Ah, the monarchy. In a world that predates democracy, the King and Queen or Emperor and Empress were seen as the supreme rulers of just about every major political body of the times. Today, there are very few monarchies left, with the ones left being mainly figureheads without any real political power.
Kings are known for their lavish lifestyles and absolute power, with some kings abusing that power and others becoming actual good rulers. In the end, we probably decided elected officials were more reasonable than just gifting an entire kingdom through the generations of one wealthy family, essentially creating a hit-or-miss situation every time a new ruler took power.
Many stories exist about the crazy lifestyles of these kings and the wars they fought, with many people learning about several noteworthy kings in their history classes. These stories are of course a dime a dozen, but there are actually a ton of interesting stories about these kings that you won’t learn about in your history class. In fact, there are even a lot of interesting kings you won’t even get the opportunity to learn about. Let’s take a look at some insane facts about some well-known and lesser-known kings throughout history.
12. King George VI Once Referred To His South African Bodyguards As The Gestapo
While on a trip to South Africa in 1947 to aid the political goals of Jan Smuts, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, King George VI was instructed by the South African government to only shake hands with white people for the duration of his stay. He was appalled by this and began to refer to his bodyguards as the Gestapo, after the Secret State Police of the Nazi regime. Considering the time of his visit, this stance was seen as an incredibly progressive one, and is still seen that way today. At least Smuts lost the following election, proving there is justice in the world.
11. King Darius III Offered Alexander The Great A Sum Worth Around 1 Billion Dollars Today In Surrender
Alexander the Great is one of the most famous conquerers in all of history, creating one of the largest empires ever formed, stretching from Greece in the west to Egypt, India and Pakistan. Alexander fought King Darius III of Persia twice in his attempt to overthrow him and claim his land. On the second assault, Darius offered him 780 tons of silver, worth about 1 billion US dollars today, as part of his total surrender. Alexander, not to be swayed by petty offerings, declined the offer and proceeded to run him and Persia over, extending his reach all the way to the Himalayas. His overconfidence went unpunished it seems.
10. King Louis XIV Of France Paid A Scientist To Bury Plans For A Biological Weapon
Today, biological weapons are such a serious fear to the well-being of not only soldiers but civilians as well, that we actually have treaties preventing their use in wars. However, as a complete show of good faith in his own day, King Louis XIV of France supposedly paid off a scientist to bury plans of a bacteriological weapon. The Italian chemist claimed that the power of this weapon would overthrow entire towns in a single sweeping blow without the need for an army. The weapon unfortunately leaked and spread throughout the land, but at least he tried and deserves to be commended for that.
9. King George I Didn’t Originally Speak English
King George I of England was actually originally from Hanover, or present-day Germany. He was the closest living relative to the Queen at the time, and so he became the King of England. It seemed strange since he couldn’t even speak the English language. He did have a huge wealth of experience in languages, though. He already spoke German, French, Latin and Dutch prior to ascending the throne. However, somewhat unsurprisingly, the people criticized him heavily for this, feeling he was unfit to rule them. This criticism carried on long after the end of his reign, but it is known that he did eventually learn the language.
8. Hawaiian King Kamehameha Made A Decree Protecting Civilians In Times of War After Attacked By One
Hawaii and kings are not something one would typically think go together. However, Hawaii was once a monarchy. King Kamehameha I of Hawaii was most famous for a special kind of law titled the Law of the Splintered Oar when translated to English. This law, written in 1797, states “Let every elderly person, woman and child lie by the roadside in safety.” The law came about when the king was in Puna on military business and was chasing two fisherman who were covering the retreat of other commoners. The king’s leg became caught in a reef, and a fisherman smacked the king over the head with an oar in defense. He could have been killed, but the fisherman’s life was spared. Kamehameha declared the man should be spared because he was only protecting his family, and the law was born to protect civilians in wartime. The law is still enshrined in the state constitution today.
