55 Facts About The World's Nuttiest Leaders
Recently, America became subject to a president so embarrassing and so unlike what we've come to expect from a politician that many people thought he had to be the most deranged leader of all time. Today, we're looking at the world's truly nutty leaders and the sides of them that you'd never expect ...
1. Adolf Hitler
Hitler was a surprisingly big fan of the novels of Karl May -- Wild West stories about a noble Apache chief named Winnetou. He liked the books so much that he made his generals read them and criticized his men's lack of imagination, saying they should take creative ideas from the books. It's unclear what ideas Hitler got from the books, as Winnetou and May were both pacifists.
2. Winston Churchill
Churchill enjoyed being naked. Staff kept stumbling on him naked, and he insisted on remaining naked while in his room when visiting the White House. When FDR walked in on him nude on another occasion, he said, "You see, Mr. President, I have nothing to hide."
3. Kim Jong Il
There's a ton of weird stuff to talk about with Kim Jong Il, but here's just one fact: He loved Michael Jordan so much that he owned VHS copies of every single of Jordan's games with the Bulls. When the US gifted him an autographed ball, he built a new public museum to display it. Also, he invented his own version of basketball, where you lose points for missing free throws.
4. George IV
George IV of England asked every woman he slept with to give him a lock of her hair. He pasted these into a scrapbook, and after he died, people discovered that this collection held trophies from 7,000 lovers.
5. Anna I
This Empress of Russia made a prince she disliked dress as a clown and marry an ugly maid of hers. Then Anna built them a palace of ice and made the caged couple spend their wedding night in it, telling them only sex could keep them warm. They nearly died, but a guard snuck them extra clothes.
6. Henry VIII
7. Joseph Stalin
In his spare time, Stalin liked to sketch men. Naked sketches of men. That didn't necessarily make him gay, say psychologists consulted over the question, but yeah, he liked drawing naked men and then leaving comments on the men beneath the sketches.
8. Saparmurat Niyazov
This president of Turkmenistan was so self-absorbed that he created a new calendar based on himself. He named the days of the week and the months of the year after himself and his mother.
9. Justin II
Justin II of Byzantine used to hear voices in his head. Today, we'd have a formal diagnosis and treatment for this, but in the sixth century, all the court could think to do was to play loud organ music to drown the voices out so Justin wouldn't bite people.
10. Boris Yeltsin
When Yeltsin ran for reelection in Russia in 1996, he realized a lot of the city dwellers who supported him were going to skip voting and go on vacation. So he got a TV station to air special episodes of a popular soap opera on Election Day. Not wanting to miss them, people stayed in town, and to kill time before the show came on air, they voted -- for Yeltsin.
11. Francisco Macias Nguema
The first president of Equatorial Guinea thought he had magical powers and so banned a power plant from using lubricating oil, saying he could lubricate it using magic. The plant exploded.
12. Nguyen Cao Ky
Ky wasn't very good at saving South Vietnam from the North Vietnamese, so when Saigon fell, he fled. He moved to California, where he worked the cash register at a liquor store.
13. Muammar Gaddafi
14. Enver Hoxha
To maintain Albania's identity, the Prime Minister forbade color TVs and typewriters -- this was in the 1980s, more than a century after the typewriter was invented. Then he banned beards as incompatible with communism. Karl Marx was not available for comment.
15. Saddam Hussein
For years, Saddam Hussein liked Cheetos and sulked when he ran out of the snack. Then his guards one day offered him Doritos instead, and he swore by this superior snack food for the rest of his days, scarfing down each family-size bag in an impressive ten minutes.
16. The Zhengde Emperor
Zhu Houzhao became emperor of China at 14. Apparently wanting a normal life, he constructed a fake city block on palace grounds and sometimes pretended to be a shopkeeper. He died when he fell off his boat, drunk.
17. Queen Victoria
It's strange that the word "Victorian" means "prudish on all matters sexual." Queen Victoria herself loved sex, based on all the detailed, exclamation-point-laden diaries she kept. She also installed a mechanism so she could lock the bedroom door directly from her bed.
