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1. As the ruler's greed increased in his later years, he found new ways to squeeze money from the people.
People were fined for crimes they had not committed.
The ruler's intimates, Reynold Bray, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley, devoted themselves to extortion.
The ruler's spies roamed and listened everywhere.
"This was, in effect, a reign of terror."
The ruler was Henry VII of England (The Economist)
It has long been used by the elite to help them hold on to power.
Henry may have been involved in the murder of the Princes in the Tower.
Henry certainly executed a number of his rivals.
2. Vlad III of Romania, Vlad the Impaler, was Prince of Wallachia three times between 1448 and 1476.
Vlad's tortures reportedly included: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs, scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to animals, and boiling alive.
There are claims that ten thousand people were impaled in 1460 alone.
3. As a child, Sultan Ibrahim 'The Mad' (1616-1648), had been kept in a building called the cage.
He was kept in the cage for 23 years, and then became sultan.
When one of his concubines told him his harem had been used by another male, he got angry.
He had all the women weighed down in sacks and drowned.
Ibrahim was again locked in the cage.
He was then strangled to death a week later when his officials could no longer stand his cries for mercy.
His militia, the Oprichniki, was made up of criminals.
He had hundreds of beggars drowned.
He massacred thousands of people 'just for the fun of it'.
He carried a stick with a spike on it and used this to kill his own son.
He executed at least three of his own wives.
5. Lucius Aurelius Commodus (AD 161-AD 192) had a harem of both males and females.
He liked to kill tethered animals and gladiators who were armed only with wooden weapons.
"He tried to impose the worship of Baal upon the Roman world...
Martijn Icks has written The Crimes Of Elagabalus
According to Icks, Elagabalus had a very bad reputation:
He harnessed teams of naked women to his chariot.
He let poisonous snakes loose at the gladiatorial games.
He set leopards and lions on his dinner party guests.
As a young boy, Elagabalus, as high priest at a temple, had performed dances and other rituals while wearing fancy robes.
Elagabalus was rumoured to have considered having a sex-change operation.
Elagabalus insisted that Romans should worship his god, Elagabal.
Every morning he made sacrifices of various creatures to this little-known god.
The entrails, placed in golden bowls, were rumoured to include the remains of young boys.
In 222 AD, Roman soldiers grabbed Elagabalus as he hid in a latrine.
After killing him, they dragged his body through the streets.