Weird History
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11 Famous Historical Families With Eerie Curses You Can't Deny

Updated July 28, 2021 819.3k views11 items

Legends of curses have permeated practically every culture throughout history. For example, many curses from Ancient Egypt threaten tragedy and destruction - and on occasion, these threats seem to have been fulfilled. Within the realms of modern history, many believe curses also affect some of the world's most prominent families. Judging by these cases, fame and money appear to go hand-in-hand with a high susceptibility to curses. 

Certain major families have suffered from countless mysterious losses, horrifying coincidences, and some of the worst luck ever documented. Is something actually plaguing these families, or are all these instances the result of coincidence? Read through the best-known examples of famous family curses to judge for yourself.

  • Photo: Morrison1917 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Guinness Family Is Marked By Tragedy

    Arthur Guinness was born in Kildare, Ireland, in 1725 and crafted the beer that forged both his legacy and fortune in 1759. After he married, Guinness and his wife had 21 children - 11 of whom tragically never reached adulthood. Whispers of a curse surrounding the Guinness family began when members began suffering from addiction and perishing in unusual ways.

    Some of Guinness's grandchildren fell into alcoholism or were committed to psychiatric institutions. In 1944, extremists killed Guinness's descendant, Lord Moyne. In 1966, Tara Browne - the 21-year-old heir to the brewery - was in a fatal car crash. In 1978, Lady Henrietta Guinness jumped off of a bridge. The same year, Dennys Guinness was found dead from an overdose, while a car wreck killed one of John Guinness's sons. Another Guinness relation, Olivia Channon, suffered a fatal drug overdose in 1986. Robert Hesketh, married to a Guinness descendent, also passed from an overdose in 2004.

  • Photo: Josef Kriehuber / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Habsburg Royal Family Was Cursed Twice

    The House of Habsburg suffered at the hands of two alleged curses.

    One curse originated with a gift centuries ago, when Count von Altenbourg built a sanctuary for ravens where the Hapsburg Castle was to stand. When the Habsburg family made renovations to the castle, it upset the ravens. The birds began attacking members of the Habsburg family, leading the family to eradicate the birds. From then on, the legend states that a raven is always spotted before a tragedy befalls a member of the Habsburg family.

    In another legend, Countess Karolyi placed a second curse on the family after the countess's son, who belonged to a group of rebels, was slain on the authority of Francis Joseph, the ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Francis Joseph's wife was slain, his son took his own life, and his nephew Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, leading to the start of WWI. 

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Wadiyar Royal Family Curse Played Out Almost Exactly As Promised

    Alamelamma, the wife of King Tirumalaraja - who ruled the Vijayanagar Empire before Wadiyar came into power - placed the Wadiyar curse on Raja Wadiyar of the Mysore Kingdom in the early 15th century when Wadiyar came in and took her husband's throne. Alamelamma fled, taking her jewels to the nearby town of Talakadu. When officials came to apprehend her, she spoke a three-part curse before jumping into the Cauvery River to end her life.

    The curse condemned Talakadu to become a "barren expanse of sand" and for Malangi, a village near the river, to "turn into an unfathomed whirlpool." The curse also condemned the kings of the Wadiyar family to "not have children for eternity." While events didn't play out exactly as Alamelamma asked, they came eerily close. Talakadu became a desert-like place (full of sand), the river near Malangi commonly sees whirlpools, and the Wadiyar family has only birthed male children in alternate generations, which has made it difficult for kings to have direct heirs.

  • Photo: Private Photographer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Agnelli Family Curse Eliminated Most Of Their Heirs

    The origin of the so-called "Agnelli Curse" is unknown, but the misfortune surrounding the family is significant enough that some have referred to them as the "Kennedys of Italy." Gianni Agnelli, born in 1921, became a wildly successful businessman in the automobile industry as the primary shareholder of Fiat, his grandfather's company. But with his riches seemed to come something sinister. 

    Gianni's father passed in a plane crash when Gianni was only a young teenager. In 1952, Gianni himself almost perished in an automobile crash but survived only to see his brother Giorgio pass at age 35. His aunt, Ancieta Nasi, died in childbirth, and his son, Edoardo, a drug addict known affectionately as "Crazy Eddie," ended his own life in 2000. The automobile genius even witnessed the loss of his nephew, Giovanni Alberto, from stomach cancer at 33. 

    The man himself succumbed to prostate cancer in 2003.