12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World

Khalid Elhassan - November 14, 2017

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
Lord Byron. Wikimedia

Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788 – 1824), who became famous as a prominent figure in the Romantic Movement, is considered one of Britain’s greatest poets, widely praised for his brilliant use of the English language. He gained further fame, or infamy, for his flamboyance, sexually deviant practices, the notoriety of his romantic liaisons with members of both sexes, and allegations of incest.

Of Byron’s numerous affairs, his most famous was with the married Lady Caroline Lamb, who spurned him at first, describing him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know“, before succumbing to his charms and joining him in a torrid affair that scandalized Britain. After he dumped her, Lamb turned stalker and pursued him relentlessly. After she stopped at his house one time too many and scribbled in a book on his desk “Remember me”, an exasperated Byron responded as only a poet could, with a poem entitled Remember Thee! Remember Thee!, whose final line concludes “Thou false to him, thou fiend to me“.

Byron’s most controversial relationship, however, was an incestuous one carried on with his own sister, Augusta Leigh, whom Byron had seen little of during childhood, only to make up for it in spades by forming an extremely close relationship with her in adulthood. In 1814, Byron fathered a daughter upon his sister, making the poet the unfortunate child’s uncle as well as father.

Byron, ever sentimental, liked to keep mementos of his lovers. In those days, the norm for mementos was a lock of hair from one’s object of affection, perhaps tied with a ribbon. But being Byron, Britain’s most flamboyant poet, eccentric aristocrat, and all-around pervert, a simple lock of hair would not do. Instead, Byron liked to snip clumps of pubic hair from his lovers’ crotches, and kept them, cataloged and labeled, in envelopes at his publishing house.

The mounting scandals eventually made Britain too hot for Bryon, and he started roaming Europe for years at a stretch, including a seven-year stint spent living in Italy, before his restlessness led him to join the Greeks in their war of independence from the Ottoman Turks. He was disappointed with the Greeks of his day, however, because they differed greatly from the heroic Hellenes he had read about in history books and Homer’s poems. While moping about that discrepancy, he caught a fever and died in a Greek backwater at age 36.

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
Nero. Wikimedia


One of history’s most depraved rulers, the Roman emperor Nero (37 – 68 AD), who ruled from 54 to 68, ascended the throne as a teenager and was under his mother’s thumb early in his reign. And not just her thumb: she seems to have controlled Nero with incest, as described by contemporary sources: “whenever he rode in a litter with his mother, he had incestuous relations with her, which were betrayed by stains in his clothing“. When he grew older and sought to assert his independence, Nero’s mother resisted ceding power and kept meddling in government. So he decided to murder her, resorting to elaborate means to make it look accidental. She survived each attempted “accidental death”, so Nero finally had some sailors club her to death with oars.

Once freed of his mother, he gave free rein to his impulses. He saw himself as an artistic avant-garde type, and so liked to shock contemporary sensibilities. Open displays of perverse and deviant sexual practices were among the easiest ways to do so. He reportedly “defiled every single part of his body“, and when he tired of run of the mill perversions, “he at last devised a kind of game, in which, covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound to stakes, and when he had sated his mad lust, was dispatched by his freedman Doryphorus.”

At some point, he grew infatuated with a youth named Sporus, and married him in a public display calculated to shock: “He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him; and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his house attended by a great throng, and treated him as his wife.

He liked to organize and preplan his perversions, to the point of setting up sex rest stops in advance of his route during vacations, or as sources of the era put it: “Whenever he drifted down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed about the Gulf of Baiae, booths were set up at intervals along the banks and shores, fitted out for debauchery, while bartering matrons played the part of inn-keepers and from every hand solicited him to come ashore“.

Between such perversions and misgovernment – he drained the treasury with extravagant spending, while neglecting the state and entrusting its running to corrupt henchmen who wrecked it – Nero doomed himself. In 68 AD, generals and provincial governors across the empire rebelled, the Senate declared Nero a public enemy, and his Praetorian Guard abandoned him. Fleeing Rome, he toyed with throwing himself upon the mercy of the public and begging its forgiveness, but changed his mind after being told that he would probably be torn apart by a mob if sighted in public. Out of options, Nero had a freedman stab him to death, while crying: “Oh, what an artist dies in me!

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
Aleister Crowley. Golden Dawn

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) was an English occultist and writer who claimed to be a magician – not the stage tricks kind of magician, but the warlock, spells and sorcery type. An L. Ron Hubbard type before there was an L. Ron Hubbard, Crowley also founded a religion in the early 20th century, Thelema, whose prophet he asserted himself to be, entrusted with guiding mankind to the “Aeon of Horus”.

A fundamental principle of Thelema was that the 20th century would usher in the Aeon of Horus, which would overthrow all existing codes of morality and ethics. In the new age, people’s “True Will”, which they would discover via magic, would be all that matters, and Crowley summarized the Horus era’s ethics as: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law“.

Crowley’s magic religion included lots of sex with his followers, which he termed “Sexual Magic”, whereby orgasms and bodily secretions were used as components of magic spells. The main precept of Sexual Magic was that all adherents should be completely open and uninhibited about sex, without social limitations or restraints. Also, followers should expose their children to sex from infancy, and accustom them to witness all kinds of sexual activity.

