9 Interesting Facts About Famous Kings

Posted Apr 12, by Alison Stanton

It might seem a little strange that the head of a king was in the attic of a tax collector, instead of located on his buried body. The explanation is no less strange. 

King Henry IV ruled France from 1589 to his death in 1610. Many attempts had been made on his life as king. One such attempt left him with a gash across his upper lip. 

While in Paris in 1610, his carriage was stopped in the congested streets and he was assassinated. It was expected for him to be buried at the Basilica of St. Denis, north of Paris, where nearly every French king had been buried since 900 AD. 

His body was embalmed and interred with the kings before him, and was left alone for almost two centuries. In 1793, during the French Revolution, a number of unusual decrees were issued (such as changing calendars and clocks). 

One of these ordered the destruction of all royal tombs, including the one Henry IV was in. A mob tore through the crypt and pulled apart the royal corpses. They were carried outside and had quicklime poured over them to make them decompose faster. 

As a result, most of the bones at St. Denis were lost. For a while, it was thought that no royal remains survived the French Revolution, but rumors continued to creep up. In 1919, the head of Henry IV was found and sold at an auction. Joseph-Emile Bourdais, the photographer who purchased it, could not convince any museums it was authentic. 

When Joseph-Emile died, his widow then sold the head in 1955 to a tax collector named Jacques Bellanger. There the head remained until a journalist looked at it in 2010, and it was confirmed to be that of Henry IV. 


The king of Siam tried to give elephants to the U.S. president.

King Mongkut (full name: Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramenthramaha Mongkut Phra Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua) offered to send domesticated elephants to the United States for transportation purposes. The original offer was sent to President James Buchanan before the American Civil War broke out. The letter didn’t arrive until the Civil War had already started. President Lincoln, confused by the offer and the timing of the letter, guessed that the King had intended the elephants for use in battle. In a response letter Lincoln declined the King’s offer. Later this misconception that the elephants were intended for the Union army’s use in the Civil War would be popularized by the musical, The King and I.

Today, Weinsberg is just another town in Germany. Founded hundreds of years ago, it's today notable for it's wine.

Back in 1000, however, the Weibertreu Castle located there was first built.

In 1140, the castle was attacked by Konrad III during a series of struggles between the Staufers and the Welfs.

On December 21, the Welfs in Weibertreu Castle had to surrender. Though the men had been defeated, the women were allowed to leave with their lives- and whatever they could take on their backs.

Quickly thinking, the women carried the men out, and Konrad III had to keep his word. The women who did this were called "trueue Weiber," or "loyal women." The castle still stands today, and you can see a picture of it on the right.



King George I didn’t speak English as his first language!

Before becoming the King of England, George I was originally from Hanover in what is now Germany. As the closest living Protestant relative of the Queen of England (Catholics are not allowed to ascend the throne), George became the King of England. This was despite the fact that he wasn’t from Britain and couldn’t speak English. He did, however, speak fluent German and French, and he knew Latin, Italian and Dutch as well.

Many of his subjects criticised his reign on the grounds that he didn’t even know the native language. This criticism persisted long after his reign ended, despite the fact that documents from late in his reign show that he did at some point overcome the language barrier.

King Charles VI of France believed he was made of glass.

In 1392, Charles was extremely stressed out, mostly due to a recent split in the Catholic Church. One day when he was riding with his army, one of his soldiers dropped their lance. Thinking it was an ambush, Charles attacked HIS OWN army, killing several men in the process. By this time it had become quite clear that the stress had caused the king to lose his mind. Charles spent the rest of his days with bouts of insanity, hiding in a corner because he thought he was made of glass, forgetting who he was, and roaming the halls of his castle howling like a wolf!

Sobhuza became king of Swaziland when he was only a few months old in 1899. His grandma acted as regent until he turned 21 in 1921. He’s got the longest monarchial reign ever documented with a high degree of confidence. His personal reign from 1921 to 1982, lasting 60 years, witnessed the independence of Swaziland from Great Britain in 1968. After their independence, Swaziland was considered a constitutional monarchy. 

Later in 1973, Sobhuza dissolved the tribal parliament and made himself absolute ruler. King Sobhuza enjoyed a polygamist lifestyle. He married 70 wives in all, had 210 children, and between 1920 and 1970 grandchildren. 

Only 180 children survived infancy and 97 of his kids are still alive to this day. At his death, he already had 1000 grandchildren. Sobhuza died in 1982 at the age of 82. Some of his daughters were married off to neighboring tribal kings.


King Tut\'s parents were brother and sister.

As it turns out, Tutankhamun, the most famous of all Egyptian pharaohs, was born of an incestuous partnership. This was actually fairly common for the time, since society was not yet aware of the heightened risk of birth defects that accompanies inbreeding.

Had his parents known, they would have been able to spare the young king of congenital defects as bone disease, a club foot, and a partially cleft palate.

The above picture is an approximation of what King Tut would have looked like when he was alive, based on scans of his mummy. Surprisingly, he doesn\'t look anything like Steve Martin.

(Sources: 1, 2)

An Italian Chemist once came to Louis XIV with plans for the first bacteriological weapon which would give him the power to use an infectious biological agent to destroy entire towns without deploying a single army, buying a single gun, or even moving a single finger. 

Louis XIV refused instantly, and never used it against any European country. He guaranteed the scientist the highest possible amount anyone would be willing to pay, to keep his deadly discovery a secret. But like the very bacteria or fungi it employs, the news of biological warfare cannot be contained, and was eventually exposed and spread across the lands. 

Nowadays, some experts think biological warfare is inevitable. Needless to say, Louis XIV made a pretty wise decision. But before we create a national holiday or Facebook fan page for this guy, let it be known that he spent his nation’s riches on less noble things too, like building ridiculously extravagant palaces right in front of homeless French peasants. 


A clock at the palace of King Louis XIV stopped at 7:45am, the time of his death.

The clock has not been fixed since that day, and to this day still reads a quarter to eight. When he was a child, When Louis XVI of France was a child, an astrologer warned him to be always on his guard on the twenty-first day of every month. His date of death is January 21st, 1793. Now that\'s scary.

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