The Sausage Duel of 1865,
In the mid 19th century Rudolph Virchow was a leading man of science and intellect in Europe. Among the many hats he wore he was a physician, biologist, anatomist, pathologist, and anthropologist. He was also deeply intertwined in German politics, being a social reformer and co-founder of the liberal party. In 1865 his greatest rival was none other than the great Prussian Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. Virchow greatly criticized Bismarck’s policies, especially his excessive military budget. In 1865 Bismarck was so angered by Virchow’s opposition that he challenged him to a duel.
As challenged Virchow had the right to select what weapons would be used. Virchow was not a fighting man, however as a physician, biologist, and anatomist there was one weapon he was well acquainted with; science.
Virchow’s decision was that he and Bismarck would each consume a pork sausage which was randomly selected from two sausages; one regular sausage, and one sausage that was purposely infected with the larvae of a trichinella parasite. He who consumed the untainted sausage would be fine, however he who consumed the tainted sausage would suffer a terrible bout of the runs that could last for days. Other symptoms would include nausea, heartburn, dyspepsia, muscle weakness, swollen eyes, stroke, and neurological disorders. If left untreated death can occur within 4 -6 weeks.
Otto von Bismarck was a born soldier who probably hoped to die in glorified combat. However when it came to the possibility of dying a slow death while lying in a puddle of his own feces, Bismarck declined.