The bizarre habits of kings in history is more well known because there were more kings, but when it comes to the women who took over after their kings died well, the stories of their rule are both surprising and weird.
Juana (Joan or Joanna) “The Mad” of Castile lived from 1479 until 1555. Despite her nickname, her “madness” has often been disputed. It’s well known that the queen was prone to moodiness and preferred solitude, but despite that she was madly in love with her handsome husband Philip "the handsome" of Austria who was the only son of Emperor Maximilian.
According to historians, if the couple got into an argument the king would leave the queen in her room alone for days. What didn’t help was that Philip was a known womanizer, which aroused jealousy in Queen Juana.
Once King Philip was dead, the queen finally had her husband all to herself and she took full advantage of it. It’s less known that Juana delayed her husbands burial so that she could spend time with his corpse. When he was finally prepared for burial she had his coffin opened so that she could kiss his feet and ensure his body had not been stolen. Even when King Philip was dead and buried she ordered other women be kept away from him.
Juana "The Mad."
Marie Antoinette is well known and even had a modern movie made about her in 2006, played by Kirsten Dunst. She was married to French King Louis XVI in 1770 and lived from 1755 until 1793 when she was beheaded at the guillotine.
The queen was known for loving music, elaborate hairstyles and her fashion, being advised daily on what to wear from her designer friends. She had her own mini-palace built on the grounds of Versailles, which included a fake village away from poor people.
It’s less known how elaborate the fake village was. It included eleven different cottages, a lake, watermill, windmilll, a functioning dairy and a barn. She expected her guest to fully buy into the fantasy of playing poor people without them actually being poor people. Historians say she even brought her kids there to learn about farming.
Queen Victoria was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901 and lived from 1819 until 1901. She had the second longest reign of any other British monarch in history after Queen Elizabeth II. During the reign of the queen there were great advances in industry, science and communications as well as cultural expansions and railways being built.
She is known for marrying her cousin Prince Albert, the son of her mother’s brother and they had nine children together. In her lifetime the queen lost her mother, daughter and most famously her husband. After her husband died she ordered the longest mourning period in history, lasting 25 years where people had to wear black.
What is less known is how she self-medicated, legally taking cocaine, opium and even chloroform.
Queen Nzinga was the monarch of the Mbundu people and lived from 1853 until 1663. She is well known for fighting against the Portuguese and their expanding slave trade in Central Africa.
Some may know her by the name Dona Anna de Souza after she converted to Christianity and adopted the name. She officially rose to power in 1626 after her brother King Ngola committed suicide in the face of rising Portuguese demands for slave trade concessions.
What is less known about the Queen is she had a personal harem put in place to service her sexual desires. Oddly, she made the men in her harem dress up as women, which may explain why she herself was often seen about dressed as a man. What’s more interesting is how she decided who to sleep with every night.
Historians say the queen would have two men fight until the death and she would then take to bed the winner. However, the next day she would also execute her lover from the night. At 75-years-old the queen disbanded her harem and decided to marry the youngest of the men.
Russian ruler Empress Elizabeth lived from 1709 until 1762 and was the aunt in-law of Catherine the Great. Elizabeth took the throne by force by staging a coup d’etat in 1741 establishing Russia’s first university while forging strong ties throughout Europe during her 20 year reign.
She was famous for outlawing the death penalty in Russia and for spending lavishly on extravagant ceremonies and gowns, but what is less known is her affinity for cross-dressing.
During some of her extravagant parties she had her court cross dress. It’s rumored Empress Elizabeth thought she had great legs, but the style in fashion at that time was big hoop skirts which did not allow her to show off her legs. However, mens clothing which included breeches and tights put the legs of the wearer on display.
Because Elizabeth was in charge and didn’t want to feel too different from her peers, she ordered the women to wear mens clothing and men to wear women’s clothing at her balls. Men would even be required to wear women’s hairstyles consisting of huge wigs. The cross dressing balls did not continue beyond the death of Empress Elizabeth.
Queen Mary lived from 1867-1953 and is the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. She is known as the wife of King George V who lived from 1865 until 1936. She was the eldest of four children and had five sons and one daughter. What is a little less known is her habit of theft, if you can call it that.
According to history the British queen had kleptomaniac tendencies. She would apparently go to friends homes and stare down what she wanted to take saying things like, “I am caressing it with my eyes.” Because it was the queen many people would often gift her what she wanted, but in the case it was something valuable, people who knew about her habit got crafty. People began to hide things before the queen would come to visit.
The Queen also caught wind of this and thus would begin unannounced visits to her friends homes. It’s rumored that the antique dealers in England had it bad as well as Queen Mary became known for forgetting to pay for things when she came into shops. This spurred her assistants to be on alert wherever she went. If they found something that had been stolen by the queen they would swiftly return it with a note that may have simply read, “misunderstanding,” on it.