Assassinated, Beheaded, or Natural Causes: Do You Remember How These Famous Figures Died?

Isadora Teich

How did Marie Antoinette die?

In 1793 Marie Antoinette was beheaded by the French people for treason and the monarchy abolished. She is famous for living extravagantly while poverty was rampant in France, and became a symbol of the cruelty and wastefulness of royals.

How did Alexander Hamilton die?

Alexander Hamilton died in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804 at the age of 47. The pair had been longtime political rivals.

What killed Julius Caesar?

Caesar's death was the result of a conspiracy among a number of Roman senators. On March 15, 44 BC, a group of senators stabbed him to death.

President John F. Kennedy died by ________.

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald as he rode in a presidential motorcade in Texas. To this day, many people believe that this death was part of a far wider conspiracy.

How did Adolf Hitler die?

As the Red Army and allies advanced on Berlin, Hitler slowly recognized that victory was impossible and that he would most likely be captured and executed. He and his partner Eva Braun married and then committed suicide together. He shot himself.

What killed Thomas Jefferson?

Thomas Jefferson died at the age 83 in 1826, after his health steadily declined over a course of years. By the time of his death, he had suffered from rheumatism, boils, deafness, being unable to urinate and some other illnesses. It is believed that kidney damage from an infection ultimately killed him.

What killed Ronald Reagan?

Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. He died of pneumonia in 2004 at the age of 93, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

What killed Mahatma Gandhi?

Gandhi was assassinated on Jan. 30, 1948 by right-wing Hindu nationalist Vinayak Godse. He walked up to Gandhi and shot him three times, killing him.

How did Winston Churchill die?

Winston Churchill, famous for leading Britain against the Nazis, died at age 90 in 1965. After suffering a stroke, he died in his sleep.

How did King Tut die?

While King Tutankhamen's golden death mask is well-known around the world, his cause of death is not. He died at roughly the age of 18 and theories about his cause of death range from murder to genetic problems due to the inbreeding which was common in the Egyptian royal family.

Princess Diana died in a:

Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in France in 1997. While officially the crash was caused by the driver, who lost control of the car while driving at high speeds under the effects of alcohol and antidepressants, there are numerous conspiracy theories claiming it was more than that.

How did Martin Luther King Jr. die?

MLK was fatally shot at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis Tennessee in 1968. While fugitive James Earl Ray was arrested and sentenced for the crime, many, including the King Family, believe that there was a government conspiracy to kill him and that James Earl Ray might not have done it at all.

How did Roman Emperor Caligula die?

Caligula was a cruel and unstable ruler who declared himself a living god and forced parents to watch their sons be executed. In 41 AD he was attacked by a group of guardsmen and stabbed over 2 dozen times.

What killed President Abraham Lincoln?

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C in 1865, at the age of 56. He was shot in the head by actor John Wilkes Booth.

What killed Elizabeth I?

Elizabeth I did not allow any of her doctors to examine her and a post-mortem examination was not conducted, so no one knows what killed her for sure. At nearly 70 years old, her body and mental health were failing. One popular theory is that this was caused by the lead-based face makeup she wore, which poisoned her over time.

Harriet Tubman died of:

Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist who helped slaves escape to freedom. She died of pneumonia in 1913.

What killed Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin was bedridden when he died at the age of 84 in 1790. The effects of repeated gout attacks, a large bladder and the explosion of large abscesses on his lungs finally took their toll.

How did Pocahontas die?

Pocahontas died at roughly the age of 21 after boarding a ship with her husband John Rolfe going from London back to Virginia, but no one knows why. Theories range from various illnesses to her being poisoned.

What killed George Washington?

George Washington spent his last hours in agony, illness made even worse by the medical treatments he received. He was a believer in bloodletting, and on top of having his throat removed he was fed poisonous concoctions and experienced a series of cruel and useless "treatments" no modern doctor would recommend. He died at 67 years old in 1799.

How did Joseph Stalin die?

Leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin died of a heart attack at the age of 74 in 1953. He was instrumental in defeating the Nazis but may have killed up to 20 million of his own people in order to do so.

How did Alexander the Great die?

Alexander the Great died at the age of 32 in 323 BC. There are several theories regarding his death, ranging from poisoning to him drinking bacteria-filled water.

How did Cleopatra die?

Rather than accepting the fall of Egypt to Rome, Egypt's last pharaoh committed suicide in 30 BC. At age 39, she let an asp bite her and died from its poison.

What killed Roman Emperor Nero?

The infamous Roman Emperor Nero is famous for his love of art, debauchery, and murdering his political rivals. When Rome turned against him and planned to execute him in 68, he committed suicide instead.

What killed Theodore Roosevelt?

Former President Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60 in 1919. It's thought that a lifetime of exploring the globe and cheating death finally caught up with him, and he died of a pulmonary embolism on his New York estate.

What caused the death of Susan B. Anthony?

Susan B. Anthony was a lifelong figure in the fight for women's rights. She died of pneumonia in 1906 at age 86.

How did Andrew Jackson die?

Former U.S. president Andrew Jackson fought in over 100 duels over the course of his life but lived to be 78 anyway. In 1845 he died at home of heart failure.

What killed Napoleon Bonaparte?

Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island Saint Helena off the coast of Africa after a crushing military defeat at Waterloo. He died in 1821 at age 51, most likely of stomach cancer.

How did Attila the Hun die?

There are various theories and accounts relating to Attila the Hun's death. These include internal bleeding due to heavy drinking, choking on his own blood during a nosebleed and political assassination.

What did William Henry Harrison die of?

William Henry Harrison was the first U.S. president to die in office. He died 31 days into his term. After his bad cold was made worse by common medical cures of the day, like leeches and opium, he died of jaundice, pneumonia and septicemia in 1841 at age 68.

What killed President Franklin D. Roosevelt?

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a stroke. He was 63 years old.

How did Queen Victoria die?

Queen Victoria died at 81 years of age in 1901. She couldn't walk, was blind, and felt unwell for weeks preceding her death.

What killed Genghis Kahn?

Genghis Khan died in 1227 after building a land empire that swept Eurasia. He was over 60 years old and in poor health. Historians think he may have finally succumbed to injuries he got from a lifetime of hard living.

What killed Vladimir Lenin?

Lenin was the initial leader of the USSR. Between 1922-1924 he had several strokes which left him in worse and worse shape, eventually causing his death at age 53. However, there are numerous theories surrounding his death.

What killed former French President Felix Francois Faure?

Faure died of apoplexy, or what modern medicine would consider a stroke, while in bed with a woman half his age in 1899. He was 58 years old.

What killed Malcolm X?

While many consider Malcolm X's death the result of an ongoing feud between him and the Nation of Islam, there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. This is because even after numerous Freedom of Information Act requests over the years, New York will not release records relating to it because they claim it would endanger police officers.

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Image: wikimedia painting by J. Mund.

About This Quiz

Think you know what Genghis Khan, Marilyn Monroe, Marie Antoinette, John F. Kennedy and virtually every famous figure of the past has in common? Most of them died, some even centuries ago. But for many of the most famous rulers and artists and politicians of all time, life was unpredictable, and they did not exactly die quietly in their beds.   

Some were assassinated, some died of illnesses and some died under circumstances which are controversial even today. Many people claim there are vast conspiracies surrounding the deaths of certain individuals. Some are even so far back that knowing exactly what happened is practically impossible, with second-hand accounts all we have to work with and bodies nowhere to be found.  Not even Sherlock Holmes (who isn't in here, since he's a fictional character) could figure out some of them.

The past is full of twists, turns, violence and people vying for change and power, and in the chaos of it all, some of the most famous people to have ever walked the earth found themselves on the wrong side of a gun, or even worse! If you think you have what it takes to get a handle on the macabre and tell fact from fiction and look some famous ghosts in the face, then sink your teeth into this HowStuffWorks quiz! 

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