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Top 10 Famous Historic Figures Who Suffered Horrifying



Edgar Allan Poe Died of Rabies

The death of Edgar Allan Poe in 1849 has long been a freaky source of mystery.

After vanishing for nearly a week after leaving his home in Richmond, Virginia, the poet finally

turned up lying in a gutter in Baltimore, wearing someone elses clothes and nearly


Poe then spent four days suffering extreme hallucinations, before spiraling into madness

and dying.

At the time, the cause of his death (and the circumstances surrounding it) were considered

a total mystery.

We still dont know for absolute certain what killed him, as that would require DNA


But in 1996, Dr. R. Michael Benitez was participating in a conference where medical practitioners

were given an anonymous patient and a list of symptoms and asked to diagnose them.

Unbeknownst to him, Benitez was given Poe.

The specialist doctor took one look at theanonymous patientsfile and declared

ita clear case of rabies.”

In the 19th century, rabies was extremely common.

It now seems likely Poe was bitten by a rabid animal and succumbed to the horrifying disease

before he could tell anyone.

While the theory isnt one hundred percent watertightPoe showed no signs of hydrophobia,

which is a common symptom of rabiesit may well be the closest we ever get to solving

this aptly ghoulish mystery.


Beethoven was Born with Syphilis

One of our favorite pieces of trivia is that Beethoven, the legendary composer who wrote

some of the best music in history, was deaf.

From the mid-1790s, he was affected by a buzzing noise in his ears.

By the age of 30 he was losing his hearing badly.

Many of his greatest works were written after that time.

One tidbit often gets left out of this story.

A few years back, the University of Marylands annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference

decided to look into what might have caused Beethovens deafness.

Although the passage of time has made it impossible to say for certain, they did come up with

one candidate they thought extremely likely: syphilis.

One symptom of syphilis can be deafness, and syphilis was way common in Beethovens time.

Its thought his father had it, which may go some way toward explaining how Beethoven

got infected.

Like HIV, syphilis can be passed from mother to child in the womb.

If Beethovens dad had infected his mom, its almost certain thats where the composers

ear-destroying STI came from.


Tutankhamun Looked Like an Inbred Yokel

Today, its widely known that inbreeding is a bad idea.

Aside from being totally gross, getting jiggy with your sister can result in a child suffering

truly awful disabilities.

In Ancient Egypt, though, they hadnt quite figured that out yet.

Royals thought inbreeding would help keep their line pure.

Instead, it resulted in pharaohs who looked like inbred yokels.

One of whom was the legendary Tutankhamun.

King Tut came from a long line of inbreds and boy did it show.

In the words of the Wall Street Journal, King Tut hadanterior incisors and an overbite

(buck teeth), a cleft palate, curvature of the spine (scoliosis), a club foot and a grossly

elongated head (dolichocephaly).

He also had feminine breasts and hips, as did several of his male predecessors.

Almost certainly, there were other undetected defects of vital organs.”

In other words, this ancient king looked less like some great and powerful ruler, and more

like the sort of guy you might see looking for work as an extra in the remake of Deliverance.


Samuel Johnson Probably Had Tourette Syndrome

Samuel Johnson was one of the wittiest writers of his time.

A coarse, vulgar beast of a man, he palled around with guys like Johnathon Swift, while

redefining what the English language was capable of.

He was also pretty odd.

Contemporary accounts report that he liked to make weird-ass noises while sitting in

polite company, and had a compulsive habit of rubbing his knee while talking.

On the streets, he was prone to gesticulating wildly at nothing.

Do those symptoms sound familiar?

They might.

Although Dr. Johnsons tics caused hilarity at the time, modern doctors have posthumously

diagnosed him with Tourette Syndrome.

While the most-commonly depicted form involves shouting out swear words, plenty of sufferers

are simply stuck making nervous twitches and involuntary noises.

Dr. Johnson was evidently one-such sufferer.

He used to cluck like a hen, shake his head wildly and whistle uncontrollably.

It got so bad in later life that gangs of children used to follow him down the street,

pointing and laughing.



Lovecrafts Weird Cold Aversion

Horror maestro H.P.

Lovecraft was one peculiar dude.

For one thing, he was a lifelong anti-Semite who managed to absently-mindedly marry a Jewish


For another, he was obsessed with the dangers of interbreeding, in a way that went beyond

bog-standard racism and into a pathological fear.

But perhaps weirdest of all might be his strange aversion to the cold.

If the temperature ever dropped too low, Lovecraft was apt to collapse into a dead faint from

which he couldnt be woken until warmed up again.

Interestingly, we have absolutely no idea what caused this.

It seemed to come on in the writers adulthood and wasnt triggered by any one thing.

Some have linked it to his frequent migraines, while others have suggested it was psychological.

Lovecraft himself seemed to link it to the cancer that eventually killed him.

At any rate, it made him develop an extreme paranoia about the cold, a paranoia that filtered

through into some of his stories like the gruesome Cool Air.


