Leo II, also known as Leon II or Levon II, became the King of Armenian Cilicia from 1269/70 and was a vassal of the Mongols. Five of his 16 children by his highly regarded wife Keran (who later entered a monastery) became kings.

Leo II apparently died of arsenic but I can find no further information on this. The Armenian Wiki page on Leo II does not appear to have the answer (though google translate comes up with some strange translations, e.g. 'Mamluks' comes out as 'mammals').


  • Murder. Although several of Leo II's relatives were later murdered - his sons Hethum II and Thoros III, his grandson Leo III - there was a clear motive in each of these cases. I can see no apparent motive for murdering Leo II, though. Nonetheless, arsenic had been commonly used as a poison since Roman times.
  • Medical Treatment. Arsenic was used to treat "certain ailments" since at least the time of Hippocrates but I have not found any evidence of any ailments Leo II might have had.
  • Environment, but I'm not sure how this could occur in medieval times as it is apparently rare even in modern times.

Was Leo II murdered by being poisoned with arsenic? If so, is it known who did it? If not, how did he die from arsenic?

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    Accepting a cup of tea from two friendly old ladies in lace. ;-) Sorry, couldn't resist. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 5 '18 at 16:24
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    You're right. I have conflated it with The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane – Pieter Geerkens Jul 6 '18 at 7:13
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    @LarsBosteen: Perhaps it's worth giving the Armenian Wiki another try as Google Translate improves over time. No more "mammals" though there are some "Egyptian mammoth troops" today. No mention of his death. The Russian Wiki is perhaps the most elaborate but doesn't mention his death. Only the English and Spanish versions mention arsenic and the Spanish looks to be a translation of the English; the French and Italian only mention succession. Perhaps confirmation of the source for the arsenic death should be looked for? – gktscrk Mar 11 at 17:34
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    Also, I found this document which describes the levels of arsenic in Armenian artefacts. While this deals with a period far earlier than Leon's life, it does note that Early Bronze Age Armenian artefacts had a high arsenic content though this changed to the end of the Bronze Age. Perhaps this was also true in the Medieval period?.. – gktscrk Mar 11 at 17:43
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    @gktscrk It's been a while since I looked at this question so I'll do some more digging. Thanks for the Metallurgy of prehistoric Armenia link. – Lars Bosteen Mar 11 at 22:56

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