Famous Rulers Who Got Rid of their Wives

Throughout history, rulers have had to make many tough decisions but no one ever thought that deciding whether they should keep a spouse around would be one of them. Whether it is because the spouse has been unfaithful, the ruler’s eyes have wondered or out of pure boredom, these leaders have gone the extra mile to permanently bid their spouses goodbye and they’ve all gotten away with it. Here’s a list of those brave rulers who got rid of their partners.

1. King Henry VIII 

At the top of every list of kings with multiple wives is King Henry VIII of England. He may have done some good things during his reign, but no one would know because his legacy is known for his chaotic love life. The king married six times and still had what seemed like an endless supply of mistresses. His first wife to meet her demise was Anne Boleyn, the sister of his mistress. She was accused of treason and for being unfaithful with several men. The second wife to get the chop was Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn’s cousin. She was accused of adultery. Clearly, he had a thing for that family.

2. Nero

Nero ruled the Roman Empire from 54 AD to 68 AD and it took him less than two years to become one of the most disliked emperors in the empire’s history. After signing the death warrant of his own mother, his wife faced the same fate a few years after Nero fell in love with Poppaea Sabina, who was married to one of his friends. He then signed warrants for his stepbrother (and his wife) as well as his stepmother. It was then claimed that he set fire to Rome and departed this world shortly after.

3. King John of England

King John of England also called “Bad King John” is often known for inspiring villains like the one from Robin Hood among others, but it is often said that the adaptation doesn’t do the real king justice. The younger brother of Richard the Lionheart, King John committed a number of offenses including trying to steal the crown for himself as well as torturing and sending people to meet their maker. One of his many wives was starved to the point where she died. John died a few years later from dysentery.

4. Caligula

Caligula, also known as Gaius Caesar Germanicus, was a ruthless emperor whose biggest problem was that he believed himself to be a god. Despite being a “god”, he bore resemblance to a goat and as such banned people from talking about them around him. It was believed that he fed a few people to his new-found relatives as punishment. After four failed marriages and forcing people to watch the demise of their relatives, he was attacked. The mob then went after his wife and child. But his antics may have been because the emperor before him imprisoned his mother and two brothers which led to their deaths. 

5. Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian, born in 624 AD, was the first and only woman, to date (2022) who ruled China. She was first the concubine of Tang Emperor Taizhong and became close to his son when the current emperor fell ill. When he died, she was sent to a monastery, as was customary for all concubines when their emperors died where was frequented by the new Emperor Li Zhi. He brought her to court where she rose to power, and it didn’t take long for her to hand out executions. Her husband was accidentally poisoned, but many believe that Zetian was behind it. 


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