Recently, questions have arisen about the cause of death for Tycho Brahe. Legend has it that during a banquet he got sick and then suffered from fever and attacks of giddiness for many days. He finally died, so it has been said, from urinary poisoning. In 1996, analyses were performed on hairs from his beard, which had been stored in Prague. High levels of mercury discovered.
We can only speculate how such a large exposure to Mercury could have occurred. Brahe was working with elements like mercury trying to make gold. Thus, the element was likely to be present in his laboratory in various forms. He might have used it himself as a drug in order to cure him of his pains; he might have ingested it by mistake; or somebody might have poisoned him. Brahe was not always a popular man.
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