5 Historical Figures Who Were Assassinated in The Lavatory

Apr 24, 2023 0 comments

When a person is on the toilet, moving bowels, they are in a particularly vulnerable position. They are exposing parts of their body that are usually covered up, which leaves them susceptible to harm. Especially in ancient times, when sitting down while performing this bodily function could have left individuals defenseless and caught off guard, making them an easy target for attacks. No wonder, many assassins chose to strike when their victims were in this particular state of defenselessness. Let us look at some famous assassinations from the past executed in the toilet.

A medieval toilet, also known as a garderobe. Photo: Reddit

Edmund Ironside

Edmund Ironside was the son of King Æthelred II, the King of the English. When Sweyn Forkbeard, the King of Denmark, attacked England in 1013, King Æthelred fled to Normandy leaving Edmund and his two elder brothers behind. Sweyn died in February 1014 and his son Cnut was declared the new king. Sensing an opportunity, Æthelred returned to England and launched a surprise attack which defeated the Vikings and forced Cnut to flee England.

After regaining the throne, the royal family set about strengthening its hold on the country. People who had sided with the Danes were punished, and some were killed. Edmund married Ealdgyth, the widow of Sigeferth, the chief of the “Seven Burghs”, which also gave him considerable political advantage, since she was a member of one of the strongest families in the Midlands.

A 13th century illustration showing the Battle of Assandun, a peace treaty, and Edmund Ironside’s death.

Æthelred died in 1016 making Edmund the king. At the same time Cnut launched a new invasion of England, and within a few months absolutely pillaged the country. Edmund fought bravely, and after many indecisive battles against the Danes, a peace was negotiated dividing the country between them. Edmund received Wessex while Cnut took Mercia and probably Northumbria.

On 30 November 1016, Edmund was in London, and while visiting a privy to relieve himself, was stabbed by an unknown intruder. According to some sources, Edmund was killed by a crossbow, yet many medieval chroniclers believe that Edmund was not murdered but rather died from wounds received in the battle.

Jaromír, Duke of Bohemia

A bust of Jaromír in the Czech Republic. Photo: Karelj/Wikimedia

Jaromir was the second son of Boleslav II, Duke of Bohemia. When Boleslav II died, his elder brother Boleslaus III became the ruler, but he was a cruel and ill-tempered man. During his short reign, he behaved maliciously and erratically, causing many of the country's magnates, including the powerful Vršovci family, to turn against him. Eventually, his paranoia led him to believe that his two brothers were threats to him, and he ordered their murders. Ulrich, the younger brother, managed to escape to Bavaria, but Jaromir was not as fortunate and was castrated by Boleslav.

The Vršovci family staged a rebellion, and Boleslav III was forced to flee to seek refuge with the powerful King of Poland, Bolesław the Great. The Polish king appointed Vladivoj, a member of the Premyslid dynasty, to the ducal throne, but he was an infamous alcoholic and died soon after. With the help of the King of Poland, Boleslav III returned to power, offering impunity to his opponents in exchange for their support.

Related: The Erfurt Latrine Disaster

However, Boleslav broke his promise and ordered a massacre of the Vršovci clan. The Polish king lost all patience and finally deprived him of power. As punishment, Boleslav was blinded and imprisoned.

Jaromir became Duke, but after a few years he was overthrown by his brother Ulrich and so he sought support from the Roman Emperor. The Emperor, instead, locked him up for 21 years in a dungeon in Utrecht. Upon release, Jaromir returned and managed to depose Oldřich with the support of Emperor Conrad II in 1033, but his second reign was short-lived. A year later, Ulrich was restored and the duke ordered his brother to be blinded and thrown once again into prison. Fortunately, Ulrich soon died and Jaromir was released.

The poor old man, blinded and castrated, was ruthlessly murdered by a Vršovci assassin, who struck him with a spear in the groin when Jaromir was sitting on the toilet at night.

Godfrey the Hunchback

Godfrey IV, known as the Hunchback, was appointed the Duke of Lower Lorraine in 1069 by the German king Henry IV. Godfrey junior was small in stature and had a hunchback, but in spite of his physical handicap, Godfrey earned the respect of his followers and became a renowned leader. He joined forces with the bishop of Utrecht in 1070 to expel Count Dirk V and Robert 'the Frisian' from the Meuse estuary. Godfrey went on to conquer Frisia, at the eastern side of the Vlie, and founded the town of Delft. He also played a crucial role in helping King Henry subdue the Saxons in 1075.

Several years later, Dirk V, with the support of Robert, sought to reclaim his inheritance. Robert, who had become the count of Flanders through a combination of political machinations and military force, orchestrated the assassination of Godfrey to remove him as an obstacle. The assassin attacked Godfrey with a spear while he was relieving himself at night, fatally wounding him. Godfrey died seven days later as a result of his injuries.

Wenceslaus III of Bohemia

King Weneceslaus III was The King of Hungary and later King of Bohemia and Poland, and the last member of the famous Přemyslid dynasty.

Wenceslaus was crowned king of Hungary in 1301. Only twelve year old at the time, Wenceslaus’s rule was only nominal, because a dozen powerful lords held sway over large territories in the kingdom. His father realized that Wenceslaus's position could not be strengthened and took him back from Hungary to Bohemia in August 1304. After the death of is father, Wenceslaus claimed the throne in Bohemia and Poland, but realizing that he could not preserve his three kingdoms and decided to renounce Hungary and handed the Holy Crown of Hungary over to Otto III of Bavaria.

The sixteen-year-old Wenceslaus led a dissolute life. He was surrounded by a group of young Czech noblemen, to whom he made large land grants. When Władysław the Elbow-high captured Krakow in early 1306, Wenceslaus decided to invade his rival's territories in Poland. But before he could begin, he was murdered at the Olomouc Castle in 1306. He too was sitting in the toilet.

Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin, whose original name was Nagao Kagetora, was one of the most powerful daimyō of the Sengoku period. Known as the "Dragon of Echigo", Kenshin was renowned for his military brilliance on the battlefield, but he was also highly skilled at administration. He fostered local industries and trade, resulting in a significant improvement in the standard of living for those living in Echigo under his rule.

Nagao Torachiyo was the third son of the head of Echigo province in northeastern Japan. With the death of his father in 1543, the family’s control of the area began to disintegrate. However, Torachiyo was able to restore order to the region and even gained control over neighboring provinces, becoming one of the most dominant warriors in the central Honshu region's Kantō Plain.

In 1552, the Hōjō clan defeated Uesugi Norimasa, who was the governor-general of Kantō and came from the most influential family in the area. Seeking refuge, Norimasa took shelter with Torachiyo, who he then adopted as his son, prompting Torachiyo to change his surname to Uesugi. Torachiyo gained many of the Uesugi family's hereditary vassals and engaged in battles against the Hōjō and Takeda families, the eastern warlords vying for control of the Kantō region. Despite his battles with Takeda Shingen, a renowned general, neither side gained a permanent advantage.

Meanwhile, Oda Nobunaga had risen as the most formidable military leader in Japan and in 1573 he seized power from the shogunate, consolidating his control over the capital. The only warrior powerful enough to challenge Nobunaga was Uesugi, and in 1577, he agreed to launch an expedition to restore the shogunate. However, before the expedition could get under way, Uesugi became victim of one of the most famous ninja assassinations. The story goes that an assassin sent by Oda Nobunaga hid himself in the cesspool beneath the latrine at Kenshin's camp and stabbed him with a sword from below.


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