Weird History
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Historical Leaders Who Were Conned by Their Closest Advisors

Updated October 1, 2019 130.5k 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. 
  • Elizabeth I of England
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    While Elizabeth I was content to imprison her cousin Mary, former Queen of Scotland, Elizabeth's secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was convinced Mary needed to be executed to ensure Elizabeth's was safe from plots to overthrow her and install Mary as queen. While intercepting letters between Mary and her co-conspirators during the famous Babington Plot, Walsingham forged a postscript from Mary authorizing Elizabeth's execution. He then successfully used it as proof that Elizabeth needed to have Mary executed. 
    • Age: Dec. at 70 (1533-1603)
    • Birthplace: Palace of Placentia, London, United Kingdom

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  • King Ludwig II of Bavaria
    Photo: Wikipedia
    The eccentric and handsome King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as Mad King Ludwig, angered the nobility of Bavaria by spending extravagantly on art, building fairytale castles, doing really weird stuff such as bowing to and stroking the cheek of a bust of Marie Antoinette every time he walked by it, and (maybe) being gay. Using nothing but interviews with Ludwig's advisors and servants as evidence, the psychiatrist Von Gudden declared Ludwig unfit to rule. He was deposed, only to die mysteriously soon thereafter.  
    • Age: Dec. at 41 (1845-1886)
    • Birthplace: Nymphenburg Palace, Germany

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  • Nicholas II, last Czar of Russian, was tricked by the famous mystic Rasputin, who won favor with the Czar and his wife by convincing them he cured their son of hemophilia, which is scientifically impossible. The Czarina considered him one of her closest advisors. Though his political influence was relatively minor, Rasputin made several correct predictions, including the death of Nicholas and his entire family, which came when the Russian Revolution toppled the Czarist government.  
    • Age: Dec. at 50 (1868-1918)
    • Birthplace: Tsarskoye Selo, Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Russia

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  • Elagabus became Emperor of Rome at 14, only to be murdered at 19. The vastly unpopular ruler was known for sexual perversion, lavish spending, attempts to force his own religion on Rome, and pretending to be a prostitute. His family convinced him to name an heir in the hopes of replacing him. Elagabus then ordered a Praetorian guard to execute his heir. The guard, who was probably bribed, killed Elagabalus instead. 
    • Age: Dec. at 19 (203-222)
    • Birthplace: Lazio, Europe, Eurasia, Province of Rome, Rome

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