Say what you want about brats; they’re ridiculous, they’re captivating, and we all love reading stories about them. There’s no satisfaction like disdain for someone else’s ego-driven tantrums and compulsive need to get their own way. But brats are not just products of the 21st century. The rich and spoiled have been making ludicrous demands for centuries: Here are 45 entitled facts about spoiled brats throughout history.
Spoiled Brats In History Facts
1. Is There a Hieroglyph for “Brat”?
A historical survey of human behavior reveals that brats have existed since the days of Ancient Egypt, and there’s no better example than Pharaoh Thutmose III. A life of luxury and undisputed reign is bound to go to a person’s head, but Thutmose really let his brat-flag fly when it came to his stepmother, Hatshepsut.
2. Destroying the Evidence
Thutmose shared a large portion of his reign with Hatshepsut as co-regent. One of the earliest documented female rulers of Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut was renown for her military prowess and for the prosperity she brought to her nation. Shame her step-son decided to have all images of her and monuments to her totally destroyed.
Was it misogynistic vitriol? Envy for his stepmother’s great reputation? Either way, the decision to erase her seems like a tantrum.
3. Father or Son?
Some scholars have posited that there isn’t enough evidence Thutmose would want Hatshepsut’s legacy erased. He kept most of her policies, as well as the leaders she appointed, not to mention that he waited until 25 years after her death to destroy her monuments. But if it wasn’t Thutmose, many think it was his son, Amenhotep II.
That self-important upstart tried to take credit for his step-grandmother’s works, and would likely have wanted her to completely disappear in order to cover his plagiarism.
4. Mom, Get Out of My Empire!
Let’s pan over to Rome. Nero’s brattiness became evident from the treatment of his mother. Sure, Agrippina was allegedly controlling and domineering towards her son, but the decision to have her executed demonstrates a bad temper and poor impulse control. No matter how you spin it, public matricide comes off as petty.
5. Thespian at Heart
Nero did a lot to promote the cultural growth of Rome, including having a number of theaters built and promoting sports and athletics. But was that for the nation or for himself? Rumor has it that Nero liked to be in the spotlight, and made many appearances as an actor, musician, and charioteer when he should have been running the Empire.
He generally left the ruling to be done by his Senate and advisors.
6. Roaring Applause. Oh, and Flames
When a fire destroyed three of Rome’s 14 districts and severely damaged seven others, where was Nero? Apparently, on the roof of his palace dressed in theatrical regalia, singing from The Sack of Ilium. Some think the Emperor wanted an audience and concluded people would have to watch him if their houses were on fire.
Rumors also circulated Nero started the fire to make room for expanding his palace.
7. Give Me Money!
Brats don’t take no for an answer, and they don’t like to be wrong. As it happens, neither did explorer extraordinaire Christopher Columbus. He lobbied the kings and queens of Europe to finance his endeavors to find a Western route to Asia for nearly a decade. He was told by multiple sources that his calculations were wrong and the trip would take much longer than he expected.
Did he check his math? No. Did that come back to haunt him? Oh, yes.
8. Happy Accidents
After King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain relented to Columbus’s petition, the experts were proved right; the ocean was way bigger than he anticipated. It was a lucky break for him that he stumbled headlong into the uncharted Americas and was able to at least bring some interesting news to the royals.
9. That’s Enough, Columbus
Columbus a stubborn glory-seeker, but it got worse. He was also, well, a tyrant. Columbus’s treatment of Native islanders during his governance of Hispaniola was so horrific, his fellow colonists ratted him out to the King. A royal commissioner was sent to return Columbus to Spain in chains. When your spoiled whiner gets out of hand, put them in the corner.
10. Women Can Be Warlords Too
Being a ruthless warrior does not preclude being a brat. Take Caterina Sforza, for example. Likely the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan in 1463, she increased her wealth and status by marrying the Pope’s nephew. Then everything went to hell when the Pope died. Instead of resorting to normal means of retaining her wealth and power, Sforza terrorized Rome as a warlord.
Anything to keep that gold.
11. Bloody Trails
Sforza’s reign of greed-fueled terror gave rise to a number of disturbing rumors regarding her ambition and mercilessness. It was said that when a new Pope was named, she attempted to poison him. Also, apparently, she was not above torturing her enemies’ children. She even allegedly crossed a river on horseback while seven months pregnant in order to claim a castle as her own—which, frankly, is just impressive.
12. More Where That Came From
So, the bit about her being willing to torture kids? That included her own. One story goes that when her children’s’ lives were being threatened, Sforza raised her skirt and shouted, “Do it if you want to. Hang them even in front of here. I have what’s needed to make others!”
