Historical Personalities Who Suffered Comically Horrific Deaths

Death can come in many forms, and for most it’s usually mundane, such as due to old age or an illness. For others, however, it’s quite traumatic, like an automobile accident. Then there are the tiny few whose deaths are so bizarre that you question whether they're really true. In each of the stories listed below, the methods of death are very true.


In 1871, Clement Laird Vallandigham, an attorney and advocate, represented defendant Thomas McGehean in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl. Vallandigham attempted to prove that the victim, Tom Myers, had, in fact, accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position. He took a pistol he believed to be unloaded, put it in his pocket and enacted the events as they might have happened, snagging the loaded gun on his clothing and unintentionally causing it to fire into his stomach. Vallandigham died the next day. Because of the demonstration, Thomas McGhean was acquitted.

Charles II was the King of Navarre from 1349 to 1387. At the age of 60, he became very lethargic, his body ravaged with disease. His physician advised him to be wrapped up from head to foot in a linen cloth soaked with brandy. That night, when the remedy was to be administered, one of the female attendants of the palace sewed him up to the neck, made a knot with the remaining end of the thread, and instead of cutting off the loose ends with a pair of scissors, decided to use a candle to singe the thread. As soon as she brought the candle to the thread, the king's alcohol drenched body burst into flames. The frightened attendant fled the scene leaving the king to be burned alive in his own bed.

Angela Isadora Duncan was an American dancer who performed to great acclaim throughout Europe and the U.S. Born and raised in California, she lived and danced in Western Europe, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. She died when her long flowing scarf became entangled around the open-spoke wheels and rear axle of the car in which she was riding, pulling her from the open car and breaking her neck.