Ivan promulgated wide-ranging reforms, centralized administration and created the black-clad forerunners of Russia’s dreaded secret police. ... His worst crime was the 1680 auto-de-fe (display of public penance and executions) in Madrid, during which many heretics were burned. Tabloid fodder for the ages, mad monarchs have been the focal point of fascination, and controversy for as long as there have been human rulers. Henry VIII is one of Englands most notorious kings, most commonly known for taking six wives. From ‘Bad King John’ and the debauched Gaius Caligula to the “useless” Mary, Queen of Scots, historian Sean Lang rounds up nine of the worst kings and queens in history…. Full-scale war broke out between John and Otto, until John unexpectedly died – in bed with another man’s wife, or so rumour had it. This article was first published by HistoryExtra in 2015, Save a huge 50% off a subscription to your favourite history magazine. The 15 Most Notorious Rulers And Dictators In History. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. William Blake’s painting of Nebuchadnezzar’s bout with madness. After scouring the 'net, we've come across these 10 pampered brats who are the Worst Child Kings and Rulers ever. Live TV. Ludwig’s castle building left him in increasing debt, though, and in 1886 a group of conspirators filed a medical report (drafted by doctors who had never examined him) that declared the king permanently unfit to rule. Few queens’ stories are sadder than that of “Juana la Loca,” whose family and rivals colluded to keep her confined in asylums. The nearly-rans also include the extravagant waste of money and space that went by the name of King Ludwig II of Bavaria; and absentee monarchs like Richard I of England and Charles XII of Sweden – both of them great military leaders who spent much of their reigns away at war, including time in captivity, instead of seeing to the affairs of their kingdoms. There are plenty of other contenders for worst Roman Emperor – Nero and Commodus for example – but Caligula‘s mad reign sets a high standard. Adolf Hitler. Worst Dictators and Tyrants 惡 All-Time List. Some tyrants have been rehabilitated by history – but not John. Without a doubt it was Commodus. ... To the person above that thinks William the Conqueror of 1066 fame overthrew James II, thank god you don't teach history. An investigation by the British consular official Roger Casement revealed that the Belgian Force Publique regarded the Congolese as little more than animals to be killed for sport. Henry Bolingbroke’s coup of 1399, illegal though it no doubt was, brought to an end Richard’s disastrous reign. After a promising start to his reign he seems to have set out specifically to intimidate and humiliate the senate and high command of the army, and he gave grave offence, not least in Jerusalem, by declaring himself a god; even the Romans normally only recognised deification after death. Ludwig became one of Wagner’s main patrons, giving him funding to work on some of the era’s most renowned operas. After a temporary recovery, his condition worsened in 1456 into lethargy punctuated by a routine of religious devotions. The story of his making his horse a consul, meanwhile, may have been exaggerated, but it was not out of character. You can unsubscribe at any time. John had the support of the powerful German emperor Otto I, who swore to defend John’s title, but John himself was too taken up with a life of drunken sex parties in the Lateran to care too much either way. History has no shortage of disastrous rulers; this list could easily have been filled with the Roman emperors alone. After falling into English hands on his way to France in 1406, James was held a captive until 1424. Since the question specified British monarchs, which I take to mean the geographic island of Britain, I’m going to focus on England and Scotland (sorry, Brian Boru). Truthfully, I find some value in giving a population a figurehead to rally around as well as in the benefits of training someone throughout his or her life to become such a leader. Please enter your number below. 10 Most Murderous Kings In History: Part 1. He tried unsuccessfully to seize power while his brother Richard I was away on crusade and was sent into exile upon Richard’s return. The granddaddy of all mad kings is King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler whose first-person account of a seven-year descent into animal-like insanity is one of the most fascinating sections of the Old Testament book of Daniel. Famously derided by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley as “an old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,” George III showed his first signs of mental illness in 1765, early in his reign, but did not permanently succumb to his affliction until 1810, a year before Parliament made his son regent. History is replete with tales of evil people performing evil acts. Who was the worst king of Israel? Eventually the Habsburgs had to agree to replace Rudolf with his brother, Matthias, who restored the religious peace in Germany and signed treaties with the Turks and Hungarians, only for Rudolf to fly into a rage and start up the Turkish war again. To start, I have no significant qualms about constitutional monarchies. Adolf Hitler was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945. The reign of King John is a salutary reminder that murder and treachery may possibly be forgiven in a monarch, but not incompetence. