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  • Henry VIII of England on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#7) Henry VIII of England

    • Dec. at 56 (1491-1547)

    Athletic and well-educated, King Henry VIII was the golden boy of England in his youth. But by middle age, he became overweight, overbearing, and downright bloody-minded. He ordered the slaying of two of his six wives and thousands of other people.

    What happened to the golden prince? In 1536, Henry had a serious jousting mishap. Some historians speculate the event resulted in a long-lasting brain injury, though others discount that theory.

    Brain damage or not, the event had an impact on Henry and may have aggravated the leg ulcers he'd suffered since at least 1527. The foul ulcers caused him pain - especially since they were routinely "cauterized with red-hot irons," according to CR Chalmers and EJ Chaloner.

    The pain possibly exacerabated Henry's tyrannical tendencies and made him less active.

  • Alexander the Great on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#9) Alexander the Great

    • Dec. at 33 (355 BC-322 BC)

    Prolific conqueror of the ancient world, Alexander the Great may have had Brown's syndrome, a rare condition that affects eye movement. It could have developed from an event that occurred when Alexander was a young man.

    Researchers suggest that Alexander's posture - his face was apparently always tilted up - evidences a problem with his eyesight. Others have countered that argument by showing how many ancient heroes were depicted in a similar vein.

    Even if he had Brown's syndrome, the affliction didn't seem to impact the Macedonian ruler too much. He built a vast empire before passing at the age of 32 in 323 BCE.

  • Herod the Great on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#19) Herod the Great

    There could be a medical explanation for some of King Herod of Judea's despotic tendencies. Later in life, his physical state was said to have become unbearable. One ancient writer claimed Herod's "privy-member was putrefied, and produced worms" and the king experienced "convulsions in all parts of his body."

    Modern scholars believe that Herod suffered from a lethal combination of kidney disease and Fournier's gangrene, a gangrenous infection of the male privates.

    Herod's probable discomfort may have affected his mental state. Kidney disease often leads to insomnia, for example, and genital gangrene causes intense itching. This may have accounted for his irritability and cruelty. In his final year, he was so uncomfortable that he attempted to take his life.

    Fournier's gangrene coupled with kidney disease probably resulted in Herod's demise in 4 BCE at the age of 69 or 70.

  • Vladimir Lenin on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#10) Vladimir Lenin

    • Died at 54 (1870-1924)

    Vladimir Lenin may have been brought down by an STI. Historian Helen Rappaport claims the revolutionary leader of Soviet Russia contracted syphilis from a Parisian tryst when he was around 32 in 1902. Decades later, Lenin was seen by a syphilis specialist and even took a drug commonly prescribed to treat the disease.

    Syphilis can ultimately lead to neurological issues. Lenin's syphilis may have resulted in a mental breakdown in the final years of his life: he ruthlessly eliminated opposition and tried to consolidate authority.

    Others aren't convinced that syphilis ended him. They point to his prematurely aged appearance as evidence that stress ultimately triggered strokes and led to his demise in 1924.

  • Mao Zedong on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#1) Mao Zedong

    • Dec. at 83 (1893-1976)

    The leader of Chinese Communism was not devoted to personal hygiene as doggedly as he was to his revolution. He refused to bathe (opting instead to have his attendants swab him with hot towels) and preferred to rinse his mouth with tea rather than brush his teeth. This led to the development of abscesses and tooth decay. 

    Cavities were one of many ailments that plagued Mao Zedong. Stress seemed to trigger insomnia, and he suffered a series of heart attacks in the final years of his life.

    Mao tried to keep his deteriorating health a secret in order to maintain his grip on authority. In 1974, doctors diagnosed him with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His muscle weakness worsened, and he lost the ability to speak coherently before he passed two years later.

  • Francisco Franco on Random Signature Afflictions Suffered By History’s Most Famous Despots

    (#12) Francisco Franco

    • Dec. at 83 (1892-1975)

    Fascist dictator Francisco Franco reigned in Spain for several decades before he started showing signs of Parkinson's Disease. In the early 1960s, Franco's symptoms included hand tremors and muscle weakness in his face. He also struggled with side effects of Parkinson's, including ulcers in his stomach.

    By the end of the 1960s, the dictator's poor health seems to have tempered his ruthlessness. He gradually let others govern, which resulted in reforms throughout Spain. This accelerated after his passing in 1975. 

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About This Tool

It is unfortunate that many countries have been ruled by the craziest dictator in history during a special period, and reform is an arduous task. Do you know any famous tyrants in the history of the world? There are many options, the atrocities of Adolf Hitler caused the extinction of nearly 6 million people. Another despot named the capital airport and streets of the country after his name and even changed the name of the month. These despots should be sent to prison or psychiatric wards. 

Some of the most notorious tyrants in history have absolute authority over their country, but they still cannot change their destiny and control their health. The random tool lists 19 of the most famous despots in history who have suffered signature sfflictions.

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