Some people are just unlucky. They’ve secured their place in history, not through life, but through remarkable, horrifying or strange deaths.
Throughout history, there have been truly strange deaths by accidental beheadings, robots, dancing, shaving and more – but they don’t even crack the top 7. Here are our most bizarre deaths through history.
7. The Owner of Segway
Jimi Heselden was a British millionaire entrepreneur who acquired Segway in 2009. Little did he know he would only enjoy his new toy for 10 months before tragically (and ironically) dying.
Despite being one of the richest people in the UK, Jimi Heselden’s legacy comes not from his business deals, but from his unfortunate and bizarre death.
In September 2010, Heselden died falling off a cliff in Yorkshire. At the time he was riding… yep, you guessed it… a Segway.
6. German Cannibal
If you were alive in 2002 (and if you weren’t then you’re a foetus… what are you doing on the internet?) you might remember this one.
Armin Meiwes is a German computer technician, currently serving time in prison for murder.
His crime? Cannibalism.
Being killed and eaten is a pretty grim way to go, but it gets even weirder when you learn Meiwes’ victim voluntarily agreed to it.
From childhood, Meiwes was infatuated with the idea of killing and eating another human being. Eventually, his obsession led to him looking to fulfil his dream dinner.
But Meiwes wasn’t a hardened killer; instead, he went looking for volunteers. He placed an ad on an online message board, not dissimilar to a missed connection, except this was less seductive and more deranged.
But as we all know, there are a lot of strange people out there. Including those with their own desire to be killed and eaten. Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, an engineer from Berlin, answered Meiwes ad, agreeing to the terms.
As if killing and eating someone wasn’t weird enough, this story gets stranger. First, Brandes visited Meiwes home, where he was treated to a lovely dinner… of his own penis.
After Brandes took a concoction of sleeping pills and cough syrup to prepare for his impending demise, Meiwes removed Brandes’ penis and fried it for the two men to enjoy. Delicious. They enjoyed the lovely appetiser before Meiwes drew Brandes a nice, relaxing bath.
Finally, after Brandes slipped into unconsciousness, weakened by blood loss, Meiwes slit his throat, hoisting his body onto a meat-hook like a stuck pig.
He spent the next 10 months slicing the flesh from Brandes’ corpse to eat.
Also, just to make this a bit weirder… they filmed the whole thing.
5. World’s Longest Beard
Hans Staininger (b. 1507), was the City Governor of Braunau am Inn, Austria. However, Hans Staininger was less famous for his politics than he was for his extraordinarily long beard.
Although nowhere close to the longest beard in history – that honour goes to Hans Langseth with a beard of a massive 17 foot long; Hans’ beard was still somewhere between 4-6 foot long.
Elected as City Governor 6 times, Hans was known for walking around Braunau with his beard rolled up and tucked in a leather pouch.
On the day of his bizarre death, his beard came loose, and Hans trod on it, tripping and breaking his neck in the fall.
You can visit the killer beard yourself, in Austria, where it’s still on display.
4. Isadora Duncan: ‘Mother of Dance’
Who was Isadora Duncan?
Isadora Duncan was a Greek tragedian come to life. Born 1877, she became famous across the Western world for her talent in dance, spending most of her life touring Europe and the Soviet Union. She died a tragic and bizarre death in 1927.
Isadora Duncan was an anomaly in the world of dance. Classical Greek arts, folk and social dances, and the new American ‘freedom’ inspired Duncan’s style of dance, creating wild and energetic performances.
Famous artists, poets and authors dedicated works to her innovation, calling her the ‘Mother of Dance’. But she had a chequered life, fabulous in some ways, tragic in others. It all ended when she died in 1927 at just 50 years old.
Although American, Isadora Duncan spent most of her life in Europe. She was openly bisexual, an atheist and possibly a communist.
None of which was popular in 1900.
Notorious throughout Europe, Duncan was known for her financial woes, scandalous love life with many partners and affairs, and her tendency to enjoy a drink.
She’d probably fit right in nowadays, but back in the 1900s was a bit of an odd duck.
How did Isadora Duncan die?
By the time of her death, her career was dwindling, as were her money and friendships; but she was still enjoying trysts with attractive Europeans. In fact, on the fateful night of her death, she jumped into the open-top car of French-Italian mechanic, Benoît Falchetto, silk scarf flowing behind her as she bade farewell to a friend telling her, laughingly, “I am off to love!”
