"I DON'T THINK,
therefore I am not."
-Descartes' last words?
1994 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin
|Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I embarked on the 3rd Crusade to recapture the Holy Land in the twelfth century. After spending days trudging across the dry summer desert, his army came upon the River Saleph. In his parched state, Frederick threw caution to the wind -- instead of his heavy armor -- and plunged into the river, whereupon he sank to the bottom and drowned. Attila the Hun was one of the most notorious villains in history. He conquered all of Asia by 450 A.D. by destroying villages and pillaging the countryside. This bloodthirsty man died from a nosebleed on his wedding night. After feasting and toasting his own good fortune, he was too drunk to notice his nose, and he drowned in a snoutful of his own blood. |
Tycho Brahe, a sixteenth-century Danish astronomer whose research helped Sir Isaac Newton devise the theory of gravity, died because he didn't make it to the bathroom in time. In that society it was considered an insult to leave the table before the banquet was over. Brahe forgot to relieve himself before the banquet began, then exacerbated matters by imbibing too much alcohol at dinner. Too polite to ask to be excused, he instead allowed his bladder to burst, which killed him slowly and painfully over the next eleven days.
Francis Bacon was an influential statesman, philosopher, writer, and scientist in the sixteenth century. He died while stuffing snow into a chicken. He had been struck by the notion that snow instead of salt might be used to preserve meat. To test his theory he stood outside in the snow and attempted to stuff the bird. The chicken didn't freeze, but Bacon did, prompting the question "Which froze first? The Bacon or the egg?"
Jean-Baptiste Lully, a seventeenth-century composer who wrote music for the king of France, died from an overdose of "musical enthusiasm." While rehearsing for a concert, he became overexcited and drove his baton right through his foot. He succumbed to blood poisoning.
Some treasured Historic Darwins are not true. For instance, the legendary circumstances surrounding the death of a famous female ruler:
Catherine the Great, empress of Russia in the eighteenth century, reputedly had a prodigious appetite for sex. Legend has it that she was killed by her bestiality practices. During one of her frequent conjugal visits with a horse, the rope sling that suspended the animal snapped, and the falling horse crushed the amorous woman. But the truth is that although Catherine had an appetite for sex, she did not indulge with her stallions. The rumor may have been started to undercut her claim to a place in history.