“It’s good to be the king.”

-Mel Brooks

Mary Queen of Scots liked bathing in wine as a way of relaxing. Possibly no one had explained to her that there are far better ways of using wine to relax.

King Tutankhamun was only nine years old when he came to power. He suffered from many health problems, perhaps in no small part due to the matter that his mother was also his sister.

While coronating Queen Victoria, the Bishop of Bath and Wells accidentally turned over two pages in the service book, rendering the ceremony invalid. Victoria had to be called back into Westminster Abbey for a retake.

Nicholas II of Russia was accosted by a sword-wielding madman while visiting Japan, and was only narrowly saved by his cousin Prince George of Greece. Nicholas would always hate Japan afterward.

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had a lofty opinion of himself. Part of his official title was “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 also considered himself the “Uncrowned King of Scotland.”

Roman emperor Caligula loved his horse Incitatus. He kept him in a marble stable, gave him a collar made of precious stones, and fed him oats mixed with flakes of gold. Caligula purportedly had even planned to make Incitatus into a consul.

The right hand on Michelangelo’s David is too big for the rest of the statue’s body. This is believed to be the sculptor’s subtle nod to the biblical king’s nickname — “Strong of Hand.”

When Michael Palin wrote the script for Time Bandits, he noted that King Agamemnon should be played by “Sean Connery — or someone of equal but cheaper stature.” Perhaps unwilling to concede that anyone else’s stature could equal his own, Sir Connery happily took the role.

Sir Sean Connery’s favorite movie role was in The Man Who Would Be King. Between filming, Sir Connery ate sheep’s eyes to appease a local Sheikh, unaware that it was actually his friend in disguise playing a prank.

Louis XIV of France turned his father’s old hunting pavilion into the Palace of Versailles. The humble building has 700 rooms, 1,250 fireplaces, 67 staircases, and over 2,000 windows. Louis’ personal quarters were comprised of seven rooms, each dedicated to one of the then known planets.

The last king of Laos was named Samdach Brhat Chao Mavattaha Sri Vitha Lan Xang Hom Khao Phra Rajanachakra Lao Parama Sidha Khattiya Suriya Varman Brhat Maha Sri Savangsa Vadhana. He moved to France for his education at age 10, and had forgotten his mother tongue when he returned home a decade later.

King Henry I was known for his healthy appetite for lampreys. He reportedly ate so many of the fishes in one sitting that he died, although food poisoning is the more likely suspect.

Artaxerxes II of Persia was not a king to be trifled with. Plutarch reports that he once sentenced a man to scaphism, a method of execution far too dreadful to be properly described in Shop.Dine.Live. Let it suffice to say that it involves honey and insects and lasts about two weeks.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang died after drinking mercury. He had believed drinking it would make him immortal.

Nicholas Cage once kept two albino king cobras as pets. He kept the antidote to their venom behind their cage.

John George I the Elector of Saxony was nicknamed “The Beer Jug” after his love of booze. He also enjoyed hunting, and reportedly took over 100,000 wild animals. He may be the first instance of redneck royalty.

 

By David Scheller