And he still died in his bed…
Bit of a stretch, but Napoleon IV, recognised by some as the Emperor of France, was killed while leading a British patrol in South Africa in 1879 during the Zulu War.
That Wiki quote is a good example of a king using battle strategy that was utterly different from leading the troops into a charge.
There’s a fair suggestion that Harold is actually the guy just to the right there getting the chop from a sword.
It’s not even a tapestry.
There is a US Civil War story, a gunner was chided for being told to fire near to an enemy officer, and hitting him.
John Sedgwick, a Union officer supposedly never finished the sentence, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dis”.
Did opposing forces avoid shooting at officers during the Civil War?
“Ronald Reagan has a stack of three-by-five cards in his lap. He skids up a new one: “What advice do you, as the youngest American fighting man ever to win both the Navy Cross and the Silver Star, have for any young marines on their way to Guadalcanal?”
“Just kill the one with the sword first.”
“Ah,” Reagan says, raising his waxed and penciled eyebrows, and cocking his pompadour in Shaftoe’s direction. “Smarrrt–you target them because they’re the officers, right?”
“No, fuckhead!” Shaftoe yells. "You kill 'em because they’ve got fucking swords! You ever had anyone running at you waving a fucking sword?”
Some say they are both depictions of Harold, at different points (which is consistent with the entire tapestry), I’m going with that. And regarding the manufacturing method (tapestry or embroidery?), they call it a tapestry, so I leave it to you to get up in their grill about that.
Seriously? Try reading it again, particularly this sentence:
He formed his units into a giant wedge, with him leading the charge.
We’re talking past one another. The entire paragraph gives more context.
As the Persians advanced farther and farther to the Greek flanks in their attack, Alexander slowly filtered in his rear guard. He disengaged his Companions and prepared for the decisive attack. Behind them were the guard’s brigade along with any phalanx battalions he could withdraw from the battle. He formed his units into a giant wedge, with him leading the charge. The Persian infantry at the center was still fighting the phalanxes, hindering any attempts to counter Alexander’s charge. This large wedge then smashed into the weakened Persian center, taking out Darius’ royal guard and the Greek mercenaries. Darius was in danger of being cut off, and the widely held modern view is that he now broke and ran, with the rest of his army following him.
As you see by the accompanying picture, he did lead an attack, but not by running in front of a bunch of troops against another bunch of troops to start a battle, which is the historic cliche being referred to.
Again, I absolutely did not say a king leading troops never happened. But Alexander’s actions were not the cliche and more importantly he didn’t die.
According to Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, many fighters were disguised as Henry IV to divert attention from him: “The king hath many marching in his coats.” I tried googling this to see if there are any factual references to it, but can’t find any. Shakespeare fictionalized much of his account of the battle, and omitted the future Henry V’s arrow wound, referred to above by @jnglmassiv in post #26
And adding to @Slithy_Tove and post # 10
“Apocryphal addenda to the two posts above:
Young Lt Col and future Supreme Court Justice yelled “get down you fool!” at Lincoln.”
The future Supreme Court Justice who yelled “get down you fool!” at Lincoln was Oliver Wendell Holmes.
About the Bayeux tapestry’s depiction of the death of Harold Godwinson, some say that the arrow to the eye is not literal but symbolic of his treachery, which would have been understood by 11th Century viewers of the tapestry. One commentator says that our taking it literally now would be like future generations looking back at our internet and wondering from Twitter screenshots if it was powered by trained birds carrying messages.
From what I recall on maybe a previous thread, shooting at the king and other ‘higher up’s’ was in general simply not done (often) as that could easily be used to have the enemy shoot your king and other ‘up’s’. It was an early form of mutually assured destruction that make kings a rare target. Also if a person was shooting at the king it might even get the man disciplined or worse for this very reason, they are putting their king at risk.
One thing to add: during the Middle Ages, a good source of income for a ruler was the ransom attained by capturing high-ranking officers and nobles on a battlefield. Richard I was held by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI who “purchased” him from Leopold, Duke of Austria, who had captured Richard as he returned from Crusade. The cost to the English people was literally a king’s ransom: 100,000 pounds of silver.
I often find battle diagrams confusing. What exactly do you believe the image you attached shows? Because Alexander’s name appears behind the white square w/ the diagonal, does that mean that he was positioned behind them? I guess I just sorta assumed that the name was identifying his general location. And once the attack took place as demonstrated by the large blue arrow, it sure seems as tho he would be in the think of things - instead of cowering back in “CAMP”.
But, like I said, I generally find such diagrams somewhat confusing.
The quoted paragraph explains the course of action.
So you are somehow making a distinction because he led a charge following the initial clash, as opposed to being the first guy in front during the initial contact?
The paragraph seems to indicate that the Persians attacked. Seems A would have been limited in his ability to dictate exactly where the enemy chose to attack. "I’m over here! Fight ME!"
All of this supports @bump’s initial post, stating that the sources are unreliable.
I recall reading (possibly here) how little contemporaneous documentation exists for so much of accepted history. For example, I think Alexander’s Granicus lacked much in the way of contemporaneous records.
The quoted paragraph seems to support Dissonance’s description of the battle.
Unless you are requiring him to literally set out alone on foot at a dead run from the center of the battlefield without bothering to employ any tactics or strategy, this is exactly what he did. The normal deployment on ancient battlefields was the infantry in the center, the cavalry on the flanks. He personally led the charge of his elite Companion cavalry from the start of the battle all of the way to the end of the battle, first winning the fight on the flank against the Persian cavalry and then the battle as a whole by moving against the center. The cavalry was what in modern military parlance would be termed the schwerpunkt or the point of decision, which he personally led, from the front, something he did in all of the battles he fought in his conquest of what was the entire known world of the time to classical Greece. This rather disproves your statement that
That was exactly the way Alexander led his army, all of the time, and not only conquered the known world, but never once lost a battle while doing so.
Your own cite says he led some troops, but did not lead his army. That’s the one and only distinction that I’m making.
I don’t understand how this ever got to be an issue in the first place.
The answer to the question the OP gave, whether kings were killed leading their armies into battle, is mainly no, even given all of history to sort through. A simple “no” never seems to not satisfy posters. They immediately started talking about kings who weren’t killed, or weren’t killed in battle, or weren’t leading armies, or weren’t even kings. I get it. That’s the way the internet works. But those are different topics which allow for different answers. None of them are answers to the OP or refutations of “no.” And neither is Alexander.