18. Idi Amin
Idi Amin assumed the title "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." He did not, actually, conquer the British Empire, but he said he did, laying claim on the throne of Scotland.
19. Peter II
Yugoslavia's monarchy ended with World War II, leaving King Peter II out of a job. He went to America and got a job in a bank. His brother, Prince Alexander, became a washing machine salesman.
20. Abdala Bucaram
21. Nicolae Ceausescu
Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu was convinced that someone might be trying to poison him through his clothing. So he wore each set of clothes just once then sent them to the incinerator. Staff kept a year's worth of clothes on hand, each suit hermetically sealed in plastic and stored in a warehouse.
22. Kim Il Sung
According to the official record, North Korean president Kim Il Sung participated in 100,000 battles during World War II over the course of 15 years. That's 20 battles a day and is particularly impressive because sources outside North Korea say that the war only lasted six years.
23. Mustafa I
Before he became sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa's brother locked him in his room. Then when the time came to ascend, Mustafa refused to leave the room. Men had to drag him out, using rope. Mustafa had them all executed, then retired to the room once more.
24. Radovan Karadzic
As president of the Republic of Srpska during the Bosnian War, Radovan Karadzic was guilty of a whole bunch of war crimes and a fair bit of genocide. So he went into hiding afterward, adopting the name Dragan Dabic as a New Age health guru. He landed a contract with a Connecticut vitamin company before people discovered who he really was.
25. King Goujian
This Chinese king from the sixth century had a great strategy for intimidating opposing armies. He'd send a line of unarmed soldiers (actually, convicted criminals) to face them. Then these soldiers would take out knives and slit their own throats. Next, he'd send another line, who'd do the same thing. Then the actual army would attack the baffled enemies from the rear.
26. Christian VII
Court physicians worried that this Danish king masturbated so much that it was affecting his health. Finally, one of these physicians pretty much managed to seize control of the kingdom from him and put forward such reforms as banning slavery and torture (until people got sick of him and had him executed).
27. Ludwig II
28. Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh was president of Gambia until 2017. He boasted a number of accolades that had not in fact been bestowed upon him, such as the President's Volunteer Call to Service Award from Barack Obama and the title of Admiral of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
29. Charles VI
Charles got the name "Charles the Mad," and his various issues had him sometimes howling like a wolf and sometimes thinking he was made of glass, causing him to fear the touch of others. He also once went out with his knights to hunt down a murderer and decided to suddenly instead kill as many knights as he could.
30. Hugo Chavez
Venezuela president Hugo Chavez really wanted his country to have a locally made telephone. He named it the Vergatario ... which is Spanish for "penis phone." It could also mean "cool phone" in some regions, claimed Chavez, confidently.
31. Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon, worried by his sister's habit of (literally) using her servants as footstools and having sex with hundreds of people, decided to put her in charge of a neighboring country. Pauline ran Guastalla, part of modern-day Italy. Then she immediately sold it to another kingdom for six million francs.
32 Mao Zedong
After his policies killed tens of millions of people, Chairman Mao gradually became aware that he too might die one day. He sought longevity through sex, engaging in group sex with virgins shipped in from all over the country. He also became a patron of nude underwater ballet.
33. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
Ilyumzhinov was president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia while also being president of the World Chess Federation. He, therefore, made chess lessons mandatory and offered to build a giant chess set at Ground Zero in New York. He claimed that aliens abducted him and said people must learn chess, else the aliens would destroy Earth.
34. Queen Nzinga
35. Genghis Khan
The Khwarezmid Empire once killed the members of a goodwill caravan sent by Genghis Khan. So Genghis sent an army to destroy the entire empire, killing everyone in it and even diverting the course of a river to wipe out Governor Inalchuq's birthplace. As the story goes, he had Inalchuq killed by pouring molten silver in his eyes and mouth.
36. Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe kept sending zoo animals to other leaders, and many of them (the animals, not the leaders) died in transit. His oddest stunt was building a "Noah's Ark" filled with pairs of animals, including a pair of baby elephants that would definitely not survive the trip. Then again, he also ate baby elephant for his 91st birthday.
