June 25, 2024 | Eul Basa

The Weirdest People In History


Weird people, shocking stories

Throughout history, there have been people who have stood out with their unique characteristics and behaviors, captivating the public's attention. From intellectuals to visionaries, these "weird" individuals challenged societal norms and made a lasting impact on history.

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Lord Byron

Lord Byron was weird—and not just because of his deformed right foot. The famous English poet lived an extravagant lifestyle that often shocked the public. For example, at Cambridge University, he had a pet bear (since dogs weren't allowed in the dorms) and swam in the River Cam. 

A portrait of Lord Byron - circa 1880National Library of Wales, Wikimedia Commons

Lord Byron

He also had a slew of scandalous romances and intense interests that further solidified his reputation as a larger-than-life figure. Perhaps the most shocking was when he impregnated his long-lost half-sister Augusta, which led to his divorce from his rich heiress wife who called him insane.

A portrait of Lord Byron - circa 1880National Library of Wales, Wikimedia Commons

John Murray Spear

John Murray Spear was a highly unconventional figure in the 19th century due to his unorthodox beliefs. He was a prominent spiritualist who built a mechanical robot savior called the "New Motive Power" in an attempt to bring about spiritual awakening and social change.

Worker in workshopDavid Teniers, Rawpixel

John Murray Spear

Spear believed he was guided by spirits to create the human-like machine. His unconventional projects, such as attempting to bring back historical figures through spiritual means, made him truly bizarre.

Man PrayingOnur Uslu, Pexels

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe, a 16th-century Danish astronomer, was known for his scientific advancements...and odd behaviors. Once, he domesticated a moose and kept it as a pet—but it died after getting intoxicated at a party that he organized.

Portrait painting of Tycho Brahe.Anano ano chagunava, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tycho Brahe

He also lost part of his nose in a duel, befriended the opponent who cut it off, and then proceeded to create and wear a brass prosthetic nose in its place. 

B&W Portrait of Tycho Brahe. - 1840Johann Leonhard Appold (1809-1858), Wikimedia Commons

Jeanne de Clisson

Jean de Clisson became infamous for seeking revenge on the French King following her husband's execution for treason in 1343. She may have had one of the weirdest character developments ever, going from French noblewoman to pirate; a complete 180 from her royal background.

Countess JeanneJudi Heit, Wikimedia Commons

Jeanne de Clisson

She sailed the English Channel with a fleet of black and red ships, targeting French vessels. Her fierceness on the water earned her a reputation as a ruthless pirate.

Jeanne de Clisson (1300–1359), also known as Jeanne de BellevilleWaltercolor, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

James VI of Scotland

James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, is known for being an eccentric monarch due to his odd hobbies and beliefs. He had a keen interest in witchcraft, even writing a document called "Daemonologie" supporting the persecution of witches. 

James I Of England (James Vi Of Scotland) - circa 1618Paul van Somer I, Wikimedia Commons

James VI of Scotland

James also believed in his divine right to rule, claiming kings are chosen by God. His fascination with magic and conviction in his own power set him apart in the early 1600s.

Portrait Of King James I Of England And Vi Of ScotlandNationalmuseum, Wikimedia Commons

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton was known for his bold adventures and wide range of quirky hobbies. Fluent in at least 29 languages and dialects, he fully engaged with the various cultures he encountered on his extensive journeys. 

Image of Sir Richard Burton - 1890Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton

One of his most controversial trips was to Mecca—he posed as a Muslim pilgrim and kept up the act to the point of gettin circumsized.He also translated works like "The Kama Sutra" into English, which was scandalous especially during his time.

Image of Sir Richard Burton - 1887Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

Götz of the Iron Hand

Götz of the Iron Hand, a 16th-century German knight and mercenary leader, became famous for his rebellious nature and refusal to obey authority. His claim to "weird" occurred after he lost his right hand in battle. 

Götz Von Berlichingen PortraitUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Götz of the Iron Hand

Götz decided to replace his lost hand with a mechanical iron prosthetic, which at the time was seen as unusual and garnered significant attention. His life was so extraordinary that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe later immortalized him in a play.

Götz von Berlichingen's iron hand - 1910Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hetty Green

Hetty Green, known as the "Witch of Wall Street," was a unique figure in American finance. Despite her wealth, she lived very frugally, wearing old clothes and avoiding luxuries like heating and hot water. 

Hetty Green, half-length portrait, seated - 1897Hollinger & Rockey, Wikimedia Commons

Hetty Green

She mistrusted banks, preferring to manage her money herself. She also reused tea bags and lived in very humble conditions. Her extreme thriftiness made her stand out, making her a bizarre figure in American business history.

Portrait of Mrs. Hetty GreenBain News Service, Wikimedia Commons

Tarrare

Tarrare is a man from late 1700s France who was known for his insatiable hunger. He ate large amounts of food, including live animals and trash, without any digestive issues. 

Image of man holding a mouse.Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Tarrare

His odd desires led him to become a sideshow attraction and even a spy during the French Revolutionary Wars, where he swallowed confidential documents for smuggling. Despite attempts to cure him, Tarrare's strange hunger continued to fascinate medical experts.

Two man talking - drawing 1838Boston Public Library, Picryl

Carl Tanzler

Carl Tanzler, also known as Count Carl von Cosel, became fixated on tuberculosis patient Elena Hoyos in the 1930s. Despite being married, Tanzler believed Hoyos was his true love and tried extreme medical treatments to cure her. 

Count Carl Tanzler Von Cosel At His Building On Flagler Avenue Circa 1940.DeWolfe and Wood Collection in the Otto Hirzel Scrapbook, CC BY 2.0 ,Wikimedia Commons

Carl Tanzler

He built a tomb for her, visited her secretly, and eventually took her body, preserving it with wax, plaster, and glass eyes. He kept her in his home, dressing her in her clothes and believing she would come back to life. When discovered, Tanzler shocked the public.

