We think the life of royals is a perfect one but that’s not necessarily the truth. Money, power, and fame can drive a sane person insane and force them to do things they haven’t imagined. Most of the royals from history had their obsession and weird quirks. Some of these obsessive habits were interesting whereas some were utterly disgusting. Let’s explore some of the craziest royal obsessions from history.
1. Queen Elizabeth I was always obsessed with looking flawless and beautiful. After recovering from smallpox and to cover the scars, she spent years wearing makeup consisting of white, lead-based foundation and red lipstick containing mercury. Her makeup habits shaved a few years off her life.
Makeup was never good for the skin, but the makeup Queen Elizabeth I used back in the 16th century was deadly. She had quite a toxic relationship with makeup. In 1562, Elizabeth was struck with a high fever because of smallpox. Although she somehow survived smallpox, this nasty disease left her with permanent scarring scattered across her face.
This altered her physical appearance and left her vulnerable to constant judgment and criticism. To cover her imperfections, she started applying Venetian ceruse, a cosmetic compound consisting of white lead and vinegar. Lead is a poisonous substance that led to many health problems.
Elizabeth removed her makeup using a concoction of eggshells, alum, and mercury. The side effects of mercury included memory loss, irritability, and depression, which she faced at the end of her life. She also wore a signature red lip stain made of cinnabar and mercury.
Her deadly makeup regime caused a lot of damage to her health. Queen Elizabeth applied layers and layers of her deadly makeup until she was at the end of her life. She died on 24 March 1603, and her deadly makeup habits might be the reason. (Source)
2. Several monarchs were cannibals. Human body parts were consumed by them as medicine. Physicians bought human body parts from town executioners. They believed that a natural life force remaining in the body after death would be ingested by the person consuming it.
Most of us see a corpse as an object of horror, revulsion, or a piece of nature, but this was not the case with some monarchs. For them, these corpses contained some potent mystical properties which might heal the person consuming them. Several monarchs such as Charles II and William II of England, Christian IV of Denmark, and François I of France were cannibals.
They used to eat human body parts called “Mumia.” These body parts were traded to apothecaries and physicians by town executioners. The physicians believed that human body parts would be more potent if the person had violently died.
They thought when a person is killed suddenly, then its soul is trapped within its mortal coil for some time so that a living person can eat their body parts and can get benefit from it. It was believed that the remaining natural life span of the deceased person would be ingested by the person consuming its body parts. (1, 2)
3. Friedrich Wilhelm I, ruler of Prussia in the 1700s was obsessed with giants. He was so fond of tall men that he created an army of giants known as “Potsdam Giants.” When he expanded his army from 38,000 soldiers to 83,000, there was only one criterion that had to be met – you had to be at least six feet tall.
When soldiers get admitted into an army they are tested for their skills, but this was not the criteria for the Prussian Military in the 1700s. During the reign of Prussian ruler, Friedrich Wilhelm I from 1713 to 1740, the soldiers were selected in the army based on their heights.
They needed to be at least 6 feet tall to get their ticket into the Prussian Military. But what’s the big fuss about heights? It was all because of Friedrich, as he had a strange fondness for tall men, and this fondness turned into an obsession when he created a whole army of giants.
After getting crowned as king, he decided to expand his army from 38,000 soldiers to 83,000. As per the criteria, some giants voluntarily joined the army, but others were either gifted or kidnapped. This army of giants was officially known as “The Grand Grenadiers,” but was nicknamed the “Potsdam Giants” or “Lange Kerle” (The Long Guys). These giant soldiers were paid based on their height and were treated very well after getting into the army. (1, 2)
4. Ivan IV, the first czar of Russia, had this terrible obsession with maiming and slaying people. From a young age, he enjoyed torturing small animals. His enjoyment turned into an obsession as he grew older. He killed people by boiling them, tearing them limb from limb with horses, or roasting them over a fire.
Ivan IV, the first czar of Russia, was crowned in 1547. He was a paranoid, bloodthirsty, and unpredictable ruler. He was bestowed with the title of “Ivan the Terrible.” He had an obsession with killing and maiming people. From a young age, Ivan spent his free time torturing and killing small animals, he used to stab bird’s eyes and mutilate their bodies, he would toss stray cats and dogs to their deaths from high places.
He used to enjoy torturing animals back then, and his torturing enjoyment turned into an obsession as he grow older. But when he grew older, it was not animals but real people. Ivan used to kill anyone whom he suspected of disloyalty. His favorite execution methods were impalement, boiling alive, roasting over an open fire, and being torn apart by horses. (Source)
5. Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China, was obsessed with his own life. He wanted to be immortal. He spent much of his money, time, and effort in search of the key to immortality. The emperor would often drink various elixirs and potions to prolong his life. The reason for his demise was most likely these potions he drank containing mercury and jade.
Many of us wish to live an eternal life but the emperor of China took it to another level when a wish for immortal life became his obsession. Qin Shihuang who was the first emperor of China survived many assassination attempts and always feared conspiracies.
After years of bloody wars and massacres, he feared that the victim’s spirit might lie in wait for him after death. He spent much of his time, efforts, and money in search of the key to immortality.
Qin Shihuang believed that he could reign forever and started taking potions and elixirs crafted by alchemists. He believed in the story of three spirit mountains in the Bohai Sea where fairies possessing the elixir of immortality were said to live.
However, going to these mountains was not possible so he made an elixir of his own. These potions consist of mercury and jade, as early alchemists regarded mercury as an “immortal elixir.” Qin Shihuang’s long quest for immortality came to an end on 10 September 210 BCE, when he died because of the elixir and potions he drank to prolong his life. (Source)