5 Pathetic Ways Real Kings Died
Great Britain has a new king, and subjects worldwide are musically entreating God to save him. His mother, Elizabeth II, died last year following a long absence from public life, during which we joked that she already must have died, and she died with enough warning that her family could all come and say their goodbyes. It’s the sort of peaceful end that many people hope for, and that you might think the most protected person in the land has a good shot at. But some kings don’t die like that at all.
We’re not even talking about all those historical kings who died in battle. We’re talking about the sort of deaths that kings wish no one would ever learn about. Like how...
George II Died on the Toilet, Strained by a Tough Bowel Movement
George II — grandfather of George III, who was famous for his madness and for America revolting against him — reigned for 43 years. By the end of his life, he was half-blind and half-deaf. He was also probably sick of England, having never really liked the place.
On October 25, 1760, George got up as usual and slurped a mug of hot chocolate, which was a drink onetime considered fit for a king. Then he dragged himself over to his toilet, which was a movable wheeled chair called a close stool. The palace did not have indoor plumbing at the time. He sat down and tried to pass what turned out to be an especially difficult and painful bowel movement. He keeled over and fell to the floor dead. Doctors would later examine him and discover he’d suffered a severe cardiac event from all that pushing.
People “die squatting over their chamber pots,” said Game of Thrones, and later in the series, a sort-of king dies doing just that. But he dies because someone murders him. If they really wanted to be true to the history, they should have shown us what dying on the privy can really look like.
King Alexander of Greece Died by Monkey Bite, Breaking up a Fight Between a Monkey and a Dog
The following story takes place in 1920. If this happened in, say, the year 450 B.C., we would still tell it to you because it’s hilarious, and historians conscientiously recorded how kings died, even back then. But this tale, which feels like something out of a storybook, happened in modern times, to a king who drove a motorcar.
King Alexander of Greece had a dog named Fritz. On October 2, 1920, Fritz got into a fight with a monkey. The Barbary macaque is not native to Greece, but a palace groundskeeper owned one as a pet, and it and Fritz fought. Witnesses disagree on which animal was the aggressor. Alexander saw what was happening and pushed the two animals apart. Then a monkey bit him several times, and his wounds got infected and killed him.
The monkey who bit him? This was a different monkey from the one Fritz had been fighting; sources agree on this. Sources neglect to mention where this monkey came from, since the groundskeeper was only confirmed to own the one monkey. But as the famous monkey saying tells us, “When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.”
Multiple French Kings Died of Tennis
The sport we call tennis is a variant of the original game by that name. Our tennis was for a long time called “lawn tennis” (though we rarely play it on a lawn). The original game, which we’ve now renamed to “real tennis,” has a different scoring system, different rackets and killed three French royals within two centuries.
In 1316, Louis the Quarrelsome ruled France. He was a huge fan of tennis, popularizing tennis courts far and wide, and on June 5th, he played a strenuous match before gulping down some chilled wine. The 26-year-old king died shortly thereafter, as the wine was possibly poisoned. In 1498, Charles VIII was king. He was on his way to a tennis match, not as a player but as a spectator. He slammed his head on the lintel of a door — a lintel is like a mantelpiece, but for doors. He still made it to the match, but upon leaving, he went unconscious and died a few hours later.
Charles was succeeded by Louis XII, who was succeeded by Francis I, whose son was Francis III. Francis II was Francis I’s grandson, and was born after Francis III, because royal family trees are weird sometimes. Francis III played a game of tennis on August 10, 1536, then he asked for some water. Right after drinking it, he died.
The court tortured someone named Count Sebastiano de Montecuccoli into confessing he poisoned the water, on the basis of “his name is Count Sebastiano de Montecuccoli, clearly he’s evil.” Some historians question whether Francis really was poisoned, however. Us, we choose to believe that all three of these kings were murdered, by a tennis-obsessed secret society. The only alternative is that all three of these kings just really liked tennis, and that would be stupid.
A Different French King Also Hit His Head on a Doorframe
So, that was a weird coincidence, right — all those Frenchies dying around tennis? We have a different weird coincidence we could build around Charles VIII. He was one of two different French kings to die by slamming their heads against those pesky door lintels.
All the way back in the year 882, France was ruled by a teenage king named Louis III. On August 5th, he was on horseback, chasing a fleeing girl. She made it to the home of her father, a lord, in St. Denis, which now a suburb of Paris. Louis ran full speed into the doorway, standing too high to go through. He fractured his skull hitting the lintel, and he died soon after.
Many sources describe these last moments of Louis III by saying that he was “jokingly” chasing the girl. Jokingly, really? She fled to her father’s home, and he was going so fast he hit his head and died, and we conclude that this young king was merely joking in this pursuit? And I thought my jokes were bad.
A Persian King Was Killed by Two Servants He Was Trying to Execute
Here’s another story that totally sounds like something passed down in oral tradition for several millennia, but this one happened in 1797. The Shah of Persia was Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, who had no balls. A rival family captured him and castrated him, seemingly removing him as a threat since he could now sire no offspring, but he went on several decades of conquest and ended up ruling Persia after all.
While on one of his campaigns that June, he heard two servants arguing in his private quarters. This was very annoying, so he sentenced them both to die. The execution couldn’t happen that day itself, as it was Friday, and you don’t go carrying out executions on the sabbath. And so, he scheduled their deaths for the next day. In the meantime, he told the servants to continue their regular duties. With uninterrupted access to the Shah’s quarters, the two servants and a colleague stabbed the man to death before fleeing the city.
It’s quite clear what the moral here is: Under some circumstances, it’s actually in the boss’ best interest to give employees time off work.