Royal Madness
December 10, 2001 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Royal Madness From Domitian of Rome (51-96) "the Emperor who tortured flies" to Maria I of Portugal (1734-1816) "the Queen who thought she was already in hell", from Erzsébet of Transylvania (±1561-1614) "the countess who bit her servants" to "Mad" Ibrahim I of Turkey (1615-1648) " the Sultan who drowned his entire harem." Here's to a saner future for up-and-comers King Zahir Shah in Afghanistan and King Simeon in Bulgaria, and all other reigning monarchs.
posted by Voyageman (8 comments total)
posted by moss at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2001

One of my favorite anecdotes about royal madness regards Princess Alexandra of Bavaria (died in 1875), an Aunt of the more famous King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It seems that Alexandra spent much of her life under the misguided notion that she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass. They just don't make those royals like they used to.
posted by kokogiak at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2001

The Simeon National Movement... The SNM... The S 'n' M... I wonder if they know what that means outside Bulgaria?
posted by phalkin at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2001

a terribly interesting site. but one question...where are the kennedys?
posted by mcsweetie at 11:24 AM on December 10, 2001

Domitian was bald, but that didn't stop him from writing a work titled "On the Care of the Hair".

One thing about early Roman emperors--the main histories that have come down to us were written by Tacitus and Suetonius, who were both opponents of the Imperial system and may have gone out of their way to include gossip, innuendo, and scandal to make the Emperors look bad. Imagine if the main sources for American history 2000 years from now turned out to be Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge...

posted by gimonca at 12:07 PM on December 10, 2001

What a great link! I'm fascinated by royalty and read every book I can get my hands on about them (mostly British, French & Scottish.) There's so much inbreeding, it's a wonder any royal is sane, these days!
posted by aacheson at 12:30 PM on December 10, 2001

"Imagine if the main sources for American history 2000 years from now turned out to be Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge."

No, the future's history of the present will probably be even more distorted than that.
posted by yesster at 1:14 PM on December 10, 2001

phalkin, seeing as how they use Bulgarian word order, it's NDS to them.

It's very interesting, the role some monarchs on the outs have played in restoring democracy. From Spain's Juan Carlos a generation ago, to Cambodia's Sihanouk or Iran's Reza Pahlavi today, they have powerful uniting influence, and increasingly they shy away from seeking restoration of even a constitutional monarchy in favor of a more abstract role.

Really, the mad ones are few and far between, except in certain rump régimes without proper succession control. I would say a bigger problem of monarchies is the preponderance of princes who are merely weak and poorly educated or prepared for rule. And frankly, other systems come up with goofy folks, too.
posted by dhartung at 2:08 PM on December 10, 2001

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