7. A Polish King Received The Nickname “The Strong” Due To His Ridiculous Strength and Sexual Appetite
Augustus II of Poland received the title “the Strong” after it was rumored that he could break horseshoes with his bare hands. He also engaged in fox tossing, which was a very popular sport at the time despite the cruelty aspects, by holding the end of his sling with just one finger as opposed to his whole hand. It is unknown if these claims are true or just hearsay as a result of his kingly power and influence over how the stories about him were told. It does seem fairly impossible to many, however, since breaking a metal horseshoe would seem to be nearly impossible for even the strongest of strong men, especially given the state of the average physique in the 1700s.
6. King Mongkut of Siam Tried To Gift Elephants To US President
King Mongkut of Siam once offered domesticated elephants to the United States as a gift with the intention of them using them for the purpose of transportation. That seems really reasonable, since they used elephants for those purposes in Siam all the time. The letter was sent to President James Buchanon before the start of the Civil War, but it didn’t arrive until after war had broken out. This caused then-president Lincoln to assume their use was for purposes of war, leading him to decline the king’s generous offer. This funny misunderstanding was later immortalized in the immensely popular musical The King and I. Who knows if America would be using elephants differently in history if it had gone through.
5. France’s King Charles VI Believed He Was Made Of Glass
King Charles VI of France was having a rough time. The Catholic church had recently split in 1392, and he was pretty stressed out. When a soldier dropped his lance while out on a ride with the army, he assumed the sound was a sign of an ambush, and he attacked his own army. He killed several men in this unfortunate incident. This incident caused him to completely go insane, and he spent the rest of his life struggling with his mental health. He even reportedly was found hiding in a corner, believing he was made of glass and was afraid of shattering. He even forgot who he was and was reported to roam the halls howling like a wolf.
4. Famous Egyptian King Tut’s Parents Were Siblings
King Tut, past Pharaoh of Egypt is undoubtedly the most well-known of the pharaohs, mostly owing to the mysteries surrounding his life and death. One fact that was found out by Egyptologists studying him was that he was actually the product of an incestuous union. His parents were brother and sister. Anyone who knows anything about science will tell you that children who are products of incest are quite likely to suffer birth defects, and King Tut had his share of defects. He suffered from bone diseases, a club foot, and a cleft palate. This may be a famous case, but the practice was fairly common at the time, as society was not yet aware of the dangers of inbreeding.
3. King George V’s Doctor Ended His Life Faster To Make Newspaper Headlines The Next Day
As if the title didn’t already make you realize how horrible this doctor was, we’ll remind you. As he lay dying in 1915 from what was probably the result of years of smoking and injuries sustained in WWI, his last words were “God damn you,” directed at his nurse who gave him a sedative. After this incident, his doctor Lord Dawson of Penn injected him with a lethal dose of morphine and cocaine. He claims he did this to prevent the suffering of the king’s family and to preserve the king’s dignity. However, he then went on to report he also did it so that his death at 11:55 p.m could be reported in the next day’s edition of The Times.
2. King Louis XIV’s Clock Stopped At His Exact Time Of Death
King Louis XIV of France died on January 21, 1793. Interestingly, when he was a child an astrologer warned him to be on his guard on the 21st of each month. As if that wasn’t eerie enough, on the morning of his death at 7:45 a.m, one of the clocks in the palace stopped at that exact time. The clock, now considered an heirloom, has not been fixed even to this day. Of course, all kinds of believers in the supernatural have pointed to this as evidence of supernatural forces and psychic abilities throughout the years. One has to admit though, that is insanely creepy, perhaps too creepy to be just a coincidence.
1. Danish King Harald Blatand’s Blue Teeth Inspired Something In The Tech World
Danish King Harald Blatand, who ruled during the 10th century, was known for something a little strange. He had blue teeth. It’s somewhat unknown why he had blue teeth. Some people speculate it was due to rotting, while others speculate it had nothing to do with his teeth at all, but rather his blue clothes. The Bluetooth wireless protocol used in countless electronic devices today actually takes its name from the king. It’s named after him since he united Denmark and Norway the way Bluetooth seeks to unite PCs and mobile phones. The Bluetooth logo is also a reference to him, bearing the Nordic runes for the king’s initials.