Thanks to their sheltered lives and the adverse effects of inbreeding, a lot of history`s kings, queens, and other royals became known for their eccentricities.
There was Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who delighted in torturing her servants and was even rumored to bathe in the blood of virgins; there was Gian Gastone of Italy, who was so lazy that he spent the latter part of his reign bedridden; and there was Anna of Russia, who so enjoyed humiliating others that she was known to ridicule her underlings by making them marry one another while dressed as clowns.
But these rulers were normal compared to some of their counterparts, and in many cases the cruelty, vanity, and insanity of those in power would go on to have dire consequences for the countries they led. Here are five of history's strangest monarchs.
Reign: AD 37-AD 41
Caligula only served as Rome`s emperor for four years, but in that short span he managed to establish himself as one of the cruelest and weirdest rulers in history.
Caligula was only 25 when he rose to power, and while for the first two years of his reign he was well liked and seemed a capable leader, those in the know rarely doubted that the emperor was stark raving mad. These psychotic tendencies would eventually come out in some of Caligula`s laws.
For one, he made it illegal for anyone to look him in the face, an offence that was punishable by being thrown into a lions` den. He also delighted in torture and executions, and took great pains to think up new ways to dispatch his enemies (one of his personal favorites was said to involve covering the condemned in honey and setting loose an army of wasps).
Of course, today Caligula is best known for his deviant sexual behaviour. This involved everything from bisexuality and bestiality to even incest (he was rumored to have slept with all three of his sisters).
He was fond of great excesses, and along with declaring himself a demigod and frequently holding gluttonous feasts and parties, Caligula turned the Imperial palace into a veritable whorehouse, complete with days-long orgies. Not surprisingly, Caligula`s insanity and cruelty eventually drew the ire of his political rivals, who successfully murdered the emperor and his family in AD 41.
Some of Caligula`s weirdest exploits involved his favourite horse, Incitatus. The emperor dressed the animal in lavish blankets, and had it housed in a marble stable and tended to by a small army of handlers.
Caligula even let the horse eat from the table during dinner parties, and guests were frequently invited to the palace at Incitatus`s behest.
Still, the most ridiculous extravagance came when Caligula announced his intention to make Incitatus an official citizen of Rome, and later a Consul and even a priest.
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