Unfortunate Ends: On Murder and Misadventure in Medieval England
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Thomas, son of Henry Robekyn, died 1286 after cutting off his left foot and then his left hand in a frenzy.
Henry Debordesle, died 1343. Long sick with diseases, smote himself in the belly with a knife worth one penny.
On 11 August 1267, Henry Constentin is driving a horse-drawn cart of wheat through the field of Tweedscroft. His feet slip and he falls upon ‘a certain pole’ of his cart ‘so that it penetrate[s] into his fundament’.
Unfortunate Ends is an illuminating collection of in-depth looks at some of the more interesting cases from medieval coroners’ rolls. From the bizarre to the mundane, each death tells a tale from a dangerous time to be alive (and even to die). Coroners’ rolls list every inquest held for accidental deaths, as well as grisly murders - some witnessed by others and some only coming to light when the hidden body was found.
A handful of these deaths rise to the top, their tales too ridiculous or heartbreaking to not be spun again for the modern ear. Through death, Unfortunate Ends gives us a rare, first-hand look into everyday life for the common people of medieval England.