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.see more on Sigurd Eysteinsson
King Béla I of Hungary was a warrior-king and heralded for protecting the sovereignty of Hungary against the ambitions of the Holy Roman Empire. But Béla's literal seat of power would be his undoing. In September 1063, his wooden throne collapsed, injuring the Hungarian king so badly that he died of his wounds.see more on Béla I of Hungary
King William I of England was a Norman duke who led the last successful invasion of England in 1066, thus ending Anglo-Saxon rule and ushering in a period of elite Norman dominance. He crushed Anglo-Saxon resistance to William's French style of rule and erected stark and oppressive castles - something that had not existed on the island before - across England and Wales to demonstrate Norman might. To his friends, he was known as William the Conqueror. To his enemies, he was William the Bastard.
Though William is still known as the "conqueror," death would ultimately conquer him. In 1087, William was doing what he loved best: leading men into battle, sitting astride a horse. The horse bucked in the heat of battle, and William was thrown forward into the saddle's pommel, rupturing his organs. William then passed a few days in what was probably agony until he finally died on September 9, 1087.
But the conqueror's body would undergo further indignities. As monks prepared his body for burial in Caen, they had to stuff William's over-large body into a small sarcophagus. In pushing the body into the box, William's bowels burst, unleashing a sickening smell throughout the building.
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George II reigned as king of Great Britain from 1727 until 1760, a period of tremendous growth and development for both the British nation and empire. Though George was the last British monarch not to be born in Britain - he spoke English with a heavy German accent - he also was the last monarch to personally fight in a battle.
But his death was decidedly less regal than his tenure as British king had been. On October 25, 1760, the 76-year-old king arose early and went through his morning routines - including a visit to the royal toilet. While using this un-royal throne, George overstrained himself and died of an aortic aneurysm.see more on George II of Great Britain