Haiti has been plunged into another crisis following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Known today for its wretched litany of natural and man-made catastrophes, most people are unaware of Haiti’s inspiring past as the first nation in Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve independence from European rule, in 1804, and the only country in history that was founded by a successful slave rebellion. However, two centuries of misgovernance, political instability, endemic corruption and a host of domestic and external factors have pushed Haiti more than once to the brink of irrevocable disaster. The beleaguered nation, the poorest in the Americas, was dealt another blow in the early hours of July 7, when the Haitian president was murdered in his home. The most bizarre attempt on a Chinese emperor’s life occurred in 1542, when a group of palace maids tried to strangle the Ming dynasty’s Jiajing Emperor in his sleep. Led by one Yang Jinying, over a dozen of the lowest placed women in the palace decided one night to kill Jiajing in his sleep. They crept into his bed chamber and attacked him. Shocked awake, the emperor found himself immobilised with his limbs and head pressed down. He tried to scream but a rag was stuffed into his mouth and his face covered with cloth. Two women wound a rope around his neck and pulled, but he would not stop struggling. Their decision to make a second knot sealed their fates. The dead knot that resulted prevented the noose from constricting further, saving the Jiajing Emperor’s life. In the scuffle, a panic-stricken maid ran to report to the empress, who came to the emperor’s rescue with armed guards. The punishment was merciless. All the maids involved, including the one who ran to the empress, and two consorts who were implicated, the Serene Concubine Wang and the Decorous Consort Cao, were publicly executed by “death by a thousand cuts”. The Chinese general who pulled out and ate his arrow-pierced eye, maybe Official records are silent on the women’s motive, but several theories have been conjectured. One attributed the attempt to the Jiajing Emperor’s obsession with immortality and his belief that the menses of virgins were a vital ingredient in the elixir of eternal life. Hundreds of girls were brought into his palace as maids and placed on a diet of mulberry leaves and dew to maintain their purity. Hot-tempered and cruel, the emperor punished or killed maids who displeased him. Another theory suggests Concubine Wang was jealous of Consort Cao, the emperor’s favourite, and hatched the plot to frame Cao. The empress, who presided over the inquisition, took advantage of the emperor’s incapacity to implicate her rival, Cao. A less sensational theory posits Wang, Cao and the maids were all the pawns of disgruntled officials who had fallen out with the emperor years earlier, resulting in their demotions. The emperor lived another 25 years in a studio outside the palace in futile pursuit of immortality, leaving the affairs of state to corrupt ministers.