Charles II, King of Navarre
Cause of death: Set on fire by accident
Charles II, King of Navarre, also known as “Charles the Bad” was not a terribly nice man (as his nickname foretells). He is well known for murdering anyone in his path to glory and greatness, and it is for this reason that his death is quite a fitting one!
It has been said that he contracted a form of skin disease, variously considered to be leprosy, syphilis or psoriasis, and his death has been quoted throughout history as:
“Charles the Bad, having fallen into such a state of decay that he could not make use of his limbs, consulted his physician, who ordered him to be wrapped up from head to foot, in a linen cloth impregnated with brandy, so that he might be enclosed in it to the very neck as in a sack. It was night when this remedy was administered. One of the female attendants of the palace, charged to sew up the cloth that contained the patient, having come to the neck, the fixed point where she was to finish her seam, made a knot according to custom; but as there was still remaining an end of thread, instead of cutting it as usual with scissors, she had recourse to the candle, which immediately set fire to the whole cloth. Being terrified, she ran away, and abandoned the king, who was thus burnt alive in his own palace.”
Claudius I, Emperor of Rome
Cause of death: Poisoned by his ambitious wife… perhaps…
The Roman Emperor Claudius I lived a life of poor health, gluttony and fractious infighting between his supporters, his wife and the Roman people. Remarkably, he still lived until the ripe old age of 64!
The question is; was he poisoned by his adoring wife?
Claudius was the uncle of Caligula – a true psychopath in every sense of the word. He was overlooked time and again by previous emperors, due to the physical disabilities he suffered, which included a limp, slight hearing problems and a speech impediment, but Caligula decided to make Claudius a member of consul.
The night of Caligula’s assassination was particularly bloody and brutal. Claudius did the only sensible thing at the time – he hid behind a curtain. He was found by a soldier, who spirited him away to his camp, and together with the rest of the battalion, named him Emperor. The Roman Senate were forced to concede, to stop any form of rebellion, and that is how Claudius I, who was the shame of his family, became the Emperor of Rome!
Claudius had four wives. FOUR! The female lifespan was not the best, due to childbirth related deaths etc. It is his fourth wife, Agrippina we are most interested in. You see, Agrippina had been married before, and had a son, Nero. She was highly ambitious and wanted to see her son sore.
In the months leading up to Claudius’ death, he was heard lamenting the wickedness of his wife, and it was public knowledge that they did not get along and disagreed about practically everything. Everything, that is, except naming Agrippina’s son Nero the heir to the Roman Empire. It seems that was all Agrippina was waiting on before she decided to do away with her annoying husband once and for all.
It is said that Agrippina, knowing Claudius’ fondness for food, fed him poisoned mushrooms, which quickly led to a gastro and vomiting attack. Another theory is that Claudius, aware of his wife’s attempt upon his life, quickly sort a doctor. The doctor tried to make the Emperor vomit by tickling his throat with a feather. At the same time, Claudius inhaled and chocked to death on a feather. Either way, the poor man died and Nero was proclaimed Emperor following his demise – and Nero was another Roman Emperor who’s sanity was questioned, as it suggested that he was responsible for the great fire of Rome, and he was also credited for promoting the stadium games of the Gladiators and Christians fighting the lions etc.
Modern scientists believe that Claudius died of old age and ill health, as he had been quite sick for two years leading up to his death. So was his death a case of natural causes or poison? We will never know! History is always written by the victors!
Manner of death: Masturbation gone wrong
Albert Dekker was an American actor, best known for his role in Dr Cyclops, but also starring in The Wild Bunch and East of Eden.
Albert was due to be married a month after his death. His fiancé reportedly joined him to watch a movie, and was meant to see him again a few nights following. She called him several times, but got no answer. Feeling slighted, she decided to show up on his doorstep to confront him.
Upon arrival, she saw his door was covered in concerned notes from other friends. Starting to worry, she asked the landlord to open the door to his apartment. Both searched the flat, and when entering the bathroom, this is a description of what they saw:
"Dekker was kneeling nude in the bathtub. A noose was around his neck but not tight enough to have strangled him. A scarf was tied over his eyes and a horse’s bit was in his mouth, fashioned from a rubber ball and metal wire, the bit had chain "reins" that were tightly tied beneath his head. Two leather straps were stretched between the leather belts that girded his neck and chest. A third belt, around his waist, was tied with a rope that stretched to his ankles, where it had been tied in some kind of timber hitch. The end of the rope, which continued up his side, wrapped around his wrist several times and was held in Dekker’s hand. Handcuffs clamped both wrists with a key attached. Written in red lipstick on his right buttock was the word, "whip." Sun-rays had also been drawn around his nipples. "Make me suck," was written on his throat, and "slave," and "cocksucker," on his chest. On his stomach was drawn a vagina. He had apparently been dead for several days.”
Albert was 62 years old. His death was ruled as accidental.
Put together by Ashley Hall 2013