The royal houses of Europe have had a bloody history. From battles to coups and assassinations, kings and queens have suffered deaths ranging from the serene to the ridiculous. After all, death is central to the idea of monarchy: new kings and queens can ascend the throne only once their predecessor has died. Monarchy itself is built on the condition of death.
But that does not mean that all royal deaths are dignified. Some kings and queens have gone gently into that dark night after respectable illnesses. Others have been victims of political struggles. Still others have not been as lucky in death, and they exemplify some of the stupidest ways royals have died. Like royals who had terrible portraits, bizarre obsessions, or were just plain weird, these dumbest royal deaths are more examples of the ways in which monarchs have been absolutely ridiculous throughout history.
The stupidest royal deaths prove that, at the end of the day, men and women who sit on thrones and wear ancient crowns are no more or less human than the people over whom they claim authority. Some of the dumbest ways royals have died also happen to be some of the most entertaining.
Sigurd Eysteinsson was a prominent Viking leader who ruled Scotland's Orkey Islands in the late 800s. Eysteinsson was a fierce warrior and soon battled his way into the Scottish mainland. Though he agreed to a peace meeting with Maelbrigt Earl of Scots, the conference soon devolved into a fight. Eysteinsson handily defeated Maelbrigt, severed his head, and attached it to his saddle as he fled the battlefield. The motion of the horse's galloping caused one of Maelbrigt's long teeth to dig into Eysteinsson's leg. The wound quickly became infected, eventually killing the Viking.
King Adolf Frederick of Sweden reigned from 1751 to 1771, and he had to share most of his power with the Swedish parliament. On February 12, 1771, Adolf Frederick sat down for a sensible meal of caviar, lobster, smoked herring, and champagne, and then ordered his favorite dessert, the Nordic pastry semla. But he was not satisfied with one serving of the decadent dessert - Adolf Frederick downed 14 portions of the sweet treat. This binge literally cost the king his life, and he died that night after complaining of severe indigestion.
Henry I Died After Going Against Doctor's Orders And Feasting On Eels
King Henry I ruled England with an iron fist. One of his weaknesses was lampreys, an eel-like bloodsucker. Henry's physician had expressly forbidden to eat lampreys, but the king paid no mind - he indulged in them in November 1135. After his lamprey feast, the king's health declined in a matter of days, and he died on December 1, 1135. His death ignited a medieval civil war.
In 1498, King Charles VIII of France hit his head on the lintel of a door while walking out to watch a tennis match – and he hit it really hard. So hard, in fact, that only a few hours passed had before he fell into a coma and subsequently died. Today, doctors believe he likely sustained a subdural hematoma, which basically translates to bleeding on the brain. He's remembered for this unfortunate and unlikely cause of death – and for his troops bringing and spreading syphilis all across mainland Europe.