June 3 – Dmitry of Uglich; Clotilde

Dmitry of Uglich, Tsarevich* of Russia (1582–1591), was the son of Ivan the Terrible, but that’s not his fault. When Feodor Ivanovich was nominally Tsar and Boris Godunov (who wasn’t nearly good enough) was his regent, Godunov sent Dmitry, his mother, and her brothers into exile in Uglich (which is not German for “ugly”). On 15 May 1591, he was found in the palace courtyard, dead from a knife wound in the throat.

An official investigation ruled that the death was an accident. He was playing with his knife, it was said, and suffered an epileptic seizure. Astute mathematicians, however, added two twice and got five. Epileptic seizures (they argued) result in the palms opening, making self-stabification unlikely. Also, Godunov’s motives were questioned: with Dmitry out of the way, Godunov became heir to the throne; indeed, he became Tsar when Feodor died seven years later. “When the political circumstances changed” (it doesn’t say in what way), the lead investigator recanted his report and said that Godunov ordered the murder. Be that as it may, the immediate aftermath of Dmitry’s death was a riot in Uglich in which forty “accomplices” were lynched. After the investigation, Dmitry’s mother was forcefully nunnified and exiled.

After his death, Dmitry appeared to a monk and (accurately) foretold Godunov’s death. When his tomb was opened fifteen years after the murder (if murder it was), his body was found incorrupt. It was reinterred at the Church of the Archangel Michael in Moscow.

Clotilde (475–545) was the daughter of the king of Burgundy, and was surrounded by crimson, as well as a very interesting family. Her father was killed by his brother, her mother was sent swimming with a stone necklace, and then there’s her kids (about whom more anon). She caught the eye of Clovis I, King of the Franks and founder of the Merovingian Dynasty, and they were soon married. Keen to have a Catholic family, she had their first child baptized, but when he died shortly thereafter, the pagan Clovis blamed her and her religion. Nevertheless she had their second son baptized as well, and after an initial sickness (time to disinfect the baptismal font, guys?) he recovered. During a battle he was sure he was about to lose, Clovis prayed to “Clotilde’s God,” promising to be baptized if he could just win this one time. He won, and was duly baptized. The two of them founded the Church of the Apostles in Paris (did you know there were Apostles in Paris?), which later was renamed after St. Genevieve (Jan 3).

Once Clovis dies it becomes confusing. Sons Chlodomer, Childebert, and Chlothar split up dad’s kingdom, and attacked Clotilde’s cousin Sigismund of Burgundy, ultimately resulting in his assassination. Clotilde either provoked them to do this, or castigated them for it afterwards, or perhaps both. Clotilde Jr. was bargained away as a wife to a Visigoth Arian (or Arian Visigoth), to buy peace. It didn’t work. Chlodomer was killed in battle, and Clotilde took his sons under her protection, but when two of them were killed by Chlothar, she put the third, five-year-old Clodoaldus (or Cloud), into a monastery. Meanwhile Clotilde Jr. was being abused by her husband Amalaric, so Childebert killed him. Unfortunately Clotilde Jr. died on the way home (wherever exactly “home” was at that point).

If you’re not confused at this point, perhaps a career as a medieval historian would interest you?

Clotilde entered the convent at St. Martin’s at Tours, and did penance for her sins and for her sons’. She cared for the sick and poor, built churches and monasteries, and prayed for the Frankish kingdom(s). It is said that when she died, a dazzling light and heavenly incense filled the room. She is the patron saint of people with abusive husbands, and “disappointing children.” (Children who disappoint? Or the act of causing children to feel disappointed? Both could surely use a patron saint.)