#3. Caligula: Thought His Horse Was People
Everyone likes a good, faithful pet. That's why people hate cats. So maybe it's understandable that Emperor Caligula of Rome (12-41) would want to pamper his horse, Incintatus, as much as possible. It's kind of sweet, in a way...
... Until he started treating the horse like an actual human being. Incintatus the Horse was promoted to a consul of Rome, effectively making a horse one of the highest authorities of the time. Caligula arranged for the horse to meet the mare of his dreams (Incintatus' dreams, not Caligula's), invited him to dinner constantly and fed him gold-flecked oats.
That's right: This horse's shit was more valuable than the average citizen. And you thought feeding a cat Fancy Feast made you a pretentious dick. (It still does.)
After making his horse's digestive track his nation's treasury, Caligula casually decided that he was a god, and wanted to convince everyone else of the same thing. He spent a good portion of his time dressed up as various Roman gods, including Venus (the armless chick). When conducting political affairs, he was known to only respond to the name of Jupiter while in court and spoke only in a manly, booming echo.
They also made a Caligula movie that featured hardcore pornography but, shockingly, contained no horsefucking. A missed opportunity, is what that is.
All of this, of course, went unchecked. This guy was the Emperor of the part of the world that wasn't shit at the time, making him the most important person on Earth for a few short years. Short of being stabbed 30 or so times, there wasn't much in the way of a check-and-balance system.
#2. Ludwig II of Bavaria: Had Castle Fever
Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1866) absorbed himself completely in fantasy, probably because he realized that being a real king sucked total balls. So he decided to be an imaginary king, starting with the construction of a new castle, Neuschwanstein. He loved the castle to death, and even today it's his most famous castle, serving as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland (Disney World's drunken, unkempt older brother).
However, the guy was insane, and everyone knew it. He had a mix of OCD, schizophrenia and plain ol' blind obsession with the most random shit. Building castles turned into crack for him, and he wasn't willing to share it, either.
He built two more castles over the course of his lifetime, and attended to each one with an intensity only the insane can manage. The king would send out servants to uninhabited castles every day just to make sure that, you know, they were still there. And he had no intention of ever living in them--he just liked to build them.
Given that poor people make excellent laborers, building the castles wasn't so much the problem as the cost. Sitting on your ass all day doesn't really rake in the cash. Instead, he fed off of taxpayer's money, and eventually this ended up with the entire country being placed into debt and presumably being blacklisted by Mastercard. Ludwig's solution was to sell the whole damn thing to buy more land to build more castles.
"Hey, what do we got going on on top of that castle? Because I think a castle would look really good there..."
Eventually the nobles declared Ludwig legally insane and threw him off the throne. Ludwig tried to come up with a charming one-liner that would put him back into good graces, but in the end just said "fuck it" and died a mysterious death three days later, leaving behind a crazy legacy and a tremendous I.O.U. To his country.
#1. Saparmurat: Loved Melons, Insanity
(Note: Because Cracked cannot spell "Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov of Turkmenistan (1940-2006)" without copying and pasting, he will be referred to as Superman for the rest of this article.),
Just in case you missed it, check the birth and death of this guy--that is scarily recent. If you thought that crazy douches only ruled way back when, this man is very-nearly-living proof of just how fucked up things can get even today.
Superman grew up an orphan, joined the National Communist Party, made his way up the ladder and finally became president of Turkmenistan when the country gained independence. A few years later, he crowned himself President for Life and took hold of every affair in Turkmenistan.
He amassed a cult of personality, erecting statues (some made of solid gold) in his honor, establishing national holidays on his birthday and date of inauguration, and used his control of the media to praise him daily. So far, so good--seems like pretty standard eccentric dictator stuff.
As his reign continued, Superman decided to one up every other human being that would ever live. His legacy was to be palace of ice--a big palace of ice, enough for 1,000 people. And he wanted to build it in a desert.
Getting 1,000 people to gather in the middle of a scorching desert is wishful thinking. Getting a palace of ice to not melt in said desert would require the world's most potent sorcery.
His egomania came to a head when he decided to just rename time itself: He remade the calendar so that days of the week and months of the year were named after himself and his mother. Then there's the whole "National Melon Day," the only day in human history where fruit rose to the status of superstars. Unless his love of melons was blatantly obvious innuendo, chances are he had always been crazy and just kinda liked melons. He certainly liked them enough to be quoted as saying, "Let the life of every Turkmen be as beautiful as our melons."
"And you know what they say: A melon a day, there are tiny goblins in my brain, eating my thoughts."
Yes, Superman. We must all be as beautiful as our goddamn melons, you crazy, crazy bastard.
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