Famous Kings

Facts About Famous Kings 

There have been some fascinating kings over hundreds and hundreds of years, from the brave and the mighty to the scary and fearsome.

These facts will surprise and amaze you! Read on and become a master of the monarchs!

First, let’s take a look at one interesting character who is very well-known for being somewhat a little crazy!

King George III

He ruled over England from 1760 to 1820 and was 22 when he took the throne. Quite young for such big responsibilities!

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  • He was England’s longest-ruling monarch before Queen Victoria and ruled for 59 years, wow that’s a long time.

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  • He married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the daughter of a German duke and it was an arranged wedding so that the families became more powerful. Unbelievably they only met on the day they got married! Can you imagine never meeting your wife before getting married.

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  • They had 15 children…luckily they lived in a palace so there was plenty of room. That is a lot of brothers and sisters to deal with. The king and queen must have been tired.

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  • His worst moment while he was king was losing the American colonies, which meant that England no longer had power over them. This didn’t make him too popular at all.

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  • One of his favorite things to do was to farm…strange but true. He used to go to Windsor Castle, dress up as a farmer and get out in the fields.

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  • There was a movie made about him called “The Madness of King George”, which portrayed him in all his craziness which he was most famous for.

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  • But why was he so crazy? Apparently it was from a disease called porphyria which can make someone seem a little crazy, but there are some rumors that he was poisoned. Nobody really knows what happened.

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  • But what was the country to do, with the king ill and not really knowing what he was doing? They had to get other people to run the country in his place, so the Prime Minister, William Pitt and the queen ruled the country instead. A bit later his son ruled as regent, which means that they have the authority to rule the country when a king is ill, or not there.

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  • As his illness got worse, he seemed crazier and he actually went blind too. He spent a lot of time alone being locked up behind bars at Windsor Castle. The poor man! Imagine being locked up in your own palace.

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King Charles VI of France

Another king known for his crazy ways, perhaps in those days life was just too tough for these royal rulers!

  • King Charles VI was crowned King of France in 1380, at just eleven years old. Can you imagine being crowned king at 11? That’s craziness in itself.

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  • He used to be known as Charles the Well-Loved as people adored him.

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  • But as with King George III, insanity seemed to take over. After that he was called Charles the Mad. Poor man.

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  • Apparently the first time that people saw that little streak of insanity was when he became rather irritated by the sound of a spear dropping while they he was traveling with his men. After that he actually murdered some of his own knights! Can you imagine, how cruel.

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  • After this, he apparently went into a coma.

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  • Over the years things changed; sometimes he was fine; other times he didn’t know who he was or who his family was.

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  • There were quite a few months when he refused to take a bath…oh dear he can’t have smelt too good.

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  • Now can you imagine this? At one point he believed he was made of glass. How odd, no wonder people thought he was crazy.

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  • He died under the title of ‘madman’ in 1422. What a life he had.

King Henry VIII

If there was ever a king to be remembered it was King Henry VIII who was a larger than life king who changed the course of history and had a rather interesting life to say the least!

  • Did you know that he was never actually meant to be king? That spot was always kept for Arthur his older brother. But Arthur died unexpectedly at the young age of 15 very soon after getting married to Catherine of Aragon from Spain. Well King Henry just stepped right in from where his brother left off, at the age of 17, including taking Catherine to be his wife. Now that’s something.

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  • Everyone always thought he would have a very good life working with the church, pretty crazy when he literally played with the rules to suit his own needs when it came to his many marriages and divorces later on too.

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  • King Henry VIII had many wives, six in fact. He was known to be rather ruthless with them, from completely banishing them, ignoring them or even worse, putting them to their death. In some cases he married for love in others he married for political reasons to of course make stronger connections with important countries. Apparently he compared his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, to a horse. How awful! He was quite cruel to her too, as this was an arranged marriage. The marriage was eventually dissolved so to speak, and unbelievably she was called the king’s sister! Rewind! How in the world did that happen?

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  • He has always been a fascinating king with a big personality and he liked the good things in life, he could be cruel and very clever at the same time. This was definitely a man to listen to very carefully!

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  • He loved horse riding, jousting and archery. He was mischievous, fit and energetic, loved music and he held many many feasts at his palaces.

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  • His six wives…

o   First was Catherine of Aragon. They had a daughter Mary, who later went on to be queen. But Henry wanted a son, so got the church to agree that he wasn’t really married to Catherine and disowned Mary.

o   Anne Boleyn was his second wife. They had a daughter Elizabeth, who also went on to be queen. But she also didn’t give Henry a son, so she was out the door too and put to death.

o   Then came Jane Seymour. Finally he got the son he wanted, Edward. He later became king, but poor Jane died 2 weeks after Edward was born.

o   Anne of Cleves came next, but he wasn’t crazy about her so they got divorced after 6 months.

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o   Unbelievably, Henry wanted to get married again and the next lucky lady was Catherine Howard who was his fifth wife. She was 19 and he was 49 when they married. She was also sent to her death.

o    His last wife was Katheryn Parr!

  • Besides being quite fit and active, Henry was actually quite a sickly king. He had a jousting accident which meant he couldn’t exercise at all, and he put on a lot of weight. He had very bad headaches and couldn’t sleep. The wound from the jousting accident got worse and worse and eventually he got so sick from it that he died.

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  • Apparently his last words were “Monks, monks, monks!” What a strange thing to say don’t you think?

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  • He was buried with Jane Seymour as she was the only one who he saw as his true wife as she was able to give him a son. The poor other queens.