37. King Farouk
The last king of Egypt had a talent for pickpocketing, once stealing Winston Churchill's watch. One time, he had a nightmare about a lion. So he went to Cairo zoo and shot the lions as they lay in their cages.
38. Jean-Bedel Bokassa
When Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa took over the Central African Republic, he declared himself emperor, imported 240 tons of French food, and ordered a crown with 8,000 diamonds. The ceremony cost as much as his entire country's annual GDP.
39. Francois Hollande
When Francois Hollande was running to become president of France in 2012, he put out an ad of him interacting with minorities to the sounds of Jay-Z and Kanye rapping the words -- actually, we're not going to repeat the lyrics here, other than to say it was a quite a surprising choice for a 58-year-old white man, and it actually won him the election.
40. Ne Win
Ne Win, who ruled Burma in the '60s and '70s, was so superstitious that when soothsayers told him the left side was unlucky, he ordered the whole country to switch from driving on the left side to driving on the right side overnight. He also bathed in dolphin blood to boost his vitality.
41. Fidel Castro
42. Mariano Melgarejo
Melgarejo became president of Bolivia by personally murdering his predecessor, Manuel Isidoro Belzu. Brazilian envoys gifted him a horse, and he was so pleased with the gift that he put a map of the country on the floor, let the horse stamp on it, and gave Brazil whatever land the hoof fell on.
43. Nicolas Maduro
The onetime president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, tweeted that the Venezuelan football team looked like they were playing dirty. So Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro banned him from the nation for life.
44. Francois Duvalier
"Papa Doc" Francois Duvalier of Haiti wanted to arrest Clement Barbot, a politician who briefly replaced him. But when Barbot couldn't be found, Duvalier seized on a superstitious rumor that the man had transformed into a dog. He ordered every black dog in the country killed.
Emperor Tiberius (grand-uncle to Caligula) once invited a friend to visit from Rhodes. When the friend arrived, Tiberius forgot who he was, declared him a spy, and ordered him to be tortured.
46. Rafael Trujillo
This dictator of the Dominican Republic received more votes than the country had voters, which raised some questions about the legitimacy of that election. He answered those questions by appointing his three-year-old son as a colonel and hosting a year-long festival to make his daughter queen.
47. Valentine Strasser
In 1991, Strasser became the world's youngest head of state when he gained control of Sierra Leone. When that didn't work out, he moved back in with his mom.
48. Vladimir Putin
This Congolese dictator forbade the news from mentioning anyone but him by name. He also banned anyone from wearing leopard-print hats (anyone but him; he liked the hats himself), and claimed that the cane he carried needed the strength of eight men to lift.
59. Alexander Lukashenko
To prevent crowds from getting too riled up and sparking any inconvenient revolutions, Belarusian head Alexander Lukashenko banned applause in 2011. He arrested thousands for the crime of applauding -- including one man who had only one arm but was still found guilty.
51. Than Shwe
In 2005, on advice from his astrologer, Than Shwe moved Burma's capital from Rangoon (now called Yangon) to a spot in the jungle 200 miles away. The new capital, Naypyidaw, did not have electricity or running water at the time.
52. King Tut
Tutankhamun had just about every deformity people could have back then without dying. The cause of all this? Possibly being the product of several generations of brothers breeding with their sisters. That's heavy inbreeding even by royal standards.
53. Frederick William I
Frederick William I of Prussia wanted an army of tall men. He quickly ran out of willing recruits tall enough, so he took to invading neighboring countries and kidnapping tall men from there. He made them into a special army division called Potsdam's Giants, but he figured they were too valuable to actually fight, so he instead ordered them to just march in his bedroom.
54. Michael I
After the Soviet Union took over Romania, King Michael fled, carrying nine cases of gin and three shotguns. He became a pilot in Switzerland and also raised chickens for a living. Still, he ended up better off than sister-in-law Princess Jeanne, who was arrested stealing a car in New Jersey and couldn't afford bail.
55. Edward VII