Darwins Whole Life was One Big Puke-a-thon

About a year after his long voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin developed a bizarre

condition that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

About three hours after eating, he would get extreme abdominal pains, followed by hideous


Moments later, he would expel everything in a great big vomit-a-thon that left him utterly


At some points in his life, the condition got so bad that he was basically rendered

an invalid.

The freakiest part of all?

We still dont know what caused it.

Although all Darwins friends thought he was a hypochondriac, modern doctors have subsequently

diagnosed him with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS).

The problem is were still not sure what really causes it.

While Darwin could get an accurate diagnosis if he was alive today, even in 2016 his doctors

likely couldnt do a lot to help.

Was it maybe related to his time at sea?

Who the heck knows?


Julius Caesar Had Endless Strokes

You may have heard before that Julius Caesar had epilepsy.

Certainly thats what people have thought for centuries.

When you take into account his symptomssuch as collapsing into fitsit definitely

sounds plausible.

But a recent study from 2015 has another idea.

According to the authors, theres a good chance Caesar suffered a catastrophic series

of mini-strokes.

The technical name for these is a series of Transient Ischemic Attacks, but it amounts

to the same thing.

Rather than suffering the same illness as people like Graham Greene and Ian Curtis,

the ruler of Rome may well have had a series of debilitating strokes.

If thats the case, its perhaps lucky for Caesars posterity that he got assassinated

when he did.

A proper stroke could have left him utterly incapacitated and at the mercy of his enemies;

a far worse fate than the quick, brutal stabbing that ultimately felled him.


Lenins Brain was Turning to Stone

When he finally died, infamous revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was only 53 years old.

His death came on the tail-end of a series of strokes, and shortly after, he was placed

in Stalins personal care.

At the time, nobody knew what the heck was wrong with him.

First Russian doctors suspected mental exhaustion.

Then lead poisoning.

Finally, they just rolled with syphilis on the basis that seemingly everybody in the

olden days had the dreaded French disease.

It wasnt until they performed an autopsy on the dead Communist that they uncovered

the horrifying truth.

Lenins brain had been slowly turning to stone.

The technical name for his condition was cerebrovascular atherosclerosis, and its creepy as hell.

Basically, calcium deposits built up in his cerebral arteries to the point they became

nearly solid.

When the morticians tapped the affected areas with tweezers, they made a sound like stone.

Creepily, this wasnt a case of 1920s man running up against something he didnt understand

and being helpless in the face of it.

Even today, someone with Lenins condition would be unlikely to live much longer than

he did.


Akhenaten Probably Suffered a Hormone Disorder

The Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten likely came from the same line that later produced the

yokel-like Tutankhamun.

With that in mind, youd probably expect to find that he had some weird stuff going


And youd be right: Akhenaten suffered the same elongated head as his more-famous descendant.

But Akhenaten also had some strange gripes that were all his own.

In 2009, professor of dermatology and an expert on visual diagnosis at the Yale University

School of Medicine, Irwin Braverman, came up with his own theory.

Akhenaten was probably suffering a hormone disorder that made his male body look like

it belonged to a woman.

In ancient drawings, Akhenaten is often depicted as having wide hips, a narrow waist and feminine


Yet we know for a fact that the ancient ruler was male.

Seems like somebodys made a mistake, until you realize the pharaohs genetic defects

caused by inbreeding could have left him with an extreme hormone imbalance.

Specifically, overproduction of the enzyme aromatase could have caused his body to be

flooded with estrogen from an early age.

That would explain how a guy who is meant to be male could wind up looking so spectacularly

female in ancient engravings.

However, since weve yet to find Akhenatens mummy, we still cant say for certain that

this is the case.


King Herod Had Some of the Nastiest Ailments in History

Herod the Great was an overachieving king who, among other things, built the largest

artificial harbor in the Mediterranean.

Today, though, hes mainly remembered for ordering the Slaughter of the Innocents in

an attempt to kill baby Jesussomething many now think never actually happened.

Apparently, God didnt get the memo.

When it came time to shove Herod off this mortal coil, He did it in the nastiest way


According to the ancient writer Flavius Josephus (who lived about 100 years after Herod died),

the kinghad a fever, though not a raging fever, an intolerable itching of the whole

skin, continuous pains in the intestines, tumors of the feet as in dropsy, inflamation

of the abdomen, and gangrene of the privy parts.”

He also suffered convulsions of the limbs and had foul, fetid breath that could strip


But the real awful bit is contained in those last five words: gangrene of the privy parts.

Herods junk was so awash with bacteria that it literally began dying while it was

still attached to him.

Today, we know this disease as Fourniers Gangrene, and its basically one of the

most-painful, disgusting ways you can possibly die.

Except this isnt what actually killed Herod, but was likely a finaland extremely painful


In fact, its now thought that chronic kidney disease did the Biblical king in.

Maybe so, but its the image of his decaying wang falling apart as its flesh is eaten away

thats really gonna stick with us.

The Description of Top 10 Famous HISTORIC FIGURES Who Suffered Horrifying DISEASES