40 Animals that Changed History

King Alexander of Greece shakes hands with prince-regent Alexander of Serbia on the Macedonian Front, May 1918. Wikimedia Commons

38. In 1919, a Barbary Macaque killed the King of Greece, leading to a heavy defeat in war

On October, 2, 1920, King Alexander of Greece took a stroll through the grounds of the Tatoi estate. Suddenly, a domesticated Barbary Macaque attacked his dog, and when Alexander intervened a second Macaque appeared and bit him. The bite gave him sepsis, and on October, 25, he died. The resultant squabble over his successor drew attention away from war with Turkey, which Greece eventually lost with heavy casualties. Greece simultaneously lost conquered territory in Turkey. According to Winston Churchill, ‘it is perhaps no exaggeration to remark that a quarter of a million persons died of this monkey’s bite’.