Bizarre Death: George Plantagenet


George Plantagenet was the 1st Duke of Clarence, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, the 1st Earl of Warwick, the brother of King Edward IV and the brother of King Richard III, who became king of England after George's death. His royal status did not save him from death. In fact, it was the very reason for his death.

George was found guilty of treason when his brother King Edward IV suspected him of vying for the throne. Like other treasonous royals before him, he was held in the Tower of London until his execution. It is not this macabre, yet interesting, path to death that makes George Plantagenet's death bizarre. It is the rumors that sprung up around his death that make the story so strange.

George Plantagenet was led to his death on February 18, 1478. The typical means of demise for executed royals was public beheading. In some cases, it was a private execution, as it was in George's case. After his death, it was suspected that he was not beheaded at all. An exhumation of the body supposed to be his reportedly turned up his head intact, though there is much speculation about whether the body belonged to him or not. Whether or not it was his body, it is believed that George Plantagenet was killed by forced drowning in a vat of wine -- Malmsey wine, to be precise.

Shakespeare's play Richard III about George's brother, who came to the throne later, holds to this rumor. The character of Plantagenet is drowned in wine. Because his manner of death was never verified, there is still the possibility that the rumors are true and Shakespeare's play is accurate in that regard.