The crown pleas sections of medieval eyre rolls provide countless stories of homicide and theft. They also contain brief reports of sudden or suspicious deaths. The same scenarios occur over and over again – fall from a horse, tree-chopping accident, crushing by a cart, child scalded in a cauldron, pigs being vicious… But there is the occasional unusual one which gives a bit more of an insight into medieval life – and death. One which caught my eye today, when I was looking for something completely different, was
[Accident] Matilda daughter of Alice wife of Roger le Tyssur. Alice her sister and Emma, daughter of Hugh Fader, were bathing (themselves) in the river Wharfe and all of them drowned. [Alice le Tyssur was the ‘first finder’ of the dead girls]. JUST 1/1098 m.48 Yorkshire eyre 1293 [my translation]
This tells us something about the dangers of bathing in the medieval world, as well, perhaps, as something about medieval female companionship.