There have been some crazy mofos throughout the long scope of human history. People capable of doing, or ordering done, unspeakable things to their fellow man. I spent a career seeing the depths of human depravity and just what evil some people are capable of. I no longer believe in the "better angles of our nature." Sorry, Lincoln. That just doesn't exist. For some reason, people seem to be drawn to the macabre. We love our serial killer shows on TV and seem fascinated by horrific events such as the Holocaust. Fascinated and yet repulsed at the same time. Think I'm kidding? Why do you think you get stuck in traffic when there is a car accident on the other side of a highway with a concrete divider? So for today's post, I thought I'd give you a list of some of the people I think are the most f----d up in history. I am not putting Hitler on this list though because he should probably be at the top of it and you've all heard of him anyway. There is nothing else I can add about him that hasn't already been said.
1. Joseph Stalin
"One man's death is a tragedy," Stalin once said, "but a million men's deaths is a statistic." He would know seeing as how he presided over the deaths of something like 20 million people within the Soviet Union. They were "purged" for any number of things but typically for not being communist enough or for being a threat. Stalin was extremely paranoid which is a dangerous trait to have when you are a totalitarian dictator! When he had the wife of one of his friends killed, Stalin consoled the man by saying "Don't worry. We'll get you another wife!" After the German invasion in 1941, courtesy of his fellow dictator Adolf Hitler, Stalin issued an order that said if any Russian soldier allowed themselves to be taken prisoner, they would be considered a traitor to the Motherland and their family would be punished. Maybe this was unduly harsh, I don't know. But when Stalin's son surrendered, he sent his son's wife to a gulag in Siberia! Uncle Joe, you were one screwed up dude.
2. Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed
I have never met a person from Hungary before, but if I do, I really hope they are not like this whackjob. She along with a few of her minions were accused of murdering hundreds, I say again, hundreds of peasant girls and freaking took baths in their blood! Does that help keep your skin soft or something? Eventually she got caught. During the trial, lurid tales of bizarre ritualistic murder came to light. She was accused of doing horrible things to young peasant girls such as burning their sensitive parts with hot iron, ripping flesh from their faces with her teeth, chopping off their hands, feet, and breasts, oh, and freaking taking baths in their blood! Upon conviction, three of her four minions were executed, two by burning and one by beheading, and the other was imprisoned for life. The Countess was also imprisoned rather than executed because of her noble status. She died a few years later. Notice in the portrait she is a redhead! Good thing I never met her or else I probably would have fallen under her spell and ended up chopped into little pieces. Oh, and did I mention that she freaking took baths in blood!
3. Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Vlad Dracula
If you don't know what it means to execute someone by impaling them, let's just say it involves sitting a naked prisoner on a sharp stake and allowing the stake to work its way into the body through a certain orifice. Death is not instantaneous and in fact takes quite some time. Vlad made quite the reputation for himself as an impaler. Now I don't know if all of the oft reported tales of sadistic executions and torture involving this guy are true, but even accounting for exaggeration, Holy Crap! There is a legend that an Ottoman Ruler who invaded the area controlled by Vlad gave up and returned home when he saw 20,000 impaled corpses rotting outside the walls of Vlad's capitol. That must have smelled lovely. You have to hand it to Vlad. He's the only guy I know of who made burning at the stake seem like a humane form of execution!
Though it was Nero who fiddled with himself while Rome burned and fed Christians to lions, Caligula was the most f----d up of all the Roman Emperors. And that is saying a lot if you think about it. Though at first he was regarded as being a decent ruler, he fell ill and when he recovered from the sickness, apparently his brain did not. This is when he morphed into a despotic tyrant. It is hard to separate fact from fiction with him, as is often the case in dealing with Ancient History (that is why I don't specialize in it). Caligula started having his relatives either executed or exiled, which isn't really very nice. Many contemporary accounts talk of him as being an oversexed, blood thirsty murderer. My favorite story is about when, while presiding over some gladiator games, he ordered a whole section of the crowd fed to the lions because he was bored! Caligula liked his horse so much that he appointed him to be a priest after deciding not to name him a consul. Eventually, as did many Roman Emperors, Caligula fell victim to intrigue and assassination. Later on his nephew Nero would assume the thrown and continue the family tradition of murder, incompetency, and rapine.
5. Ivan Grozny (aka: Ivan the Terrible!)
I feel bad and I sincerely must apologize to my dear Russian friends. I didn't really mean for this to be a "pile on the Motherland" blog post. But you have to admit, there have been some f----d up Russian rulers. Given that fact, how bad do you have to be in order to be considered the Terrible?!? Just look at the picture. Step back from your computer and walk around the room. His eyes will follow you. He looks like he is about to jump out of the screen and off you, doesn't he? Ivan actually did do some good for the Russian Empire, but then he also murdered his own son. Guess you have to take the good with the bad, right? To be fair, Ivan was considered mentally ill and it grew worse with age, but damn! Lot's of Russians (and their neighbors in other countries) went to their eternal reward thanks to this guy. And since two Russians made this list of 5, Vladimir Putin might sweep down and banish me to a gulag in Siberia. That would be okay as long as that hot redhead Russian spy lady was there.
This list is by no means complete. Feel free to add your own psychos to it! I would also like to take a minute to say welcome to my newest crop of students from a couple of fine institutions of higher learning who have become the next group of Half A$$ Historian students. I hope you've had fun in my courses and have learned something. And if you haven't learned anything, then I hope at least you've had fun. And for those who read my blog but haven't yet liked the accompanying Facebook page, you may do so here.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian who would never take freaking baths in people's blood.