Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R: by Rolling Down a Hill (26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary)

If you visit Budapest, one of the most spectacular tourist destinations you will probably be directed to is the Gellérthegy (Gellért's Hill). It is a steep, rocky hill right by the Danube, and a great vantage point.
Back in the day, it was also a prime site for making instant saints out of people.

Once again, we are back to István I. During his reign, a priest from Venice called Gerardo Sagredo was brought to him by some over-eager Hungarian abbot - Gerardo was on his merry way to live in the Holy Land, but the Hungarians convinced him to bring his talents in conversion to the new Hungarian kingdom instead. Gerardo - known to us as Gellért - ended up as the personal mentor to István's devout young son Prince Imre (remember him?), and stayed in Hungary for the rest of his life.
After István's death, Gellért was fairly active not only in conversions, but also in politics. He did not support either of the following kings - Pietro Orseolo from his hometown, or Aba Sámuel from one of the Hungarian families - but he did like the idea of Vazul's sons returning home from exile. According to his legend, he was on his way to greet them in Buda in 1046 when he was captured.
You see, while thousands of people were taking on Christianity, there were also those who were not keen on the idea. There were several "pagan rebellions" in those times, one of the most famous led by a man named Vata. It was his people that captured Gellért in Buda - he was both a foreigner and a Christian priest, which meant he was the perfect person to make an example (and a martyr) of.
In order to make the execution spectacular, they put Gellért in a two-wheeled cart and rolled him down the side of the hill. If you look at some pictures, you know that had to be bad to begin with, and yet according to some sources Gellért was still alive when he reached the bottom. In order to make sure he was dead they stabbed him with a spear, and then broke his head on a rock.
Gellért was sainted together with István I and Prince Imre a mere 37 years later. He is buried in Venice. They named the hill after him in reverence, and ever since then we all learn the story of how it got that name.

27 comments:

  1. That does not look like a hill anyone would want to roll down. Surely that he survived should have been a sign that someone was looking out for him as far as natural forced were concerned?!
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  2. Gives new meaning to 'take that' and 'that' and 'that'. Yikes.

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  3. We rolled our own saints... (Too soon?)

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  4. Now I know where people got the idea of rolling in tires.

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  5. What possesses someone to execute someone "by cart?" I mean, you could stab, them, hang them, behead them, quarter them, boil them in oil, or any of the other 25 wonderful methods you're exploring this month.

    Death by cart just sounds lazy.

    "How we gonna kill 'em?"

    "Eh, I'm going on break in five minutes. I don't want to bring him all the way back to the prison and then drag him out to the gallows this afternoon."

    "Well, he's already in a rickety cart, and the hill's right there..."

    "Oops!"

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    1. I imagine that's exactly what happened.... XD

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    2. Well I giggled at the title, read it and went ooh that's grim, then came to make a comment and giggled again at C.D. Gallant-King's version :D

      I might end on the giggle!

      Mars xx
      Curling Stones for Lego People

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    3. Well I giggled at the title, read it and went ooh that's grim, then came to make a comment and giggled again at C.D. Gallant-King's version :D

      I might end on the giggle!

      Mars xx
      Curling Stones for Lego People

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  6. They had to go to all the trouble of stabbing etc. in the end anyway, although I can't imagine how he survived the descent and the landing.

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  7. Is that a hill or a mountain? Yikes! I wonder why they put him in a cart and didn't just throw him down. Would've saved them from having to stab him and bash in his head. Again...YIKES!

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  8. Now I know where Poles got an idea of taking unwanted leaders on the wheal barrow to the garbage damp...

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  9. couldn't they just leave the man go on his merry way to the holly lands? ah well! I guess naming the hill was more important.

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  10. R, death by religion rolling.

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  11. This makes beheading look good.

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  12. That's a pretty nasty fate. It reminds me of how some GULAG prisoners were killed or tortured by being tied to a log and rolled down a hill. Some were dead when they reached the bottom, while others survived with various types of injuries.

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  13. Sounds like Gellert was not too revered by all during his lifetime. This is one of the most bizarre execution methods, and your post title makes it sound so sweet and innocent!

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  14. It seems like they went about this guy's death in a ridiculously difficult way. o.O

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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  15. Hmm, very weird. I agree with the comment before me, seems like a silly way to try to kill someone. Thanks for stopping by my post earlier today!

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  16. What a gnarly story. "Prime site for making instant saints out of people." That's such funny way of putting it. I've been to Budapest only for one day and thought it was beautiful. I remember seeing the city from one of the hills at night with the bridge lit up - maybe it was one of the saint-making hills.
    Maui Jungalow

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  17. Roll-stab-bash... sounds to me like they really wanted this dude to suffer...
    Wendy at Wendy of The Rock

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  18. Wow... never expected that one. What a 'unique' way of killing someone. I think secretly they always wanted to try it for themselves and just wondered if they would die if they did- so they tried it on someone they thought was expendable lol.

    LOVING your blog! Will certainly be back!

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  19. Medieval creativity on how to kill people continues to amaze. I feel like there must have been a treatise written on the subject.

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  20. That was one of the more unique death methods I've read about. That is one spectacular hill.

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  21. They could have just stabbed him in the first place, couldn't they? Why go through all that trouble? lol

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  22. This reminds me of when my siblings and I used to rush a Radio Flyer down a hill with no way to brake it... of course we never broke anything (somehow)... but with how steep that hill is, I can't believe he survived! :(

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