War is brutal. And medieval war especially so. Imagine being encased in your armour and roasted to death. It’s the stuff of a very claustrophobic nightmare. And yet – I regret to say – this actually happened.
Knights roasted in his armour
We move a hundred years forward from the suppression of the Templar order to an incident that illustrates the horrors of medieval war. By the fifteenth century, knights were kitted out in the heavy plate armour that most people associate with the medieval period. Though Templars never wore such cumbersome sheets of metal.
From the end of the Templar period and for the next century – the English waged a long and bloody war against the French. This culminated in the brilliant though hugely expensive and ultimately unsuccessful battles fought by Henry V. In 1417, he laid siege to Caen – ancestral seat of the Norman kings who had ruled England from 1066.
It meant a lot to get Caen back in to the Norman/Angevin/English empire. So a vicious battle was fought and the city eventually taken. But not before one hapless knight called Sir Edmund Springhouse had a little accident in his full armour.
The problem was – well, you try climbing a scaling ladder up the side of a castle wall with who knows what being thrown down at you while you are wearing a full suit of armour. Poor Sir Edmund lost his footing and fell to the ground very painfully.
DISCOVER: Five great novels on the Knights Templar
Sir Edmund and his armour get roasted
Encased in his heavy armour and probably having broken something like a leg or arm, he couldn’t get up. But worse was that he now found himself surrounded by enemy French troops who took one look at him and decided to inflict what can only be described as a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.
They heaped hay and straw on his prone and groaning figure – largely obscured from view by his armour and helmet – and then set the material on fire. Unable to rise, Sir Edmund was duly roasted alive inside what should have been a protective suit of armour. What a gruesome way to go!