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  • Catherine the Great on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#13) Catherine the Great

    • Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)

    The death of Catherine II of Russia, AKA Catherine the Great, is one of the most gossiped-about and outlandishly mythical royal deaths in history. Why? Because her servants spread a rumor that she died while having sex with a horse. The truth was far less scandalous.

    In reality, Catherine had a stroke in 1796. The royal is recorded as having passed in her bed, though rumors abound she actually died on the toilet—a most unfashionable place for one's death knell to sound.

  • Henry I Died After Going Against His Doctor's Orders And Feasting On Eels on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#3) Henry I Died After Going Against His Doctor's Orders And Feasting On Eels

    King Henry I ruled England with an iron fist. One of his weaknesses was lampreys, an eel-like bloodsucker. Henry's physician expressly forbade him to eat lampreys, but the king paid no mind. In 1135, he indulged in them while on a hunting trip and died soon after, likely as a result of the feast.

  • William the Conqueror on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#9) William the Conqueror

    • Dec. at 59 (1028-1087)

    King William I of England was a Norman duke who led the last successful invasion of England in 1066, thus ending Anglo-Saxon rule and ushering in a period of elite Norman dominance. He crushed Anglo-Saxon resistance to William's French style of rule and erected stark and oppressive castles to demonstrate Norman might. To his friends, he was known as William the Conqueror. To his enemies, he was William the Bastard

    Though William is still known as the "conqueror," death would ultimately conquer him. In 1087, William was doing what he loved best: leading men into battle, sitting astride a horse. The horse bucked in the heat of battle, and William was thrown forward into the saddle's pommel, rupturing his organs. Six weeks passed before William finally died on September 9, 1087.

    But the conqueror's body would undergo further indignities. As monks prepared his body for burial in Caen, they had to stuff William's over-large body into a small sarcophagus. In pushing the body into the box, William's bowels burst, unleashing a sickening smell throughout the building.

  • Alexander of Greece on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#8) Alexander of Greece

    • Dec. at 27 (1893-1920)

    The 23-year-old Alexander succeeded to the Greek throne in an entirely political move in 1917. Europe was shoulder-deep in World War I, and Alexander's father, King Constantine I, refused to drag Greece into the disastrous war. The Allies then forced Constantine to abdicate in favor of his son, who more or less became a puppet of the Allies; thus, Greece entered the war.

    On October 2, 1920, Alexander was walking on his estate when his dog got into a fight with a monkey that belonged to a member of his staff. While attempting to break up the fight, a second monkey bit Alexander on the leg. The wound became infected, and the infection spread. While he suffered for weeks, royal doctors debated whether to attempt to amputate the bitten leg, unsure whether it would solve the problem or if they would be blamed should it make things worse. The young King Alexander finally died age 27 on October 25, 1920.

  • Henry II of France on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#12) Henry II of France

    • Dec. at 40 (1519-1559)

    Henry II of France inherited one of the most powerful thrones in Europe when he was crowned king in 1547 at the age of 28. He was an active king and loved a good joust. In June 1559, Henry participated in a jousting tournament against a young Scotsman, the Count of Montgomery.

    As the two riders rushed at each other, Montgomery's lance went through Henry's eye and punctured his brain. He suffered for weeks and finally died on July 10, 1559, at age 40.

  • Charles VIII of France on Random Stupidest, Least Dignified Ways Royals Have Died

    (#4) Charles VIII of France

    • Dec. at 27 (1470-1498)

    In 1498, King Charles VIII of France hit his head on the lintel of a door while walking out to watch a tennis match. He hit it so hard, in fact, that he subsequently died from the accident. Today, doctors believe he likely sustained cranial trauma when he hit his head, which is what caused his quick death.

    He's remembered for this unfortunate and unlikely cause of death—and for his troops, who spread syphilis across mainland Europe.

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