Kings Who Were Really Weird People

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. And this has been bad news for basically everyone throughout history because kings were in charge of everybody for a long time. With no one around to tell them no, being head honcho kind of went to their heads. This meant a lot of them were technically sane but developed a lot of strange habits. Some of these were pretty innocent and just added to the eccentricity we now expect from royalty. And sometime their crazy pastimes involved kidnapping, eugenics, even death. In the past, you just had to cross your fingers and hope you weren't around when one of these guys was in power.

Maharajah Jai Singh (1882-1937)

The ruler of the Indian state of Alwar has been sensitively described as "controversial." He was eventually removed from power by the British on charges of being incompetent. But before then, he managed to fit in some weird stuff.

Singh probably wasn't someone you wanted to play a board game with. According to The Life and Fate of the Indian Tiger, he seriously did not like to lose. There is a story that once he was playing polo and it wasn't going so well. The match ended, the maharajah's team lost, and he was pissed. Obviously, it couldn't have been his fault that he hadn't played well, so the horse must have been to blame. He called for some kerosene and lit the poor animal on fire, right in front of everyone. And his cruelty didn't stop at animals. He also kidnapped young women from the streets and did terrible things to them, up to and including murder.

The maharajah may have been a sadist and a bit loopy, but he also knew how to how get revenge. The Telegraph tells the story about how one time, looking a bit shabby, he went into a Rolls Royce dealership in London to buy some cars. The salesman thought he was broke and ignored him. So Singh bought seven cars, and brought them to India. There, with great fanfare, he proclaimed that they would be used to pick up garbage. No one in his family was allowed to buy a Rolls again.

Ludwig II (1845-1886)

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was strange. According to The Telegraph, he only liked to eat outside, no matter what the weather was like. The Bavarian Palace Administration says he would sleep during the day and only come out at night. He liked to dress up in historic costumes and basically cosplay. He was absolutely fascinated by the work of composer Richard Wagner, to a scary stalker super-fan degree. And then there was the fact that he was probably gay, which means nothing today, but in the 19th century would have been a big no-no.

But what Ludwig really loved was castles. Sure, he already had a bunch, but he wanted more, and he wanted them to look like they just came out of fairy tales. This might not have been a problem if he wasn't so obsessed with building castles that he ignored actually running Bavaria and also spent all of the government's money building them.

It was pure style over substance when it came to his creations. The Atlantic reports that he didn't even hire real architects to make his new castles, just set designers from operas. This obviously could have gone badly wrong, but they're all still standing ... for now. One was supposed to be a replica of Versailles, one was a weird combination of styles, and one was set right atop a mountain. Ludwig would probably have been thrilled that the last one, Neuschwanstein, became the basis for Sleeping Beauty's castle.

George IV (1762-1830)

George IV of England was not a great guy. Many historians have voted him England's worst king, and that's saying something because his dad was the insane one who lost America. He had insane debts and committed bigamy. But he really liked having sex.

The one good thing you could say about George is that he probably didn't rape anybody. But that's setting the bar pretty low. Other than that, he tried anything he possibly could to get a woman into bed. If she refused he might throw a tantrum like an oversexed toddler, offer her cash (whether she was a prostitute or not), or even say he'd kill himself if she didn't sleep with him. Amazingly, despite not being a catch and growing as fat as a house, women still agreed to have sex with him.

We know this because he kept trophies. Royal Babylon says he would ask for a lock of hair from each of his conquests. This wasn't that weird for the time; lots of lovers exchanged hair. But George was different just because of the sheer volume. When he died, his brothers found 7,000 envelopes, each with a lock of hair, or enough to "stuff a sofa." Even stranger, the hair wasn't always from his mistresses' heads, if you know what we mean. If you want to know just what that looks like, Women says you can see a display of some of his keepsakes in Scotland.

Peter the Great (1672-1725)

Tsar Peter the Great of Russia had a thing for very short people, specifically dwarfs. The book Royalty's Strangest Tales says even though he could be a complete jerk to many individuals in his life, he always treated his dwarfs well. He held weddings for them and if they died there were huge funerals, complete with small horses pulling the tiny coffin and a short priest picked specially for the occasion.

Peter also enjoyed watching surgery. According to one of his biographies, doctors at St. Petersburg hospitals had orders to contact him whenever they were about to perform a particularly interesting operation. Sometimes watching wasn't enough, and he would get involved himself. Unfortunately, this usually went about as well as you would expect considering he had no idea what he was doing, and people died.

His other great love was dentistry. If you wanted to get in good with the tsar, all you had to do was let him pull one of your teeth. This meant a lot of people in Russia were having perfectly healthy teeth yanked out by their ruler. One of Peter's servants claimed that his wife wouldn't sleep with him anymore because she had such a bad toothache. The woman was sent for and Peter went to work, but when she screamed and cried he threatened to pull out all her teeth if she didn't shut up. And we still have a bag of his toothy conquests today.

Frederick William I (1688-1740)

If Peter the Great had a thing for short people, Frederick William I, king of Prussia, had the opposite obsession. He was really into "giants." Maybe he was trying to make up for the fact he was only 5 feet 5 inches tall. Whatever the reason, he would do absolutely anything to get more tall men.

He didn't just like them around to look up at. He was creating his own special army regiment known as "The Potsdam Giants." According to History Answers, the only requirement to be in this group was that you had to be over 6 feet tall, but in most cases the men were much taller than that. Being huge had its advantages because the taller you were the more you got paid.

