Czech Republic

Astronomer dies from refusal to urinate

October 24, 1601
Prague, Habsburg Bohemia, Holy Roman Empire (now Czech Republic)
Astronomer and nobleman Tycho Brahe dies following a ruptured bladder, reportedly suffered when he politely refused to excuse himself during a banquet

When Brahe was around 20 years old, he quarreled with another man on two occasions, the second of which ended in a sword duel in the dark which destroyed the bridge of Brahe’s nose and left a noticeable scar on his forehead. Afterwards, the two reconciled their differences, but Brahe was left with a prosthetic nose of metal (at the time called silver or gold, but recent testing has shown it to be brass).

After attending a banquet, Brahe fell ill and died 11 days later in a delirium. His assistant, Johannes Kepler, reported Brahe had needed to relieve his bladder during the banquet but etiquette at the time frowned upon leaving a banquet before it had concluded, so he dutifully held his urine until his bladder ruptured.

Some suspected Kepler to have poisoned Brahe, possibly out of jealously, so in the 1990s his body was exhumed and tested where mercury was found present in his remains. However, another exhumation was preformed in 2010 and mercury levels were again tested, but it was concluded the levels within Brahe’s beard hair were well below dangerous and his official cause of death was returned to bladder rupture.

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