William the Conqueror and his exploding corpse

 

William the Conqueror (1028–1087) wasn’t really feeling the “conqueror” part of his name as he advanced in years and his weight caught up with him. When William had grown so fat that he was having difficulty riding, he decided it was time to conquer his own body…. with a rather special diet.

It was a hardcore diet consisting of nothing but alcohol. William lay in bed and basically went on a lengthy bender. And it worked. He soon lost enough weight to ride horses again, an irony, it turned out, because riding horses led to his untimely death. In 1087, William’s belly (still quite corpulent), smashed into the pommel of his saddle with so much force that it caused internal damage. William eventually died from the wound. In a horrifying historical side note to categorise under “how the mighty have fallen,” William’s already bloating body proved too large for his previously arranged sarcophagus. When his attendants attempted to force his body into the coffin, the body literally popped, filling the church with a terrible stench and a variety of disgusting bodily fluids.

Needless to say, it was a brief funeral.

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