New findings have been released on the 300-year-old mystery of Tycho Brahe's death. The Danish astronomer died 300 years ago, and for a long time it was assumed that he succumbed to an infection from a burst bladder after a particularly long banquet, because it would be considered rude to get up and go relieve himself. But in 1901, evidence of mercury was found in Brahe's hair, leading many to believe he was poisoned, possibly by his assistant, Johannes Kepler.
But as tantalizing as this 17th-century murder mystery sounds, new findings seem to indicate that it’s probably not true. A team of Danish and Czech scientists conducted new tests of Brahe’s clothing, bone and hair samples after his body was again exhumed in November 2010. In doing so, they concluded that there was insufficient mercury in his system to cause death.
“There was mercury in the beard, you will also have traces of mercury if you have a beard,” said lead investigator Dr. Jens Vellev, from Aarhus University in Denmark, to BBC News. “But the amount of mercury was as you see in people [alive today].”
“It is impossible that Tycho Brahe could have been murdered,” Vellev added. He also discounted the possibility death from a combination of other toxins: “If there were other poisons in the beard, we would have been able to see it in the analyses.”
So maybe he really did die from holding it in too long. Link