10 Historical Dinner Party Hosts from Hell

10 Historical Dinner Party Hosts from Hell

There are several types of godawful dinner
party host–the drunk and domineering, the flustered and fastidious, and of course the
plain old terrible cooks, to name just a few. But most guests don?t fear for their lives. History, on the other hand, is replete with
examples of a more deliberately sadistic kind–powerful rulers or groups abusing their guests with
horrifyingly self-indulgent abandon. Hosts like… 10. Domitian In 90 AD, the Roman Emperor Domitian invited
a slew of aristocrats to his palace for a banquet they would never forget. They arrived, at night, to find the dining
room decorated floor-to-ceiling in black–black marble surfaces, black paint, black velvet
drapes, and so on–and lit only by flickering funeral lamps. Even more unnervingly, they weren?t allowed
to bring their own attendants and were ushered in alone to places marked with personalized
gravestones. The seats were rock-hard benches and the food
itself (made from things commonly offered as sacrifices to the dead) was dyed black
and served on black onyx plates by naked, black-painted young boys who entered ?like
phantoms ? encircling the guests in an awe-inspiring dance.? The dinner conversation (or lecture, as it
turned out, from Domitian alone) focused on the inevitability of death and decay. Only the emperor spoke; his guests remained
silent, perhaps stunned in fear, as though they were already dead. Given Domitian?s reputation for executing
senators, his guests quite reasonably assumed they had been summoned by the emperor to their
doom. Even at the end of the night, when they were
conveyed back to their homes in silence, they continued to fear for their lives. So they were likely horrified later on when
they each got a knock on the door–and were perhaps only mildly relieved when it turned
out to be the black-painted slaves from earlier on, bearing gifts: The black onyx plates and
gravestones from the dinner party, and their own mortal bodies as brand new household servants. Historians believe the event was meant to
honor the soldiers who died in the Dacian War, but Domitian must have been aware of
the vibe. 9. Elagabalus The Roman emperor Elagabalus (or Heliogabalus)
ascended the throne as a teenager and ruled for just four years before he was killed and
dumped in the Tiber. As it turned out, despite being par for the
course, entitlement, hedonism, and cruelty were frowned upon in such a powerful ruler. Many of the ?filthy anecdotes? that surround
his life may be untrue, but they all agree on one thing: Elagabalus was an incompetent,
pleasure-seeking despot. He was known for his extravagant banquets
and prodigiously experimental appetite–consuming cockscombs from living birds, flamingo brains,
parrot heads, and mullet ?beards,? among other curious ?delicacies.? But his guests, whose attendance was mandatory,
often went hungry. In fact, Elagabalus treated them a little
like dolls at a make-believe tea party, serving them waxwork or earthenware replicas of whatever
he happened to be eating. And this wasn?t to cut down on costs; he just
wanted them ?tormented by hunger.? In any case, he was also known for serving
up meals cut with gems (peas with gold pieces, lentils with onyx, beans with amber, and rice
with pearls, etc.), perhaps hoping they?d all chip their teeth–no matter the cost. Another prank was to seat guests on inflatable
pillows, instead of his own fur- or feather-filled cushions, and have slaves gradually let out
the air while they dined. Later, when they were all passed out drunk,
he is said to have unleashed lions, leopards, and bears to frighten them out of their stupors–and
sometimes even to death. Elagabalus is most famous, however, for allegedly
suffocating his dinner guests beneath a mass of rose petals, violets, and other flowers
released through a reversible ceiling. This incident was depicted in the 1888 painting
The Roses of Heliogabalus and, while improbable, highlights his decadent sadism. 8. The Vikings ?A bird of Unmindfulness / flutters over ale-feasts,
/ wiling away men?s wits ?? ?dinn, in the H?vam?l (Sayings of the High
One) Viking feasts often lasted days, sometimes
involved human sacrifices, and were always fueled by booze. But the Vikings still found the time to make
trouble in England. By the 10th century only Wessex (a southern
kingdom that encompassed what is now Glastonbury, Stonehenge, and Bristol) remained unconquered
by the Danes. And King ?thelred was at his wit?s end. Despite signing boundary agreements and peace
treaties, and even paying the Vikings off (as agreed), the king continued to have trouble
with the invaders. And when he finally received warning of threats
to his own life, he ordered all of the Danes in his kingdom rounded up and killed, culminating
in the St. Brice?s Day massacre. But it only worsened the problem, alienating
his few Danish allies and inviting revenge from the Danish king, Sweyn Forkbeard, who
was especially incensed at the murder of his sister with her husband and child. The raids continued with perhaps even greater
