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Medieval Death Bot AKA @DeathMedieval posts “real deaths from medieval coroner’s rolls” and it’s the most compelling, oddest and sorta funniest thing we’ve read today.

Here’s 25 of the best deaths of olden times – take it away death bot!

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@DeathMedieval writes some background to all this:

I’m going to talk a bit about the deaths in the bot now, just because i do get quite a lot of questions about some of them as you know, these tweets are all (highly condensed) accounts of death from medieval coroner’s rolls.

These rolls are not obituaries in the sense that they list all deaths, but only those that were not witnessed, such as accidents, or those involving some sort of crime most deaths wouldn’t fall under either of these categories, so the information in a coroner’s inquest or these tweets are not representative of, say, overall medieval death statistics.

Most medieval deaths would’ve been a “good death”, that is one that was witnessed by others and involved last rites given by a priest as well as a will as for clerk murders, well! 90% of the time, the clerks in these reports are drunk teenagers away at university causing trouble there are a few deaths in prison here and there, but this is not the equivalent of “life in prison”, these would have been people who were being held awaiting trial.

Most of these reports of death in prison are very, very short and do not give much info about the death at all as for drowning deaths, we can’t chalk all of them up to an inability to swim.

Some people died due to falling into rivers or trying to cross a river, which would’ve been very, very cold, something the body has a hard time withstanding.

Not to mention, falling into a river or well fully clothed means everything they would’ve been wearing–which would be linen and wool–would get soaked through.

And wool gets very heavy when it gets wet.

So you have someone falling into freezing water & trying to get out while the body is seizing up, shaking and their clothes are getting heavier and dragging them down.

This is more likely how these deaths were so common–it wasn’t like anyone was falling into the pool in the back yard when it comes to deaths involving falling into wells specifically, we have to consider both some of this and bucket size! Buckets are likely to blame here, since some of the era were absolutely huge, holding up to 5 gallons of water.

Wooden buckets that size and being soaked with water would be quite heavy (not to mention usually being banded with iron) and with the counter-balance, it becomes easier to see how you might fall into a well attempting to get water.

There are accounts in here too of thieves breaking through walls, which is all the fault of wattle & daub! The standard house of a medieval villein (which is to say, “peasant”) in this period would’ve had walls made of wattle and daub.

These walls were constructed by weaving young branches (i think hazel was common, but don’t quote me on that exactly!) between stronger, vertical sticks.

You can think of it like wicker, if you want, since that’s a close enough visual representation.

This wattle was then covered with daub, which could be a variety of things mixed together, but was usually cow dung, sand or clay, lime, perhaps some hay.

That was then smeared over the wattle and left to dry daub was the concrete of the age, and while it held up well enough for a while, it did deteriorate over time.

This deterioration, in addition to brute force and determination on the thieves’ part, is what would make the walls of a house able to be breached this way.

 

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