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Five Awesomely Bad Rulers

Under normal circumstances, it would be great to be the king, as Mel Brooks once quipped. However, too much power mixed with a little insanity, will make the people over throw you. These five rulers saw an end to their means.

  1. Sultan Ibrahim “The Mad” (1616-1648)

    His cruelty most likely stemmed from his imprisonment as a youth. Held in the “Cage” since has was a child, Ibrahim had to be cajoled out of his prison when he was proclaimed Sultan. So crazed already because of the torment of his brothers, he needed to see his dead brother’s corpse before leaving his cell. After viewing the body, he paraded about the Harem singing hysterically. Having been imprisoned for 23 years, Ibrahim began to indulge in debauchery. While his mother the Sultana Kosem ruled, Ibrahim took pleasure in his harem of virgins and fat women. When he met the daughter of the Grand Vizier, he wanted her for marriage. Knowing of the Sultan’s deviances, the Grand Vizier told his daughter to refuse. Enraged, Ibrahim had her kidnapped. He then had his way with her, and sent her back to her father. So destructive was the Sultan, that when one of his favorite concubines had told him his harem had been compromised by another male, he flew into a rage. He had all the women (nearly 300), weighed down in sacks and drowned in the Bosporus. Only one managed to survive. Having tired of his antics, the Janissaries (a group of officials) locked Ibrahim once again in the Cage. He was then strangled to death a week later when they could no longer stand his cries for mercy.

  2. Ivan the Groznyy “The Terrible” (1530-1584)

    Having been raised in a turbulent household where murder was common, Ivan IV went on to become one of the most cruelest tyrants in history. His wife Anastasia, having the only calming effect on Ivan, succumbed to an illness. The paranoid Ivan had people tortured and executed in belief that she was poisoned. He installed a new rule, the Oprichniki; men who consisted of criminals and killed, raped, and tortured at the will of Ivan. He had hundreds of beggars drowned, his own people executed, and massacred thousands of people just for the fun of it. He carried a staff with a spike on it to poke at people if they brought on his wrath. This spike would end up killing his favorite son all because of an argument. He would also beat his head against the floor, which resulted in a permanent callous upon his forehead. During his reign, he had eight wives, and executed at least three of them. He eventually died, and some scientists purport that he died due to mercury poisoning. Analysis on his remains showed high levels of mercury, and signs of syphilis. Mercury was used to treat such ailments during his time, and the high toxic levels in his body may have led to his demise.

  3. Lucius Aurelius Commodus (AD 161-AD 192)

    Commodus was brought to light in the movie Gladiator. He was a megalomaniac who was easily moved to sudden outbursts of rage. He was a terrible ruler who had people executed, including his own sister. Of course, she did try to plot an assassination attempt against him. He had a harem of men and women, and indulged in all night orgies. In his later years, he staged himself as a gladiator, and slaughtered thousands of tethered animals, and gladiators who were only armed with wooden weapons. Tired of the debauched and deranged emperor’s antics, a plot was enacted to be rid of Commodus. He was poisoned, but unwittingly vomited the poison out. He was then later smothered the same night.

  4. Gauis Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula AD12-AD 41)

    At a young age, Caligula picked up his name when a group of soldiers saw him wearing military sandals (caligae), which meant little sandals. Sensitive by his prematurely balding and immense body hair, he would have people shaved if their hair was prettier than his. So cruel and vicious was Caligula, it was punishable by death to look upon him as he passed by or to even talk about goats. Early in his reign, Caligula took ill, and immerged a maniacal mad man. He re-opened his great-uncle Tiberius’ treason trials and had people executed or forced to commit suicide. He idolized his favorite horse Incitatus, inviting citizens to dine in its honor. A brothel was opened in his palace. Here women of high means and their daughters, and freeborn youth could “earn” money. He also had his way with high standing wives and sent them back to their husbands disgraced. He would often speak of his encounters and publicly embarrass the men of the wives. He purportedly committed incest with his sisters. In his reign he married four times, and had relations with both sexes. Rumor even has it that he made his favorite sister Drusilla live as his wife. When she became pregnant, impatient with waiting for the arrival of the child, Caligula opened up his sister and retrieved the baby. Distraught with her loss, he had her deified. Suffering from possible schizophrenia, and epilepsy, Caligula became more insane. After a short-lived reign (four years) the Praetorians stabbed him to death while leaving a theater.

  5. Vlad Dracul (1431-1471)

    Having been taken hostage by the Sultan Murhad II and treated savagely while his father and brother were assassinated, Vlad would go on to become a force to be reckoned with. He was known to burn, decapitate, skin alive, boil, torture and use many other heinous techniques on his victims. He is most notoriously known for staking his victims in various manners so as to prolong their deaths. Thus the name Tepes ( the Impaler) was anointed. So cruel was Vlad, that the poor and beggars were his favorite victims. He once invited the poor of his village to a dinner that ended with them being burned alive. When Vlad launched a campaign against the Turks in 1462, he was vastly outnumbered. Retreating, Vlad burned down his own villages and poisoned the wells, so that there would be no food or water for the Turkish army. When Sultan Mehmed II reached the capital city, what he saw was the remains of impaled carcasses of 20,000 Turkish soldiers. He fled in terror. The sight became known as the Forest of the Impaled. Vlad’s reign came to an end when he was assassinated in December of 1462.

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