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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Dark History: Famous Historical Figures Who Have Seen Their Own Doppelgängers

It’s Doppelgänger month here at The Lunatics Project. As we explore the subject in our multi-part series on the Lunatics Radio Hour podcast, I wanted to highlight some of the most jaw-dropping moments from history here.

First, Doppelgängers are defined as an apparition of a living person. We are strictly discussing Doppelgängers in paranormal terms vs. an oddly similar look-a-like.

Let’s start with perhaps the most famous sighting. Abraham Lincoln saw two faces in the mirror on the night of his first election. The second face was pale and sickly, which his wife, Mary, interpreted as a sign of death or sickness during his second term. Only a few months after his second election, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Leading up to his death, Lincoln also had dreams of a president being killed. This all feels very haunting, but I also wonder how much the stress and trauma of war and continued assassination attempts might have influenced these experiences.

Another incredibly famous ruler, Catherine the Great, Russia’s famous Empress, claimed to see her Doppelgänger sitting on her throne. Catherine ordered her guards to shoot at the apparition, though there were no reports on whether the bullets affected the being. Catherine the Great died soon after this sighting.

The last Tudor to rule, Queen Elizabeth the first, also saw her own image. Queen Elizabeth walked into her bedroom one day to see what she claimed was herself, looking incredibly sick on her bed. You can imagine how distributing that vision would be. Similar to Catherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth passed away soon after seeing this apparition.

These are only a few of the historical leaders who have seen apparitions of themselves that foreshadowed their own deaths. Interestingly, there are also a handful of literary figures who had similar experiences. Notably, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary Shelley’s Husband), English Poet John Donne, and German writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe all claimed to see their doubles.

Listen to Episode 118 of the Lunatics Radio Hour podcast to explore these claims and the roots of Doppelgänger sightings in mythology and folklore.

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