The king was on the lookout for tall men everywhere. He would buy tall sons from their parents, or even kidnap them from off the street. Other countries would try to get in his good books by sending tall guys as a present. Babies that came out larger than normal were even marked with a red scarf to indicate they could be future recruits. And if there weren't enough tall babies? Breed them. Frederick William performed a kind of eugenics, making tall women have sex with tall men in the hopes of producing a very tall kid.

So what was the point of this regiment? No to go to war, just to cheer the king up. He treated them like they were his favorite toys.

Charles VI (1368-1422)

Most of the men on this list are just a little strange, but French king Charles VI most likely had proper mental problems. It takes some effort to shift from being called "Charles the Well-Loved" to "Charles the Mad."

It probably didn't help that Charles was made king at just 11 years old, in 1380. Once he hit his twenties, he would have the first of 44 attacks of what would have been called madness. And if he went crazy while you were around it was smart to get out of there, because an Internet Archive-preserved post on Biography says he was known to kill people during his fits.

Most of his weird outbursts were less worrisome than straight up murdering dudes, though. On his bad days, he liked to run around his palaces pretending he was a wolf. He would also go through periods where personal hygiene went out the window and he would have to be cut out of his gross clothes. But he was king after all, and according to io9, he still wanted to be stylish, even when it came to being crazy. There was a fad at the time of people suddenly thinking they were made of glass, and Charles decided he was, too. He would sit completely still for hours, telling people that if he moved he might break. The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years says he was sure his enemies would try to shatter him. It's tough being king.

Christian VII (1749-1808)

Christian VII was king of Denmark in the 1700s. But according to Behind the Palace Doors, he didn't enjoy being king, probably because it got in the way off all the stuff he liked to do with his flesh scepter.

Like a lot of kings throughout history, Christian was constantly patronizing prostitutes, but a woman didn't have to be around for him to have a little fun. He had been taught to masturbate by male pages when he was a kid and he absolutely loved it, to the point he did it all the time. Scandinavia in the Age of Revolution says he did it with "much persistence." While it would get in the way of ruling a country today if the guy in charge had his lad in his hand the whole time, back then people thought it was doing real damage. They thought it would kill him eventually and in the meantime that it was affecting his fertility and his brain.

When he wasn't playing with himself, he liked to break stuff. Or he would be in the middle of a totally normal conversation and then run across the room and randomly slap someone (via The Romance of Diplomacy). He also liked being punished for the bad stuff he did by being tied to a chair and whipped like a common criminal. His wife, an English princess, reportedly cried hysterically when she found out she had to marry him. It's not that hard to see why.

King Farouk (1920-1965)

King Farouk, the last ruler of Egypt, was a character. He makes some sense when you know that his mother hoped becoming king would help him grow up. Unfortunately for her, it didn't. It just gave a guy with arrested development a whole lot of power.

According to Royalty's Strangest Tales, his behavior was usually completely juvenile. During formal meals he would throw stuff at the dignitaries he was eating with and yell whenever he hit them. When he was out driving he liked honking his specially made horn that sounded like a dog being run over. One time when he was at an outdoor reception under the oppressive Egyptian sun, he put an ice cube down a lady's bra so she could "cool off." He once appointed someone Minister of Justice because he thought his mustache was cool.

If Farouk didn't like something, it had to go. He once decided he wasn't a fan of the railway station that he used twice a year and had the old one demolished and a new one built at a ridiculous cost. After having a nightmare about being chased by lions, he went to the Cairo Zoo and shot the two there.

But the book Egypt says perhaps his weirdest quirk was that he had been taught how to pickpocket by a master thief. He once stole Winston Churchill's pocketwatch, and when the theft was discovered he pretended he "found" it. Thankfully it didn't lead to an international incident.

Philip V (1683-1746)

This king of Spain was a complete nymphomaniac. And that's saying something, since plenty of kings throughout history have had mistresses or have patronized prostitutes and brothels. But Philip was a little bit different because he was a Catholic who actually deeply believed in his religion. This meant that all his sex-having (as often as three times a day, according to Royal Babylon) had to be with his wife.

He was completely in thrall to the two women in his life, his first and second wives. The Eighteenth-century Woman says his first wife managed to hold complete power over him using what was between her legs. She would give him suggestions about the war he was participating in, and if he didn't agree with her she would withhold sex. It would usually only take a few hours before he gave in. He thought having sex was the only thing that kept him from being depressed. On her deathbed, he even tried to get in one more shag.

But his mood issues worsened, despite all the banging. Even having a complete mental breakdown wasn't enough to stop him needing his queen to put out constantly. According to Philip V of Spain: The King Who Reigned Twice, he was convinced he was going to die in sin, so every time the boning was over he would immediately run to his priest to confess about any naughty things he'd just done.

Qin Shi Huang (259-210 B.C.)

The first emperor of a united China, Qin Shi Huang had to be something special. Conquering all that land was hard work. But once the battles were over he was still looking for people to kill. According to Thought Co, this led to him purging China of many of its intellectuals, who he thought were out to get him. Once a large meteorite landed and he thought it was a bad omen, so he killed a bunch of people just in case.

He might have been just as bloodthirsty as other monarchs would prove to be, but what made Qin odd was his desire to live forever. A lot of people are afraid of death, but Qin was determined to become immortal. To this end he would have his court doctors and alchemists make him special potions to drink. If the idea was to lengthen his life, it went badly wrong. The problem was that a lot of them contained mercury, which is known today for its ability to kill you. So in the end by trying to live longer, Qin probably hastened his end.

But the emperor was hedging his bets. Even though he really wanted to live forever, he had a great tomb built to house his dead body, if it came to that. It had every luxury you could think of, and a huge terracotta army thrown in for good measure. It might be that he was hoping to conquer heaven the same way he had Earth.