News Item: Accidents, Tudor-Style

A strange little article from the BBC: 10 Strange Ways Tudors Died, which I have to admit I thought was a review of a new trashy series about 16th-century monarchs. In reality, it is  a collection of accidental death reports culled from 16th-century coroner’s files by Oxford historian Dr. Steven Gunn.

The stories range from dubious landmarks — Britain’s first accidental shooting death seems to have been in 1519 — to period-specific hazards, as when bears kept for bear-baiting escaped and attacked random humans (hard to blame the bears, really). But many are simply bizarre, as in the case of the man who shot himself in the head with his own bow.

Dr. Gunn has apparently spent some time researching coroner’s reports and accidental deaths in Tudor England. The article does not say what scholarly conclusions he has reached about them, but preliminary findings would seem to indicate that the freak accident has a long and illustrious history.

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