ferocity and in 1011 AD the Vikings besieged the town of Canterbury. Burning much of it to the ground, including
the famous cathedral, they took the Archbishop Alphege (?lfheah) hostage. However, they demanded a ransom so high that
the archbishop refused to let anyone pay it. He knew it would impoverish his people. So, unsure what to do with the cleric, the
Vikings simply dragged Alphege around with them–to their ships, to political meetings,
and, most fatefully, to a feast. By this time, the Vikings had apparently had
quite enough of the archbishop?s piety and, after getting drunk in the usual manner, pelted
the man with ox bones and horns from their meal, leaving him close to death. Finally, one of them swung an axe into his
head and finished the holy man off. What the archbishop may not have realized
was that bone-throwing was something of a post-prandial pastime for the Norse. In the 14th-century B?r?ar saga Sn?fells?ss,
Vikings follow a hearty meal in a cave full of monsters with a lively game of hn?tukast. This involved lobbing huge bones at each other
with enough force to cause serious, often life-threatening injuries. One man had his eye knocked out and left dangling
against his face, for instance, while in another saga a man is actually killed. 7. Lucrezia Borgia The illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander
VI, Lucrezia was a key member of the ruthlessly influential House of Borgia. Among other things, the Borgias were known
for their dinner parties and decidedly un-Christian get-togethers–most notably including the
infamous ?Banquet of Chestnuts,? an all-night orgy where prostitutes stripped naked and
crawled about on all fours, picking up chestnuts like pigs while the pope and his children
looked on. Lucrezia herself often played the hostess
at such affairs, and was always outwardly gracious–greeting each of her guests with
a smile. But she?s also thought to have worn a ring
with a hidden phial of poison inside, something she may have used to kill off her family?s
enemies or perhaps anyone she didn?t much like. The poison (cantarella: cantharidin from blister
beetles or arsenic mixed with pig entrails) was just one of her methods. In private, she is also said to have stabbed
or garrotted those who had dared to cross her. The actual facts of Lucrezia Borgia?s life
are murky, but she is thought to have been loyal to her father. Some consider her a pawn in the (male) Borgias? power games, but the fact that she was often
left in charge in her father?s absence suggests she was in on it all. Indeed, her first husband Giovanni Sforza
accused her of incest with the pope. 6. Sun Hao Sun Hao, the last of the emperors of Wu (one
of three ancient Chinese states), ruled between 264-280 AD as ?the number one tyrant of that
era.? He was often drunk and, like many heavy drinkers,
liked others to get drunk with him too. At one banquet, he became so angry at one
of his imperial counselors for pretending to be drunk when he wasn?t that he had him
beheaded on the spot. He then ordered his guards to toss the head
from one man to the next, each taking a bite until the flesh was stripped down to the skull. Dinner with Sun Hao was generally a tense
affair. In fact, Sun Hao?s insistence on mutual oblivion
when it came to drinking with others probably had more to do with his paranoia than any
desire for revelry. His banquets were carefully observed by a
team of imperial ?rectors?–spies, essentially–who scrutinized his guests for ?treason.? And often all it took was a disobedient glance
or a stray remark for them to have their eyes gouged out or face peeled off as punishment. 5. Genghis Khan As a child, Genghis Khan (or Tem?jin Borjigin
as he was known) killed his own brother for eating a fish by himself without sharing. He thought it unwise, apparently, to keep
such a selfish person alive in his already impoverished family. But this was just one of many food-related
episodes to come. During his siege of the Jin capital Zhongdu
(in present-day Beijing), for example, he trapped citizens inside the city in a bid
to starve them into submission. But they turned to cannibalism instead, leaving
mountains of bones and fat for the invaders. Later, having defeated Rus? forces in the
Battle of the Kalka River (1223) and accepted the survivors? surrender, he ordered the commander Mstislav
the Daring and two other Rus? princes to be stretched out under boards,
alive, and for a feast to be arranged on top. In this way, the Mongols enjoyed a victory
banquet while their enemies slowly suffocated underfoot. The Sultan of Persia actually met a similar
fate at the hands of the Khan, having been rolled up in a rug with his family and trampled
to death by horses. 4. The Scythians Cyaxares, the third king of Media (in present-day
northwestern Iran), ascended the throne when his father was killed besieging the city of
Nineveh, Mesopotamia. Right away, he sought to avenge his father
and launched another siege on the city–but he was called away soon after to defend his
