Just about every nation has had one—-someone who rules over the people, whether with an iron fist or with their best interests at heart. Some of them lived well into old age, others lives came to an abrupt end. Then there are not so rare instances of rulers who went through some of the most embarrassing moments you could think of, usually inflicted by their enemies. Here we have five powerful rulers who experienced total humiliation during their lifetime.
1. Romanos IV Diogenes
After losing to the Seljuk Turks, Emperor Romanos IV of the Byzantine Empire was taken in as captive and brought to the sultan, Alp-Arslan. Apart from being forced to kiss the floor, the sultan treated his prisoner fairly well. Shortly after returning home, Romanos suddenly found himself at the center of a brief civil war that ended in his defeat yet again. He was promised a peaceful exile, only for it to be any but that. Before being banished to an island, Romanos was tortured and blinded, the latter leading to an infection that resulted in his death.
2. Bayezid I
Having already managed to conquer several nations, Sultan Bayezid I of the Ottoman Empire, set his eyes on conquering the Turkish city of Constantinople. Instead, he was forced to fight the Mongolian warlord Tamerland and many Anatolian Turkish lords who wanted to bring him down. With the battle ending in their favor, Bayezid became Tamerland’s prisoner and was put in a cage, then paraded around the city. And all to top it off, there were a few Byzantine officials who were on their way to hand him the keys of Constantinople, as a symbol of the city’s surrender.
3. Benito Mussolini
The tyrannical Benito Mussolini was by far Italy’s worst leader, whose poor policies led to a failed economy and extreme poverty. After being stripped of his power, Mussolini fled to the northern border disguised as a German soldier, along with his mistress and five cronies. Their plans were foiled by a group of Italian partisans who brought them back to Italy where they were publicly executed. But the true humiliation happened next: Musolini and his allies were displayed upside down in the Piazza Loreto.
4. Henry IV
When Roman Emperor Henry IV was at risk of getting excommunicated, he sought to right his wrongs by pleading for forgiveness from Pope Gregory VII with whom he clashed. The pope agreed but instead forced Henry IV to take a trek a penitence by covering over 450 miles to Canossa during one of the harshest winters at the time. And he had to do it barefoot, dressed in sackcloth then, waiting three days and three nights in the inner courtyard, all while fasting too! Gregory VII agreed to cancel his excommunication but not before further humbling the Emperor by having him kiss his toe.
Al-Musta’sim was a member of the Abbasud dynasty and the last Caliph of Baghdad, the jewel of Islam Caliphate. In 1258, Baghdad was invaded by the Mongols, led by hulag Khan, grandson of the infamous Genghis Khan. As expected, many of the city’s residents fell victim to their attack, but when it came to Al-Musta’sim, they took a different approach. This is because the Mongols believe that it’s bad luck to shed royal blood. So what did they do? Wrapped him in a carpet to avoid spillage.
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