All of the major news outlets have been running stories in the last couple of days about the groundbreaking new discoveries related to the life of King Tut. Some recent DNA testing of mummies buried with him around the same time has revealed more details about his life, genealogy and appearance.
Most notably, there were overwhelming discoveries of congenital weaknesses in all of the mummies, as a result of inbreeding within the family.
Tut himself suffered from severe scoliosis, and malformation of the foot which caused him pain when he walked. He had a cleft palate, which was a trait he shared with his father. They were also able to narrow down his cause of death to a femur fracture and malaria, not murder as was commonly hypothesized.
They also discovered that he was in fact married to his sister, and was the product of a brother-sister union.
In short: EW.
On the bright side, it was ruled out that he suffered from a genetic disorder that may have caused feminine features and misshapen bones, including Marfan Syndrome.
It does make one question the unwavering devotion that people of the period may have shown to royalty. Would none of the subjects who may or may not have been repressed (um, construction of the pyramids? Hello?) question the ruler who would have been clearly outwardly frail?
And honestly. How did the guy get laid? Is that why he was married to his sister?? I know, I know. It was accepted at the time. But it makes you wonder why. Why would nobody want to marry a guy who looked like this:
Oh, that’s Snooki? From Jersey Shore? And she’s supposedly Italian? And female? My bad.
Being a huge history nerd, I was reminded of some other historic rulers that may have been less than sexy, but still got plenty of play.
Most notably above them was Henry VIII, who died obese, suffering from gout and also had an ulcerated leg injury from jousting that never healed. Somehow, he was married to six women, including Catherine Howard who was in her late teens when they married. Henry was in his late 40s.
Henry’s older brother Arthur was said to be “frail” throughout his life, supported by the fact that he died suddenly at only 15 years old. According to Wikipedia, he was also premature. Ouch.
“Born in the eighth month, as the physicians do prejudge,” yet “strong and able”. However, some historians suggest that he had been weak his whole life long, and that was what led to his death.”
(quote from wikipedia.org, duh.)
Oddly enough, both of these attractive male specimens were married to the same hottie- Catherine of Aragon. No seriously. Check out a portrait of her as a young woman. She was adorable. (By contrast, pics of Anne Boleyn? And Jane Seymour? Not so much. Are you convinced of my nerd-dom yet?)
King Francis I was a total pimp, having two wives and two official mistresses. There were also some rumored unofficial mistresses, including Anne and Mary Boleyn. Oh, and he had syphilis. Who can blame him- his wife Queen Claude was apparently very petite and had a hunchback as a result of scoliosis.
Over in Spain, there was Joanna (Juana) of Castille, also known as Joanna the Mad, who was thought to suffer from schizophrenia or manic depression. She was said to be one of the most beautiful monarchs in history, and Catherine of Aragon’s older sister.
Napoleon was known to be around 5’7”, and widely believed to suffer from Short Man Syndrome.
Nicholas II of Russia and his wife were related along “multiple ancestral lines,” resulting in children (Tsarevitch Alexi most notably) carrying genetic mutations and disorders including hemophilia.
The moral of this story: Power is awesome. No matter what your physical appearance, your status in life will guarantee you a lot of sex. But probably avoid doing it with your siblings. Or close cousins. I’m just sayin’.