13. New Church, Who Dis?
If you’re looking for brats, search the monarchy—and who better an example than Henry VIII. Henry famously broke from the Catholic Church because they wouldn’t let him divorce Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. And just in case someone tried to stop him having his way again, he named himself supreme head of the Church of England.
14. We Had a Good Run
Henry’s sudden turn on the Catholic Church seems even more tempestuous when you realize he was formerly a devoted member. His 1521 publication Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (“Defence of the Seven Sacraments”) got him named “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X. Then he stamped his feet and stormed out when they wouldn’t let him switch wives willy-nilly.
15. Ding Dong, My Ex is Dead
His bratty behaviors extended to the treatment of his ex-wife. It wasn’t enough to uproot her life and banish her from court; apparently, when he heard about her death in 1536, his reaction was utterly disturbing. He dressed entirely in yellow and wore a jaunty white feather in celebration of the “good news.” Petty, Henry. Petty.
16. You Don’t Look Like Your Profile Picture
History repeated itself when Henry dumped his second Anne to pick up his second Catherine. He cited lack of consummation and Anne of Cleves’s former engagement to a young lord as grounds for annulment, but the real reason is allegedly that she didn’t look like her portrait.
17. Common Interests
The British monarchy continued to inconvenience others with their whims centuries later; enter Edward VIII, Elizabeth I’s uncle. His notoriety largely springs from the constitutional crisis that ensued when he abdicated to marry American divorcée, Wallis Simpson, forcing his reluctant brother to take the throne. But his brat-streak started long before that.
18. RIP, Little Brother
Edward VIII was markedly insensitive. When his youngest brother died at the age of 13, Edward described his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance”.
19. Child at Heart?
Indifference to fraternal death aside, Edward was also a notorious womanizer prone to reckless behavior. These proclivities worried his advisors and relations. Indeed, his private secretary of eight years, Alan Lascelles, believed “for some hereditary or physiological reason his normal mental development stopped dead when he reached adolescence.”
Translation; he’s a petulant, juvenile brat.
20. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Joseph Bruce Ismay was the chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, the company that owned the Titanic! He also made the mistake of being the highest-ranking official to survive the sinking of the ship.
21. Feng Shui That Ship
Ismay was responsible for a number of key decisions in the voyage of the Titanic, including how many lifeboats the ship should have. He agreed to 20 lifeboats on a ship that could hold 2,800 people because he didn’t want to clutter the deck.
So Ismay put 20 lifeboats on his ship, and when things start to go literally belly-up he made damn sure he’s got a spot on one of those boats. He claimed to only have taken a spot once his side of the deck was clear. Amazing there was no one in sight, given the 1,500 people left aboard the ship.
23. Need for Speed
On top of all that, it was rumored that his ambition may have been partially responsible for the infamous iceberg crash. Testifiers claimed they heard Ismay pressuring the Captain to go faster in order to arrive in New York ahead of schedule, which would have generated flattering press for the ship.
24. Do You Work Here?
The controversy around Ismay’s survival was spurred by this question; should he have gone down with the ship. On the one hand, he technically wasn’t a member of the crew, a fact he repeated again and again. On the other, how could he have been a passenger if he technically didn’t pay for his ticket?
25. To Brat Or Not To Brat?
Stardom does a vibrant personality make, and was that ever true of Vivien Leigh! Qualifying Leigh as a brat is a bit of a gray area, as she struggled with bipolar disorder that was treated via shock therapy. So, despite cultivating a reputation as a diva, it’s hard to say whether her actions were the result of mental illness or an inflated ego.
26. Cast Me, Dammit!
Some of Leigh’s tantrums were less ambiguous in nature. After her then-partner Laurence Olivier was cast as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Leigh campaigned to play Cathy. When the director offered her the role of Isabella, she said, “I’ll play Cathy or I’ll play nothing.” That’s pretty entitled, given that this would have been her first Hollywood role.
27. I’ll Never Fight For a Part Again!
In Wuthering Heights, Leigh did, indeed, play nothing. However, she did subsequently get the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, so she kind of won. Maybe the best and worst thing about brats is they so often get their way, even if it’s round-about.
28. Injury on Set
Vivien Leigh had long battled bipolar disorder, and during the making of the film Ship of Fools, she was suffering from a particularly severe episode—one that got so bad it ended in an utterly horrifying turn. During an assault scene, Leigh struck fellow actor Lee Marvin in the face so hard with a high heel that it scarred his face. It would end up being Leigh’s final appearance on film.
29. I Call the Flying Broom!
The Salem Witch Trials were a mess, and at the head of that mess was John Hathorne. At first glance, Hathorne was merely a fanatical Puritan with deeply entrenched delusions, but could he also have been profiting off the convicted “witches”? The routine seizing of assets seems to indicate that officials, including Hathorne, may have staked materials gains over the course of the trials.