Carl Tanzler, aka Count Carl von Cosel, at work as a radiologistFlorida Keys History Center-Monroe County Public , Flickr

Henry Cyril Paget

Henry Cyril Paget was renowned for his flamboyant personality in British aristocratic history. He gained fame during the late 1800s and early 1900s for his extravagant lifestyle and unique hobbies. 

Henry Cyril Paget, 5Th Marquess Of AngleseyJohn Wickens, Wikimedia Commons

Henry Cyril Paget

Paget spent his family fortune on extravagant theater productions, outrageous luxuries like a golden carriage with an exhaust pipe that released perfume, and massive costume parties. He also dressed in flashy clothing, often looking like a peacock. Unfortunately, his excessive spending led to financial ruin, forcing him to sell off family assets.

Henry Cyril Paget, 5Th Marquess Of AngleseyUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Yongmei

Yongmei was a bigamist who had over 900 marriages in just over 20 years. She started seeking husbands in 1993 to make quick money, marrying impoverished farmers and then quickly divorcing them. She also charged a fee for each divorce. 

Close-up Photo of a Couple Wearing Wedding RingsNatali Wonkaz, Pexels

Yongmei

At her peak, she made $8,000 per month without any formal education. However, her scheme led to arrest in 2011 and a four-year prison sentence, though it's unclear if she served any time.

Couple's,Fighting,For,Money,Over,The,DivorceAndrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović is a groundbreaking performance artist known for pushing physical and mental limits in her daring pieces. One of notable works, "The Artist is Present," involved her maintaining silence for extended periods while an audience awkwardly watched.

Marina Abramović - The Artist Is Present - Viennale 2012Manfred Werner / Tsui, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Marina Abramović

Another one of her exhibits, "Rhythm 0," was a six-hour performance where the audience chose objects to interact with her. The objects ranged from harmless to dangerous, and she would not fight back no matter what they did to her. Initially, the audience was gentle—but it escalated to violence. Some slashed her, poked her, and even aimed a gun at her.

Marina Abramović 2017 In StockholmFrankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí is a surrealist is known for his bizarre and creative works such as drooping clocks and surreal settings. His unorthodox perception of the world is not only reflected in his art, but also in his personal habits.

Salvador Dali QuizOlena Znak, Shutterstock

Salvador Dalí

Dalí's personal life was strange—he owned an anteater as a pet and believed he was the reincarnation of his dead brother. His dramatic public image, with a wild mustache and unconventional outfits, made him appear even more bizarre to the public.

Salvador Dali factsRon Gerelli , Getty Images

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley, known as "The Great Beast 666," was a controversial occultist, magician, and writer with odd beliefs. He founded Thelema, which centered on individual freedom and finding one's purpose. 

Aleister Crowley, Thinker - circa 1925Aleister Crowley, Wikimedia Commons

Aleister Crowley

Crowley conducted peculiar rituals like "bed" magic and substance experiments to explore the human consciousness and reach spiritual enlightenment. His scandalous lifestyle and controversial writings, including "The Book of the Law," received both support and criticism.

Portrait of Aleister Crowley - 1929Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin was a mystical advisor to the Russian Romanov family during the early 20th century. He gained control over Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra by treating their son's hemophilia with prayer, hypnosis, and rumored strange practices.

Portrait of Grigory Rasputin.http://www.alexanderpalace.org/gilliard/V.html, Wikimedia Commons

Grigori Rasputin

Rasputin's controversial private life included excessive drinking and alleged promiscuity. He was known for his mysterious reputation, rumored supernatural powers, and manipulation of the royal family. 

Portrait of Rasputin - 1907Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes, the American tycoon, was a wealthy man with a bizarre lifestyle. He lived in seclusion, devloping a fear of germs and consequently saving his urine in containers.  

Jean Simmons factsFlickr, UNC Greensboro Special

Howard Hughes

Despite his pioneering work in aviation and film, his deteriorating mental health and obsessive actions became more noticeable over time. He would start to exhibit odd behaviors like putting tissue boxes on his feet and hoarding odd knick-knacks.

Howard Hughes speaking before the Press Club  - 1938Harris & Ewing, Wikimedia Commons

Diogenes

Diogenes, the Greek philosopher and founder of cynicism, was known for his odd teachings. He lived in poverty, often staying in a large jar in Athens, and famously carried a lantern in broad daylight, saying he was on am mission to find an "honest" person.

Painting of  Diogenes - 1637Jusepe de Ribera, Wikimedia Commons

Diogenes

Sometimes, he took his beliefs too far. His antics included defecating in public to represent the natural state of humanity and openly challenging the most powerful and influential figures of his time without shame or fear.

Salvator Rosa - Diogenes Searching For An Honest ManSalvator Rosa, Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ramirez, known as the "Toxic Lady," became famous for a mysterious event in 1994. While at a Riverside, California medical facility, her body emitted a strange odor, making healthcare workers sick. 

Woman in hospital bedKieferPix, Shutterstock

Gloria Ramirez

Tests revealed unusual particles in her blood and odd pharmaceutical reactions. Experts considered environmental pollution or mass hysteria. Her death added to the mystery, as autopsy results were inconclusive. 

Man working in hospital lab.Pixabay, Pexels

Gustave Eiffel

Gustave Eiffel is known for designing the Eiffel Tower, but aside from his engineering feats, he also conducted a few weird experiments. He once tested how various substances affected digestion by exposing food to acid baths similar to stomach acids.

Portrait of Gustave Eiffel - 1888Nadar, Wikimedia Commons


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