10. Ivan the Terrible Murdered His Own Son
Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible (1530 – 1584), ascended the Russian throne at age three, and the realm was governed by his mother as regent in his name. However, Ivan’s mother died when he was seven, and a power struggle erupted between competing Russian nobles. Ivan was left defenseless, exploited and tormented by nobles who mistreated him in his own palace. That made him bitter, bitterness gave way to insanity, and before long, Ivan was venting his frustrations by torturing small animals. By the time he took personal control of the government, Ivan had grown into a paranoid, resentful, and angry young man who distrusted people in general, and detested the nobles in particular.
Ivan instituted a system known as the oprichnina in the 1560s, that amounted to a reign of terror over all of Russia, including his own family. In 1581, he assaulted his pregnant daughter-in-law when he saw her wearing clothes that he deemed too revealing, causing her to miscarry. When his son and heir confronted him, Ivan caved in his skull with his scepter, causing a fatal wound. Ivan the Terrible followed him three years later, dying from a stroke while playing chess.