own kingdom against the Scythians. These warlike horsemen of the Steppes appear
to have antagonized everyone in their day and had decided to take refuge in Media–which
for them meant subjecting it to their rule. Actually, Cyaxares tolerated them quite well,
even trusting them with the education of young Median boys (e.g. in the Scythian language
and their formidable bow-shooting skills). But it didn?t last. The Scythians had something of an agreement
with Cyaxares that whenever they went out hunting they would bring something back for
the court. And when on one fateful occasion they didn?t,
the Median king was so enraged that he hurled insults at the occupying force. The Scythians were indignant. Never ones to stand for such treatment without
revenge, they took one of the Median boys entrusted to their care (sometimes said to
be Cyaxares? son), killed him and chopped him to pieces,
then dressed the meat as they would any other game taken in hunting. Then they served it up to the king in one
of history?s earliest ?Thyestean banquets.? In response, Cyaxares invited the majority
of the Scythian chiefs to a banquet of his own and, after getting them all blind drunk,
savagely murdered them all. 3. Nitocris Nitocris remains a mysterious and possibly
even mythical ancient ruler, known only through the accounts of classical historians. But, if she lived, she is believed to have
ruled Egypt between the end of the Old Kingdom and the beginning of the First Intermediate
Period (around 2200 BC). According to Herodotus, her husband Metesouphis
(or Merenre) II was brutally killed by his nobles shortly after ascending the throne,
which left Nitocris to reign as pharaoh alone. But she was evidently heartbroken and determined
to get revenge on the assassins. Her method was legendary. She ordered the construction of a vast underground
banquet hall connected by a hidden channel to the Nile and invited all of the murderous
nobles to celebrate her inauguration. Then, as they dined, she stepped out of the
banquet hall into a secret adjoining duct and arranged for the hidden channel to be
opened, flooding the hall with river water and drowning all of the traitors inside. Knowing her actions would be unpopular with
the rest of her subjects, however, she concluded the evening by killing herself in another
chamber–this one filled with hot ashes and smoke. 2. Vlad the Impaler Vlad III Dracula, the 15th-century prince
(or voivode) of Wallachia in present-day Romania, was known–indeed nicknamed–for being a
dinner party host from Hell. In his twenties, he hosted a feast for hundreds
of boyar nobles and had most of them impaled at the end. This meant spiking them on wooden stakes (through
the backside) and leaving them writhing in agony until they died, which may have been
several days later. He didn?t just hate the boyar, though; he
also hated the poor. On another occasion, he gathered together
the elderly, the sick, and the helpless from across the realm and plied them with fine
wine and meat. He then sealed the doors to the specially-constructed
banquet hall and had his soldiers burn the place down to the ground. His reasoning? Killing off the poor would naturally bring
an end to their poverty. 1. Papua Cannibals The Melanesian island of New Guinea, or Papua
as Indonesians call it, is known for its cannibal tribes. There have been numerous cases of Western
explorers going missing, presumed (or known) to have been eaten, including: Michael Rockefeller,
the son of New York Governor and US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, in 1961; Stan Dole and
Phil Masters, two Christian missionaries, at Christmas 1974; and a priest with 12 companions
in 1976. But cannibalism is often more of a bloodsport
than a day-to-day dietary staple–much like bull-fighting, pheasant-shooting, or fox-hunting
in the West, right down to the vicious pomp and ceremony that goes with it. One missionary witnessed a cannibal feast
firsthand while living among the Dani tribe of the Baliem Valley and provided notes on
the thinking behind it. Following one of their routine battles with
a neighboring group, the victorious Dani kept the corpse of a man speared through the heart
and, after dressing in their finest feathers and beads, carried it an hour?s walk to where
they knew they could be seen by their enemies. And, sure enough, their enemies were watching
from a nearby hill, weeping and pleading for the body to be returned for an honorable cremation. But the winners had no such intention, shouting
back ?We?re going to eat him!? After the tribesmen dumped the body on the
ground, scores of women rushed over with pointed ?digging sticks? and circled the corpse, stabbing
it, stomping on it, and slinging verbal insults while the men built a fire nearby. The missionary suggested the women were venting
anger at their own losses to the enemy in battle. Then came the preparation of the meat–the
toes, meat from the calves, and so on. It?s unclear whether the missionary ?went
native? and sampled the flesh himself, but he apparently went home nauseated and tried
desperately to forget the experience.

