Zhu Houzhao, Emperor Zhengde
We'll end our look at just a few of the crazy rulers in history (you can find long lists of many more, trust us) by going to China. Zhu Houzhao is the personal name of the 10th emperor of the Ming Dynasty, who took the name of Zhengde when he ascended the throne in 1505.
Zhengde had no interest in affairs of the state, preferring affairs of the heart. His vast harem wasn't enough, so he picked up women on the street and had prostitutes in the royal palace. He enjoyed drinking, learning languages, pretending to be a commoner, and traveling incognito as much as possible. He also liked hunting wild animals almost as much as hunting people (both women for his harem and enemies, real and imagined) Once Zhengde was nearly killed by a tiger he was attempting to tame [source: Theobald, Encyclopedia Britannica, Huang].
The actual governing of the country was left to high-ranking eunuchs and friends, who heavily taxed the people and essentially sold public offices to the highest bidders. Anybody questioning Zhengde's strange behavior might be exiled or even killed. Eleven officials were flogged so much they later died of their beatings [sources: Theobald, Encyclopedia Britannica].
But this recklessness couldn't last for long. He had a boating accident at age 31 and passed away a year later [source: Huang]. Truly mad or merely eccentric? It's hard to say, but it's obvious that Zhengde wasn't cut out for the throne.
Author's Note: 10 Mad Royals in History
I enjoy history and I'm particularly fascinated by the historical diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, but I still didn't know much about several of these so-called mad royals until researching them. Choosing just 10 was difficult, and I have several royal biographies on my reading list now (as if it wasn't long enough already).
- Andrean, Linda. "Juana 'The Mad'." Center for Austrian Studies. October 2012. (July 28, 2014) http://www.cas.umn.edu/assets/pdf/Juana%20The%20Mad.pdf
- A&E Television Networks. "Charles VI." Aug 1, 2014. (July 27, 2014) http://www.biography.com/people/charles-vi-of-france-9244850#death
- Bledsoe, Amanda Davis. "The Identity of the 'Mad King' of Daniel 4 in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Sources." Cristianesimo Nella Storia. 2012. (July 27, 2014) https://www.academia.edu/1479653/The_Identity_of_the_Mad_King_of_Daniel_4_in_the_Light_of_Ancient_Near_Eastern_Sources
- Cameron, Averil. "Justin II (d.578)." Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia. 1991. (July 28, 2014) . http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cce/id/1143
- Book of Daniel. New International Version. BibleGateway.com. 2011. (July 27, 2014) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%204&version=NIV
- Cavendish, Richard. "King Farouk's succession in Egypt." History Today. June 2011. (July 27, 2014) http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/king-farouks-succession-egypt
- Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. "King of France Charles VI." December 2013. (July 28, 2014)
- Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, "Nabonidus." December 2013. (July 28, 2014)
- Cronholm, Neander Nicholas. "A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day: Volume 1." Jan. 1, 1902. (July 27, 2014) https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Neander_Nicolas_Cronholm_A_History_of_Sweden_from_?id=QBsCAAAAYAAJ
- Danish Royal Collections. "Christian V." Rosenborg Castle. 2014. (July 27, 2014) http://dkks.dk/christian-VII-2
- Easton, M.G. "Nebuchadnezzar." Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897. (July 28, 2014) http://eastonsbibledictionary.org/index.php
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Erik XIV." (July 27, 2014). http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/191503/Erik-XIV
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Joan." (July 27, 2014). http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/304193/Joan
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Justin II". Aug. 1, 2014. (July 27, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/308817/Justin-II
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Zhengde.". (July 27, 2014) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/109252/Zhengde
- Evans, James Allan. "Justin II." An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. June 23, 1999. (July 27, 2014) http://www.luc.edu/roman-emperors/justinii.htm
