1271: Knight Murdered in Church During Mass

1271: Knight Murdered in Church During Mass
Photo Credit To https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/San_Silvestro_%28Viterbo%29.jpg

A terrible crime occurred on this day in medieval history, when English knight Henry of Cornwall was murdered in an Italian church during mass. The church was that of St. Sylvester in the Italian town of Viterbo, just north of Rome. It is interesting that Viterbo was the papal seat at that time instead of Rome. Indeed, few people today know that Viterbo was the seat of the papacy from 1257 until 1281, i.e. over the course of 24 years.

The murdered knight, Henry of Cornwall, was a member of the powerful Plantagenet English royal dynasty. In fact, his father Richard of Cornwall was one of the wealthiest men in Europe at the time, participated in the Crusades, and was even elected the German king (formally King of the Romans).

Who killed Henry in such a cruel manner and why? Namely, he was killed by the brothers de Montfort, named Simon and Guy. In this way they sought to get revenge for the murder of their father, the famous Simon de Montfort, who had died in battle against Henry. It is interesting that the brothers were actually Henry’s first cousins, since their mother was the sister of Henry’s father.

Due to their blasphemous murder, the Montfort brothers were excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The famous Dante Alighieri described one of them – Guy – suffering in the seventh circle of Hell for his crime.

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