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Who Was The Most Self-Indulgent Royal In History?

Updated September 23, 2021 7k votes 1.2k voters 59k views14 items

List RulesVote up the most luxurious and decadent royals.

Fountains that ran with alcohol instead of water. Gold chamber pots. An 800-car garage. The most decadent royals in history have celebrated their wealth through the most elaborate of gestures and displays. Some have built enormous palaces that required hundreds of servants; others have satisfied every urge with luxurious foods and shocking liaisons. Whatever their specific tastes, these self-indulgent royals have all known how to party.

These royals aren't just the richest in history - they were the most brazenly ostentatious with their wealth. Caligula threw his own people to the lions when he got bored at the Roman Arena. Pope Leo X celebrated his "golden age" by painting a boy head to toe in gold - just one of the extravagances that drove Martin Luther to start the Reformation. And one Ottoman Sultan loved fur so much, he shaved his cats so they could wear sable fur coats.

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Where and When: Sultan of Brunei, 1967-present

    Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Worth an estimated $40 billion

    Self-Indulgent Highlights: 

    • Loves to race Ferraris through the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan at midnight.
    • Commissioned a palace with 1,788 rooms and a garage for 800 cars.
    • Spends $20,000 on a single haircut.  
    • In the 1990s, the Sultan's family owned half of the Rolls-Royces in the world.
    Is this the most self-indulgent ruler?
  • Where and When: Roman emperor, 1st century

    Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Ruled over the Roman Empire, one of the largest in the history of the world

    Self-Indulgent Highlights: 

    • Built the Domus Aurea, or Golden House, to show off his wealth.
    • The palace contained marble, domes, and indoor waterfalls.
    • One wing of the palace had 50 banquet rooms.
    • Literally built his golden palace on the ruins of the fire he was accused of starting.
    • Commissioned a 100-foot-tall statue of himself as the Sun God. 
    Is this the most self-indulgent ruler?
  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Where and When: Head of the Catholic Church, 955-964

    Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Controlled both the Catholic Church and ruled Rome as a prince

    Self-Indulgent Highlights:

    • Accused of turning the papal palace into a brothel.
    • Handed out governorships, golden crosses, and cups from St. Peter to his lovers.
    • He was “devoted to hunting, hawking, gaming, and wine.”
    • Holy Roman Emperor Otto I warned Pope John XII to “give up his worldly and sensual lifestyle.”
    • Pope John XII passed “whilst enjoying an adulterous... encounter.”
    Is this the most self-indulgent ruler?
  • Photo: Walker Art Gallery / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Where and When: King of England, 1509-1547

    Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Reportedly the wealthiest monarch in British history

    Self-Indulgent Highlights: 

    • Owned a collection of jewels, palaces, and military equipment worth $250 million.
    • Ate off gold plates and read books garnished with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds.
    • Used a golden spatula to pick his teeth. 
    • Paid Anne of Cleves over $35 million for a divorce.
    Is this the most self-indulgent ruler?