I started reading the Heimskringla by Snoori Sturluson, or rather I started skimming it since it’s quite a lot of text. It’s essentially an old book (13th Century, if I remember correctly) of the stories of the kings of Nordic lore. I somehow stumbled across it while looking up Norse Mythology, and despite the stories being about mere mortals instead of gods and goddesses, it’s still kind of interesting. Of course, the first one I skimmed to was a story about how a guy was indirectly killed by poop. Yes, death by feces.
As the story goes, a King was “driving” (that’s the word the translation uses – I don’t know if this is some old-timey term used in the area which meant “riding a horse” or something) back somewhere, I think to his castle, when he had to cross a frozen body of water. The guy was only 40 years old, but the text sort of implied that he was considered “older”, and I don’t doubt it what with the lack of medical care and constant warring going on. Anyway, he had to cross this frozen body of water, and apparently the animals in the region had been doing their business on the ice, and the heat from their poop melted or weakened the ice in enough portions that it became sort of pockmarked with weakened parts. The guy doesn’t know this, but he managed to hit a section which cracked beneath him, and he froze/drowned right there. Yep, killed by poop. What a way to go. And he was a king on top of it!
There’s a story of another guy (or maybe it was the same one, I’m not sure), a king as well I believe, who died and his body was “floated” to the area where he was to be buried. I assume this means they used a river for transport or something. Once his body gets there, there’s a bit of a problem. The guy was so well-loved by his people, who were spread out around three regions, that they each wanted to bury him in their area, partially because they believed that if they did so, they’d have a really good year of crops. However, the king was supposed to be buried wherever his body had turned up, which was not in one of those regions (I think). I assume some arguing happened among the people there, and finally they came to a decision. And yes, that fleeting thought that entered your mind but you dismissed as being ridiculous or barbaric is exactly what they did; they divided the corpse into four parts and he was buried in all four places. I think it was like his head, his arms, his legs and his torso.
Gruesome as it may be, that so fits the badass Nordic king image, doesn’t it? And hey, how many kings can still bring peace and potential prosperity to their kingdoms even after they’ve died?
If you’re really fascinated by these stories, or are bored one day and want something new to peruse, check out the Heimskringla as well as some of the other books the guy wrote (I think he did some on actual gods and goddesses as well as royalty). There’s some crazy stuff in there for sure.