Princess is a title of royalty assigned to a woman born of a king, queen, or married to a prince. That is, she is officially an heir to the throne of the country. The title dates back from ancient times and continues to this day, Camilla Parker Bowles for instance. Some princesses have been very loving and charitable towards their people and even the world; thus they are loved and honored in return.
But the world has also known some princesses who committed horrible crimes. They have a heart of stone; they torture and kill enemies as well as innocents. They have a disgrace attached to their name. Discover 10 cruelest princesses in human history.
Wu Zetian, formally called “Empress Wu”, is the only Empress in the history of China. Traditionally, the title of emperor was reserved exclusively in the imperial system for men. Women may provisionally exercise the power under a regency, an inter-kingdom, and most often assisted by a council of regency, without having the title of Emperor. Only Wu Zetian founded her own dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty, which will be under the name of “Emperor Shengshen” from 690 to 705.
She had a character obviously quite attractive. She is described by poet Lo Ping as having “arched eyebrows similar to butterfly antennae” and whose “charming vixen had special power to bewitch the emperor.” One that was only a concubine among others quickly became the favorite of Emperor Taizong. An opportunity she used to proclaim herself Empress once the emperor died.
However, her rise and reign have been strongly criticized by Confucian historians. To get there, it is said that Wu Zetian allegedly murdered three of her boys pretenders to the throne, removed the fourth emperor of his functions and dismembered few rivals in the process.
- Joan of Burgundy aka “Joan the Lame” and “The Lame Evil Queen”
Joan was the daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, and Agnes of France. From princess, she became Queen of France as the first wife of King Philip VI. On top of a physical deformity, she had a bad reputation which makes most people of her time did not like her. In fact, she was known as la male royne boiteuse (“the lame evil Queen”). During her leadership, her main objective was to eliminate “those who went against her pleasure.” One of those individuals was Robert Bertrand.
Robert Bertrand was a man of good reputation, but the queen did not like him. For no real reasons, he was almost sent to the scaffold without the approval of the king. One night, after exhausting her husband until he falls asleep, the queen would have seized the royal seal to draft a customized hanging act. Fortunately for Robert, King Philip VI realized the deception on time and deviated the plan. He then inflicted a humiliating drubbing to “the lame evil Queen”, which would cause her to avoid the public for weeks.
Jeanne of Burgundy was also accused of an adultery scandal in the “Tour de Nesle Affair “, during which the queen and other female royal family members would sleep with young men.
- Wen Jiang, aka the Incest Princess
Wen Jiang was a Chinese princess of the State of Qi and duchess of the State of Lu. She died in 673 BC. She was the daughter of Duke Xi of Qi who reigned between 730 and 698 BC as the thirteenth ruler of the State. The first recorded criminal act of Wen is her implication in the murder of her husband, Duke Huan of Lu, by her brother, Duke Xiang, after having an incestuous relationship with him.
Duke Xiang lived in the state of Qi. In 694 BC, Wen Jiang pretended visiting Qi with her husband, the Duke Huan, while her intention was to meet her brother in order to renew their sexual liaison. Although she was committing the ‘incestuous adultery’ in secret, some residents were aware of the affair; they kept it secret because Xiang was a fearful leader. But Duke Huan managed to know about the infidelity, which Wen Jiang suspected. To keep the affair undisclosed, Xiang ordered his half-brother Prince Pengsheng to assassinate Duke Huan while he was drunk. The plan worked. After what, she and her brother also husband executed Pengsheng to completely secure their secret.
Catherine II, born Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst in Russia, is the eldest child of Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst and his wife Joan Holstein-Gottorp. From princess of Anhalt–Zerbst, she became Empress and Autocrat of all Russia from June 28, 1762 to her death in 1796. During her reign, Russia became the world’s largest producer of iron, cast iron and copper. The country had more than 200 factories, workshops and manufacturers.
However, she was cruel. Normally, even evil leaders protect their family; it was not the case for Catherine II. She manifested her worst dreadful action against her own husband. Helped by her lover, the German princess has organized a military coup against the Tsar Peter III in 1762. As a result, the unfortunate emperor was imprisoned and murdered, presumably strangled by a henchman. Without a shadow of remorse, the young woman would succeed him to the throne as Catherine II where she would reign with an iron fist for more than 34 years. Historians also claim Catherine II also got involved in other crimes that cannot be proven.
