7 Bizarre Things Aristocrats Did, And Got Away With

When boundless wealth and power meets little to no consequence for actions, you can imagine the sort of bizarre behavior that might emerge. That’s why it’s not entirely surprising that nearly every royal dynasty has a history of odd behavior. Here are just a few examples of aristocrats participating in behavior that they average person could never do, at least not without consequence.

King louis xIV’s fetish

If you’ve ever wondered why women give birth lying down, look no further than King Louis XIV. Before Louis, it was common practice for women to give birth standing, squatting, or kneeling. Gravity would naturally assist in these positions, and squatting actually opens the pelvis, allowing more room for the baby to exit. King Louis forced his wives to give birth lying down. Why? Because he liked to watch. He had a birthing fetish that ultimately led to a common practice in obstetrics. Today, although it is still standard to lie down in the hospital, we have the right to chose how we give birth, who is there, and who assists. You can opt to exclude the perverse gaze of creepy aristocrats.2

The end of the habsburgs

King Charles II of Spain was the final member of the Habsburg dynasty. He was said to be so ugly that his wife couldn’t bare to look at him. Most royal families have a history of inbreeding, but the Habsburgs took it to unprecedented levels. Uncles married nieces, and close cousins married each other. No one married outside the family. By the time Charles was born, his genetic makeup resembled that of a child born from brother and sister. One fourth of his genes were identical. His underbite was so severe that his teeth never touched, causing issues with eating and speech. His official portraits portray the Habsburg jaw, but painters were instructed to make him look healthier and younger. He was constantly plagued with illnesses and had a very frail form. Neither he nor his sister were ever able to produce an heir, for obvious reasons, and the Habsburg Dynasty died with him in 1700.4

The mad marquis

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “paint the town red,” but you may not know where it originated. Between 1837-1838, Londoners suffered a series of attacks by what they described as a fire-breathing boogeyman. While some blamed it on ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, others took a more rational approach and placed the blame on young aristocrats known for their wild behavior. Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquis of Waterford, was known to be an unruly partier, the modern equivalent of the obnoxious frat boy. One night, he and his friends (all drunk) harassed the people and police of a small town just for fun. Before leaving, they stole red paint and literally painted the town red. It is said that the boogeyman attacks stopped around the same time Beresford married and left London a changed man. Whether or not it was him remains unknown.6

Sources:

  1. Biography.com. “Elizabeth Bathory”
  2. IFL Science. “There’s a Really Creepy Reason Why Women Mainly Give Birth Lying Down.”
  3. Zippy Facts. “Why Did Francis Henry Egerton Throw Dinner Parties for His Dogs?”
  4. History Collection. “40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain.”
  5. The Vintage News. “The Eccentric Duke Who Adored Misanthropy, Built 15 Miles of Tunnels.”
  6. History Collection. “The Leaping Boogeyman Who Terrorized Victorian England.”
  7. Cornwall Live. “Eccentric Mermaid Priest Who Wrote Cornwall Anthem Trelawny and Hanged a Mouse.”

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