The concept of the 'mad king' is a historical archetype. Whether it is Hamlet's feigned madness or the myth of the 'mad king' that dominates the fictional series of Game Of Thrones, many rulers have lost their marbles in the past. Power, wealth and fame is a dangerous cocktail than can make any normal person turn mad.
So we can hardly blame these rulers for going insane and doing things they were obviously not proud of. When a ruler turns insane, the situation for teh subjects is critical. You have an all-powerful monarch who can do whatever he/she wants, but doesn't have logic or sanity to assist his/her decisions.
There have been several instances of rulers turning insane in history. From the times of the Roman emperors like Caligula, insanity has been a royal trait. Even relatively modern kings like George III of England and Ferdinand I of Austria have been named as mad kings. The worst part is that their insanity made them cruel. They often meted out harsh punishments and death sentences to people who did not deserve it.
Here are some of the history's most famous rulers who went insane.
Queen Maria I: Portugal
Queen Mary of Portugal was always slightly loony, but her husband and then her children's deaths pushed her over the edge. She became a religious fanatic and also started wearing children's clothes.
King George III: England
The Madness Of King George, is a famous theme for many literary works. A hereditary illness called porphyria inflicted the monarch who had to be kept in straight jackets at the later stages of his reign.
Empress Anna: Russia
Empress Anna of Russia enjoyed making a mockery out of her nobility. She forced one of her courtier's marry her maid and had people dress up as clowns for her amusement.
Nero: Roman Emperor
Nero was a Roman emperor who burned thousands of early Christian converts and kicked his own wife to death. He is blamed for several other crazy and cruel decisions.
Charles IV: France
King Charles was a benevolent king until madness took hold of him. He refused to bathe, murdered his own knights and lived under the impression that his bones were made of glass.
King Ludwig: Bavaria
King Ludwig was highly unsuitable for his kingly duties due to his shy nature. He compensated by building fantastic castles and running the state bankrupt. He hated public speaking and was de-throned on grounds of insanity.
Ivan IV: Russia
As a boy, Ivan faced terrible abuse at the hands of the Russian nobility. When he came to power, this child abuse presented itself in the form of insanity. He fed people to hungry dogs and murdered his own eldest son in a fit of madness.
Juana of Castile
Juana was madly in love and that led to her insanity. She loved her handsome husband Philip so much that she kept opening his grave and caressing his rotting corpse!
Ferdinand I of Austria
Ferninand I was a classic case of insanity due to inbreeding (his parents were first cousins). He rarely spoke any words at all. His only words after coming to the throne were, "I am the emperor. I want dumplings'.