Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S: by Strangling (26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary)

During the history of 14th century Hungary, strangling ran in the royal family.

The new dynasty on the throne was the Anjou: Károly Róbert I (1301-1342), his oldest son Lajos I the Great (1342-1382), and Lajos' daughter Mária (1382-1395). For today's purposes, however, we will be focusing on Lajos' younger brother Endre, who had the misfortune of being married to one of the most notorious female rulers of the era: Joanna I of Naples.
According to legend, Joanna wanted him out of Naples, and out of her life. He was never officially crowned (no matter how much his brother and mother bribed the Pope), so while she was queen in her own right, he was known as the Duke of Calabria. Of course that hurt his fragile male ego, as well as the pride of his queen mother, the Polish princess Erzsébet. The chronicle says that after she visited him in Naples, she was suspicious that Joanna might want him gone for good, and left Hungarian guards to watch him at all times. On top of that, she also left him a magic ring that made him invulnerable to all weapons.
Joanna, not a girl to give up easy, managed to lure her husband on a weekend getaway to one of their hunting castles. In the middle of the night there was a knock on the bedroom door; the good-natured Endre opened it unarmed (and no doubt a little groggy) and was immediately attacked by Italian soldiers. After throwing a few punches he tried to get back into the bedroom to his weapons, but Joanna locked the door behind him.
The people who attacked the duke knew that his ring made him invulnerable to weapons... So they ended up strangling him with a rope.
Loopholes. There is always one to every spell.

And while on the topic of strangling: Lajos I was married to a Bosnian princess named Kotromanich Erzsébet - another Erzsébet, another strong royal woman, famous for her great beauty and ambition. After the death of her husband she threw herself into one of the bloodiest eras of intrigue in Hungarian history, a to-the-death fight for the throne between her daughter Mária, Mária's fiance Zsigmond of Luxembourg (son of the Holy Roman Emperor), and Charles III of Naples (related to the Hungarian kings on the female line). Erzsébet ran the court in the name of Mária (who was too young and good-natured for politics), made alliances and enemies, and fought tooth and nail to stay in power. It was not easy: Hungary in the 14th century was not exactly prepared for a female ruler yet. Erzsébet had her opponent, Charles III (crowned as Károly II as a Hungarian king), attacked in her own chambers, and strangled soon after while he was still recovering from his wounds.
(Game of Thrones' got nothing on this.)

In the end, she did not win. She and Mária were captured as they were traveling the southern territories of the kingdom. In their captivity, according to the chronicles, Erzsébet was strangled in front of her daughter. Later Mária had the killer of her mother executed, but she didn't survive long: In 1395, she fell off her horse in an "accident" while heavily pregnant, and died in the resulting childbirth. Zsigmond of Luxembourg ended up on the throne after all.

Yeah. When you were a female member of the royal family, "win or die" was really how it went.


  1. So much for magic rings! Darn! It really had a hole in the middle.
    Really tough for the women of the family. What kind of woman would you have to be to make it? Utterly ruthless and beyond clever?
    Maui Jungalow

  2. And we thought GRRM was over doing it - clearly he was looking at Medieval history as his inspiration. Strangling seems popular.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  3. I had no idea that Erzsébet was such a popular name! At first I thought this post was about Elizabeth of Bathory :)

    1. Nah, I already talked about her a couple days ago for M :)

  4. Strangulation is a scary way to go. So the magic ring didn't protect against rope, huh?

  5. I was hoping they were just going to say "screw it" and strangle him with their bare hands. Now THAT would be metal...

    But yeah, totally see echoes of AGOT through all of these. Martin did his research...

  6. We get bonus deaths this day. It seems strangling is rather popular.

  7. What disasters power could bring to a person.

  8. I like how they didn't even try to see if their weapons would kill Endre. It's like, "he's got a magic ring, what can we do?" Love it. :)

  9. Oh, wow... Indeed, Game of Thrones is mellow and fairy-tale-ish compared to reality (in Hungary, at least ;) ). Love how you tell these stories, Csenge!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

  10. And I thought the current U.S. Congress was dysfunctional.

  11. Wow! what a tough life, the royal one.

  12. It doesn't look like it was a bed of roses for any of the Royals. Not even a magic ring could save poor old Endre.

  13. I think he should have gotten a divorce. Maybe then he wouldn't have been strangled. o.o

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

  14. I'm looking forward to how the winner of the thrown was killed tomorrow (unless he died earlier in the challenge)

  15. First, that picture of the crown was beautiful! Second, strangulation could be such a personal way to kill someone, depending how you did it, by hands or by a rope or something from behind. Great post, and thanks for stopping by my S Post earlier!

  16. I think Elizabeth was a Polish queen not a princess. And, yes, the ring did not work, Andrew was assassinated. If I remember correctly she is the one who introduced perfume to Hungary. Poles did not like her (did not like to pay taxes), she run to Hungary and was killed there.

  17. Facinating. And the war of the roses now looks like kid's play in comparison.

  18. Oh my... Death by straggling is such a brutal way to go. Sheesh.

  19. I love that they didn't even try weapons because "well, he's got that ring..." Indeed, good thing for loopholes, except for that poor Duke! :P

  20. Female rulers in history always have the most interesting power struggles. With the men it's always a slap fight between brothers or nephews and uncles, but the women seem to jump onto the throne and dig their nails in while kicking the eyes out of their opponents with stiletto heels.

    And goddamn, I want a magic ring that makes me impervious to all weapons. Not that I'm finding myself fighting off swords and pitchforks and what have you, but that's a pretty awesome thing to have bragging rights to.