Unusual Deaths of Historical Nobility

If you cannot tell, I have a fascination with people from History dying in unusual or shocking ways. I have done many posts on this subject before, such as Locusta of Gaul or the Elephant-aided deaths of numerous Burmese Kings. But many of these little tidbits are too short to have a whole post of their own. So, in honor of the death-trip that I have been on for the last few posts, here is a list of a few figures that I have not posted as of yet, but deserve recognition. I will likely be adding to this list as time goes on, and of course, if you know of a death that should be on here, leave a comment and I will happily research and add.

In order of the date of death…

Herod the Great (4BCE)According to Josephus, Herod suffered from intense illnesses that culminated in a “purification of the genitals that produced visible worms” and then death.

Marcus Crassus (53BCE)A famous Roman General and member of the First Triumvirate, legend has Crassus being killed after being defeated and captured by the Parthians, an Empire that was based in modern day Iran and constant enemies of Rome. The angry Parthains, having resisted a number of Roman invasions, are said to have poured molten gold down the throat of Crassus to “sate his thirst for Wealth.”

Emperor Valerian of Rome (260CE)After being defeated by the Persians in battle, Valerian was captured by King Shapur I. After a long period of torture, legend has it that Valerian offered Shapur a large ransom if they would free him. Insulted, Shapur responded by having the Emperor skinned alive and his flesh stuffed with straw and dung and used as ether a footstool or as a trophy (or both). It took the Romans over 300 years to finally retrieve Valerian’s skin for burial.

King Bela I of Hungary (1063CE)Died when his highly ornamented thrones’ canopy collapsed on his head.

King Henry I of England (1135CE)Died of food poisoning after gorging himself on a plate of Lampreys, his favorite food. I will have to say, anyone that enjoys eating a animal that looks like the image on the right really deserves whatever horrid death comes their way… As a interesting side note, Henry’s body was sewn into the corpse of a bull to preserve his flesh until burial.

Caliph Al-Musta’sim Billah (1258CE)The last Caliph of Baghdad, he was invaded by the Mongols. Some accounts record that Hulagu Kahn, warry of shedding royal blood, had Billah wrapped in a rug and trampled to death by horses. However, Marco Polo claimed that he was told that Hulago Kahn discovered a large hidden cache of treasure that Billah could have used to defend Baghdad or buy off the Mongols (which is what most people at the time did) but had tried to hide it and fight instead. Enraged, Hulagu had Billah locked into the hidden storeroom without food or water and told to “eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt, since thou art so fond of it.”

Humphery de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford (1322CE)During the Battle of Boroughbridge Bohun was speared through the anus by a hidden pikeman while trying to cross the bridge that gave Boroughbridge its name.

King Edward II of England (1327CE) Legend has Edward the II being killed by his mother and her lover Rodger Mortimer. The legend states that Edwards mother killed him by having a red-hot copper rod shoved into his anus. This was the standard punishment from the Church for Homosexuality, although it is thought more likely that the mother was clearing the way for her other son, Edward the III, to take the throne. However, perhaps fearing for his own asshole, Edward the III has his mother and her lover hanged.

Martin I of Aragon (1410CE)Apparently died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter.

Gyorgy Dozsa (1514CE)A Transylvanian noble, Gyorgy led a revolt again the Hungarian Crown. Once defeated, he was made to sit on a red-hot iron Throne with a equally hot iron crown on his head and scepter in his hand for attempting to crown himself King. Anywhere else and this would be enough, but we are talking about the lands that gave birth to Vlad the Impaler… So while Gyorgy was burning, 6 of his follow rebels (who had been starved for a week) were forced to consume their now-cooking leader while he was still (sorta) alive.

King Nanda Bayin of Burma (1599CE)Burmese Kings really do seem to have the most interesting deaths… Bayin is said to have laughed himself to death after being told by a visiting Italian merchant that Venice was a “free state without a King.”

King Adolf Fredrick of Sweden (1771CE)Died of “digestion problems” after eating a massive meal consisting of Lobster, Caviar, Sauerkraut, Smoked Herring, Champagne, and 14 servings of Semla pastry floating in a bowl of warm milk. Becasue of this he is known to Swedish schoolchildren as “the King that ate himself to death.”

Tsarina Cathrine II of Russia (1796CE)Cathrine the Great died from a stroke while sitting on the toilet, but the constant rumors about Cathrine’s sexual appetite lead to a far more interesting legend. It was said that Cathrine was fond of having “special relations” with a certain prized stallion and even had a special harness made to facilitate their, ahem, “interactions.” The story goes that during one of these romps the harness broke and the stallion crushed Cathrine to death.


~ by herodotuswept on October 27, 2008.

3 Responses to “Unusual Deaths of Historical Nobility”

  1. This is the stuff I love. You never fail to satisfy.

    I know I don’t have a penis and have no real concept of what it’s to have one but purification or the genitals had to totally suck.

  2. […] Others here: Unusual Deaths of Historical Nobility | Herodotus Wept […]

  3. Your information about King Edward II is completely wrong. Historians don’t believe he died of having a poker shoved up his bottom. Also, it was his wife, not his mother. And, no, her son, Edward III, did not have her hanged.

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