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  • Walter II Tyrrell, seigneur de Poix (c.1065 - 1136)
    2nd Lord of Poix
  • Henry I "Beauclerc", King of England (1068 - 1135)
    Called "Beauclerc because of his study habits (Beauclerc meaning well-learnt, scholarly, erudite) Il est aussi connu sous le nom de Henri Ier de Normandie, roi d'Angleterre et Henri Ier, roi d'...
  • William II "Rufus", King of England (c.1056 - 1100)
    William II 'Rufus' II, Guillaume Le Roux, King of England William II preferred men, so no "lawful" children. From Medlands: GUILLAUME de Normandie ([1056/60] killed in the New Forest 2 Aug 1100, ...
  • Saint Patrick of Ireland (387 - 461)
    St. Patrick of Ireland Saint Patrick (Latin: Sanctus Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig), born in Kilpatrick near Dumbarton in Scotland c. 387 – died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland 17 March, 460/1. He wa...
  • Albrecht III von Mecklenburg, Kung av Sverige (c.1340 - 1412)
    Albrekt av Mecklenburg Från Wikipedia (Omdirigerad från Albrecht III av Mecklenburg) Kung Albrekt på den samtida gravvården i Mecklenburg. Regeringstid 1363-1389 (avsatt), (formellt vald 1...


One thousand years of people behaving badly

True Crime Medieval is a podcast hosted by Anne Brannen and Michelle Butler. It appears biweekly, each episode focusing on a crime committed in Medieval Europe. Find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher. Show notes and transcriptions of episodes are available at TrueCrimeMedieval -- and you can find direct links to the podcasts there, too.

The Death of William Rufus, New Forest, England, August 2, 1100

One day the King of England went out hunting, and did not come back, on account of having been shot by one of his hunting companions. Henry, his younger brother, became King in just a few days, and there was no inquest. Nobody at the time thought anything of this, really, because dying whilst hunting in the New Forest was pretty common, but later, lots of people Got Suspicious. We discuss this. Also the fact that the Face of Lucca doesn't really have anything to do with the Face of Bo. (Scheduled to air March 24, 2021)

37. St. Patrick Gets Kidnapped, Roman Britain, late 5th C.

In honor of St. Patrick's day, we have no snakes, no druids. We talk about Irish pirates capturing young Patricius, which was a crime, and then St. Patrick being all remorseful about something which was some sort of crime but nobody knows what it was, and then, having done all that, we talk a whole lot about St. Patrick movies, including a silent film from 1920 with which we are totally impressed, and another from 2000, which involves David Tennant and has us bemused. Also there is information about currachs, which have nothing to do with St. Patrick being kidnapped. Happy St. Patrick day! (Aired March 10, 2021)

36. The Piratical Victual Brothers, North and Baltic Seas, 1393-1440

After being hired to help run victuals into Stockholm through Queen Margaret of Denmark's blockade, the Victual Brothers turned to piracy, decimating the herring trade and annoying the Hanseatic League. Anne explains all that stuff, and Michelle waxes poetic about the medieval cog, which was apparently an awesome sort of ship. And as a special treat, we append the recording we made wherein we figured out why our sound issues hadn't been solved. (Aired February 24, 2021)

35. Mabel de Bellême is Murdered, Bures, Normandy 1079

Mabel de Bellême, wealthy Norman landowner, belonged to the de Bellême family. They were infamous for cruelty and general wickedness. Mabel exercised her share of the wickedness and cruelty; eventually one of the many Normans she impoverished gathered his brothers and murdered her. We discuss the de Bellêmes, when we're not discussing Orderic Vitalis, the monk who chronicled their history. (For those of you who have forgotten, it's Orderic who thought that the White Ship crashed on account of sodomy, rather than the rock in the harbor and everybody being drunk in the middle of the night.) (Aired February 10, 2021)

34. Thomas Malory Goes to Prison for Treason, London 1468

Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel got into lots of legal trouble in 1443, 1451, 1452, and might or might not have done the things he got accused of, but he did indeed enter into a plot, along with Richard Neville, to overthrow King Edward IV, for which he ended up in prison. Too bad for him! But lucky for us, because that's when he wrote The Hoole Book of Kyng Arthur and of His Noble Knyghtes of The Rounde Table, which got published, after his death, by William Caxton, which is why we know it. Caxton, by the way, made a bunch of editing decisions, one of which was to shorten the title to Le Morte d'Arthur . Your hosts explain lots of things -- Malory's legal troubles, where Le Morte d'Arthur fits into Arthurian literature, his feud with the Duke of Buckingham -- and some holy oil given to Becket by the Virgin Mary herself, and Dickens' connection to Marshalsea prison. It's all connected. Really. (Aired January 27, 2021)

