List of mentally ill monarchs

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This is a list of monarchs who have been described as mentally ill in some way by historians past or present.

In many cases, it is difficult to ascertain whether a given historical monarch did in fact possess a genuine mental illness of some sort, whether he or she was merely eccentric or suffering symptoms of a physical illness, or whether he or she was just disliked by chroniclers.

Ancient world[edit]

Roman Emperors[edit]

  • Tiberius, a paranoid sexual deviant.
  • Caligula, nephew of Tiberius, suffered from paranoia and narcissism, believing that he was a god and that the god of the sea was plotting against him. Was an alcoholic, made his horse a senator, ordered political prisoners decapitated over dinner, married his sister and ordered political assassinations. (12–41; ruled 37–41)[citation needed] According to multiple classical sources, his mental health deteriorated suddenly after a severe fever that nearly killed him. This suggests that organic brain damage from high body temperature or encephalitis (possibly malarial) may have played a causative role instead of or alongside a preexisting mental illness.
  • Justin II (520–578; ruled 565–578) [4]
  • Nero, nephew of Caligula, suffered from the same disorders as his uncle along with Histrionic personality disorder. Ordered the deaths of his mother and step-brother, had Christians crucified and burned, declared himself a god, allegedly played the lyre during the Fire of Rome.
  • Commodus, suffered from narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders, respectively, renamed Rome, the Empire, the Praetorian Guard and various streets after himself, believed himself to be the reincarnation of Hercules and had a servant burned to death for making his bath too cold.
  • Elagabalus catapulted venomous snakes at the people of Rome, invited guests to dinner only to give them inedible bread and leave lions in their bedrooms, used children's entrails for Divination, held lotteries for which the prizes consisted of wooden boxes containing bees, dead dogs and flies. Turned the Royal Palace into a public brothel.

Islamic Caliphs[edit]

European monarchs[edit]

Chinese monarchs[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel 4.33
  2. ^ Josephus, l.c. x. 10, § 6)
  3. ^ Kendall K. Down, Daniel: Hostage in Babylon, p.30
  4. ^ John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3, Book 3
  5. ^ Tuchman, Barbara (1978). A Distant Mirror. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 514–516. ISBN 0-345-30145-5. 
  6. ^ Tuchman, Barbara (1978). A Distant Mirror. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 586. ISBN 0-345-30145-5. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Jenifer (2009). The Madness of Queen Maria. Templeton Press. ISBN 978-0-9545589-1-8. 
  8. ^ "King George III: Mad or misunderstood?". BBC News. July 13, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  9. ^ a b King, Greg (1996). The Mad King ( A Biography of Ludwig II of Bavaria ). London: Aurum Press. pp. 252–255. ISBN 978-1-55972-362-6.