Idiotic Moves That Ended in Terrible Disasters
Idiotic Moves That Ended in Terrible Disasters

Idiotic Moves That Ended in Terrible Disasters

Khalid Elhassan - September 8, 2021

Idiotic Moves That Ended in Terrible Disasters
Medieval illustration of the death of Charles the Bad. Morphios

1. Karma Caught Up With Charles the Bad in the Form of an Idiot Servant’s Mistake

Charles The Bad’s poor reputation was no better in Spain, where he allied with Peter the Cruel of Castile against Peter IV of Aragon in 1362. He then turned around and betrayed Castile the following year, and switched his support to Peter IV against Peter the Cruel. In 1378, Castilian armies invaded Navarre and Charles was forced to flee. Out of allies, having betrayed them all, Charles was forced to accept a humiliating treaty that defanged his kingdom and reduced him and his realm to Castilian clients. Karma finally caught up with him in 1387. That year, an illness that impeded the use of his limbs led a physician to prescribe that he be swaddled from head to foot in linen cloth steeped in brandy or other spirits of wine.

A maid, tasked with securing the swaddling cloth snugly around the king’s body by sewing it in place with yarn, realized when she was done that she had no scissors with which to snip the excess yarn. So she resorted to an otherwise common alternate method for thread cutting, that turned out to be an idiot idea in the circumstances: she reached for a candle to use its flame to burn off a section of yarn. The alcohol-infused cloth caught on fire, and Charles the Bad, tightly swaddled in the burning linen, was unable to escape. He suffered horrific burns all over his body, and lingered for two weeks in extreme agony before he finally succumbed.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Balfour, Patrick, Lord Kinross – Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire (1977)

British Museum – Furst Karl Joseph Franz von Auesperg

Ceilan, Cynthia – Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed (2007)

Cracked – 5 Huge Disasters Caused by Idiots

Daily Sabbah, August 7th, 2015 – The History of Fratricide in the Ottoman Empire

Encyclopedia Britannica – Charles II, King of Navarre

Encyclopedia Iranica – Carrhae

Geni – Wreck of the White Ship

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe, Volume II (1994)

History Collection – 20 Naval Disasters From History That Make Us Scared to Sail

International Atomic Energy Agency – The Radiological Accident in Goiana

Lazenby, John Francis – Hannibal’s War: A Military History of the Second Punic War (1978)

Livy – Ab Urbe Condita, Book XXII

Plutarch – Parallel Lives: Life of Crassus

Sima Qian – Records of the Grand Historian, Volume 8

Singapore Infopedia – Hotel New World Collapse

Snopes – Did a Man Die Demonstrating a Window’s Strength?

Tank Encyclopedia – Panzer VIII Maus

Wikipedia – Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire

Whiting, Marvin C. – Imperial Chinese Military History (2002)