33. The Theft of the Book of Kells, Kells 1006

Happy New Year! An episode without any deaths! The "chief treasure of the western world" (as the Annals of Ulster reported) was stolen from the Abbey of Kells in 1006, surprisingly, not by Vikings. The thieves tore off the cover, which was encrusted with gold and jewels, we figure, and threw away the manuscript itself, which was found 2 months and 20 days afterwards, "under a sod." Besides the book itself, and some other book which was like it in being thrown in a bog, and Kells, why we want to go there, Michelle also tells us about finding relatives in Meath, and a high cross in the river at Kells which might be there but if so it's impossible to find. Fun times! And we repeat: Vikings were not at fault! (Aired January 12, 2021)

32. Special Episode! Peter Konieczny from Explains Con Artists in Medieval London

It’s a Special Episode! Peter Konieczny joins us, to share his knowledge and stories about frauds in medieval London. A fake Earl’s son, who needs you to help a lot, really, no kidding. Fake government inspectors who need you to hand over the ale so they can test it, bye-bye. Bakers who steal bits of your dough so as to make extra loaves and shortchange you. Merchants who put dirt in cinnamon. London’s a scary place. Many thanks to Peter and (Aired December 30, 2020)

31. Christmas Episode: The Murder of Thomas Becket, Canterbury 1170

After years of annoying each other, and fighting about the boundaries between church power and royal power, Henry II of England lost his temper with Thomas Becket, at Christmas, and said something (we don't actually know what, exactly) which caused four knights who didn't know him very well (and hence didn't realize that he lost his temper all the time and would be getting over it in a while) to go down to Canterbury and murder the Archbishop. Bad career move, really. And Thomas Becket, who was then after all a martyr, started healing people and performing miracles pretty much immediately. Henry was very sorry. Or, at least, he said so. In this episode, we explain it all for you, and Michelle has a lot to say about drama. Not surprisingly.(Aired December 16, 2020)

30. Albigensian Crusade, Languedoc 1209-1229

Once the Latin Church figured out how to justify slaughtering people who weren't believing the things they were supposed to believe, according to the Latin Church, it was a short leap from slaughtering them in the Holy Land to slaughtering them in Europe. The Cathars were being very wrong, very wrong indeed, on account of being dualists and not believing in things like baptism and the resurrection. So the Pope called a crusade against them. And the French monarchy was glad to help, since the Languedoc -- where most of the Cathars were hanging out -- was rich and enticing territory to annex. To France. Which is why, in the Languedoc today, they mostly speak French rather than Occitan. Even though "languedoc" is from "langue d'oc"-- "language of òc." That's one way languages get endangered. (Aired December 2, 2020)

29. People's Crusade, France and Germany, 1096

At the end of 1095, Pope Urban II called for the first of several crusades, wherein the Latin Christian Europeans were supposed to go take the Holy Land away from the Islamic rulers who held it at that time. So the nobility of Europe, mostly from France, started putting together forces and money, so as to travel and fight. That was the Prince's Crusade, the First Crusade, and it would leave Europe in the summer of 1096. It takes a while to gather the wherewithal needed for such a venture. Unless you just plan on being a mob! In that case, you can be the People's Crusade, and leave for the Holy Land in April! It takes no time at all to gather money if you just steal it from other people. The People's Crusade slaughtered the Jewish communities that they came across, creating the first of the giant massacres of the Jews of Europe which would continue on through the Middle Ages. They never got to the Holy Land; those of them that survived the journey (and the Hungarians, who managed to kill a lot of them) managed to get as far as Civetot, where the Seljuk Turks slaughtered them. Your hosts aren't sorry about this. (Aired November 18, 2020)

28.The Sicilian Vespers, Sicily, Easter 1282

On Easter Monday, 1282, the Sicilians revolted against the French government that had been in place since 1266; in the course of a few weeks 4,000 to 8,000 French people were slaughtered, depending on what source you are reading. We explain how things got to such a pass, and Michelle has a lovely trip down a rabbit hole wherein she discovers the awesomeness of Stephen Runciman. George Orwell makes a cameo appearance. (Aired November 4, 2020)

27. Halloween Episode: Arche the Miller and his Drunken Buddies Pretend to be Ghosts, Cambridgeshire, England 1592

When Arche the Miller and a bunch of his cohorts got very very drunk and pretended to be ghosts, they were living in Early Modern England, but they were pretending to be Medieval Ghosts, new ghosts having not been invented yet. In this episode, we explain medieval ghosts and how to pretend to be one, tell medieval ghosts stories, and try to wrap our minds around the well-known medieval forensic tool wherein murdered bodies bleed when the murderer comes by. Happy Halloween! (Aired October 21, 2020)

