You may have seen our article about the unfortunate decomposition event, if we can call it that, of Henry VIII of England. But it would appear as though he was not the only king of England to have part of his anatomy explode. In fact, William the Conqueror’s stomach exploded too.
William the Conqueror is best remembered for his invasion and conquest of England in 1066. He defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, after the Anglo-Saxon king had only just defeated a Viking invasion to the north before quickly marching his forces south to face William. History might not be as we know it had the timeline of history been a little different.
Anyway, back to the exploding gut. While he was out campaigning against his own son in France, with an army we might add, he fell ill. The cause of his death remains a mystery, however one of the most plausible explanations is that his horse reared up forcing his saddle into his abdomen with incredible force, possibly rupturing his intestines. Shortly after falling ill, he died. Hardly a fitting end to a conquering king. But then things got messy.
Following his death, William was transported back to Caen, in the north west of France for burial. As it was early Fall, and still warm, it wasn’t the best conditions for a corpse to be exposed to. Usually it wouldn’t be a problem, but his burial was delayed.
Before he could be laid to rest a peasant complained that the land on which the late king was to be buried on belonged to him, and the church had conned him out of it to build a house of worship. But surprisingly, instead of discarding the peasant in a similar method that a slaughter house does a cow or a chicken, they sat down to legal discussions. No, they seriously did. Even his son and future king of England, Henry I was present and agreed to the legal meeting. In the end the peasant was compensated, and the late king was allowed to be laid to rest.
By the time his burial time had finally arrived his belly had swollen to huge proportions. He would not fit into his coffin. While they were trying to lower him into his grave he failed to fit in it too. In an effort to make him fit his stomach eventually exploded. His funeral had to be abandoned due to the awful small. But why did he explode?
Why did William the Conquerors stomach explode?
Lets not beat around the bush. He died in early September, so it was still relatively warm. His body wouldn’t have undergone the same kind of embalming techniques in use today, and they couldn’t exactly place his corpse on ice to preserve it. His body was beginning to rot, and from the inside out.
As his insides decomposed they produced large amounts of gas, mostly methane. These gases had no way to escape, so continued to build up. As his body continued to lay in wait, the decomposition didn’t hold back. Just like inflating a balloon, before long his abdomen had swollen to an enormous size, and the gases ruptured through his belly, releasing the putrid smell and rotting insides.
- 10 Things You May Not Know About William the Conqueror
- The Death of William the Conqueror
- Why his corpse drove worshippers running out of the church!