30. No Comment
Brats are an unyielding bunch, and while many who participated in the Witch Trials later expressed remorse, Hathorne did not. In the midst of public apologies and expressions of guilt, Hathorne remained conspicuously silent.
31. Hanging Reputation
So self-serving and trigger-happy was Hathorne that he earned himself the nickname “the Hanging Judge”. He remains a symbol of manipulating the law to commit murder—and, more broadly, to get your way.
32. No One Romances Like a Poet
Lord Byron; a brilliant poet and notable peer who absolutely had to have his way, especially in carnal affairs. He fathered at least three illegitimate children by different women and seemed to have very little regard for any of the mothers—and hugely varying degrees of paternal instinct when it came to caring for the children.
33. Bear Necessities
Byron was fond of animals and was told he wasn’t allowed a dog while studying in Cambridge. Fully astride his huffy-bike, Byron acquired a tame bear just to show the institution who was boss. Apparently, he delighted in peoples’ terror as he walked his bear through the grounds like a dog on a leash.
34. Pets Are People
As if acquiring the bear wasn’t enough, Byron tried to enroll his new pet as a student at Cambridge (lest the faculty failed to notice its presence on campus, perhaps?)
35. And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Byron’s fondness for exotic animals continued until very late in his life. He kept a menagerie while living in Venice, which his friend Percy Shelley reported as containing 10 horses, eight dogs, five cats, three monkeys, and five peacocks, in addition to other miscellaneous birds. A brat loves to show off.
36. Pointing Fingers
Alfred Hitchcock was… persnickety, to say the least. It would seem he got used to critical reception and was put-out when he didn’t get it. Indeed, when Vertigo wasn’t more of a smash-hit, he blamed Jimmy Stewart and vowed never to work with him again, crumpling up their long-standing professional relationship and tossing it out the Rear Window.
Better yet, Hitchcock neglected to tell Stewart their partnership was over. Stewart waited for confirmation that he would be appearing in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest for almost a year. When Stewart got tired of waiting and took a role in Bell, Book, and Candle, Hitchcock used that commitment as his excuse for not hiring Stewart. You know, ‘cause brats can be spineless.
Hitchcock was so controlling he went above and beyond to make sure his movies were seen the way he wanted them. He was so neurotic about concealing the twist ending of Psycho he attempted to buy all copies of the source novel. He even banned the movie’s leads, Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, from doing interviews about the movie.
39. Ladies of House Hitchcock
The film genius’s domineering bent extended to his treatment of the actors he worked with, most particularly the women. He demanded they wear certain clothes and style their hair specific ways, even when off set. This besides his notorious psychological torment of several actresses.
40. Honor Not to Be Nominated
Did President Ronald Reagan run for office as a bid for attention? Probably not, but it’s not a huge leap to make if you followed his acting career. None of his movies were contenders for an Oscar, and this bothered Reagan. Apparently, he felt the Academy overlooked him.
41. Special Snowflake
Reagan also thought he deserved an award for being the only actor ever to become president and was annoyed when no such honor was forthcoming. Reagan’s former aide, Mark Weinberg, quoted the former Commander-in-Chief as saying, “You would think that after what I’ve done–being the only one from that profession to do so–they would commemorate in some way.”
42. Radiant Royal
Who could forget the Sun King himself, Louis XIV. This royal brat was the mastermind behind the 700-room Palace of Versailles. Formerly a hunting lodge where the King had spent much of his childhood, he wanted the building transformed into a thing of opulence worthy of His Majesty.
43. God’s Gift
Already inflated by the idea of the “divine right of kings,” his parents did nothing to humble Louis XIV. They christened him Louis-Dieudonné; “Louis Gift of God”. The man didn’t stand a chance. Anyone would become a brat with a name like that.
44. Confession Booth
Henry VIII kept this “Grooms of the Stool”—i.e. bathroom helpers—in strict confidence. It was to two of them, Sir Thomas Heneage and Sir Anthony Denny, that he disclosed that he didn’t think his fourth wife Anne of Cleves was a virgin. But such intimacy with the king was a double-edged and smelly sword: He also executed another, Sir Henry Norris, on trumped-up charges of adultery with his second queen, Anne Boleyn.
45. The Windsors: Bad at Bereavement
Edward’s reaction to the death of his youngest brother, Prince John, put a rank taste in people’s mouths. John, who was 11 years younger than the Duke, passed away in January 1919 from a severe seizure when he was only 13 years old. Edward referred to John’s death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.” He wrote how John’s epilepsy had limited his mobility such that people rarely saw him, calling his late brother “more of an animal than anything else.” Apparently, the Duke’s insensitivity reached his mother, Queen Mary. Edward ended up having to write an apology letter to his grieving mom for being “a cold-hearted and unsympathetic swine”—Edward’s words, not mine.