12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn
12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn

12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn

Khalid Elhassan - December 9, 2017

12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn
Catherine the Great. History Channel.

Catherine the Great Died Like Elvis

Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796), was Tsarina, or empress, of Russia from 1762 until her death. A German born princess, she ascended the throne after she had her husband, Tsar Peter III, assassinated. She continued the westernization work begun by Tsar Peter the Great, and by the end of her reign, Russia had fully joined the mainstream of European political and cultural life. Her regal reign was not to be matched by a regal and dignified death.

She was born Sophie Friederike August von Anhalt-Zerbst into a minor German aristocratic family. At age 14, she was married to the grandson of Tsar Peter the Great and heir to the throne, Grand Duke Peter. The marriage proved a disaster, as Peter was extremely neurotic, mentally unstable, and probably impotent. The following 18 years were full of humiliations and disappointment.

She took a series of lovers, and strongly hinted that none of the children born during her marriage were Peter’s. When her husband became Tsar in 1761, he quickly alienated his court and nobles by making little effort to hide his contempt for Russia, and his preference for his native Germany. When he started making moves to rid himself of Catherine, she beat him to the punch, and joined a conspiracy which staged a military coup in 1762. Peter was seized and forced to abdicate, and 8 days later, was murdered.

Catherine was then crowned Empress, and ruled Russia for the next 34 years. During that period, the Russian Empire expanded rapidly with a combination of conquests and diplomacy. To the west, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned with Austria and Prussia, with Russia getting the lion’s share. To the south, successful wars against the Ottoman Turks led to the conquest and annexation of the Crimean Khanate. The territories of Novorossiya – the Russian speaking parts of today’s Ukraine – were colonized by Russians. Colonization also stretched far into the east, including Alaska and the foundation of Russian America. Domestically, she reformed the laws and administration of the Russian Empire, bringing them closer to contemporary European standards.

After a long and successful reign, her death came in an undignified manner. Rumors circulated that the insatiable Catherine had died after sustaining injuries from having sex with a horse. The truth was less scandalous, but embarrassing all the same for her imperial majesty. The empress had been feeling constipated, and during a heroic effort to force relief on the toilet, she overstrained herself and suffered a fatal stroke.

When her loud gruntings ceased, her maids waiting outside assumed that her majesty had finally found relief. They started getting nervous, however, as the minutes dragged on without Catherine emerging or summoning them. Eventually they delicately inquired if all was well. Hearing no answer, they took a peak, and found the Empress of All the Russias dead on the toilet.

12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn
Crowned Prince Sado. Wikipedia.

Crown Prince Sado Was Locked in a Rice Chest

Crown Prince Sado (1735 – 1762) was the son of Korean king Yeongjo, and heir to the throne. He was the king’s second son, but the first one had died in 1728. For years, the king’s wives and concubines had given him only daughters, and he despaired of ever getting another male heir. When Sado finally arrived in 1735, he was met with great rejoicing. According to tradition, the infant was set up in his own palace with an army of maids and governesses and servants. However, his father took little part in raising and looking after his upbringing, so Sado was spoiled rotten and grew up doing what he liked.

When his father did stop by to visit, he was highly irritable, and grew angry at even trivial missteps by his son. Sado grew up oscillating between a great fear of his father, and a desperate need to please him. Pleasing the king was difficult, however, for his father was not given to displays of affection, and whenever the two met, the king was far more critical than affectionate. As a result, Sado grew up feeling unloved and resentful. Between those daddy issues, perceived lack of affection, lack of fatherly supervision, indulgence and flattery by courtiers, and other deep seated neuroses, something broke inside Sado and he grew up to become a monster.

He was a troubled young man, given to extremely violent and erratic mood swings. One day, he would behave with such decorum, dignity, and probity, so as to be all that his father had ever wanted in a son and heir. The next, he would undergo a transformation, and give free rein to violate outbursts during which he would turn rapist and murderer. Historians are unsure what exactly ailed him, but he was clearly mentally unstable, and many today think that he was schizophrenic.

Although alcohol was forbidden at court, the Crown Prince was given to downing heroic amounts of wine and spirits, and became a raging alcoholic. When a depressive mood fell upon him, murdering servants brought Sado relief, and on many a day, several dead bodies were carried out of the palace. He also enjoyed raping court ladies, and after murdering his concubine, he started sexually harassing his own sister. As a result, he became widely feared throughout the kingdom as a serial rapist, serial killer, and all around dangerous psychopath.

Eventually, his father had enough, and determined that he could not, in good conscience, inflict his criminally insane son upon the Korean people as their next king. On July 4th, 1762, Sado was summoned by his father, who ceremonially struck the floor with a sword and declared the crown prince deposed. Taboos prohibited the outright execution of the prince, so the king had Sado placed inside a heavy wooden chest used for storing grain, and locked him inside. There, the deposed prince was left to starve to death, which arrived 8 days later.

12 Royal Deaths that Took a Bizarre and Undignified Turn
John the Blind at the Battle of Crecy. Wikimedia.

John the Blind Charged Into Battle – While Blind

King John of Bohemia (1296 – 1346) gained the nickname John the Blind after losing his sight in 1336. He was a warrior of great renown, with a martial record of campaigning across Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. He became Count of Luxemburg in 1309, and when his father in law, the king of Bohemia, died without male heirs, John inherited that realm through his wife and became Bohemia’s king in 1310.

He was a son of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, but when his father died in 1313, John was too young to inherit the crown. So he backed Louis the Bavarian, who became Emperor Louis IV in 1314. Despite that early support, John eventually fell out with Louis IV after the latter sided with England against France in the Hundred Years War.

As king of Bohemia, John fought against Hungary, Austria, England, and the Russians. He campaigned in the Tyrol and northern Italy, and enlarged his kingdom by conquering Silesia, parts of Lusatia, and most of Lombardy. He went blind from opthalmia in 1336 while crusading against the pagan Lithuanians. Although celebrated as a warrior, he was an unpopular ruler because of heavy taxation that he imposed to pay for his lavish expenses.

John was a great Francophile, having been raised and educated in Paris. He was French in his outlook and sympathies, even sending his own son to be educated in Paris rather than in his own Bohemian capital of Prague. At the start of the Hundred Years War, king Philip VI of France asked for help against England’s Edward III. Notwithstanding his blindness, John rushed to help, met the French king in Paris in August of 1346, and marched with him to fight the English.

The armies met at the Battle of Crecy, on August 26th, 1346. Such was John’s prestige that, despite being blind, he was placed in charge of the French vanguard and a big part of the French army. The excitement, sounds, and scent of the battle awakened the old war dog in him, and he desperately wanted to join in. So he ordered his knights to tie their horses to his and ride into battle. That way, he could deliver at least one stroke of his sword against the English, and satisfy his honor by physically participating in the fight.

His knights obeyed, and tied to their horses, the blind king rode into battle. It ended badly. John the Blind, being blind, was unable to gauge just how far he had gone, and plunged in too deep into the English ranks. He ended up getting cut off and enveloped by the enemy, and in the ensuing melee, the blind king and all of his retinue were slaughtered.

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