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. History has no shortage of disastrous rulers; this list could easily have been filled with the Roman emperors alone. There seems to be a problem, please try again. Ivan was in many ways an able ruler, but his ruthlessness, paranoia and taste for blood earn him his place in this list. Rudolf reluctantly signed the letter of majesty granting freedom of worship to Protestants in Bohemia but then embarked on a programme of persecution. Blessed and cursed with, as one historian put it, a willingness to believe almost everything, Rudolf was an equally enthusiastic supporter of astrologers, alchemists and mystics of every stripe. He gave generous support to the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, helping to lay the foundation of the Scientific Revolution. The rich and powerful expected their due. No prizes for guessing – it’s Hitler. He crossed the Danube twice and plundered the Balkans, bu… The Worst Jobs in History is a British television series hosted by Tony Robinson on Channel 4.The second series was shown in March 2006 on History Television in Canada, then in April 2006 on Channel 4 in the UK. Attila (Attila the Hun), was the ruler of the Huns from 434 to 453. In modern times, it can be fun to follow the royalty, little girls dream of being princesses, and little boys dream of being kings. From Caligula to the lesser known but no less notorious Elagabalus, these emperors have left their mark on history. He started World War II in September 1939 with the invasion of Poland and was central to the Holocaust. And the mass murderer and self-proclaimed ‘Emperor’ Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Empire might have featured on this list had his imperial status been internationally recognised, but it wasn’t. According to that account, the arrogant king was struck down for his disbelief in the Hebrews’ God, leaving his palace and living in the wild. Opera fan, builder of dream palaces, spendthrift, deposed monarch and likely murder victim, Ludwig II was a prototypical “mad king” who may not have been mad at all. Caligula’s successor, Claudius, was an improvement but, despite the favourable picture in Robert Graves’s famous book I, Claudius, not by much. Share 68. Leopold’s place in this list results not from his rule in Belgium, but from the crimes committed in the enormous kingdom he carved out for himself in Congo. His cabinet of curiosities included a dizzying array of human and natural artifacts, organized by genre. Some royal stinkers were limited in their capacity to do serious harm: the self-absorbed Edward VIII by his abdication, the narcissistic prince regent and king, George IV, by the constitutional limits on his power. Rulers have been homicidal, like Nero or Genghis Khan; incompetent, like Edward II; completely untrustworthy, like Charles I; or amiable but inadequate, like Louis XVI of France or Tsar Nicholas II. I … Ivan was Prince of Muscovy from 1533, and in 1547 he was crowned Tsar (Emperor) of all Russia – the first ruler to hold the title. And herein we are deciphering the select few truly great kings or monarchs in our ‘Top 20 Greatest Kings in the World’s History’. In French history, while a constitutional monarchy could … At a time when female rule was generally regarded with suspicion in any case, she played up to the stereotype by appearing to live in a cosy world of favourites – including her unfortunate Italian guitar teacher, David Rizzio. Richard might have redeemed himself by prowess in war or administration, but he possessed neither. Mary’s suspected involvement in the spectacular murder of Darnley on 10 February 1567 was a political mistake of the first order; her marriage three months later to the main suspect, the Earl of Bothwell, was an act of breathtaking stupidity. ‘The One-Eyed Tyrant’, as he was lovingly called, he was an emperor who ruled the Former Qin Kingdom. Compiling ADDucation’s list of the worst dictators and tyrants of all time hasn’t been easy nor fun but we think it’s important to learn from the past. He’d rather have devoted all his time and energy to satisfying his first love – the thrill of […] In another episode he ordered his troops to “plunder the sea” by gathering shells in their helmets. Prince Ivan Vassilyevitch grew up at the hazardous court of Moscow, his life often in danger from the rivalry of the boyars – nobles. This Day In History… Nothing justifies any of the atrocities committed by the notorious dictators on this list, but now that they're all said and done, morbid curiosity permits one to study them for even the most gruesome. The king fought a high-profile legal battle to prevent details of his regime in Congo from being made public, and it took an international campaign to force him to hand Congo over to the Belgian government. Richard III: The worst of the the worst. 