Bizarre Deaths: 12 of History’s Weirdest Deaths, From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Bizarre Deaths: 12 of History’s Weirdest Deaths, From Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Bizarre Deaths: 12 of History’s Weirdest Deaths, From Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Khalid Elhassan - September 17, 2017

Bizarre Deaths: 12 of History’s Weirdest Deaths, From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
The drowning of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence. Pinterest

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (1449 – 1478) was the younger son of Richard, Duke of York, whose struggle to secure power precipitated the Wars of the Roses between the houses of York and Lancaster, and the brother of King Edward IV of England, against whom he engaged in several ill-advised conspiracies, which ultimately brought about George’s doom.

After his brother broke the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in 1461, deposed the Lancastrian king Henry VI, and had himself crowned in his place as Edward IV, George was made Duke of Clarence. The following year, although only 13 years old, he was also made the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. As he grew into early manhood, George idolized and came under the influence of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, AKA “The Kingmaker”, and married Neville’s daughter in defiance of the king’s plans to marry him into a European royal family to secure a dynastic alliance.

Neville, the Kingmaker who had been instrumental in deposing the prior Lancastrian king Henry VI and replacing him with Edward IV, fell out with king Edward and deserted to the Lancastrians. George rewarded his brother’s earlier generosity with betrayal, took his father-in-law’s side, and despite being a member of the York family, switched his support to the Lancastrians. With the Kingmaker’s machinations, George’s brother Edward IV was deposed and forced to flee England in 1470, and the once-deposed Lancastrian King Henry VI was restored to the throne.

However, George started to mistrust his father-in-law, the Kingmaker, and switched his support back to his brother. Edward IV returned to England in 1471, defeated the Lancastrians in a battle during which the Kingmaker was killed, was restored to the throne, and ensured that the twice deposed Henry VI would trouble him no more by having him murdered, after having already executed Henry’s son and sole heir. Edward pardoned his younger brother George and restored him to royal favor.

George’s bizarre death came in 1478, after he once again betrayed his elder brother, and was caught plotting against the king. Finally fed up with his wayward sibling, Edward IV ordered George arrested and jailed in the Tower of London, and had him put on trial for treason. Personally conducting the prosecution before Parliament, Edward secured a conviction and Bill of Attainder against George, who was condemned to death. On February 18, 1478, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, was executed by being dunked into a butt, or big barrel, of Malmsey wine, and forcibly held under its surface until he was drowned.


Sources For Further Reading:

Ancient Olympics – Arrichion

Today I Found Out – Death Before Defeat- The Badass Story of Arrichion of Phigalia

History Collection – Really Inappropriate Deaths in History

History Collection – Unusual Deaths from the History Books

History Collection – Dramatic and Bizarre Ways People Died in Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic World

History Collection – Ridiculous Symbols, Beliefs, and Habits from History

History Collection – Odd Historic Moments that Are Almost too Weird to Handle

Ancient Origins – How the Search for Immortality Killed the First Emperor of China

Medium – The Viking King Who Died of Head Bite

The Vintage News – King Charles II of Navarre Was Burnt Alive by Accident