26. Robert the Bruce Kills John Comyn, Dumfries, Scotland 1306

Robert the Bruce was not yet King of the Scots when he stabbed John Comyn in front of the high altar in Greyfriars' Church in Dumfries. But he would be, pretty soon, in spite of being excommunicated for violence in the church. We explain the fight for the crown of Scotland and the interfering bossiness of Edward I of England, but we don't explain whether the Bruce murdered Comyn or it was self-defense, because we don't really know. Because chroniclers. (Aired October 7, 2020)

25. The Vikings Raid Lindisfarne, Northumbria 793

It was quite a shock to the rest of Europe when the Vikings, who had been raiding in Scandinavia and making little raids occasionally in Europe, pillaged The Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. The Vikings were pumped, though; it was a very profitable day. That was the beginning of the Viking Age. We discuss the Viking Age, why it was clear to the Vikings that raiding (as opposed to thievery) was not a crime, and why Hnefatafl, which everybody calls Viking chess, isn't really like chess at all. (Aired September 23, 2020)

24. Philip IV Slaughters the French Knights Templar, Paris, 1310

After having lost Cyprus, their last holding in the Middle East, the Knights Templar no longer had a bunch of Christian pilgrims to protect, so they tried to figure out what to do next. Find new mandate? Join the Hospitalers? Well, no, neither one, darn it. Philip IV of France, who owed a whole hell of a lot of money to the order, strong armed the Pope, with the result that the order got disbanded and the French Templars got exterminated. We're both annoyed at Philip, Pope Clement V, Sir Walter Scott, and anybody continuing to tell lies about the Templars. It's not that we approve of them, really. We just hate the lies. Oh, and we think King Denis I of Portugal is awesome. (Aired September 9, 2020)

23. The Sheer Dreadfulness of Hugh Despenser the Younger, Hereford, England, 1326

It’s true that Edward II was a very bad ruler; one of his problems was that he would adhere loyally to his favorites. And though his loyalty to Piers Gaveston gave him difficulties, his loyalty to Hugh Despenser got him dead. Why, oh, why, did Edward think so highly of Hugh Despenser, the greedy dangerous, annoying chancellor who was so very dreadful that the queen invaded the country to get rid of him? And is the only Englishman to have a war named after him? Why? We don’t know that. But we do know that really Hugh should have been sent away long before things fell apart. In this episode, we discuss the dreadfulness of Hugh, and the exciting news that we have perhaps found some of his bones. Oh, and that execution. It was bad. (Aired August 26, 2020)

22. The Murder of Edward II, Berkeley Castle, England 1327

In September, 1327, Edward II, who was by that time no longer King of England, was murdered, at Berkeley Castle. Probably. We discuss what happened, what could have happened, what didn't happen, and oh of course why the king was a former king, and why the former king had to be gotten rid of. Michelle explodes lots of myths. And we decide that though we would not like for Edward II to be our ruler, he was probably a wonderful dinner companion. (Aired August 12, 2020)

21. The Murder of Marguerite Porete, Paris 1310

Marguerite Porete wrote a book. One bishop said it was heretical and burnt it. Three theologians said it wasn’t heretical, just really difficult for regular people to work with, on account of in order to follow it, you’d have to be as spiritually ardent as Marguerite Porete, and very few people were. The head Inquisitor of France got a committee together, and they said the book was heretical and she should take it back and say sorry. She didn’t. They burned her and the book both. The crowd wept. The book (since not all the copies had been burnt) became very popular, but nobody knew who had written it. But we know now! It was Marguerite. In this episode, we explain what she wrote. And Michelle discovers that really Philip IV of France was quite dreadful and she’s sorry she had such pity for him when we covered the Tour de Nesle affair, and really he got what was coming to him. (Aired July 29, 2020)

20. The Massacre at Abergavenny, Wales, Christmas 1175

William de Braose invited Seisyll ap Dyfnwal and some other local Welsh leaders over for Christmas dinner, at which they were all going to agree to live in peace and whatnot. This made sense to the Welsh, who normally wouldn't have trusted William de Braose any further than they could throw him, because for them, it was the time of reconciliation! Settling debts! Being nice! So you can imagine what a shock it was when William had the doors shut and murdered everybody. Then, because he wasn't done yet, he went on over to Seisyll's castle, captured his wife Gwladys, and slaughtered his 7 year old son Cadwaladr. Merry Christmas! Naturally, the Welsh never forgot this. Anglo-Norman and Welsh relations were set back for decades, and they hadn't been good to begin with. (Bonus! Popper the parrot decides to chime in.) (Aired July 15, 2020)

