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Trump: monarch or lunatic?

What happened to mentally unstable rulers

President Donald Trump speaking at the Rose Garden on 9 June. (Photo credit- CHERISS MAY/NurPhoto via Getty Images) 

Many in the media, as well as politicians and professional psychiatrists, agree that Trump`s eccentric behavior is caused by psychological instability.

What are the lessons history has taught us? What was the fate of the rulers whose mental health was questionable? Richard Evans, a well-known historian, commented on this very issue for Foreign Policy.

Don Julius Ceasar d`Austria

The son of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, was notorious for attacking servants and destroying furniture. Of note was an incident where he tortured his partner to death, thereafter walking around for stained with her blood, refusing to bath or change clothes. He eventually suffocated to death after an ulcer ruptured and got lodged in his throat.

Ferdinand II, the emperor of Austria-Hungary

Portrait of Ferdinand I of Austria, 1840. WikiArt

Since childhood, he had been slow in development and prone to outbursts of rage. Researchers now believe the reason for this was of a medical nature – his parents were close relatives.

When he became the king in 1835, a special council was established to govern the country, as it was clear that Ferdinand was not fit for the role. However, this did nothing to prevent the 1848 revolution in Austria-Hungary.

British monarchs of the early XIX century

First there was George III. His peculiar behavior had largely been ignored until he started to talk to trees. His son, George VI, eventually became the regent.

This, however, proved to be a rather unwise decision, as he was not interested in much else except opium, alcohol and festivities.

An 1816 portrait of King George IV by Thomas Lawrence, WikiArt

William IV who inherited the throne afterwards proved to be of little good as well. He would stroll for hours, talking occasionally to those he passed by: “I am the king, you know.”

Historians believe that the British monarchy made it through the period safely only due to the fact that, by that time, the monarchy had long been stripped of any real power.

Otto, King of Bavaria

Otto fell into deep depression soon after coming to power in the mid XIX century, and was paralyzed for the last years of his life, presumably because of syphilis.

After that, most European countries passed bills allowing power to be transitioned in cases of necessity.

That is why when Edward VIII of Britain made up his mind in 1936 to break the tradition and marry an American (and a divorcee) he was promptly replaced by his brother, the present queen`s father.

Richard Evans cites the following examples of Donald Trump erratic behaviour:

  • Poorly controlled emotions
  • Uncontrolled speech and written statements
  • Strange reaction to the people around him
  • Does not trust anyone beyond his close advisers and relatives
  • Is not good with names, dates and geographical names

The 45th US president should learn from the examples set by some of these European monarchs – Richard Evans stated.


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