Medieval Forensics

Many authors have written medieval murder mysteries, including me! In The Irish Bride, my latest medieval mystery, a monk is found dead within moments of Gwen and Gareth’s arrival in Ireland. As medieval detectives, how do they go about finding the killer? What can they possibly determine forensically without laboratories, fingerprints, and all the trappings of modern investigations? Medieval forensics was primitive, but there were some things a medieval detective could determine, including time of death, whether poison was involved, and whether the body was moved (thanks to another author, Jeri Westerson, for some of this information): Time of death:  Rigor mortis—literally, “death stiffness,” happens very predictably. Beginning two hours after death and starting from the face and moving down the body, the body takes eight to twelve hours to become completely stiff, remains rigid for the next eighteen hours, Read more…

William de Braose and The Red Wedding

In the Game of Thrones, ‘the red wedding’ (not to ruin it for anyone) is a massacre of epic proportions. While the author, Martin, says he based the scene on real events in Scotland, Wales had a similar incident, sad to say, this one on Christmas Day. Here is the entry from Wikipedia which is accurate as far as events go: “In 1175, William de Braose carried out the Abergavenny Massacre, luring three Welsh princes and other Welsh leaders to their deaths. His principal antagonist was a Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, of Castell Arnallt near Llanover in the valley of the River Usk near Abergavenny, whom he blamed for the death of his uncle Henry. After having invited the Welsh leaders to a Christmas feast at Abergavenny Castle under the pretence of peace and the start of a new era at the end of the year (a traditional time for settling outstanding Read more…