19. The Murder of Sigebert, Vitry-en-Artois 575

We go back to the early years of our 1000 year mandate, to discuss some of the Merovingians! Lots of people murdered each other and got murdered; here, we're covering Sigebert, who was assassinated by his sister in law. Also, we include Sigebert's wife Brunhilda, who managed to do lots of damage before her eventual execution. And Michelle gets to explain why the Nibelungenlied really has not got much to do with this couple. She read the whole damn thing, too. Bless her heart. (Also Anne's right-left dyslexia causes her to tell you that east is west; but no; Austrasia is the eastern piece of Merovingia. You should let her drive you around. That's exciting.) (Aired July 1, 2020)

18. The Peasants' Revolt, England 1381

When English commoners marched on London in 1381, killing court officials, Flemish immigrants, and anybody associated with John of Gaunt, it was after they had been through years of social unrest following the Black Death, and several harsh taxes. The Revolt is well known even now, not because of the peasants' demands (which they didn't get -- abolishment of serfdom? executions of all of the king's councilors? get real), but because John Ball was giving sermons to them (to either rouse their spirits or incite them to riot, depending on how you look at it), and he was preaching the abolishment of class divisions, and the abolishment of private property. That's what we remember. (He didn't get his demands, either.) (Aired June 17, 2020)

17. The Murder of Joan of Arc, Rouen 1431

The Burgundians were fighting a civil war with the rest of France; they allied with the English, who were fighting the French in the last section of the Hundred Years' War; Joan had been causing them both trouble by inspiring the French to fight; the Burgundians captured her and sold her to the English; the English convened an ecclesiastical court and had her condemned for heresy, on a technicality, so they could burn her at the stake. That was how they got rid of a prisoner of war who was being led by saints and angels. We explain the process, and Michelle finds reasons to admire both the snow sculptures of Arras and the poet Southey. (Aired June 3, 2020)

16. Vlad Țepeș Slaughters the Transylvanian Saxons, Wallachia, 1460

Vlad Țepeș -- Vlad the Impaler, also called Dracula, since his father was Vlad Dracul-- had a reputation for cruelty even during his lifetime, due to the fact that Germany had the printing press and he had impaled the Transylvanian Saxons after destroying much of southern Transylvania. Nowadays, he's conflated with Dracula the Vampire, but Bram Stoker made that up. But it was a war crime, even by late medieval standards, to impale an entire population on stakes. In this episode, Anne discusses history and medieval war crimes, and Michelle discusses vampires. Because of Bram Stoker. (Aired May 20, 2020)

15. Crimes Against the Jews, Latin Europe 1348-1349

Over the course of the Black Death, Christians across Europe carried out massacres, imposed exiles, and confiscated the goods of their Jewish neighbors, though the Pope tried to stop them. It was the worst wave of massacres of the Jews in Europe before those of WWII. But the context of the massacres is the hundreds of years before and after, of crimes just as horrific though not as concentrated. We discuss that background, and focus on two examples: Erfurt and Strasbourg, both in 1349. (Aired May 6, 2020)

14. Accusations of Witchcraft against Alice Kyteler, Kilkenny 1324

In 1324, Alice Kyteler and several other Anglo-Norman citizens of Kilkenny were accused of witchcraft. Kyteler's husband had died under suspicious circumstances, and the new bishop was obsessed with witchcraft: perfect storm. What do your hosts believe? Yes to the poisoned husband. No to the nine red roosters and the four and a half peacocks. And her cohorts, including Petronilla de Meath, who was burned at the stake? Wrong place, wrong time. Oh, and Kyteler got away. (Scheduled to air April 22, 2020)

13. The Murder of Peter of Castile, Montiel, Spain 1369

On the 23rd of March, 1369, the noble, worthy Pedro of Castile, the glory of Spain (we're quoting Chaucer here) was treacherously murdered by Henry of Trastámara, his half brother and rival for the throne. And that is what we were planning on talking about. Promise. But we got sidetracked, Anne by the interesting litany of the murders that Pedro himself committed, and Michelle by the interesting rabbit-hole of a play written in 1818 by Ann Doherty. We cover the murder of Pedro, we really do. It's in there someplace. (Aired April 8, 2020)

12. Eustace the Pirate, Battle of Sandwich, England 1217

Eustace the Monk, AKA Eustace the Outlaw, AKA Eustace the Pirate, AKA Eustace the Mercenary, AKA Eustace the Admiral of the French Fleet, led a varied and exciting existence, hired as a pirate mercenary first by the English, then by the French. Everything was great until the Battle of Sandwich, at which he lost his head. (Aired March 25, 2020)

