27 August, 2007

Medieval Darwin Awards

Just a short post, while I'm preparing the next proper one. This is about some men related to Edward II and the silly ways they died - candidates for Medieval Darwin Awards!

- Edward's uncle by marriage, Duke John II of Brittany (widower of Edward I's sister Beatrice), was killed in Avignon on 18 November 1305, at the ripe old age of sixty-six. He was leading Pope Clement V's horse through the town, during Clement's coronation (or whatever you call it) when a wall collapsed, thanks to all the people sitting on it to watch the procession, and crushed John to death.

- Edward's great-great-uncle King Enrique I of Castile (much younger brother of Edward's great-grandmother Queen Berenguela) was killed in Palencia on 6 June 1217, at the age of thirteen, when a tile fell off a roof and hit him on the head.

- Count Henri II of Champagne, grandson of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine and thus the nephew of Edward II's great-grandfather King John, died in Jerusalem on 10 September 1197 (he was the third husband of Isabelle, Queen of Jerusalem in her own right). He fell through a window, probably while watching a parade. One of his servants tried to grab hold of him to save him, but ended up falling out of the window as well and landing on top of Henri; he died, too. Poor Henri might have survived otherwise!

And finally, Almost A Medieval Darwin Award, from the Patent Rolls of 30 March 1324:

"Notification, lest sinister suspicion should arise hereafter, that the defect which William Sampson suffers in his right ear arose from the stroke of a tun of wine as he was walking amongst the tuns on board a ship to see that no harm came to them, as the king is informed on sufficient evidence." :-)


Susan Higginbotham said...

Ouch! Hope Mr. Sampson at least got to drink a little of the tun that bit him, so to speak.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Makes one wonder how much wine Henri had to fall out of a window. Hicks, just a little bit fursher, hicks, I wanna see zose hot Templars.

Kathryn Warner said...

Susan: yes, I hope he got himself as good and soused as Henri probably was. ;)

Gabriele: supposedly a balcony gave way, or the latticed framework of the window, depending on which source you read! Either that, or he turned round to greet a party of envoys who'd just entered the room, and over-balanced.

But I suspect booze was involved, too. ;)

Carla said...

The first two sound terribly unlucky, poor guys. It wasn't Duke John's fault the wall fell on him, or Enrique's fault the tile fell on his head - unless they'd walked past signs that said "Danger! Falling Objects! Do Not Enter!".

What could a tun of wine do to someone's ear? The mind boggles...

Kathryn Warner said...

I do feel sorry for Duke John - to live to such a great age (by the standards of the time) then be crushed by a wall!

I just can't imagine how a tun of wine could hurt someone's ear, but not the rest of him. Possibly because I can't visualise a tun of wine (an enormous barrel?) The phrase 'from the stroke of a tun of wine' almost sounds like it assaulted him! :)

Carla said...

It does, doesn't it? Very strange! A tun could fall on you but it would hurt a lot more than one ear.
Unless it's a variant on, "I was hit by a stationary tree coming in the opposite direction" or "Third party, Ocifer? Yeah, great idea - where? Hic!"

Melisende said...

Yes, apparently Henri was reviewing his troops when he turned to greet someone, and fell out of the window. His dwarf attempted to rescue Henri and, well, cushioned Henri's fall. Both died.

Manly Wodge said...

Well, a Tun was an official measure - a cask containing 954 litres of wine. A tun was equal to 2 Pipes (or Butts) , 3 Firkins, 4 hogsheads, 6 Tierces, 8 barrels or 14 rundlets. Quite how this would have damaged his ear without crushing his head is beyond me UNLESS (cue cunning plan) The Tun got damaged somehow and It was a splinter that caused the damage.