As the car purred into life and pulled away from the kerb, her scarf became entangled in the wheel spokes and rear axle, abruptly tightening around her neck and pulling her from the car.
It killed her instantly.
3. Martin of Aragon – Laughter is the WORST Medicine
There have been a few reports of people dying from laughter across the millenniums. Most likely, the cause is actually a heart attack or stroke brought on by excessive laughter, but phrasing it that way is a lot less fun.
Although not confirmed, Martin of Aragon has placed on this list because if it is true, then it’s a truly ironic and bizarre death.
Who was Martin of Aragon?
Long before Italy was unified in 1870, each province had its own royals. Martin of Aragon ruled Aragon (duh), Corsica, Valencia, and Sardinia; was Count of Barcelona, and King of Sicily.
Essentially, he had a lot of titles.
Martin’s reign was brief, just 14 years overall and only one as King of Sicily; but relative peace was enjoyed during this period and his rule was largely uneventful. His death, however, secured his place as a famous king.
In 1410, Martin of Aragon was visiting a monastery just outside of Barcelona when he died; reportedly of laughter.
So the story goes, Martin was suffering a particularly nasty bout of indigestion when his Jester told a (hopefully hilarious) joke that sent him into uncontrollable laughter.
This dodgy combination caused him to collapse and later pass away.
You’ve probably heard of Rasputin, or if you’re a 90s kid, watched him in Anastasia.
Rasputin was a self-declared holy man and mystic, who soon wormed his way into the Russian royal court, working his influence over the royal family, including Tsar Nicholas II and the Czarina.
Rasputin was a highly unpopular figure, in large part due to the influence he wielded. He was accused of many wrongdoings during his service to the throne, including religious heresy and rape. When Russia’s economy came crashing down, the public blamed the czarina and her evil consort.
Why was Rasputin’s death bizarre?
In December 1916, a group of nobles launched an assassination attempt on Rasputin. I say ‘attempt’ because the murderers had to try damn hard before they succeeded in finally killing him.
Prince Felix Yusupo, nephew-in-law to the Tsar and leader of the group of rebels, claimed they began their attempt by luring Rasputin to his home and feeding him tea and cakes ladened with cyanide.
They had no effect.
Rasputin then requested madeira wine, drinking 3 glasses which were also poisoned and still somehow was unaffected.
At this point, it seems Prince Yusupo had had enough of Rasputin’s refusal to die. So, he shot him – which usually does the trick.
Satisfied the assassination attempt had finally succeeded, the gang set to making it look as though Rasputin had returned home; disguising one of their own as him and travelling to his abode. They later returned to Yusupo’s palace to deal with the body.
Or so they thought.
When returning to the basement, Rasputin reportedly leapt up, attacking Yusupo, who ran for the stairs with Rasputin in pursuit.
Finally, for the last time that night, Rasputin was shot, this time three times, collapsing in a snowbank, death finally claiming him.
A hell of a lot of work for one murder.
1. Aescheylus, Father of Tragedy
Who was Aescheylus?
Now Aescheylus was a real ancient Greek tragedian. Aescheylus was an ancient playwright who, in a twist of fate, is now referred to as the ‘Father of Tragedy’.
Before Aescheylus, ancient Greek plays consisted of a single actor responding to a chorus, limiting their movement and story-telling greatly.
Aescheylus introduced costumes and another actor to the stage, allowing for scenes and dialogue to play out. The ancient Greek theatre-goers loved him for it.
Although he wrote about 70-90 plays, only 7 of his works survive: The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, The Oresteia (a trilogy), and Prometheus Bound.
We know from the writings of other ancient Greeks, both contemporaries and those who came after, just how important Aescheylus was to the Greek stage and its legacy.
What killed Aescheylus?
As is befitting the father of tragedy, he died an unfortunate and bizarre death. When visiting a city, he was struck on the head and killed by an object falling from the sky: a tortoise shell.
Eagles used to carry tortoise shells, looking for rocks to break them open on so they could eat the meat inside. Unfortunately for Aescheylus, it appears one such Eagle mistook his head for a rock, dropping the heavy tortoise shell from a great height, killing him as it struck.