10 Deadly Dinner Parties Slideshow
Following the conquest of the Jewish settlement Khaibar, Muhammad and his men went to a dinner prepared by a Jewish woman who, scholars believe, poisoned the lamb or goat she served them. When Muhammad died three years later in 632 A.D., he was said to have blamed the poison as the culprit.
Legend has it that the Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin was lured to a dinner by a group of nobles who wanted to end Rasputin’s influence on the Emperor Nicholas II. In 1916, they led him to the cellar of Moika Palace in St. Petersburg and served him cakes and red wine containing enough cyanide to kill five men. Amazingly, Rasputin survived. (However, he was killed by gunshot shortly thereafter. Tough day.) An autopsy showed no sign of poison in his body, leading some to believe the cyanide has evaporated due to the high temperatures in the cooking process.
Former Kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro believed that he was immune to the poison found in fugu, the liver of puffer fish. He tested this theory in 1975, when he went to dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant in Kyoto. He ate four orders of the deadly delicacy and died seven hours later.
In A.D. 55, the Roman Emperor Nero ordered his stepbrother Britannicus to be poisoned at a dinner party the day before Britannicus’s 14th birthday. Nero hired the same assassin who had murdered Britannicus's father. This woman added the fatal liquid to Britannicus’s drink and he fell to the floor immediately.
When it comes to the Borgias, a European papal family from Spain and Italy, it is hard to pin down any one deadly dinner party, for they frequently poisoned guests whose politics didn't agree with theirs. Cesare, one of the sons, is said to have owned a ring that hid poison inside of it.
According to NPR, Guangxu, the second-to-last emperor of the Qing dynasty died at the hands of his aunt and the man who was supposed to be his food tester. Empress Dowager Cixi reportedly gave the eunuch a bowl of yogurt that had been tainted by poison. The inside job allowed the eunuch to pass it on to the Emperor without tasting or suspicion. The 38-year-old Emperor died two hours later.
According to The Washington Post, hundreds of Iraqi army officials become violently ill after breaking their Ramadan fast in October 2006 at a base in southern Iraq. At least 10 people died and 1,200 were sickened after eating a chicken dinner that authorities believed may have been laced with cyanide by the mess hall’s own chef.
The details surrounding the death of Claudius, the fourth Roman Emperor, are fuzzy, even to historians. But the story is that he ate poisonous mushrooms doctored by his taster, physician, or the assassin who would also kill his son one day. What seems to be more widely accepted is that his wife was somehow behind it.
While most of these examples sound made up, this is the only one rooted in fiction. In Agatha Christie’s bestselling book, And Then There Were None, 10 guests who had participated in the deaths of others are invited to an uninhabited island. Even though no one else is around, they end up dying one by one. At dinner the first night, Anthony Marston unsuspectingly consumes a drink with cyanide and is the first to go.
When former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko was running for election in September 2004, he met for dinner with members of the Ukrainian Secret Service who were opposed to his politics. When he returned home to his wife Kateryna that night she tasted medicine on his lips and noticed he was acting funny. He shrugged it off, but within a week his body was close to a total state of collapse. After much testing, doctors were convinced that a laboratory-made poison had been given to him. Luckily, Yushchenko somehow managed to live and get elected. However, he has permanent scars on his face as a result of the poison. To this day, no one has been charged with attempted murder.