We’ve previously visited some of the gruesome, macabre and morbidly fascinating aspects of the European Middle Ages in some of our historical features [like this delightful list of witch-hunt torture methods], so if you’ve read those — or similar historical accounts of brief life and messy death in that era — you might not think a Twitter bot devoted entirely to recorded deaths from that same period would be one of the most-retweeted oddities of the past few months.
Then again, if you’re a visitor to this site, you’re probably delighted at this discovery. (“We accept you! One of us!”)
Currently boasting over 20,000 followers, Twitter account @DeathMedieval has generated well over 15,000 tweets (though some are repeated at random intervals), which the account’s creator maintains are condensed versions of actual coroner’s “death rolls” — specifically, documented reports listing probable causes of death for individuals whose demises were not witnessed, and therefore had to be deduced from the limited medical abilities available at the time.
@DeathMedieval’s prime mover, who bears the Twitter handle @corpsehands, pointed out [via UK site The Poke] that these coroners’ notes are seldom very detailed, and the causes don’t usually represent deaths by illness or natural causes — therefore, these reports don’t indicate any particular pattern, and therefore make the era look even more violent and horrific than books and movies already tend to depict it.
But there is a certain morbid humor to some of the tweets — which often recount some extremely bizarre (some may even say “Monty Pythonesque”) fatal accidents attributed to “death by misadventure.”
For a daily dose of Dark Ages doom, be sure to follow Medieval Death Bot on Twitter, but if you really want to explore the Medieval way of death in all its morbid glory, check out their Tumblr account, which is just getting underway…