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.
Where and When: Roman emperor, 37-41
Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Ruled over one of the richest and largest empires in history
- Got bored at the Roman Arena and ordered his guards to throw a section of the crowd to the animals to entertain him.
- Set up a statue of himself in the Temple of Jerusalem and ordered people to worship him like a god.
- Built a temporary floating bridge by dumping earth on boats so he could ride across it for two days.
- Devised terrible torture methods and executions, proclaiming, "Let them hate me, so they but fear me."
Where and When: Sultan of Brunei, 1967-present
Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Worth an estimated $40 billion
- 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.
Where and When: Pope of the Catholic Church, 1513-1521
Estimated Wealth And Land Held: One of the wealthiest families in history with an estimated $129 billion; leader of the Catholic Church, one of the wealthiest institutions in the world
- His triumphal parade was led by a child painted fully in gold to represent the return of the golden age. After the parade, the boy perished.
- So lavish that his spending inspired Martin Luther to leave the Catholic Church and start the Reformation.
- Hired Renaissance painter Raphael to paint his papal palace.
- Enjoyed massive parties where naked children jumped out of cakes.
- Had a pet elephant named Hanno, which perished after Leo made it ingest gold.
Where and When: King of France, 1643-1715
Estimated Wealth And Land Held: Ruled over a French Empire that included colonies in Africa, the Americas, and Asia
- Poured at least $200 billion into building the massive palace of Versailles.
- Just maintaining the royal family cost up to 25% of the French government's entire revenue.
- Invited 100 people to watch him get out of bed in the morning.
- Made high heels popular for men as a sign of wealth.
- Transformed the French luxury industry, with one-third of working Parisians making luxury clothes, jewelry, textiles, and furniture.