1. He was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1576, though he was prone to long bouts of deep depression and melancholia and he spent most of his time dabbling in alchemy and astrology. There were some truly horrible kings in both countries. While most of these lunatic rulers can be found in history books, modern history has produced a shocking number of maniacal rulers in just one hundred years. As Leopold raked in the riches from Congo’s enormous reserves of copper, ivory and rubber, the Congolese were forced to work by wholesale mutilation of their wives and children, usually by chopping off their hands or feet. On his accession John had his own nephew Arthur murdered, fearing Arthur might pursue his own, much better, claim to the throne, and he embarked on a disastrous war with King Philippe-Auguste of France in which he lost the whole of Normandy. I'll choose the Roman Empire here, since it is one the best known empires ever. Absolute monarchies, by contrast, are much more problematic. King Hyegong, The Effeminate The 36th king of Silla (one of the three kingdoms which would eventually combine to form Korea), King Hyegong spent most of his time in power fighting off rebellions led by high officials. By Karl Smallwood on November 14, 2013 Crime, People. After Philip’s death in 1506, Joanna’s confinement continued for another decade of her father’s regency. Maximilian and Carlota arrived in Veracruz, backed by French troops and conservative supporters, and made their way to Mexico City. Worst Dictators and Tyrants 惡 All-Time List. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. 87 Shares. Learning nothing from the disastrous precedent of Edward II, Richard II alienated the nobility by gathering a bunch of cronies around him and then ended up in confrontation with parliament over his demands for money. When it comes to Kings (and Queens) of England, there is strong competition as to who can claim the title of being the worst in the nation’s long history. Invaded northern England and besieged Durham in 1039. We have collected the information about 20 Worst Leaders in History. Unlike Richard III, Richard II has good reason to feel grateful towards Shakespeare, who portrayed this startlingly incompetent monarch as a tragic figure; a victim of circumstances and of others’ machinations rather than the vain, self-regarding author of his own downfall he actually was. So it isn’t an easy list to put together; conversely, the kings and queens below would be considered bad no matter when they ruled. Mary Tudor and her five stepmothers: what was their relationship like? Henry VIII voted worst monarch in history. © 2021 A&E Television Networks, LLC. The list is the ruling kings and queens, appended with a list of others who also badly ruled England. Kings of Judah Bible Good/Bad Kings of Israel Bible All Bad Rehoboam 1 Kings 11‐14 BAD Abijam 1 Kings 14‐15 BAD Nadab 1 Kings 15 BAD Baasha 1 Kings 15‐16 BAD Elah 1 Kings 16 BAD Zimri 1 Kings 16 BAD Omri 1 Kings 16 BAD Ahab 1 Kings 16 BAD Ahaziah 1 Kings 22 BAD Jehoram 2 Kings 1 BAD Jehoram 2 Kings 8 BAD Jehu 2 Kings 3‐9 BAD Ahaziah 2 Kings 8‐9 BAD Kings of Judah Bible Good/Bad Kings of Israel Bible All Bad Rehoboam 1 Kings 11‐14 BAD Abijam 1 Kings 14‐15 BAD Nadab 1 Kings 15 BAD Baasha 1 Kings 15‐16 BAD Elah 1 Kings 16 BAD Zimri 1 Kings 16 BAD Omri 1 Kings 16 BAD Ahab 1 Kings 16 BAD Ahaziah 1 Kings 22 BAD Jehoram 2 Kings 1 BAD Jehoram 2 Kings 8 BAD Jehu 2 Kings 3‐9 BAD Ahaziah 2 Kings 8‐9 BAD Apparently his uncle, who also just happened to be Scotlands governor, did little to negotiate his release. The Biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness became the framework through which royal insanity was seen in the Judeo-Christian world. George III ruled during a tumultuous era that including the American Revolution—the Declaration of Independence is addressed to him—as well as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars that followed it. Tweet. But only a few graced the past and kept their repertoire glowing brightly. While not as malevolent as the character in the Shakespeare play of the same name, King Richard III … The first czar of all Russia, Ivan IV (whose nickname in Russian implies imposing or threatening more than evil) expanded Moscow’s influence into the lands of the ancient Eastern European federation known as the Kievan Rus. John was the youngest and favourite son of Henry II, but he had not been entrusted with any lands and was mockingly nicknamed John Lackland. When it comes to Kings (and Queens) of England, there is strong competition as to who can claim the title of being the worst in the nation’s long history. King Charles II Forget Henry VIII, when it comes to womanizing English kings, Charles II stands head and shoulders above the rest. This singular act of incompetence deprived the barons of an important part of their power base, and he alienated them further with arbitrary demands for money and even by forcing himself on their wives. The man who initiated the deadliest conflict in human history – World War II – actually started off as a spy. Distrusting the city of Novgorod he had it violently sacked and its inhabitants massacred, and he embarked on a disastrous and ultimately unsuccessful series of wars with Russia’s neighbours. So which ruler inherited the Empire in the best shape that he could, and left it in as bad shape as he could? During the first five years of his reign, he unwisely put a senior eunuch, Liu Jin, in charge of most of the affairs of state. Mary, Queen of Scots: what happened to her ladies-in-waiting? So here we are from the embarrassing to the incredible, Five Korean Kings from History You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Learn About. Never a strong leader, Henry suffered his first full mental breakdown in 1453, which left him in an incommunicative stupor for more than a year. Was he really that bad? Mutilation was also widely used as a punishment for workers who ran away or collected less than their quota. He was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard in AD 41. Here is a ranking of the fiercest females in history, and to watch Elizabeth Woodville (No. You can unsubscribe at any time. Class 7PA agrees that King John was the worst king. Shows. Queen Ranavalona maintained her power by retaining the loyalty of the Malagasy army and imposing regular periods of forced labour on the rest of the population in lieu of taxation. Fed up with rule, Ivan attempted to resign in 1564 but was convinced to return a year later. Despite his foibles, though, Ivan’s terribleness made him one of the most respected czars in Russia’s history. The main reason is their immaturity and lack of understanding of how the world works. At a young age she was married to Maximilian, then the archduke of Austria, and went to live with him in a castle in Italy. Ivan beat up his own pregnant daughter-in-law and killed his son in a fit of rage. Selecting the top five worst Roman emperors of all time isn't a difficult task, thanks to myriad Roman historians, historical fiction, documentaries, and even movies and television programs, all of which illustrate the moral excesses of many of the rulers of Rome and its colonies. The subject of a three-part Shakespearean drama cycle, Henry VI was made king before his first birthday but spent his final decades battling mental illness as his kingdom lost land to France and slid into the chaos of the War of the Roses. Thanks! Caligula instituted a reign of terror through arbitrary arrest for treason, much as his predecessor Tiberius had done; it was also widely rumoured that he was engaged in incest with his sisters and that he lived a life of sexual debauchery, and this may well be true. He was elected pope at the ripe old age of 18 as part of a political deal with the Roman nobility, and he inherited a conflict for control of Italy between the papacy and the Italian king Berengarius. Pexels. Even by the lax standards of the medieval papacy, John XII stands out as a disaster of the highest order. After Ferdinand’s death in 1516, Joanna and her teenage son Charles were made co-monarchs. In a recent British poll, a group of historical writers chose Henry VIII as the worst monarch in history. The 8 bloodiest Roman emperors in history, The murderous history of Bible translations, 7 things you (probably) didn’t know about the houses of Lancaster and York. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Charles II attended the trial and burnings, though the executions were probably ordered by someone else. From then on it was Charles who kept his mother imprisoned, creating a fictional world to keep her in isolation. 1 A Haitian Kingpin Nicknamed Baby Doc (1971 to 1986) While he wasn't exactly a child when he came into power, Jean-Claude Duvalier of Haiti was just 19-years-old when he was declared President of Haiti. 9 of the worst monarchs in history Vespasian was a genial cove, happily married but with a long-standing mistress – but he could be ruthless with critics and opponents. Compiling ADDucation’s list of the worst dictators and tyrants of all time hasn’t been easy nor fun but we think it’s important to learn from the past. His reign descended into a game of political manoeuvre between himself and his much more able and impressive uncle, John of Gaunt, before degenerating into a gory grudge match between Richard and the five Lords Appellant, whom he either had killed or forced into exile. Sadly they are so many in number that Listverse has been able to feature many top 10 lists of evil humans - men, women, and even children. All Rights Reserved. Nevertheless, Mary showed none of her cousin Elizabeth’s political skill in defusing religious or factional conflict, and she headed into pointless confrontation with Knox and the Presbyterians. The next morning Ludwig and his personal physician were found floating dead in a Bavarian lake under mysterious circumstances, lending credence to one of Ludwig’s most famous statements, “I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and others.”. 1406: James I. His subjects pretty much hated him for pursuing alliances with the English, and at one point his nobles even had him arrested. On one notorious occasion she organised a buffalo hunt for herself, her nobles and their families and followers, and she insisted that an entire road be built in front of the party for them all to advance to the hunt in comfort: an estimated 10,000 people died carrying out this particular piece of folly. A blood-soaked reign, but a misunderstood one. How did Mary, Queen of Scots fall from grace? The Worst Child Kings in History. Pin 4. Here, then, is my list of the nine worst monarchs in history…. This article is more than 5 years old ‘Self-indulgent wife murderer and tyrant’ tops poll of historical writers, ahead of … He was deposed by Yorkist forces in 1461, exiled in Scotland, briefly restored to the throne in 1470 but then reimprisoned and murdered the next year. 02.08.2014; admin; 0; Facebook; Google+; Twitter; It is a fact that young children cannot be great kings. Orders to an end richard ’ s coup of 1399, illegal though it no doubt was, brought an... By HistoryExtra in 2015, Save a huge 50 % off a subscription to your favourite history magazine it. Agrees that King John was the leader of the Middle Ages: why ’! Evil acts to top the list is the ruling kings and queens appended. His older Brother Arthur who died suddenly in 1502 50 % off a subscription to your favourite magazine! And only Habsburg empress of Mexico Crime, people was first published by HistoryExtra in 2015, a! 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