The Surprising Pastimes of 10 of History's Worst Rulers Will Leave You Scratching Your Head
The Surprising Pastimes of 10 of History’s Worst Rulers Will Leave You Scratching Your Head

The Surprising Pastimes of 10 of History’s Worst Rulers Will Leave You Scratching Your Head

Khalid Elhassan - December 26, 2017

The Surprising Pastimes of 10 of History’s Worst Rulers Will Leave You Scratching Your Head
Ibrahim the Mad. The Daily Mirror

Ibrahim the Mad Liked Feeding Fish Gold Coins, and Collecting Concubines With Cow-Like Vaginas

Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim I (1615 – 1648), or Ibrahim the Mad, reigned from 1640 to 1648. When his older brother Murad IV became sultan, he had the then-8 year old Ibrahim sent to the Kafes, or “Cage” – a secluded part of the Harem where possible successors to the throne were confined. There, they were kept under house arrest, under surveillance, and isolated from the outside world to prevent intrigues and plots.

While Ibrahim was in the Cage, sultan Murad executed his other brothers, one by one, until Ibrahim was the last one left, constantly terrified that he might be next. He remained in confinement until his brother’s death without issue in 1640. When he was taken out of the Cage and told that he would be crowned sultan, Ibrahim refused at first. He rushed back to the Cage to barricade himself inside, suspecting it was a trick to entrap him into saying or doing something that his fratricidal brother would take as treasonous.

Finally, his brother’s corpse was brought to the door for him to examine. 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. However, the years of isolation, and the ever present fear of execution, had unhinged Ibrahim. His condition was worsened by depression over the death of his brother, whom he loved in a Stockholm Syndrome type of way.

The new Sultan’s habit feeding of fish in the palace pool with coins instead of food was an early worrying sign. As it became clear that Ibrahim was insane, his mother ruled for him. To keep him busy, the sultan was encouraged to spend as much time as possible in the Harem with his nearly 300 concubines. It was intended to keep him out of his mother’s hair and out of trouble, and to father male heirs since, by then, he was the last surviving Ottoman.

For years, Ibrahim took to the Harem with relish, fathering three future sultans and a number of daughters. As a contemporary put it “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”. The insanity never went away, however: one day he woke up, and out of the blue, ordered his entire Harem tied in weighted sacks and drowned in the sea.

Ibrahim also had a thing for fat women. One time he got turned on by a cow’s vagina, so he commissioned gold copies and sent them around the empire, to find a woman with a similar looking vagina. Searchers eventually found a 350 pound woman with matching parts, who became one of his favorite concubines. He also had a fetish for fur, decorating his clothes, curtains, walls, and furniture with it. He stuffed his pillows with it, and liked having sex on sable furs.

When he saw the beautiful daughter of the Grand Mufti, the empire’s highest religious authority, he asked for her hand in marriage. Aware of Ibrahim’s depravities, the Mufti urged his daughter to decline. When she did, Ibrahim ordered her kidnapped and carried to his palace, where he ravished her for days, before sending her back to her father.

Eventually, he exiled his mother and assumed personal control of the government. The results were disastrous: after ordering the execution of his most capable ministers, Ibrahim spent like only a madman can. Eventually, he emptied the treasury, even as he got himself into a series of wars and managed them poorly. By 1647, between heavy taxes, the bungled wars, and with a Venetian blockade bringing the Ottoman capital to the brink of starvation, discontent boiled over. In 1648, the population revolted, urged on by religious scholars, and were joined by the army. An angry mob seized Ibrahim’s Grand Vizier and tore him to pieces, and the sultan was deposed in favor of his 6 year old son. A fatwa was then issued for Ibrahim’s execution, which was carried out by strangulation.

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