After the dingo Roman emperors and dictators whose curlers do not stand up straight, it is the turn of kings and queens to distinguish themselves by their ability to go around in circles without going round. This is the problem, when only blood ties legitimize a succession: not everyone is lucky enough to have strong genes. So we do with it. We do what we can.
Throughout history there are numerous kings and sovereigns who have exploited their position to be able to act in a very questionable manner. Some of them have satisfied their hedonistic impulses, others have acted with extreme cruelty against their adversaries. In some cases we speak of a real abuse of power.
The great Khan of the Mongol Empire was a fine strategist whose conquests brought much to Central Asia. However, except Mongolia, he is considered in all the countries he crossed (Iran, Afghanistan or China) as a bloodthirsty barbarian. To build his empire, he did not hesitate to kill 1.2 million people. He used young men as human shields in battles and allowed his army to engage in mass rape.
Wu Zetian was the only empress in all of Chinese history. In 690, she founded the Zhou dynasty, of which she was the sole representative. In power, she worked a lot for the promotion of women and her heritage was also reassessed upwards by the communist regime after having been criticized for a long time. At the same time, we understand the criticisms: Wu Zetian did not like contradiction too much and killed all those who did not agree with her, such as: her daughter, her son, her nephews and nieces and a good part of population. There are milk soup people like that.
Basil II, known as the Bulgaroctone (that means killer of Bulgarians), was Byzantine emperor from 976 to 1025 after having been co-emperor from his birth to his 18th birthday. It was during his reign that the Byzantine Empire reached its territorial peak. Normal for an emperor-soldier, who was interested in nothing but war. And he did it well, the war. In Kleidon, he defeats the Bulgarian army, killing 15,000 people. A handsome player, he frees his 10,000 prisoners after having gouged out their eyes, without forgetting to leave a few prisoners with one of their valid eyes to bring the others back to their homes. Basil Poli.
Jean Sans Terre
Jean Sans Terre was thus nicknamed by his father, Henry II, because he was not called to reign anywhere. He acceded to the throne of England in 1199 by a somewhat hazardous combination of circumstances. Before that, he was known for his propensity to rape the wives and daughters of nobles.
Once crowned, and contrary to the customs of the time, he implemented a policy of “no survivors.” Knights captured by his army were starved until death ensued. Not to mention the family intrigues to keep his nephew away from power (and incidentally from life). He was also a politically incompetent monarch. Until a revolt of the nobles forced him to sign the Magna Carta, the first document recognizing fundamental human rights. Sometimes History does funny things.
Isabelle the Catholic
Queen of Castile and Aragon with her husband Ferdinand, Isabelle was not a funny girl. Besides the Reconquista (which required expelling all the Jews from Spain or converting them by force), Isabelle’s great project was the establishment of the Inquisition, which we know was not all very positive for the lives of those who were the subject of it. But Catholicism meant a lot to Isa.
Ferdinand 1st of Naples
The natural son of Ferdinand of Spain (you know, Isabelle’s husband), Ferdinand was known to leave the corpses of his enemies lying around in his castle. One day, he decided to invite to dinner relatives of John of Calabria, his rival for the accession to the throne, and to give some to eat to his crocodiles. He was like that, Ferdinand, very keen on respecting wildlife. He made the other prisoners and then killed them at will. Then he mummified their bodies and dressed them to hold their rank at banquets.
Æthelred the Misguided
King of England, Æthelred did not inherit his nickname for nothing. As the kingdom suffered incessant Viking invasions and the crown had to pay Denmark a heavy price for peace, he decided to strike hard. He had all the Danes in England massacred, including the sister of the King of Denmark. It was pretty clever, since Sven took it as an invitation to invade England and succeeded.
