulle skirt is to die for, and each bow is embellished with beads. Custom orders are also available.

Find It: Etsy

20. DOG TIE; FROM $13

Dog tie
Etsy

Your pooch will be ready to stun at any black tie event. This tie is designed like a collar, making it easy to dress your four-legged friend. This Etsy store gives back: 10 perfect of all sales are donated to an animal protection association.

Find It: Etsy

21. NAUTICAL DOG DRESS WITH MATCHING LEASH; $20

Dog sailor dress
BaxterBoo

Perfect for a day on the town or setting sail in a schooner, this is the sailor outfit you never knew your best furry friend needed. This vintage throwback also comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

22. TARTAN FLANNEL PET BOW TIE; $5.50

tartan pet bow tie
Etsy

Your dog or cat will turn heads in this flannel tartan bow tie. It has a convenient elastic loop that slides over your pup's collar.

Find It: Etsy

23. PUCCI DOG SHIRT; $23

dog in Pucci dog shirt
Etsy

Only the fanciest dogs wear, err, Pucci. Grab this punny "designer" t-shirt for your pup. This high-quality cotton statement piece is perfect for small breeds.

Find It: Etsy

24. PINK POLKA DOT AND LACE DOG HARNESS DRESS; $20

Pink Polka Dot and Lace Designer Dog Harness Dress
BaxterBoo

This feminine pink polka dot dress is simply adorable. It features a convenient built-in harness and comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

25. PET SWEATER VEST; $6

pet sweater vest
Amazon

Your dog or cat will look like an erudite Oxford professor in this sweater vest. Note that the button on the pocket is shaped like a bone.

Find It: Amazon

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