Long before Prince Charles proved that love is blind by cheating on his beautiful wife with Camilla Parker-Bowles, blue bloods had already proudly renounced monogamy. Over the centuries, they've coveted their neighbors' wives countless times, sure, but what about their neighbors' livestock? It's time to separate the perverted facts from the perverted fiction about royal sex lives.
1. Catherine the Great (1729 - 1796)
The reign of Catherine II, the German-born czarina of Russia, began when she overthrew her alcoholic, incompetent, and purportedly impotent husband, Frederick (the not so Great), in 1762. If there was one thing Catherine the Great would not stand for, it was impotence.
Although grossly overweight, Catherine loved men - a great many of them, in fact - over the course of her 34-year reign. And then, it was rumored, she died during a botched attempt to make love (if it can be called such a thing) to a horse. The rumor may have been spread by Catherine's Polish enemies, who resented her for annexing much of Poland. (On the list of European royalty's leisure activities, "overrunning Poland" has historically been a close second to "Sex.")
At any rate, Catherine never had sex with a horse, and one wonders why anyone felt compelled to make up such a story, since her actual death was plenty humiliating. While straining on the toilet, she had a stroke.
2. The Tale of Two Georges
In what seems to be an outlandish coincidence, England's king George II (1683 - 1760) also died of a stroke while on the commode. Some sources say that although he was quite happily married to his wife, Queen Caroline, George took mistresses as to maintain his reputation. After all, a mistressless king could be seen as weak or worse still, impotent.
His son, George III, however, broke that streak of monarchial infidelity when he married the notoriously homely Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761. Seeing her for the first time on their wedding day, George is said to have winced in disgust, but the two came to love one another immensely (and frequently - they had 15 kids), and George III was never unfaithful.
3. Another Royal Horse
The Roman emperor Caligula (12 - 41 CE) redefined sexual debauchery during his reign. Aside from fancying himself a god and having an altogether creepy sexual fascination with his sister Drusilla, Caligula supposedly engaged in many orgies (which inspired a famous adult film). Plus, he had a suspiciously intimate relationship with his favorite horse, Incitatus.
Some Roman historians claimed that Caligula intended to make his horse consul, but that appears to have been kind of a Roman urban legend. Roman historians despised Caligula so intensely that it's difficult to sort out the actual facts of his reign. And while Caligula did like his horse (he apparently built Incitatus a house), there's no reason to believe he "liked him" liked him.
4. Jahangir (1569 - 1627)
Though there are plenty of excellent candidates for most sexually insatiable king ever, including Hal the Horny (the oft-married Henry VIII of England), our vote has to go to Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor of India.
Jahangir had little to do with the day-to-day running of the empire - that work was accomplished by his favorite wife, Nur Jahan. (The Taj Mahal was built for Jahan's niece, Mumtaz Mahal.)
While Jahan became one of the most powerful women of the 17th century, Jahangir busied himself with loving. He supposedly had 300 wives (296 more than allowed by the religion, Islam, he supposedly followed), 5,000 female concubines, and 1,000 male concubines. Jahangir also kept a massive herd of 12,000 elephants, but we won't speculate.
5. And, of Course, Prince Charles! (1948 - )
Of all the recent sex rumors about the British royal family, none had kept quite so quiet as that of Prince Charles's supposed bisexual affair. For weeks in the late 2003, the British press printed banner headlines about a royal sex scandal but, conscious of Britain's strict libel laws, never came out and openly revealed the accusations.
Instead, they engaged in all manner of hints and innuendo. This led to the strange phenomenon of the royal family issuing a statement denying allegations that had never publicly been made. The rumor: Prince Charles had a love affair with his advisor Michael Fawcett.
Scandalous, sure, but unlikely - it seems the prince only has eyes for Camilla. After decades of courtship, they finally wed in 2005.
From mental_floss' book Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits, published in Neatorama with permission.
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