James II of Scotland
The young age of the king, crowned at 7, urged the Scottish nobles to arrogate to themselves a little of his power. The Douglas clan, in favor of a marriage with the king’s mother, wanted to ensure the regency, which William Crichton refuted. In 1440, pretending to want to calm the tales, Crichton invited the Douglas to dinner like one invites friends, then murdered them after dinner. The episode inspired Games of Thrones’ Red Wedding. Well let’s say that Jacques was not responsible, since he was 10 years old, but still.
Not content with not having invented the school, Charlemagne spent his entire reign in war. All the time. In 782, after losing a first battle against the Saxons, Charlemagne decided to respond. His army murders 4,500 Saxons in Verden after the Saxon nobility refused to submit. In one day. That’s a little over 3 murders per minute as long as you keep up the pace.
Godefroy de Bouillon
A small French nobleman who became king of Jerusalem in 1099 by going on a crusade, Godefroy de Bouillon massacred hundreds of Muslims and Jews to conquer his promised land. The Crusaders burned people alive, men, women and children without distinction.
First, he was called “the beloved”. Then he was called “the fool”. His first act of madness took place in 1392, when he attacked his own troops and killed 6 people. Then, his fits of madness become more and more regular. He claims that it is made of glass and therefore demands to be transported in an armored coach with cushions. Experts agree today that Charles VI was bipolar. All this hinders his ability to govern and a regency is organized, which allows the Hundred Years War to resume. In different movies you can find Charles VI, played by an actor and iconic costumes inspired by history.
Eric XIV of Sweden
The reign of Eric XIV was marked by a strong expansionist will and especially by the fact that it was becoming more and more insane. He was paranoid and executed the Sture family himself, members of the Swedish aristocracy, just because he had no reason to believe they were plotting a conspiracy. After that, Eric XIV was convicted of high treason, imprisoned and poisoned.
While he was extremely popular when he came to power, barely 16 years old, Farouk manages to alienate all his people by spending monstrous money on insane splendor. In 1943, a car accident made him go crazy. Then it is forfeiture. He takes 50 kilos, eats everything when Egypt breaks the slab, and steals a lot of bullshit, without stopping, including a watch belonging to Churchill. It is also said that he went to a zoo to kill all the lions, under the pretext that he was having nightmares with lions in it.
Henry VI of England
The guy was not up to the events. Gentle, very pious and very calm, he failed to keep the English conquests in France and fell into catatonia for a year when Bordeaux was taken over. This situation creates a situation of hell when Richard of York tries to regain power and puts Henry in jail. Then it’s Civil War that the Yorkists win, and, let’s face it, jail isn’t the best place to cure a start to insanity.
George III of England
While he showed signs of madness from an early age, it wasn’t until 1810 that George III of England was completely overtaken by madness and phobias, which led to Parliament declaring his son regent. Georgio suffered from hallucinations, paranoia, monstrous depression and abdominal pain. All this did not make easy the need to manage at the same time the American war of independence, the Napoleonic expansionism and the French revolution.
Alphonse VI du Portugal
Suffering from hemiplegia since the age of 3 and a somewhat heavy mental illness, Alphonse nevertheless managed, under his reign, to obtain cool victories over Spain and the definitive independence of Portugal. However, his brother Pedro found that it was better to reign directly and obtained a sympathetic regency. Alphonse’s French wife took the opportunity to annul the marriage. And marry Pedro.
Louis II of Bavaria
Patron of the arts and patron of Wagner, Louis II spent his reign building sumptuous palaces straight out of fairy tales, including Neuschwanstein. Conspirators took advantage of his exaltation for the arts to declare him insane and take power. Not sure he really was. Once removed from power, Ludwig II of Bavaria was found in a lake.
Mary first of Portugal
Called “La folle” in Brazil and “La pieuse” in Portugal (two schools), Marie gave the first signs of madness in 1786 after a delusional episode. When her husband died, as the situation worsened, she decided to ban all forms of amusement at court. The festivals were therefore replaced by religious ceremonies. In 1792, too crazy to govern, she left the regency to her son, Jean. Then Marie remains barricaded in her room. Where she screams all day.