10 of History’s Perverse Rulers

10 of History’s Perverse Rulers

Khalid Elhassan - June 15, 2018

10 of History’s Perverse Rulers
Ibrahim the Mad. Wikimedia

Ibrahim the Mad Was Crazy In and Out of His Harem

Ibrahim I (1615 – 1648), or Ibrahim the Mad, reigned as sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 to 1648, and seems to have been destined by his upbringing to end up as a weirdo. At age 8, Ibrahim’s older brother became sultan Murad IV, and one of his first edicts was to confine Ibrahim to the Kafes, or “Cage” – a secluded part of the Royal Harem, where possible successors to the throne were kept. There, they were placed under house arrest, under surveillance, and isolated from the outside world to prevent intrigues and plots.

As Ibrahim grew up in the Cage, sultan Murad executed his other brothers, one by one. Finally, Ibrahim was the last surviving brother, constantly terrified that he might be executed at any moment. He stayed in the Cage, quaking in fear, until Murad died in 1640 without issue. When Ibrahim was taken out of the Cage and informed that he had inherited the throne as the last male Ottoman, he declined. More accurately, he fled back to the Cage in terror, and barricaded himself inside. He thought it was a cruel trick to entrap him into saying something that his fratricidal brother would take as treasonous.

So courtiers brought Murad’s corpse to Ibrahim’s door so he could see for himself. Even then, it still took the pleas of his mother, “who had to coax him out like a kitten with food“, for Ibrahim to come out and accept the throne. By then, the years of isolation, fearing a visit from the execution at any moment, had driven Ibrahim around the bend.

An early worrying sign was the new Sultan’s habit of feeding of fish in the palace pool, with coins instead of food. When it became clear that Ibrahim was unhinged, his mother acted as de facto regent and ruled in his name. To keep her crazy son busy, she encouraged him to spend as much time as possible in the Harem with his roughly 280 concubines. It was not just to keep him out of his mother’s hair and out of trouble: the Mad Sultan was the last male Ottoman, and it was vital that he sire some heirs lest the dynasty goes extinct.

Ibrahim took to the Harem with relish, fathering three future sultans and a number of daughters. He was a weirdo when it came to sex, and a contemporary described how: “In the palace gardens he frequently assembled all the virgins, made them strip themselves naked, and neighing like a stallion ran amongst them and as it were ravished one or the other”. It wasn’t just the fun and games type of crazy: one day, out of the blue, the Mad Sultan woke up and ordered his entire Harem of 280 women tied in weighted sacks, and drowned in the sea.

He also had a fetish for fat women. One time he saw a cow’s vagina that turned him on, so he had an artist make golden copies of the heifer’s hoo-ha. He then sent the gold copies around his empire, with instructions to find a woman with a similar-looking vagina. A 350-pound woman with matching parts was eventually found, and she became his favorite concubine. Ibrahim also had a fur fetish, decorating his clothes, curtains, walls, and furniture with it. His pillows were stuffed with fur, and he liked having sex on sable furs.

One time the Mad Sultan saw the beautiful daughter of the Grand Mufti, the empire’s highest religious authority, and asked for her hand in marriage. Her father, aware of Ibrahim’s depravities, urged his daughter to decline. So the Mad Sultan ordered her kidnapped and carried to his palace, where he ravished her for days, before returning her to her father.

Ibrahim eventually exiled his mother and started running the government himself, with disastrous results. After executing his most capable ministers, the Mad Sultan began spending like a madman. He eventually emptied the treasury and got himself into a series of disastrous wars. Between heavy taxes, the mismanaged wars, and a Venetian blockade reducing the Ottoman capital to starvation, discontent boiled over. In 1648, a popular revolt broke out, and an angry mob tore Ibrahim’s Grand Vizier to pieces. Ibrahim was deposed in favor of his 6-year-old son, and a fatwa was then issued for the Mad Sultan’s execution, which was carried out by strangulation.

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading

Aggrawal, Anil – Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects (2010)

BBC History – Charlemagne

Biography – Caligula

Encyclopedia Britannica – Elagabalus, Roman Emperor

Encyclopedia Britannica – Mariamne, Wife of Herod

Gulik, Robert Hans Van – Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society From ca. 1500 BC Till 1644 AD (2003)

Jewish Encyclopedia – Mariamne

Pilloledistoria – Tiberius Was A Pedophile?

Ranker – Facts About Ibrahim I, The Man Who Lived In A Cage

Kinross, Lord – The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire (1979)

Live Science – Emperor Nero: Facts & Biography

Naked History – Prince Sado of Korea, The Coffin King

PBS – Tiberius

Suetonius – The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Wikipedia – Dona Joanna the Mad

History Collection – The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures

History Collection – 12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World