11. The Black Dinner, Edinburgh 1440

In 1440, King James of Scotland was 10 years old, and the power struggles around the throne were deadly. The Douglases weren't, at the moment, as powerful as they had been, but would be stronger any minute, as the 16 year old 6th Earl of Douglas would indeed be getting older. Unless somebody murdered him first! There's an idea! Were the 6th Earl and his little brother invited to Edinburgh, given a mock trial and beheaded? Yes. Yes, they were. Was there a dinner first, at which their upcoming deaths were announced by a black bull's head being slammed on the table? No, and no. Was the child king there, sobbing and begging for their lives? Nope. Did George R.R. Martin know this famous story, and did it influence his Red Wedding? Yes. But that still doesn't make it true. (Aired March 11, 2020)

10. The Tour de Nesle Scandal, Paris 1314

In 1314, Philip IV of France had three adult sons, all married. There should have been no problem with the royal lineage. Too bad that Philip's three daughters-in-law all got into trouble, because two of them were having affairs with a couple of Norman brothers who were knights of the household. Too bad, indeed. Torture, executions, dungeon incarcerations, and the dying off of the Capetian line would follow. Oh, and Isabella the She Wolf was involved. (Bonus! Michelle explains the Three Rules of Regifting, none of which the princesses paid any attention to. Big mistake.) (Aired February 26, 2020)

9. Fra Alberigo, Faenza 1285

As far as we can figure out, the only reason that anybody knows anything about Fra Alberigo, who murdered a couple of kinsmen at a banquet in 1285 in Faenza, is that Dante stuck him in the traitors’ level of hell in the Inferno. Horrible crime! Violation of the ancient laws of hospitality! But he didn’t get arrested, he didn’t go to trial, he just ended up in Hell before he actually died, because Dante tweaked theology, and so now he lives on. Forever. In footnotes to the Inferno. We discuss the Jovial Friars, the 9th circle of hell, and medieval lasagne. Indeed, if you go over to the Show Notes, we’re including a recipe. Oh, and also the Maryland State Flag, but you have to listen to the podcast to find out why. Update: He was fined. And he had to leave town for a while. So there's that. (Aired February 12, 2020)

8. Els von Eystett, Nördlingen 1471

Living as a prostitute in the municipal brothel in Nördlingen, Els von Eystett, forced to have an abortion (periwinkle, cloves, wild carrot and wine was the recipe), refused to be silent, even after she was beaten by the brothel-keeper. She and the other women working in the brothel testified against the brothel-keeper and the madam, giving details about the horrible conditions they worked in. The city officials believed them, and they won the case. Really. Also, Nördlingen was built inside a meteor crater. Really. (Aired January 29, 2020)

7. Gilles de Rais, Nantes, 1440

Marshall of France and war hero, Gilles de Rais spiraled downward precipitously, ending up being executed for murder, sodomy, torture, and heresy in 1440. Whether or not he actually sold his soul to the devil in the process is debatable. In good news, though, he produced an awesome dramatic extravaganza before he started murdering children. (Aired January 20, 2020)

6. The White Ship Disaster, Barfleur, Normandy 1120

The fact that some people think that Stephen of Blois — or maybe Ranulf Meschin — caused the sinking of la Blanche-Nef allows us to consider it a True Crime. It wasn’t. But it was the worst teenage drunken party in history, and that’s good enough for us. (Aired December 18, 2019)

5. Beatrice Cenci, Rome 1599

Oh, all right. Outside of our 1000 year mandate. Only just, though. And there is torture! A lurid trial! Ghost with severed head! Also a really bad play by Shelley, but that came lots later. (Aired December 4, 2019)

4. The Princes in the Tower, Part 2, London 1483

In this episode, we discuss the various theories of what happened to young Edward V and his little brother Richard, who went into the Tower of London in June of 1483 and never came out alive. As far as anybody really knows. (Aired November 20, 2019)

3. The Princes in the Tower, Part 1, London 1483'

Well, probably 1483. That’s the last time anybody saw them, anyway. In this first part, we discuss the Cousins’ War, and how the boys ended up in the Tower, in June of 1483. (Aired November 6, 2019)

2. The Bloodfeast of Roskilde, Roskilde 1157

One of the three kings of Denmark attempted to get rid of the other two. He was only partially successful. (Aired October 30, 2019)

1. Cangrande della Scala, Verona, 1329'

We start off with a poisoning. Because Michelle wanted a poisoning. And it’s Cangrande della Scala. Because Dante. (Aired October 16, 2019)