12 of the Weirdest Royals That Had Power Despite Their Insanity
Princes William and Harry have recently started a new campaign called “Heads Together” to provide mental support for people in need and raise public awareness of mental health. Yet, as history shows, royals themselves often suffered from mental disorders which, combined with their absolute power, resulted in baffling and scary mannerisms.
Bright Side presents to you a list of 12 most insane and strange rulers. Although, some insanity reports may be mere allegations, they remain astonishing nonetheless.
1. Peter III of Russia
Czar Peter III of Russia, born in 1728, did not rule the country long, and rightfully so. Born in Prussia, and forced to come to Russia, he hated the country. When he got married to the future empress Catherine, Peter was more interested in playing with his toy soldiers, than in his wife. He forced her to dress up as a soldier and follow extensive military drills.
Once, he hung a rat on specially made gallows for a treason because it chewed the head off of one of his soldiers.
Caligula is known as one of the cruelest, yet extraordinary royals, who believed that he was God. One of his oddities was his love for his horse: Incitatus. The horse was claimed to have had its own house, jeweled collar, marble stall, and ivory manger with purple blankets. Caligula even planned to make the horse his Consul, but his assassination interrupted this plan. Historians have some doubts about this myth though.
3. Charles II of Spain
Charles’s poor mental and physical condition were a result of an inbreeding within the Habsburg family. He suffered from frequent diarrhea, vomiting, hallucinations, he could hardly speak and chew his food, and was unable to walk properly. He died before he turned 35, looking like an old man and completely bald.
4. Sultan Ibrahim I of the Ottoman Empire
The future sultan spent his early youth as a captive in a building with no windows, called the Cage, which had an effect on his mental health. He had a huge harem, and was obsessed with overweight women. In a quest to find the fattest woman, his servants brought him a 350-pound woman, which became his favorite. He was also paranoid and once gave orders to drown 280 of his concubines, because he suspected that they were plotting against him.
5. Queen Joanna I of Castile
Joanna married Philip the Handsome in 1496, and was reported to be obsessed with her husband. She even refused to depart with his dead body, and had the coffin opened several times to kiss and embrace her dead husband. On other accounts, her maddness was made up by her husband himself while he was still alive, and her behavior after his death only strengthened these rumors.
6. Princess Alexandra Amalie of Bavaria
Princess Alexandra of Bavaria was the daughter of the king of Bavaria, Ludwig I. She was obsessed with cleanliness and insisted on only wearing white clothes so she would be able to see the dirty spots easier. In her twenties she developed the crazy idea that she had swallowed a grand glass piano and had to walk carefully so she wouldn’t break it. Despite these mental delusions, she was able to pursue a career in literature and published several books.
7. Charles VI of France
Charles’s first outburst happened during one of his hunting trips when he suddenly killed four of the knights accompaning him. One year after this trip, he appeared to forget his own name and that of his wife. His mental illness progressed and at some point he started refusing to bathe and did not allow anybody to touch him because he believed that he was made of glass.
8. Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China
Qin Shi Huang was the first Chinese emperor who was obsessed with an idea of immortality and eternal power: he had many alchemists working for him, searching for the elixir of life, one of which, ironically, killed him. He had ordered the construction of his own tomb and a massive terra cotta army with thousands of warriors to supposedly protect him from enemies even after his death.
9. Justin II of Byzantine
Justin II is known not only for losing a part of his empire, but also for his insanity which won him the reputation of being captured “by a demon.” He heard voices, and was constantly attacking and biting his servants. To distract him, his servants played the organ the whole day, and adjusted the wheels to his throne to amuse him by racing him around the halls of the palace.
10. Emperor Zhengde of China
This Chinese ruler of the 16th century was obsessed with the women and luxury he thought he deserved, and at the same time was known for his childish behavior. Once, his palace caught fire because he decided that storing gunpowder in it during a lantern festival was a good idea. He also loved setting up fake cities and playing a commoner.
11. Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
The Bible book of Daniel mentions the King of Babylon, punished by God for his vanity, who became insane for seven years. He went so mad and “possessed” that he was driven away from mankind, started eating grass, and grew long hair and nails. Since this maddness is not recordered in any other sources, historians doubt whether it actually happened.
12. King George III
This British king started going crazy in his late years for no apparent reason. He started talking to himself, his ancestors, and angels, and shook hands with a tree, taking it for the King of Prussia. He knew he was going mad and his son had to become his regent for a decade before his death.
There’s a hypothesis that his madness was caused by a medication with a large amount of arsenic he was taking. Ironically, this medication was prescribed to control his outbursts.
Have you heard any stories of these crazy rulers before? Do you know of any other monarch that should be added to this list? Share your impressions and opinions in the comments.
Preview photo credit Guise/ wikimedia commons