More often than not, the cause of demise for most historical figures is in the public domain. For instance, Aristotle died because of a stomach disease, and Martin Luther King’s life was taken by an assassin. On the other hand, there have been a few cases when these famous public figures have departed under mysterious circumstances. This article highlights some of the popular such cases.

1. Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was a renowned mystery writer whose death was nothing short of mysterious. In 1849, Poe was found outside a tavern in Maryland half-conscious. No one knows how he found himself in that condition, and to worsen the situation, he passed away four days later. There have been many theories surrounding Edgar’s death, with some claiming it was alcohol induced. Others allege that Poe suffered from rabies, a brain tumor, or syphilis.

2. Grigori Rasputin

Amongst historians, Grigori Rasputin is known as the man who defied death several times. This was unsurprising, considering he made many enemies in his quest to gain more favor with the Russian royal family.

As the story goes, Grigori Rasputin was first poisoned with cyanide, which was placed in the cake and wine he was taking. He somehow survived this attack; his hands were tied, shot, and then thrown into the Neva River.

Initially, people thought the historical figure had drowned, but when his body was retrieved, the gunshot wounds suggested otherwise. Later, one of the men believed to have been part of the plot to do away with Rasputin claimed Prince Felix Yusupov had exaggerated the death story of Grigori to enhance his reputation. Grigori was never poisoned, or neither did he drown. He died from a gunshot to the head.

3. Agnes Sorel

Agnes Sorel is mostly remembered as the official mistress of the King of France, Charles VII. In 1450, she passed mysteriously away while she was still pregnant with her fourth child. While her demise was first associated with dysentery, romurs emerged claiming she might have been poisoned by Louis XI, son of King Charles VII, because of the influence she had over the king.

As recently as 2005, Agnes Sorel’s remains were tested by Philippe Charlier, a renowned pathologist, who discovered high traces of mercury. So, she might have been murdered. On the other hand, mercury was a common ingredient in makeup and medicine at the time. Therefore, she might have contributed to her own death. Either way, the mystery surrounding Agnes Sorel’s departure remains.

4. Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great needs no introduction – he is one of the most celebrated world leaders who was brave and very intelligent. The Macedonian king, however, died under very mysterious circumstances. He passed on in 323 BCE after a two-week-long illness. Alexander was so sick that he couldn’t talk.

When he died, his body did not decompose for about 6 days, making his subjects presume that he was a divine being. Historians believe that the historical figure succumbed to either due typhoid or malaria. What makes this case more interesting is that, a lecturer from the University of New Zealand, Katherine Hall, came up with a theory that Alexander might have been alive for the six days his body did not decompose. He may have been in a state of paralysis.

5. Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is celebrated across the world for his impeccable art, including The Starry Night, The Potato Easters, and Irises. However, his death came with a lot of controversy. In 1888, the Dutch painter cut his ear using a sharp tool, prompting stories of him being mentally unwell.

Two years later, Van Gogh dragged himself into the Auberge Ravoux with a gunshot wound that caused his death two days later. According to his doctor, Paul Gachet, Vincent had shot himself, and it was ruled as suicide.

However, two writers, Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, claimed that Vincent had been shot by a 16-year-old boy called Rene Secretan. This theory made sense because Vincent did not have a powder burn on his hands, making the claims that he ended his life flimsy.

6. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart is a popular figure, especially in the field of aviation. She is famous for attempting to circumnavigate Earth using an aircraft with the help of Fred Noonan, her co-pilot. The two pilots started their journey in New Guinea on July 2, 1937. Unfortunately, they never arrived at their destination in Howland Island.

Even after a massive search party was sent to look for the two, nothing was found, including their bodies or the aircraft they were flying in. Some believe that Amelia Earhart was caught by the Japanese and later returned to the US with a new alias. Others claim the two died in Japanese holding facilities. The most accepted version of their death is that Amelia and Noonan crashed at Howland Island and were devoured by the region’s deadly crabs.

7. Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor was the United States’ 12th president, who died mysteriously only 16 months after assuming office. His illness started after the July 4, 1850, holiday. The president suffered from severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Within 4 days, he passed on, and the doctors declared gastroenteritis as the cause.

However, there have been claims that Zachary Taylor was poisoned with arsenic. A claim that was ruled out a century later when his body was exhumed. However, a while later, scientists discovered that Taylor’s death was linked to drinking contaminated water. At the time, the White House wasn’t equipped with modern plumbing.

8. Attila the Hun

In the year 453, Attila the Hun, the leader of the Hunnic Empire, was found dead the morning after marrying a woman called Ildico. While there were no wounds on the deceased body to suggest foul play from Ildico’s side, there was a lot of blood in the leader’s chambers.

As such, there have been many theories regarding Attila’s death, with the most plausible one being he suffered a nosebleed, which led to a brain hemorrhage. Attila’s long-term consumption of alcohol might have induced the nosebleed.

Categorized in:

General Knowledge, History,

Last Update: July 3, 2024