The 15 Lamest Ways People Used to Routinely Die

Marry young, have lots of kids, and make a will just in case you die in childbirth.
The 15 Lamest Ways People Used to Routinely Die

Ah, the good old days! When life was simpler, people were more in tune with nature, and ... uh ... the world was a much more dangerous place. From the Middle Ages to the Victorian Era, life was full of hazards, both seen and unseen. Venturing out was a gamble, balancing humours was a matter of life and death, and walking on floors could be a health risk. Marrying young and having lots of kids was a must, and watching kids was a game of Russian roulette. 306,000 souls were lost in one stormy night, Oxford debates got deadly, hospitals were grimy, crossing streams was not worth the risk, London bakeries were full of cobwebs and critters, and the Victorian home was a deathtrap. 

This list, in other words, is a look at some of the dangers and risks of life from the Middle Ages to the Victorian Era. From venturing out and balancing your body’s humors to walking on floors and crossing streams, these were the days when life was full of hazards. Enjoy!

Venturing out was a gamble in the Middle Ages.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE The Middle Ages were dangerous; highway robbery was common, and people were unprotected on the roads. Strangers were seen as a threat, so leaving home was risky. CRACKED

Public Domain

Cambridge Core

Marry young, have lots of kids, and make a will — just in case.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS GIVING BIRTH In 15th-century Florence, women married young and had lots of kids. Childbirth was so risky they'd make a will when pregnant. CRACKED

Jan van Eyck

Mental Floss

306,000 souls lost in one stormy night.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS BAD WEATHER In 1362, the Grote Mandrenke storm caused huge destruction and killed up to 306,000 people in England, the Netherlands, and Denmark. CRACKED

Public Domain


Grimy 19th-century hospitals: a real sight to behold.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS GOING TO A HOSPITAL 19th-century hospitals were gross places, stinky with body fluids and rotting flesh, and surgeons wearing clothes caked with blood and pus. CRACKED

Public Domain


Time to upgrade to tile!

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS WALKING ON FLOORS Rushes and grasses were used as floor coverings, but dirt and bacteria built up, leading to health risks from bodily fluids, food scraps, and other stuff. und CRACKED

Levina Teerlinc

Historic UK

Oxford: Where the debates got deadly.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS HAVING A DRINK In 14th century Oxford, violence was rampant - 120 homicides per 100,000 people, mostly young men. In 1355, two students argued with a tavern landlord, 200 scholars joined in, and 63 people died in three days of rioting. CRACKED

Public Domain

Aeon Essays

Watching kids: medieval parenting’s version of Russian roulette.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS BEING A TODDLER Medieval peasant moms had too much to do to keep an eye on their kids all the time, so accidents happened even when they were being watched. But parents weren't blamed if a child got lost. CRACKED

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Typical 19th century London bakeries: cobwebs, critters, and crud.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS BAKING BREAD In the 19th century, London bakeries were dirty and grubby. One investigator found cobwebs, animals, rats and mice in the troughs, smelly drains, and no ventilation. CRACKED

Helen Allingham

The Social Historian

Balance your humors, lose your semen!

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS NOT GETTING ANY Medieval docs thought celibacy was bad for health, so they'd drain monks' blood to balance their humors, supposedly stopping semen from coming out. Humor theory said all body fluids were forms of blood. CRACKED

Public Domain

Aeon Essays

In general, the Victorian home was apparently a deathtrap.

OLD-TIMEY DEADLY HAZARDS PUTTING UP WALLPAPER Victorian wallpaper was bright and flowery, but the green was made with arsenic- containing copper arsenite. CRACKED

William Morris,
George Hayter

Smithsonian Magazine

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