Greatest Poisonings in History

secret compartment

Greatest Poisonings in History

Over the centuries, there have been many assassinations both on the individual and group scale that involved poison. As a means to eliminate a political opponent, assassinate a king, or simply get rid of a competitor poison has been a popular choice for different reasons. It’s directed only at the victim, depending on the poison it can be quick and painless, and it allows the assailant to get away.


One popular method of delivery is the poison ring, allowing the assailant to deliver the poison via a secret compartment to eliminate an adversary.

What is a Poison Ring?
Basically, this is a ring that looks like most others save for its somewhat larger size to hold a secret compartment. The ring itself is usually non descript and not designed to draw attention as you might suspect.

The earliest known poison rings came from the Far East, although their exact origin is not known. Originally, they were not designed to carry poison, but rather spices that the person wearing the ring could use to liven up their meals. It was only when the rings reached Europe did some find an alternative use for them.


5 Best Known Poisonings History has had its share of famous people being killed by poison, although the method was usually self-inflicted rather than from an assassin.

Socrates: Arguably the greatest known of all philosophers, Socrates was punished by the people of Athens for leading their youth away from the belief that the gods existed. After being sentenced to death, Socrates choose his method of execution by drinking hemlock.

Rasputin: One of the most influential and perplexing figures in history, it should be noted that Rasputin’s death was not via poisoning, although it was tried. Rasputin was fed a meal laced with cyanide, but for whatever reason he suffered no ill effects. He was then shot repeated, and his body dumped into the Neva River.

Charles II: Until recently, it was believed that this king of England died of a stroke. But recent evidence about his autopsy revealed signs of mercury poisoning. While yet to be confirmed, it does appear that the king may have accidentally poisoned himself.

Hannibal: The most prominent person to die of poison delivered from a poison ring was Hannibal, the military leader of Carthage during the Second Punic War with Rome. Hannibal was one of the most brilliant military leaders, but even his knowledge and skills could not defeat the Romans. After his defeat at the Battle of Zama, Hannibal took his own life from the poison he kept in his ring.

The Jonestown Massacre: Probably the most infamous poisoning in history occurred in Jonestown, a religious cult headed by the Rev. Jim Jones. After killing a US Congressman who was sent to investigate the cult, Jones ordered his followers to drink a combination of cyanide and sedatives that were mixed with grape punch. Over 900 people died as a result. The term “drinking the Kool-Aid” came from this massacre.

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