You could say that history’s the story of people dying right and left. People died of the usual most of the time: wars, pestilence, plague, diseases, starvation, old age. But, every once in a while, you come across those delightfully dumb deaths that make you laugh. Either they’re ironic, avoidable, or literally just stupid. Either way, they make you wonder how the human race ever survived long enough to get where we are today. So here you go: five of the stupidest deaths that you probably won’t find in a textbook.
Tycho Brahe was a Danish astronomer living in the 16th century, right around the time the Renaissance was happening in Italy and the Reformation was happening in Germany. It was the age of exploration. Just a few years before, Colombus sailed the Pacific Ocean, and Spain’s explorers were massacring the native american civilizations in South America in search for gold. Brahe is best known, perhaps, for his accurate, detailed, comprehensive mapping of celestial movement. He was assisted in his studies by Johannes Kepler, who would later use Brahe’s observations to develop his three laws of planetary motion. He’s also known for having an artificial nose and, well, a really sick mustache. What most people don’t know about Brahe, though, was how he died. The story goes that he died of politeness. Brahe was at a dinner party and he really, really, really had to pee. But he didn’t want to excuse himself and risk his reputation as an extremely polite member of upper-class Danish society. He held it for so long that his bladder burst and he died. So, take it as a lesson, people. Stop waiting to pee. Just do it already.
Clement Vallandigham was a politician from Ohio, living around the time of the American Civil War in the 1800s. He was close friends with Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, and practiced law in Dayton, Ohio. He served two terms in the House of Representatives, but, honestly that’s not what he was best remembered for. Clement is best remembered for the stupid way he died, which is, for him, rather unfortunate. According the witnesses, he was serving as a lawyer in a murder trial, defending the suspect. He wanted to prove that the victim could have accidentally shot himself. To prove his point, he picked a pistol he thought was empty, put it in his pocket, and walked around the courtroom. The pistol snagged on his clothing and fired. Plot twist: the pistol was loaded. He shot himself in the abdomen and died. At least he proved his point. The defendant was found to be not-guilty by the jury and released from custody.
Attila the Hun
Ah, the Great Attila the Hun, the greatest enemy of the western and eastern Roman Empires. We’ve all heard of this guy. During his reign, he crossed the Danube twice and plundered the Balkans, invaded the Byzantine Empire and Italy, and crossed the Rhine in 451. He was called the “The Scourge of All Lands”, lover of war, mighty in counsel, created one of the most feared warfaring empires of all time, and he died of a nosebleed. No, really. I’m not pulling your leg. After he left Italy and crossed back over the Danube River, right around 453 AD. The stories say that he was at a great feast, celebrating his wedding to the young, beautiful Ildico. Late into the night, Attila became very inebriated. His men brought his new wife into his tent, and the girl was so terrified that she broke into a run. The story goes, he chased her around the tent and suffered an enormous nosebleed and died, choking on his own blood. One account even says he suffered the nosebleed because he ran smack into a tent pole. Well, thus ended the reign of the “Scourge of All Lands”. Ironic, isn’t it?