6. Julia Agrippina, aka Agrippina Minor
Julia Agrippina, also known as Agrippina Minor, was a ruthless, ambitious, and violent roman princess who was born in November 6, 15 AD… She was the sister of Caligula, emperor from 37 to 41; the wife of Claudius, emperor from 41 to 54; and the mother of Nero, emperor from 54 to 68. She is also the direct descendant of Augustus, Emperor 27 BC., niece and adoptive granddaughter of Tiberius, emperor from 14 to 37. Julia Agrippina is also the granddaughter of three Roman generals: Agrippa, Drusus and Germanicus.
After a long battle with sterility, at Antium, on December 15, 37 at sunrise, Agrippina gave birth to a son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, future Nero. According to a legend, she consulted the Chaldean Magi, which was prohibited but secretly practiced among the aristocrats, who predicted that his son would reign but he would kill his mother. She would have replied: “Let him kill me, provided he becomes emperor.”
After the death of her first husband, Agrippina married Sallustius Caius Crispus Passienus who was a prominent figure in the Roman Empire and immensely rich. In 47 he died leaving a huge legacy to his son-in-law who was later poisoned by Agrippina. She became not only powerful but also wealthy. That was just the beginning.
After the death of Messalina (the third wife of Claudius) in 48, Claudius, the fourth Roman emperor wants to remarry. Several candidates (Aelia Paetina, Lollia Paulina …) compete but Agrippina managed to win. Immediately after the marriage, by her influence on the Emperor and her maneuvers, she killed all potential rivals and seized the wealth of many Nobles such as Statilius Taurus. Finally, in absence of Narcissus, one of the most loyal Claudius advisers, Agrippina poisoned the emperor on October 13, 54.
Thanks to her support, Nero became emperor. At the beginning (for 5 years), he had tolerated her authority. But Julia Agrippina was not satisfied enough; she decided to reign as a granddaughter and daughter of Roman generals. Faced with the omnipotence of his mother, Nero chose to fatally remove her from power. In the spring of 59, he secretly ordered her murder, although back then matricide was a supreme crime in Rome. According to Tacitus, after the execution Nero had the courage to contemplate the corpse of his mother before her cremation on a table bed.
5. Messaline, aka « Putain Impériale » (“Imperial Whore”)
Valeria Messalina (25-48) was the third wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius and mother of Britannicus, the son of Emperor Claudius who was assassinated at the age of fourteen years by his brother by adoption, Nero, at a banquet. The Princess was not an ordinary imperial figure. Her scandalous conduct and unbounded licentiousness eventually caused her downfall. Suspected of plotting against the emperor, she was summarily executed in 48.
Due to her insatiable appetite for sex, European historians have nicknamed Princess Messalina « Putain impériale » (“Imperial Whore”). It is believed only three things matter for her: power, sex and money. She would be like a similar corrupt politician of our time but with more arrogance and depravation. Among other horrible things she did including forcing to commit suicide the owner of Gardens of Lucullus in order for her to walk at ease, forcing the wives of Nobles to prostitute, and sending into exile the pretty sister of Caligula accusing her of adultery with Seneca.
She also had an insatiable libido. As the saying goes, “appetite comes with eating,” Messalina prostituted herself for the sole purpose of “free love.” One evening the Empress, apparently in joyous humor, challenged a prostitute to round up more contenders than her during the night.
Result? Each of the two young women attracted 25 men in their bed.
- Mary Tudor (1516-1558), aka “Bloody Mary”
Also known as Mary of England, Mary Tudor is the youngest daughter of Henry Tudor VII and Elizabeth of York. She had many titles: Queen of England and Ireland, Queen Consort of Naples and Sicily, Queen Consort of Spain, Duchess consort of Burgundy, Milan, Brabant, Luxembourg and Limburg, consort Countess of Flanders, and Countess Palatine of Burgundy.
She was so cruel that historians nickname her “Bloody Mary”. Her actions prove she deserves it. Mary Tudor enjoyed doing two things the most: feasting with her friends and massacring so-called enemies. She took the evilness of Catholicism to the next level by killing hundreds of innocents Protestants. During her reign, Mary of England had indeed burned alive at least 280 reformers and dissidents during “The Marian Persecutions“.
