Weird History
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Historical Leaders Who Were Conned by Their Closest Advisors

Updated October 1, 2019 133.2k views18 items

From Game of Thrones to actual history, House of Cards to real world politics, it's no secret the worlds of real and fictional politics are cutthroat and terrifying. One day you're in, the next day you're out. So it should come as no surprise there's a long list of historical leaders whose advisors, family members, and confidants conned them.  

Some of these advisors wanted power, some wanted revenge, some wanted control. Others sought to oust a leader unfit for duty. The leaders who were tricked by these advisors didn't always deserve it, and many of them met tragic ends at the hands of their subjects, advisors, or country.    

If you think you're having a bad day, take a look at this list of people conned by their closest confidants. You'll feel better about yourself, so long as your friends aren't trying to kill you. 
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  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Ibrahim I was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Known as The Crazy One, he spent his childhood locked in a windowless building called The Cage. When he was set free in order to become Sultan, he went on a sex spree to make up for lost time, amassing a 280-woman harem, the members of which he later had drowned. Ibrahim was known for excessive violence and debauchery, and was enabled by his mother, who did the actual running of the empire while her son strutted about nailing virgins. Eventually, Ibrahim's supporters turned on him; he was put back in The Cage and executed. 
    • Age: Dec. at 32 (1615-1648)
    • Birthplace: Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    A promising young king with a talent for music and languages, Eric XIV fell victim to what some historians believe to be schizophrenia. He had nobles and servants murdered for offenses he invented, experienced violent and depressive episodes, and even disappeared into the woods and was later found living as a peasant. He was dethroned by his brothers during one of his depressive episodes, imprisoned, and poisoned to death by pea soup laced with arsenic by his former supporters. 
    • Age: Dec. at 43 (1533-1577)
    • Birthplace: Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Photo: Francois Clouet / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    In the wake of a deadly upheaval in Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, sought protection from her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Rather than protect Mary, Elizabeth imprisoned her. From her prison cell, Mary became embroiled in a complex plot (The Babington Plot) to replace Elizabeth I on the throne. News of the plot was intercepted by a double agent, who got hold of coded letters detailing Mary's plans. Mary's secretary confirmed the plot. Mary and her conspirators were executed. 
    • Age: Dec. at 44 (1542-1587)
    • Birthplace: Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, United Kingdom

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    Christian VII was a frail, unstable, stupid, self-centered monarch, and universally disliked. As his physical and mental state declined, his doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensée, seized control of the country. Struensée got himself appointed Cabinet Secretary to the King and oversaw all official documents, while having a torrid affair with Christian's wife, Queen Caroline Mathilde, who bragged about their relationship to anyone who would listen. It's rumored Struensée fathered one of the royal children. 
    • Age: Dec. at 59 (1749-1808)
    • Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark