Several historical figures may have died from Amanita phalloides poisoning (or other similar, toxic Amanitas). These were either accidental poisonings or assassination plots. Alleged victims of this kind of poisoning include Roman Emperor Claudius, Pope Clement VII, Tsaritsa Natalia Naryshkina, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.
R. Gordon Wasson recounted the details of these deaths, noting the likelihood of Amanita poisoning. In the case of Clement VII, the illness that led to his death lasted some five months, making the case clearly inconsistent with amatoxin poisoning. Natalia Naryshkina is said to have consumed a large quantity of pickled mushrooms prior to her death. However, it is unclear whether the mushrooms themselves were poisonous or whether she succumbed to food poisoning.
Charles VI experienced indigestion after eating a dish of sautéed mushrooms. This led to an illness from which he died ten days later — symptomology consistent with amatoxin poisoning. Charles' death led to the War of Austrian Succession. Noted Voltaire, "this dish of mushrooms changed the destiny of Europe."
The case of the Claudius poisoning is more complex. It is known that Claudius was very fond of eating Caesar's mushroom. Following his death, many sources have attributed it to his being fed a meal of death caps instead of Caesar's mushrooms. However, ancient authors such as Tacitus and Suetonius are unanimous about there having been poison added to the mushroom dish, rather than the dish having been prepared from poisonous mushrooms. Wasson speculates that the poison used to kill Claudius was derived from death caps, with a fatal dose of colocynth being administered later during his illness.
- Benjamin, Denis R. (1995). Mushrooms: poisons and panaceas — a handbook for naturalists, mycologists and physicians. New York: WH Freeman and Company.
- Wasson, Robert Gordon (1972). "The death of Claudius, or mushrooms for murderers". Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University 23 (3): 101–128.
No one has provided updates yet.