In 1920, Crowley and his followers established a religious commune in Sicily, the Abbey of Thelema, but it was not long before the perverse goings-on there led to controversy, scandals, and denunciations, that became regular fodder for the British and Italian press. Responding to the outcry, the Italian government finally shut down the commune and evicted everybody in 1923. Crowley then hit the road, and split the remaining two decades of his life traveling between Britain, France, and Germany, to promote his faith.

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
Hans Christian Andersen. Visitfyn

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) was a Danish author who penned plays, poems, novels, travel books, and autobiographies. His specialty, however, was literary fairy tales, and his works in that genre, which include The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling, are among the most widely translated writings in the world and have been a staple of childhood for generations of children around the world.

Anderson’s own childhood was an unhappy one. Born to impoverished parents, he grew up in dire want, and as a child, his mother sent him to work in a local mill to help make ends meet. The childhood penury was compounded by a childhood homeliness, or ugliness, if you will, that made the young Andersen an object of teasing, mockery, and bullying by his peers – The Ugly Duckling was actually based on his own miserable childhood.

He overcame the sad childhood and dire poverty and harnessed those experiences into stories that impacted many. However, when he was not busy writing stories that would go on to feature prominently in the childhood of billions around the planet, Andersen liked to masturbate compulsively. And when not doing that, he liked to talk with prostitutes – and then rush back home to masturbate compulsively.

A celibate (which perhaps sheds some light on things), Andersen not only liked to masturbate a lot, he liked to keep meticulous records of his masturbation sessions, describing and listing them in his diary with a pair of plus signs (++), with sample descriptive entries reading: “When they left, I had a doubly sensuous ++“. In Paris, he liked to visit prostitutes and talk with them, then rush back to his hotel to put more ++ sign entries in his diary.

He also had a maudlin and needy streak and kept falling in love with people – both men and women – who did not reciprocate his feelings. He had a habit of writing cloyingly mawkish love letters to the objects of his affection, and frequently penned long tracts, gushing about his feelings to women whom he knew were uninterested and would turn him down – in a way, he throve on rejection. Then he would rush back home and earn more ++ entries for his diary.

12 Historically Important Perverts and How They Changed the World
Tiberius. Wikimedia


While notoriously debauched Roman emperors such as Caligula, Nero, and Heliogabalus, are better known because of their ostentatiously bizarre behavior and public displays of sexual deviancy, the Roman emperor Tiberius (42 BC – 37 AD, reigned 14 – 37 AD), while not as out of control insane as the aforementioned trio, matched and likely exceeded them in perversion. He just preferred to be a pervert in relative privacy and seclusion, rather than put it all out on public display.

Unlike Rome’s other notoriously perverse rulers, Caligula, Nero, and Heliogabalus, who ascended the throne as teenagers or immature young men and went crazy with the sudden power, Tiberius came to the throne as a mature middle-aged man approaching old age – he was in his mid-50s when he succeeded Augustus as Roman emperor in 14 AD. As such, he was not driven by youthful passions and the need to engage in ostentatious displays to shock and attract attention – behavior which would have run against his personality, anyhow, since even as a young man, Tiberius was taciturn, withdrawn, and introverted.

Instead, Tiberius built himself a vast pleasure palace and compound, secluded on the island of Capri. There, he wallowed in all kinds of sexual perversions, most notably pedophilia with children of both sexes. Among other things, he had toddlers trained to dive underwater while he was in a pool to “nibble” at him as he swam – he called them his “minnows”.

He also had pleasure gardens stocked with teenaged and prepubescent boys and girls, dressed in outfits from Greco-Roman myths and legends or running around naked, to frolic about, display themselves for his pleasure, and engage in sex on command with each other – as he grew older, Tiberius grew increasingly impotent, and so was often reduced to being a spectator in the perversions acted out for his pleasure.

Inside his palaces and villas, he had walls covered with erotic or explicitly pornographic paintings and murals of all kinds of sexual activity, from the routine to the shockingly depraved. The artwork served as a menu, and when Tiberius wanted to cut to the chase, all he had to do was point at a particular painting to communicate what he wanted to be done.

He even had anal experts on the imperial payroll: “On retiring to Capri he devised a pleasance for his secret orgies: teams of wantons of both sexes, selected as experts in deviant intercourse and dubbed analists, copulated before him in triple unions to excite his flagging passions.” To top it off, he got blowjobs from babies: “Unweaned babies he would put to his organ as though to the breast, being by both nature and age rather fond of this form of satisfaction.”

Tiberius was probably the dirtiest and seediest old man to have ever ruled Rome, and if perversion was a contest, he could make a credible challenge for the title of history’s most perverted ruler, ever.


Sources For Further Reading:

The Conversation – Marquis De Sade: Depraved Monster or Misunderstood Genius?

Medium – James Joyce Had Some Pretty Specific Sexual Desires

Mental Floss – 13 NSFW Lines from James Joyce’s Incredibly Dirty Love Letters

National Trust – The Great Beast 666: Who Was Aleister Crowley?

How Stuff Works – The Bizarre, Brazen Life of Cultist Aleister Crowley

Cornwall Live – Legendary Occultist Aleister Crowley’s Son from Cornwall Who Tried To Take Over The Government

The Guardian – How Guest Hans Christian Andersen Destroyed His Friendship with Dickens