Die By the Sword: These 6 Medieval Murders Changed the Course of History

Going Medieval

Balance of power is a very fragile thing indeed. Murder of royalty or a famous writer helped write history in Europe for hundreds of years. Here’s a look at 6 medieval crimes that had a profound impact on the future of Europe.


1. The Murder of Charles the Good

Charles was born in Denmark, but after his father was murdered, his mother fled to Flanders. His mother eventually married an Italian duke, leaving Charles in Flanders under the care of his grandparents. Charles fought in the crusades and was offered a crown of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but refused it for reasons unknown.

Charles became the Count of Flanders after his cousin passed away and designated him as his successor. As count, Charles expelled Jews from Flanders and blamed them for a famine in his region.

He also distributed bread to the poor and took action to reduce price gouging of grains. This directly affected the Erembald family (who were overpricing grains for financial gain), who then plotted his murder.

On the morning of March 2, 1127, Charles was murdered while he was knelt in prayer. A group of knights attacked him with swords. The brutal murder sparked public outrage and a civil war that long upset the balance of power in Europe. William Clito was then appointed by the King of France as the next Count of Flanders, an area that was fought over by France and England for many years to come.


  • grada3784

    Sort of murders. Maybe?

  • Jamie Clemons

    William Wallace?

    • Robert McIntire

      Technically he was executed for treason pursuant to lawful process — at least if you support the English.

  • kansasplainsman


  • Alik Rubinshteyn

    “The murder of John the Fearless launched France into what’s now known as The Hundred Years’ War.” Is it a joke? The hundred years was started 80 years earlier.

    • Corbin Mcnabb

      Closer to the end of the 100 years war. It was about the right time for a reenergizing of the war, which was more of a series of wars than one long war.

  • Richard Walker

    I would have said the two princes in 1483. If Edward V had of lived, there would have been no Tudor reign, no HVIII, no Mary nor Elizabeth, which means no King James version of the Bible. No Jamestown, Va. and possibly a Spanish-speaking North America.

  • Wilburn Smith

    No Becket?

  • RhodeIslandAspie

    What if Ivan IV aka Ivan the Terrible had not murdered his eldest son Ivan in a fit of rage? Upon Ivan the T’s death, the throw went to Feodor, who wasn’t a particularly strong ruler and worse, his marriage did not produce a male successor to the Rurik line, and this lead to Russia’s TIme of Troubles. With Ivan IV succeeding his father there would have been at least a legitimate successor, ant therefore not and endless mob of claimants to the throne. It’s hard to say what that would mean for sure in the long term. But given that Russian problems have often ended up to be Europe’s problems, and in the last 100 years, the World’s problems, it’s fair to speculate we’d be looking at a very different world if Ivan the Terrible hadn’t had such a terrible temper.

  • John Urie

    Where the heck is the murder of Thomas Beckett? Sheesh!

  • SydHenderson

    Why is Richard I here? He was fighting a war and got shot.

  • CatoYounger

    So confusing. Several of these murders did not change history.

  • Gene Starwind

    Fucking idiots. The Hundred Years War (which lasted 116 years) started in 1337 and not in 1419.

  • Fred Klink

    Was this written by a bad high school student? I guess the murder of Thomas a’ Becket was not important? Mortimer didn’t “pass”– he was hanged in the Tower for treason. Richard I was not murdered. He died in combat. What a bunch of crap.

  • Ronald L. Andrews II

    Millions of jews and christians Were killed during these times

  • Charles Taylor

    Extremely dubious history. For starters, no one named “Henry” was King Of England anywhere around the beginning of the Hundred Years War. there were three successive Edwards at that time.

  • Julian Johncraft

    One of the worst posts ever put out by this site. Dubious facts and/or confusing treatment all the way through. I wouldn’t keep this up, guys, if you want your usefulness and reputation intact.

  • Stergeye

    The Hundred Years war began in the 1340’s, 70 years before the murder of John of Burgundy. The murder did affect the course of the war temporarily in favor of the English, as Burgundy sided with them as a result of the murder, giving Henry V a slightly better chance at Agincourt.

    There is zero evidence of Chaucer’s murder. There as countless reasons why he leaves no anticipatory writing of his own demise other than murder. He could have fallen off his horse, had a stroke or heart attack, eaten bad oysters.