On this day in 1315 a man you’re unlikely to have heard of was hanged on the public gallows at Montfaucon. His name was Enguerrand de Marigny and this is his story. To be perfectly upfront with you, his story is not that interesting, but as I was flicking through it, I came across the name of one of his employers and it chimed with me in a that name sounds like someone who has not been in the news at all sort of a way and so I decided to tell it. So, here goes.
Enguerrand was eventually a chamberlain and a minister of Philip IV (known as Philip the Fair). Philip was a bit of a git. He suppressed the Knights Templar because he owed them a lot of money. By suppress, read disbanded, arrested, tortured and had a few burnt at the stake. He also expelled all Jews from his Kingdom in 1306. In short he was a nice looking chap, but his personality was less than pretty. Now, before Enguerrand got to work for a chap who was already a chamberlain to the king and his secretary. This bloke’s name was Hugues de Bonville. Unfortunately, Hugues career was cut short when he was found to have paid one hundred and ninety-five francs for sexual relations with a floozy. No one would have minded at all, as most everyone expected his sort to be a bit dirty, but the silly arse tried to cover it up. He lost his job and then got killed in a battle.
None of this matter to Enguerrand who got to be close to the king who thought he was aces and skill. Others didn’t so much because de Marigny was a bit of a smug and oily little twit. He did whatever the king wanted of him, and took bribes and made enemies and created an oil slick in the English Channel. He would have continued on in this way, but unluckily for him, Philip the Fair died after having a bit of a stroke when out hunting. Now, de Marigny was left without his mate, but still with all his enemies. It did not go well for him.
Louis X, Philip’s son and the new king, was creeped out by Enguerrand, so when Charles de Valois denounced him and said he was all about the bribes and putting on over on the king, Louis had him arrested. He was found more or less guilty of all his so-called crimes and Louis decided he should be exiled to Cyprus. De Valois didn’t think this was good enough as he had really taken against de Marigny, so he made up some shit about Enguerrand being involved in sorcery. As you can see this royal court was all about intrigue and a bunch of bastards trying to out-bastard each other. Despite the charges being so much made up nonsense, Enguerrand was found guilty and hanged in front of a baying crowd on this day in 1315. Many years later, on his deathbed, Louis X felt quite bad about putting Enguerrand to death, so he confessed, said sorry and gave lot of money to the poor or Paris. But not to the prostitutes as he felt that old de Bonville had done quite enough of that in the past.
Today was the birthday of a curious young man by the name of Kasper Hauser. He was allegedly born on this day in 1812 and died in 1833. We don’t know his birth date for sure, because, well, therein lies the story.
In 1828, young Kasper turned up in Nuremberg with a letter addressed to a Captain Von Wessenig. The letter stated that the author
(anonymous, but male) had taken Kasper into his house in October 1812 and never let him step outside it. That he’d instructed him in reading and writing and religion, but nothing else. He asked that the boy be made a cavalryman like his father, but stated that Von Wessenig could either take him in or hang him. Which was nice. The boy also had another letter, allegedly from his mother, which gave his name, his date of birth and that his father, a cavalryman, was dead. Curiously both letter were written in the same handwriting, Kasper Hauser’s handwriting as it turned out. When in front of Von Wessenig, the only words that Hauser said, repeatedly were “I want to be a cavalryman as my father was!” and “Horse! Horse!” He later claimed to have no idea what these words meant and that he had been taught to say them by his captor.
Hauser’s story was that he had lived his whole life in a dungeon, that he woke up to find bread and water by his bed each day and sometimes the water was a bit bitter, at which times he would sleep a lot longer and then wake up to find that his bed straw had been changed and his hair and nails cut. He said that until he was about to leave his captor for ever, he never saw him or any other human being, that he was then taught to stand and walk, to write his own name and to utter the words he’d said to Von Wessenig. Which sounds like utter bollocks and is belied by the information in the letters.
The whole thing caused quite the stir and Hauser was put into the care of a schoolmaster who taught him many things and discovered that Kasper had a talent for drawing. Things were going well until Kasper was allegedly stabbed by the man who’d brought him to Nuremberg. What is more likely is that he had cut himself with a razor because the schoolmaster was starting to get the idea that Kasper was a little liar.
He was moved on to another house and before long he was injured again, again almost certainly by his own hand after, again, his guardian was pretty sure that Herr Hauser was a dirty liar. In fact Hauser’s death was almost certainly self-inflicted (a stab wound to the chest), when it turned out yet again that the people he lived with thought he might like to play fast and loose with the truth.
The truth is that Kasper Hauser was almost certainly a pathological liar, who made up the story of his life, conned people and had a strong need to be seen as special and the centre of attention. He did succeed in this. His story is still well-known, especially in Germany and there is even a statue of him in Ansbach.
So, today may or may not be his birthday, but the little liar has been dead for a very long time, so there shall be no happy birthday from me, just the relation of a slightly interesting little story to you, my readers.