According to a British urban legend, say three times “Bloody Mary” before a mirror lit by candlelight would show a bloodied woman’s face, a vengeful spirit. It has been reported that the evil spirit has done a variety of cruelties to the individuals who summon her, including torturing and scratching their eyes out…
Isabella of France, also known as Queen Consort of England, was the only girl among the surviving children of Philip IV, the Iron King, and his wife Jeanne of Champagne, Queen of Navarre. Queen Isabella was known in her time for her beauty, her diplomatic skill and intelligence. Contrary to popular belief, she was never known as the “Wolf of France” by her contemporaries. The epithet was used for the first time by W. Shakespeare about Margaret of Anjou, and applied later to Isabella in the eighteenth century.
While she was still a teenager, Isabella of France was sent across the Channel, the body of water that separates southern England from northern France, in order to marry Edward II of England. The relation was mostly to strengthen the relations between the two countries, not love. But there was one downside, her husband had strong attraction for Piers Gaveston, an English nobleman of Gascon origin.
The fact he was the favorite of King Edward II annoys considerably the young Isabella. When after the death of Gaveston, Edward replaced him by another favorite, Hugh Dispenser the younger, the bitterness of the princess reached the limit.
In 1326, Isabella of France made a short trip to France and returned with her lover, Roger Mortimer, and a band of mercenaries armed to the teeth. Immediately Hugh Despenser was executed and Edward II was deposed and imprisoned, leaving the still troubled throne to his son, Edward III.
Having Edward II rotting in a prison definitely was not enough to Isabella, who would casually orchestrate his assassination, almost undetectable to the naked eye. According to the historian Thomas More:
“On the night of October 11 while lying in on a bed [the King] was suddenly seized and, while a great mattress… weighed him down and suffocated him, a plumber’s iron, heated intensely hot, was introduced through a tube into his secret parts so that it burned the inner portions beyond the intestines. Learning about the death of his father, roasted to that point, Edward III is remorseful: the young ruler hanged Roger Mortimer, and sent his mother into exile.”
- Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), aka “Black Regent”
Catherine de Medici was born April 13, 1519, in Florence and died on January 5, 1589, in Château de Blois, France. She is the daughter of Lorenzo de ‘Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519), and Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne (1495-1519). By her marriage to the future King Henry II, she became Dauphine and consort Duchess of Brittany from 1536 to 1547, then queen of France from 1547 to 1559.
Catherine de Medici is an emblematic figure of the sixteenth century. Her name is probably the first one that comes to historians mind when it comes to the wars of religion between Roman Catholics and Protestants. She is described as a bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative person. She is also known as a princess, jealous of power, that would commit any crime to maintain her influence. She played a role in the massacre of St. Bartholomew which caused the death of up to 30,000 innocent French Protestants.
According to some writings, Catherine de Medici would be the cruelest queen the world has ever known. History blames her for many crimes, from simple plots to the notorious massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572, during which the sovereign would have ordered the elimination of thousands of French Protestants. However, her role in the massacre is discussed by some modern historians who believe she had worked all her life for the reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants.
Born August 7, 1560 and died August 21, 1614, Elizabeth Bathory is one of the most famous murderers in the Hungarian and Slovak history. From young age, she began to loathe the common people, servants and peasants were considered as “unsophisticated people”; they are naïve and ignorant she assumed. So when her husband, Count Ferenc Nádasdy, began to teach her the torture methods he learned in wars, she decided to make her servants her first “guinea pigs”. Growing up with a witch aunt and a murderer uncle, the Countess quickly excelled in the field and spent her time torturing the staff of her two castles: castle of Sárvár in Transylvania and Čachtice Castle in Hungary.
Seeking to combine crime with beauty, Elizabeth Bathory is convinced that bathing in the blood of virgins would help her to retain her youth. That barbaric idea caused the “Countess Dracula” to travel the country in search of young virgins and murdered nearly 650 in order to bathe in their blood. She also performed other vicious actions just for the joy of torturing innocents.
Among her cruelties include the story of servants coated with honey delivered as food to insects. She is also accused of using “iron maiden” (an instrument of torture) to inflict deep wounds to victims, and then burned them with hot irons or even threw them out completely naked and then sprayed them with freezing water.
After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Bathory and four alleged accomplices were accused of tortures and murders of girls and young women. Her actions were so unspeakable that her own lawyer, Benedict Deseo, confessed the following: “This woman is so cruel that it is impossible to legitimize her acts and cruelty.” Sadly, her noble origin prevents her trial and execution. In 1610, she was imprisoned in Čachtice Castle, where she remained until her death.