Thursday, February 17, 2011

Killing Kings: Patterns of Regicide in Europe, AD 600–1800

A new study by a Cambridge University criminologist reveals just how dangerous it was to be a monarch in Europe in the medieval and early modern eras.

On 30 January 1649 Charles I was executed on a balcony overlooking Whitehall in central London. A huge crowd, restrained by ranks of militia, gathered to witness his beheading. An eye witness reported that his severed head was thrown down and his hair cut off while soldiers dipped their swords in his blood.

As a royal meeting a ghastly fate, Charles I was far from alone. The astonishing number of European kings who met a violent end has been documented for the first time by a Cambridge University criminologist. Professor Manuel Eisner’s study reveals just how risky it was to be a monarch in an era when murdering those who stood in your way was a fast lane to power.

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