top of page

An Ignoble Death by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

The year is 1567.

Hans Staininger refuses to wear a nosegay to protect him from the plague that is rampaging through Contantinople, just a few thousand kilometers from where he sits, stubbornly, in Bavaria.

Like the millions of American citizens who are determined to live free AND die by not covering their faces, Staininger had a fabulous excuse; his one-and-one-half meter long beard.

It was indeed luxurious and full, so full in fact that he tripped over it one day and broke his neck, ending the chance to pass on the title of Herr Hair to his heir.

Dying from Covid-19 because of a false sense of what liberty means seems an awfully stupid way to depart this mortal world, and one which descendents of those mask-averse victims might try to gloss over or amend, telling a less embarrassing and more typical demise tale instead.

It wouldn’t be the first time, I suspect, judging from these awkward expirations.

There’s Edmund Ironside, King of England in 1016, who was murdered from beneath while sitting on the toilet, by a cheeky assassin. Or, the last Caliph of Baghdad, Al-Musta-sim, who was rolled up in a beautiful rug and then stamped to death, leaving him in a twisted pile.

Others died more happily, but no less oddly. Take George Plantagenet, who in 1478 drowned in a barrel of the best madeira, or Pietro Aretino, who a century later, died laughing after being told a wonderfully-obscene joke, which unfortunately we shall never hear.