HOW TALL WERE ENGLAND'S MEDIEVAL KINGS?
Elite royal trivia
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One of my favourite things about writing history is serendipity. You go looking for one thing, and come across another.
So it was this week. I am at full pelt writing my new non-fiction book: a biography of Henry V. For one reason and another I needed some information about the English population around the turn of the fifteenth century.
Yet as mid-afternoon crept along I found I was reading not about population numbers, but about the approximate heights of England’s Plantagenet kings. I had clicked a link, another link, and then a third. And all of a sudden I was finding out that Harald Hardrada was seven feet tall.
Well, actually, Hardrada is a bad example, because not only was he never a king of England (although not for want of trying); that number also comes from the notoriously fanciful Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson.
But who knew that in 1957 a scholar writing in an American academic journal really did try to tally up the heights in feet and inches of all England’s medieval kings?
The article is well worth reading in its own right - it’s free via Jstor. (See the link below.) But I’ve sifted through it to get the most important info. You’re welcome…
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