Medieval History’s Strange Phenomenon of Repeatedly Dying

We all know that many strange things happened in Medieval History; killer eels and disappearing princes spring to mind.

But, to me, the strangest thing was not one particular event, but the fact that so many people seem to have died more than once.

Edward_II_-_British_Library_Royal_20_A_ii_f10_(detail)
Edward II, died in 1327, came back to life Edward III by 1338

Take Philippa of Clarence, the daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence and granddaughter of Edward III. I was reading about her the other day. She was born once, in 1355. But when did she die? apparently, she died in 1378, 1381 and ….. 1382. Now that’s a lot of deaths for one lady – and can you imagine the funeral expenses?

And we, of course, have the famous example of Edward II, murdered in Berkeley Castle who, for almost 700 years, died in 1327. But now, he seems to have died much later – and in Italy. How can you be dead in 1327 and yet still be alive to say ‘hello’ to your son in 1338?

And it isn’t just deaths.

Several Medieval people have numerous birth dates. Prince John of Eltham was born on the 15th and 25th August 1316. Richard of Conisbrough, son of Edmund of Langley – and another grandchild of Edward III – was born in 1375, 1376 and, finally, in 1384.

Which makes him 9 when he was born?

Something strange was definitely going on….

There are even phenomenon where Medieval people took part in events before they were born.

who3
The TARDIS pictured in 1020s France

William de Warenne, who fought with William the Conqueror at Hastings, actually fought a battle the year before he was born. Can you imagine the size of his sword?

This pre-natal battle of William’s has had me in a quandary for many years. Until last Saturday night when I sat watching a programme on BBC1 and had a bit of a Eureka! moment. Yes, that had to be it! What if, Dr Who visited Mr de Warenne sometime after Hastings. they probably got on well, got to drinking and the good Doctor has this idea:

Dr W: “Hey, I have an idea. In the future there’s going to be this thing called Wiki. It will be where everyone goes for their info. It’s totally trustworthy, but I’ve got a brill idea of how to mess with people’s minds”.

Mr W, of course, bored with a sudden lack of battles, fighting and bloodthirsty killing, replies: ” I’m in! Wait! What are we doing again?”

Dr W replies: “I’m taking you back in time [cue Huey Lewis music] to before you were born. You get to fight a bloody battle, and I get to mess with 21st century minds.”

“It’ll be a right laugh” says the good Dr.

This theory, of course, doesn’t work for the multiple deaths – unless220px-Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios Wiki editors are too freaked out. But then, maybe Bram stoker was onto something with Dracula…..?

Vampires did tend to die twice – the second time with a stake through their hearts. Although that doesn’t explain Philippa of Clarence dying three times. Mmm, maybe they used the wrong kind of steak in 1381?

But that doesn’t explain the multiple birth dates.

Wow! This is getting confusing!

Mind you, they did have a habit of giving the same name to more than one child in Medieval England. Maybe that caused confusion, so they couldn’t actually remember which year the surviving child was born, hence Richard of Conisbrough was a still squashed into a cradle in 1384!

And then there are those who have no known death date. The Princes in the Tower and Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Richard III….. maybe, just maybe, they are still walking around….somewhere…..

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Sauces: Wiki with a side order of Alison Weir

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Photos: Wiki

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Jeff R Sun has spent too much time in the sun, I think. It burns!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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