Widespread rumors about Catherine engaging in aberrant sexual practices became a way of saying that Catherine herself was an aberration, a freak of nature.
Catherine the Great actually expired alone and of natural causes. On the morning of 5 November 1796, Catherine arose, drank coffee, and sat down to write. About three hours later her chamberlain, curious that he had not been summoned as usual, found her barely conscious on the floor of a closet adjacent to her bedroom. As her servant summoned help, Catherine lapsed into unconsciousness from which she never awakened and died the next day. An autopsy conducted the next day determined the cause of death to be a cerebral hemorrhage.
After her death , her enemies at court began spreading various rumors about Catherine’s final days. Some claimed that the all-powerful ruler had died while on the toilet. Others took their lurid storytelling even further, perpetuating a myth that has endured for centuries: that Catherine, whose lustful life was an open secret, had died while engaging in a sex act with an animal, usually believed to be a horse. Of course, there is no truth to this rumor.
Exactly when and where the story about Catherine’s death having been caused by a horse originated remains unknown, As one of her biographers wrote, the “implications of the horse story appear aimed at undercutting Catherine’s claims to greatness, by aggressively asserting that her primary motivation was unbridled sex, the excesses of which resulted in her monstrous death.”
History regards Catherine as a powerful ruler who saved Russia from almost certain invasion and annexation by her stronger neighbors. Under her, the country prospered, schools were established, laws enacted, wars fought and won. Yet to do all this, the former German princess had to first wrest control from her insane husband, which she did by staging a coup and declaring herself empress. While her success as a monarch lies at the heart of the various bestiality rumors circulated about her, so too does her overthrow of her husband, because both were viewed in her lifetime and beyond as unnatural — women of that era were held to be biologically inferior and thus incapable of leading nations with any success, and wives were put on this Earth to be subservient to husbands, not to dethrone them. (Remember, women of those times who killed their husbands were guilty not of murder but of petite treason, a legal term that makes it abundantly clear what the proper relationship between husband and wife was supposed to be.)
On 3 February 1990, David Zaback attempted to hold up H&J Leather & Firearms Ltd., a gun shop located in Renton Highlands near Seattle, Washington. About 4:40 p.m. that day, he entered the crowded shop and announced his intention to rob it by telling everyone to put their hands on the counter and saying if anybody moved, he’d kill them.
The following mind-boggling attempt at a crime spree in Washington appeared to be the robber’s first (and last), due to his lack of a previous record of violence, and his terminally stupid choices:
1. His target was H&J Leather & Firearms, a gun shop specializing in handguns.
2. The shop was full of customers – firearms customers.
3. To enter the shop, the robber had to step around a marked police car parked at the front door.
4. A uniformed officer was standing at the counter, having coffee before work.
Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up, and fired a few wild shots from a .22 target pistol. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, the police officer with a 9mm Glock 17, the clerk with a .50 Desert Eagle, assisted by several customers who also drew their guns, several of whom also fired.
The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics. Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7 different weapons.
No one else was hurt in the exchange of fire. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, in part because some of the suspect’s shots struck ammunition on a counter, causing the ammunition to explode. “There were slugs all over that place”
On July 4, 1989, NATO radar operators spotted a slow-flying Russian fighter plane approaching the border between East and West Germany. Two American fighters based in the Netherlands were launched to see what was up with the intruder and soon reported that it wasn’t an intruder at all. It was just a Russian MiG-23, cruising the skies without a pilot.
This was a disastrous situation, not because it meant that poltergeists had finally learned how to use advanced weapons, but because it meant that this speeding hunk of metal full of explosive materials was inevitably going to crash land somewhere. And, it was already flying over a populated part of Belgium.
During takeoff, the afterburner failed and the engine began losing power. At an altitude of 150 meters and descending, the pilot assumed he had a complete engine failure and ejected without incident. The engine had not failed completely, and the aircraft remained airborne, flying on autopilot in a westerly direction.
Plans were made to shoot the aircraft down as soon as it reached the English Channel. Shooting it down sooner was out of the question as, the plane was flying over Belgium.
Unfortunately, the MiG didn’t have enough gas to make it that far and ran out of fuel over Belgium. The resulting crash killed one person on the ground below, though all things considered, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.
The Belgian government made a formal protest to the Soviet Union regarding the lack of notification as to the danger the aircraft posed to the civilian population. Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens expressed concern that “from the time the MiG-23 was first picked up on NATO radar to the time it crashed more than an hour later, no word of warning came from the Soviet side,” and that “there was also a ‘notable slowness’ on the part of the Soviets in disclosing whether the jet was carrying nuclear or toxic weapons.”
The USSR paid $685,000 in compensation to Belgium.