Hugh Laurie in Blackadder III as Prince George

History has known many rulers who were, let’s just say, a few sandwiches short of a picnic. After all if you look back across the centuries, you’ll swiftly identify a number of rulers who ruled with a mind plagued with insanity.

Whether it was the Turkish Sultan Ibrahim who fed coins to fish or the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I whose only coherent command was, “I’m the Emperor, and I want dumplings!”; it would seem that even the most powerful of historical figures were altogether powerless to escape the creeping spectre of madness.

Therefore if you’re interested in being acquainted with mad Queens, loony Kings or fruitcake Emperors, read on to discover ten of the most insane rulers in history.

10. Henry VI of England (1421-1461)

Henry VI

Henry VI was a reclusive king who led a life more akin to a monk than a medieval monarch. He was also the victim of severe depression and multiple lapses of psychosis.

His first mental breakdown occurred in 1453. Addled with the stress of losing vast territories in France, Henry broke out in a strange rash and became highly agitated to the point of abject terror. He soon became unable to move and speak, and spent days in a childlike state, whereupon he had to be force fed and cleaned by his servants. Such was the severity of his insanity, Henry had no idea who he was and could not identify his closest subjects, his wife Margaret or indeed their son Edward.

Henry would eventually partially recover only to sink into another stint of madness in the autumn of 1455. This set the scene for political instability. With protectors placed in charge of the realm, and a King literally vacant minded, political forces were quick to move against the monarchy. As a result of his unstable mind, Henry had unwittingly sowed the seeds for what would later be termed the War of the Roses.

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