The cruelest kings and rulers in history

Throughout history there are numerous kings and sovereigns who have exploited their position to be able to act in a very questionable manner. Some of them have satisfied their hedonistic impulses, others have acted with extreme cruelty against their adversaries. In some cases there is talk of real abuse of power.

John Plantagenet, king of England

Better known by the name of John Without Land, he reigned from 1199 to 1216 AD. His nickname derives from the fact that being the last of his brothers he did not have his share of land as an inheritance .

He betrayed his brother while he was engaged in a crusade and became king upon his death. To avoid possible threats to his throne he had his nephew Arturo killed. He also lost Normandy and infuriated the nobility. He was so badly seen that the English barons, after rebelling and winning, forced him to sign the Magna Carta. Later Giovanni denied having accepted the barons’ conditions and therefore another war broke out. He is still considered to be the worst king England has ever had.

Zhengde, emperor of China

Zhengde reigned over China from 1505 to 1521 AD He became king at the age of 14 and was the one who inaugurated the epic of the emperors who, rather than looking after the empire, took care to have fun and celebrate. Thus began the slow decline of the Ming dynasty . It is said that he made the members of his court dress up as street vendors to pretend to be among the people. He died at the age of 29 falling into the water drunk.

Vlad III of Wallachia

Vlad III (1428-1477 AD), known to most as Vlad the Impaler, is the one who inspired the character of Dracula.

It seems he enjoyed punishing those who rebelled with horrible tortures, one of them impalement, hence the nickname. Despite his very violent conduct, there are those who say we have to thank him. Vlad III repeatedly repulsed the Ottomans who apparently were also terrified of them, thus preventing Europe from being invaded by them. The story we know would not be the same if the Ottomans had managed to get to Europe.

Leopold II, king of Belgium

Leopold II (1835-1909 AD) deserves a mention in this ranking for his cruel conduct in the Congo. Congo was not an English colony but Leopoldo took it anyway, asserting that his intentions were to improve the living conditions of the Congolese. The rest of Europe trusted him and let him do it.

Moral of the story:

Leopoldo got rich by collecting and selling rubber and on the other hand, due to his slave methods, more than 10 million natives died . This eventually led to a scandal that forced the British to leave the colony they had created.

Herod the Great, king of Judea

Herod the Great (74-4 BC) is known mainly for the ” massacre of the innocents ” described in the Gospel according to Matthew.

Herod was guilty of many sins. He had his wife and daughters killed and starved the people by making the kingdom bear enormous expenses. He had grown to have over 2,000 personal guards.

Genghis Khan, Grand Khan of the Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan (1161-1227 AD) was the creator of the largest continuous empire ever created and one of the largest empires in history. Under him the expansion of his people was enormous as was the empire he built. It is known that he had no mercy on anyone and his army swept away everything in its path. Genghis Khan let his men free to do anything with the prisoners and this was a very bad thing since very often the latter ended up badly. It is estimated that in the twenty-one years of Mongol expansion between 20 and 60 million people died from direct and indirect causes , a veritable genocide.

Nero (37-68 AD)

The Roman emperor known for setting Rome on fire and singing and dancing in front of the spectacle of the burning capital.

It is not known for sure if Nero was actually the one who ordered the fire to be set, the one that is known and who blamed it on Christians and began to persecute them for this. Tacitus claims that the emperor put people to death not so much for the fire in Rome but more because he hated mankind. He was so cruel that Christians considered him the Antichrist . According to many sources, he ordered the murder of his wife and many other people.

Caligula (12-41 AD)

Another Roman emperor among the cruelest in history . Caligula reigned shortly before Nero and believed he was a god. For this reason it is said he began to slaughter random people for his sheer amusement.

Some historians claim that his madness was due to lead poisoning. Among other things, pronouncing the word “goat” in front of him was punishable by death. He was murdered by his own guards.

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan IV of Russia (1530-1584 AD), called the Terrible , was known to be a fairly efficient tsar. However, it is known that he was prey to sudden fits of anger one of which even led him to kill his own son. He set up a particular unit of mounted guards with absolute stopping power. Every noble or dissident was either picked up and killed or made to eat alive by the dogs.

Stalin said of him that he considered him a great man.


The ” scourge of God “, famous king of the Huns (406-453 AD), had earned a grim fame throughout the West. It is said that where he passed he no longer grew grass. Some sources revere that the corpses of the people he slaughtered had carpeted the Danube for years. He maintained order in his ranks through violence.

He managed to kill even after he died by ordering, while alive, that the people who would bury him be killed.