Quirky Royalty: Eccentric Monarchs and Their Strange Habits

By Jack Ripley | June 13, 2024

Ivan the Terrible Who Released Bears on Moscow's Streets

The world often perceives monarchs as very poised individuals. Yet, history unveils people with a multitude of quirks. From kings who preferred conversing with birds to queens who believed cosmic forces caused them to be in power, historical accounts show that royalty has had many unconventional habits. Some monarchs gave lavish banquets before insisting their guests perform gladiator feats, while others built fairy-tale-like castles. Some even preferred spending time with their dead husbands to taking care of their courtly duties. These royal idiosyncrasies offer a glimpse into the strange world of unconventional rulers.  

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Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia, reigned from 1547 to 1584 and during that time his secret police terrorized and executed suspected traitors. Ivan's profoundly religious nature contrasted with his paranoid and violent actions. While professing his faith, he had many people executed, including his own son.  
Ivan's eccentric public behavior further added to his notoriety. He sometimes dressed as a peasant and mingled with commoners, but at other times, he displayed extravagant royal splendor. He often carried out morbid pranks, like releasing bears into the streets of Moscow, causing chaos while he watched from a safe distance. Additionally, he devised new and horrific methods of execution, showing a particular interest in the suffering of those he deemed disloyal. But the bear thing is probably the "quirkiest" thing he ever did.

Roman Emperor Caligula Appoints His Horse as Counsel While Wearing Women's Clothing

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Roman Emperor Caligula had a strong disdain for traditional political structures and a robust desire to flaunt his absolute power, which could be why he appointed his horse Incitatus as counsel. Caligula ordered workers to build a marble stable for the horse, and construct a gemstone collar. Cute!   
Caligula's fashion sense was unconventional to say the least. He delighted in shocking Rome's elite by donning women's clothing. This audacious display of gender-bending attire defied societal norms and served as a bold assertion of his absolute power and disregard for convention. Caligula often wore these outfits to lavish banquets, featuring roasted dormouse and flamingo tongue. Then to make things all the more strange, after the guests dined they were often forced to engage in bizarre mock gladiatorial combat.
Fed up with his authoritarian rule, extravagant spending, and unpredictable behavior, disgruntled senators and the Praetorian Guard plotted his demise and he was eventually assassinated while attending a sporting event.