The King is dead, long live the king…was it murder? Will we even ever know?
In the spirit of courtly treason and historical homicides, Erwin Olaf‘s (today I’m doing a Erwin Olaf double feature :) series Royal Blood focuses on some famous (and infamous) downfalls, done in a gory and bloody way, giving me an excuse for an extended history lesson!
Jackie Kennedy Onassis
While I believe she had a fairly “normal” death, her presence during her husband’s, JFK assassination is omnipresent, I always remember her attempt to flee into the back of the car, when I think of JFK’s murder. She then went on to marry the world’s richest man Onassis, in a move that surprised many people at the time.
The last Tsaritsa of Russia, she was one of the most famous royal carriers of haemophilia and had a close friendship with Rasputin, which gave him much of his political power.
Unpopular at court and with the Russian people due to her cold demeanor, after the Revolution, she and her family were imprisioned and executed at the order of Lenin.
She was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.
Ludwig II Rey de Baviera
Referred to as the Swan King and the Fairy tale King, Ludwig is best known as an eccentric whose legacy is intertwined with the history of art and architecture, as he commissioned the construction of several extravagant fantasy castles.
His fondness for lavish spending led Bavaria to financial fallout and sealed his downfall since he was deposed on grounds of mental illness without any medical examination.
The day after he was deposed, his body was found floating in the shallow water near the shore of Lake Starnberg. His death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning, but this has been questioned since he was known to be a strong swimmer, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs. Many hold that Ludwig was actually murdered by his enemies while attempting to escape.
Roman Empress and second wife of the Roman Emperor Nero. She was described as an ambitious, ruthless and beautiful woman who used intrigues to become empress, and who after becoming his mistress instigated Nero to murder his first wife.
The reason behind her death is unknown, though some claim it was Nero who killed her, by kicking her in the abdomen while pregnant after a quarrel.
Arguably Rome’s most famous political leader, the plot surrounding his death was made famous by Shakespeare himself…who doesn’t associate the line “Et tu Brutus?” with betrayal and backstabbing?
One of history’s most famous women, she was tried, convicted of treason and executed by guillotine.
Sissi – Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary
I remembered from my childhood that there were a string of romantic movies focusing on her young life starring the equally iconic and tragic Romy Schneider that made all the girls swoon with its fairytale flourishes. It was only last year when I went to Austria that I discovered that this was a case of fiction seriously distorting fact.
She never quite adjusted to life in the court, and was hardly ever present during her children’s upbringing, spending most of her life gallivanting around various spots in Europe.
She became known not only for her beauty, but for her fashion sense, diet and exercise regimens (and is now thought to have suffered from anorexia), and a series of reputed lovers. She paid extreme attention to her appearance and would spend most of her time preserving her beauty.
At age 60, she was stabbed in the heart with a sharpened file by a young anarchist.