- Fink, Paul and Tasman, Allan. "Stigma and Mental Illness." 1992. (July 27, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=gmCxeAw7-Z4C&dq=charles+vi+mental+illness&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- France. "Charles VI the Mad (1368-1422)." Official site of France. 2014. (July 27, 2014) http://www.france.fr/en/outstanding-men-and-women/charles-vi-mad-1368-1422.html
- Gomez, Maria, Santiago Juan-Navarro, and Phyllis Zatlin, "Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen." 2008. (July 28, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=shpVyhetbC4C&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Glete, Jan. "War and the State in Early Modern Europe: Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States." Sept. 11, 2002. (July 27, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=6d2EAgAAQBAJ&dq=questia+Glete,+
- God's Regents on Earth: A Thousand Years of Byzantine Imperial Seals. "Justin II (565-578)." Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. 2014. (July 28, 2014) http://www.doaks.org/resources/seals/gods-regents-on-earth-a-thousand-years-of-byzantine-imperial-seals/rulers-of-byzantium/justin-ii-ca.-566
- Hibbert, Christopher. "George III: A Personal History." 2001. (July 28, 2014) http://www.amazon.com/George-III-A-Personal-History/dp/0465027245
- Johnson, Carolyn Y. "Madness of King George III may have been his doctors' fault." The Boston Globe. Aug. 1, 2005. (July 27, 2014) http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/mental/articles/2005/08/01/madness_of_king_george_iii_may_have_been_his_doctors_fault/
- Lagnado, Lucette. "The Lonely King Without a Throne." Sept. 18, 2010. Wall Street Journal. (July 27, 2014). http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703743504575494270020776944
- Livermore, H.V. ""A History of Portugal." CUP Archive. 1947. (July 27, 2014) http://books.google.ca/books?id=fHI3AAAAIAAJ&pg=PR3&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Mäkelä-Alitalo, Anneli. "Kaarina Maununtytär (1550 - 1612)." Biografiakeskus. 2014. (July 27, 2014) http://www.kansallisbiografia.fi/english/?id=519
- Öhrström, Lars. "The Last Alchemist in Paris: And other curious tales from chemistry." Nov. 28, 2013. (July 27, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=1ZtoAgAAQBAJ&dq=Eric+XIV+pea+soup&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Rohl, John C.G, et al. "Purple Secret: Genes, Madness and the Royal Houses of Europe." Bantam Press. July 2, 1998. (July 28, 2014)
- Roberts, Jenifer. "Portugal's Mad Queen." History Today. Available from: MasterFILE Elite. December 2007. (July 27, 2014)
- Royal Household. "George III (r. 1760-1820)." The Official website of the British Monarchy. 2009. (July 28, 2014) http://www.royal.gov.uk/historyofthemonarchy/kingsandqueensoftheunitedkingdom/thehanoverians/georgeiii.aspx
- Schioldann, Johann. "'Struensée's memoir on the situation of the King' (1772): Christian VII of Denmark." History of Psychiatry. June 2013. (July 27, 2014) http://hpy.sagepub.com/content/24/2/227.abstract
- Scriba, Jay. "Farouk, the Last of the Pharoahs." Milwaukee Journal. Aug. 26, 1970. (July 28, 2014) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19700826&id=kt0jAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UCgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7287,2728514
- Sommerville, J.P. "Henry V." 2014. (July 27, 2014) http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/123/123%20172%20henryv.htm
- Speak, Gil. "An odd kind of melancholy: reflections on the glass delusion in Europe (1440-1680)." History of Psychiatry. June 1990. http://hpy.sagepub.com/content/1/2/191
- Theobald, Ulrich. "Ming Wuzong, the Zhengde Emperor." Chinaknowledge. Jan. 17, 2014. (July 28, 2014) http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Ming/personsmingwuzong.html
- Toyne, S.M. "Dr. Struensee: Dictator of Denmark." History Today. 1951. (July 27, 2014) http://www.historytoday.com/sm-toyne/dr-struensee-dictator-denmark
- Tvedtnes, John. "Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus? Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel." Ensign. Sept. 1986. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/nebuchadnezzar-or-nabonidus-mistaken-identities-in-the-book-of-daniel?lang=eng
- Worsley, Lucy. "What was the truth about the madness of George III?" BBC News Magazine. April 15, 2013. (July 27, 2014) http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22122407
She can't shout 'Off with his head!' anymore. But the queen still has some special powers, most of which she's careful not to use.