100 thoughts on “10 Historical Dinner Party Hosts from Hell

  1. Yeah yeah, got nothing on our Christmas get togethers , and hadn't any of those guests heard of the simple yet effective " no sorry I can't attend I'm washing my hair tonight "

  2. Romans: "We have the most sadistic of dinner parties, bring forth the slaves and have them executed for our amusement!"
    Vlad Dracul: "Hold my beer"

  3. I tell you what, there…I'll give you back all your coke and spoons and pot and needles and guns and all that other stuff when you come out the other side!

  4. To be fair the tickets to attend the Borgia's dinner parties helped bail out the national debt, Something that had largely gone untreated by the "Oh so pious" cardinals they also paid for building up hospitals and food handout to the poor along with orphanages. Whereas those cardinals had previously eaten quite well as peasants starved. Also, the popes family didn't only look on upon the orgy they actually judged performance. The Borgia's may have been ruthless and power hungry but they were better for the average peasant. Had Rodrigo succeeded in his ambitions Italy might not have been ruled by Austria and Spain for the next several hundred years. Lucrezia was also far saner than her brother, Cesare who was going mad due to syphilis and had killed Rodrigo's intended successor his nephew. Something Rodrigo appears to have never forgiven Cesare for.

  5. Much as I enjoy these I find it very hard to view the pictures much of the time and (no offence intended) but I see little reason for the narrator to occupy so much of the screen, after all its the narration which is important not so much the narrator.

  6. The movie clip from the beginning first 9 seconds of the video, what movie was that?? I remember it from childhood but can’t put my finger on it!

  7. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the psychological horror show of dining with Stalin at his dacha outside Moscow. The most steeled men were almost driven to paranoid madness at these cruel events. The video host's examples are more physically torturous, but Stalin held court on supreme mental terror.

  8. Ghengis Khan did kill his older brother, but he did it because the family were starving, after being abandoned by the wolves clan, the brothers went out hunting every day, and brought home what they had gathered, to be shared by all the family, they then saw the older brother make a kill, and ate it all himself, which had been suspected by Ghengis, so he was killed, for endangering all the family who were starving, his mother and baby sister and the other brothers were all loosing weight, except the greedy selfish brother, Ghengis was a great man to his people, and still is today,

  9. most of this is Propaganda and Hearsay.
    what about the Dinnerparty thrown by Mohammed, where he beheaded 600 Jews and gave their Children to his Generals as Sexslaves?

  10. The "sultan of Persia" didn't exist at the time. Most of Persia was ruled by the Kwaresmian Turkic Sultan. The only person that was rolled into a rug with his family was the Calif who ruled Baghdad and most of south and central Iraq.

  11. "Elagabalus was an incompetent, pleasure seeking despot"" Hmmmm………In what leader have I seen these attributes?…Oh, never mind.

  12. Hey Simon, I love your videos they really help make my commutes more bearable. What are your sources on Ghingis Kahn in this video? Thanks!

  13. Really enjoyed the impaling part… that was so awesome, thanks knew i could count on Simon to leave me at home nauseated and desperately wanting to forget the video. 😐 ROFL

  14. Simon, please check on pronunciation of names before recording the wrong one. I would never have known whom you were speaking about the way you say Domitian if I hadn't read it. And the is no 't' in Lucrezia, not Lucretcia

  15. Genghis if you would have just looked in the net in your brothers boat you would have seen it was filled with fish. What a psycho!!!!

  16. No caligula?? I must say I'm a bit disappointed 🙁. I would have thought that the mad Roman emperor who would have sex with his dinner guests wives, then tell them how they performed, then execute them would at least make the top five.

  17. I wouldn't have went to any event back in those days, weddings included. I thought going to funerals were hard enough

  18. Just for the sake of clarity, the painting, "The Roses of Elegabalus" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema was painted in 1888 not 1988.

  19. Rockefeller was just part of the deal that family made with the Devil to secure a spot as one of the most wealthy and influential families in the World. Sucks to be him I guess

  20. This is what dinner was Vlad the Impaler made me think of Proverbs of Solomon
    23:3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. 4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.

  21. Although probably not that important to note for the average person, I’ll point out that Khan is NOT his name, but a title, equivalent to that of king.

  22. I once worked with an Australian who had been a rural Government Agent in New Guinea. He told us that back in the 70s or so, a local man died on a trail, and his companions went off to their village to get help to bring him home. While they were gone, members of another tribe came upon the corpse, took it home, and ate it. The diners were charged with desecrating a human body or some such crime, but were acquitted on a defence of their actions being the way things were done there. A decade or so later, after a similar incident, the judge at the trial declared the defendants guilty on the grounds that "community standards had changed".

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