When it comes to monarchs with an eye for thigh, Henry VIII and his merry band of wives always pop into one’s head. But he’s not the only king to have sampled an excess of sex between portraits and politics. In fact, these kings and queens make the big guy look like a choirboy by comparison.
King Solomon had hundreds of wives... and mistresses, too
These days he’s mostly remembered for his legendary wisdom, but during his time on the Israelite throne he dedicated as much time to seducing women as he did to telling them to cut babies in half. Obviously the Queen of Sheba enjoyed his affections, but Solomon also shared the wealth with 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines, drawn from a range of ethnicities, including the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. God wasn’t happy.
Henry I was a sex machine – but not that fertile
For a man so interested in sampling the broadest range of women his kingdom could offer, Henry I wasn’t that great at organising an heir. After William Adelin drowned in the White Ship disaster, it all went to hell in a handbasket. Despite causing the Anarchy with his lack of legitimate sons, Henry I showed his royal sceptre to enough women that he holds the record for most children born out of wedlock. All we’re saying is that Prince Harry has a fair bit of work to do if he wants to live up to the reputation of his earliest namesake.
Catherine the Great enjoyed a string of lovers (none equine)
Many, many rumours have circulated around Catherine II of Russia since she ruled her homeland - from the infamous horse-based slander to keeping a cast of Gregory Potemkin’s impressive member in case she felt lonely while he was away. Beyond these tall tales lies the truth of a woman who collected erotic furniture (NSFW) and wasn’t shy in demanding the attention of lovers, taking at least 22 of them over the course of her reign. No reins were involved.
Ibn-Saud had more than his share of stamina
If you thought that weird guy from school who always seemed to have a bunch of girlfriends in neighbouring suburbs was an exaggerator, this story might have you reconsidering his reputation. According to rumour, the first king of Saudi Arabia, Ibn-Saud, enjoyed the carnal embrace of three different women a night from the age of 11 until he died in 1953 at 78. Naturally, he took a few nights off here and there for warfare, but still managed to father 42 sons and 125 daughters with his 22 wives. That’s a lot of child support.
Jahangir let his missus rule while focused on the bedroom arts
In accordance with his position as the fourth Mughal Emperor, Jahangir was entitled to marry a range of women. But one of them, Nur Jahan, was the most switched-on. She took care of the empire’s daily duties while Jahangir availed himself of the carnal pleasures offered by an estimated 299 other wives, 5000 female concubines and 1000 male concubines. Presumably they all got really good at playing chess while waiting for their turn with the imperial stallion.
Watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII with Lucy Worsley on Saturday 3 June at 7:30pm on SBS.
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