It was a scary prospect to attend a Borgia dinner party in the Middle Ages. The European papal family was known to poison guests who presented, well ... a conflict with whatever the Borgia believed. But at least they reserved the potent potion for outsiders -- not family. The Roman Emperor Nero infamously poisoned the dinner of his stepbrother Britannicus in A.D. 55.
Sneaking poison into wine became so easy by the Middle Ages that Chinese Emperors began requiring eunuchs to test their meals. If the eunuch lived, the Emperor dug in. However, that line of defense couldn't stop an inside job, which is believed to have occurred when the aunt of Guangxu, the second-to-last emperor of the Qing dynasty, conspired with the eunuch.
Still, some dinner party deaths came at the hand of the diner himself. Kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro believed he could outlast a heavy dose of the deadly pufferfish liver known as fugu. That turned out be an incorrect assumption. Some tales of fabulous feasts with a deadly outcome are so outlandish that they are thought to be the stuff of legend. Take the Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin. He is believed to have eaten foods that contained enough cyanide to kill five men -- and lived. Or did the harmful liquid burn off in the cooking process? Either way, it's a wild story, as are these deadly dinners.
- Matt McCue, The Daily Meal
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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. More: 10 Most Extraordinary Parties in History
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. More: Hosting Your Family From Hell
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. More: A Harvest Party to Celebrate Autumn
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. More: 11 Best Games for Dinner Parties
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. More: Are You a Lazy Host?
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. Click here for the rest of the Top 10 Deadly Dinner Parties
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