James I of England

James I of England was the first king to rule both England and Scotland as at that time the two kingdoms were united as one. He did some good things in his time.

  • James I was born in Scotland in 1566. His mother was the famous Mary Queen of Scots who was rumored to have killed Lord Darnley, although there was no evidence to prove it. Well, interestingly James I was Lord Darnley’s son. He certainly did have some famous parents.

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  • James I first became King of Scotland in 1567 at one year old! At that time his mother was in jail. The Earl of Morton ruled as regent for 14 years. A regent is someone who rules in a king’s place when they are too young, are ill or are away.

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  • Before he left Scotland he wrote a book where he compared Kings to Gods. He obviously had talent as a writer. Its actual name was ‘Basilicon Doron’. What a mouthful, but most people called it ‘The Kingly Gift’. He wrote it to help his son Henry when it came to all things about being a king. There were only ever 7 copies of the original book, and only 2 survived. They would be worth a lot of money. One of them is in the National Library of Scotland and the other one is in the British Museum.

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  • He married Anne of Denmark in 1589 and they had 6 children, although some people say 9, so it’s not really known, but that’s still a lot of kids!

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  • In 1603 he became King of England and ruled until 1625.

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  • He wanted everybody to have a bible, so what did he do? Well he created his own bible called ‘King James Bible’ in 1611. That’s quite amazing, his very own bible named after him.

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  • He was very against the Catholic religion, and according to history there were a couple of attempts to take his life because of his beliefs.

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  • Once while James and his wife were out hunting, she mistakenly killed his favorite dog, Jewel. How sad. He forgave her immediately and sent her a massive big diamond the next day in honor of his dog.

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  • Shakespeare was one of his subjects. He must have liked Shakespeare a lot as he loved writing and poetry himself.

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  • Apparently he quite liked to spend money, and this made his kingdom a bit poorer than it should have been. Perhaps it was that diamond he bought his wife.

Augustus Caesar of Rome

Augustus was the first Roman Emperor who established the Roman Empire. He was well-known for bringing peace to Rome after many years of battles and will always be remembered for that. When he ruled, his reign was known as ‘Pax Romana’ or Roman peace. One cool emperor he was.

  • He was born in 63 B.C. and his birth name was actually Gaius Octavius Thurinus, but he was usually called Octavian until later on in life. Let’s stick with calling him Augustus.

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  • His mother came from a famous family and she was actually Julius Caesar’s niece.

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  • In 27 BC ‘Octavius’ became the most powerful man in Rome, and was then called Augustus, which stayed with him for the rest of his life. He had ultimate power over everything.

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  • Before he became the Roman Emperor, Rome was still run by elected people, of which Julius Caesar was one.

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  • He ruled the Roman Empire from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. for 41 years.

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  • He didn’t call himself king, but instead ‘Princeps Civitatis’, which meant “First Citizen”. It seems as if all the power didn’t make him selfish or boastful. Good for him.

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  • He built a really good army, and soldiers volunteered and then served for 20 years; that’s quite a long time to be a soldier, they must have got quite tired.

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  • The month of August was named after him. Before this it was called Sextilis. He certainly will be remembered forever every time August comes around. Now you know where it comes from, pretty cool.

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  • Augustus rebuilt a lot of the city of Rome. When he died his last words were, “I found a Rome of bricks; I leave to you one of marble”.

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Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France ruled as the King of France for 72 years, longer than any other monarch in European History. That’s amazing.

  • He was born in 1638 and died in 1715, just four days before his 77th birthday.

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  • He became king at the age of four after the death of his father. He was just a young nipper at the time so his mother Anne of Austria carried out his duties. At four it’s not really possible to rule a land all by yourself. In 1661 he took hold of the reigns when he was 22 years old. At least he had some time to get used the whole idea of being king.

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  • Now this is something! The American state of Louisiana was named after him, as France controlled it for many years. It was known as Louisiane, Land of Louis. That’s cool.

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  • This famous king married twice. His first wife was Maria Theresa of Spain who unfortunately died. He then remarried, but as his second wife wasn’t from a very important family, they had to marry in secret. But saying that, it was a secret that lots of people actually knew about. Unbelievably it was never announced to anyone, and there are no official records that actually show that it happened. He stayed married to her until he died.

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  • He was also known as the Sun King. Why? Because he wanted everyone to revolve around him like planets. He obviously thought he was extremely important and special. Hmm.

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  • Even though he was kind, you had to be super nice to him to make sure he liked you.

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  • People often say that he only had a bath three times in his life. Yuk! But, it actually wasn’t true. He was in fact very clean and had a large Turkish bath that he liked to wallow in and always disinfected everything. He changed his clothes many times a day and especially his underwear. Maybe he was a bit too clean.

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  • He apparently owned over 1000 wigs and 413 beds! What? That’s more wigs and beds than all the years he lived.

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  • He liked to eat…a lot. When he died they found that his stomach was twice the size of a normal stomach. Oh dear, that’s not too healthy at all.

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  • He was very, very short at only five foot, four inches tall (which is 1.6 meters). That’s about the height of an average 10 year old. So what did he do? He dressed in high heels and big wigs to make him look taller. How funny is that?

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was probably the most brutal and fierce leader the world has ever seen, but one of the most successful too. Read on to find out about this somewhat scary man.

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  • He was known for founding the Mongol Empire, which at that time was one of the most powerful forces to be reckoned with in the world. He was one important man.

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  • His actual title was Supreme Khan of the Mongols and he ruled from 1206 to 1227. Not all that long when you compare it to other famous monarchs. It was only 21 years, but he certainly made his mark in that time.

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  • He grew up in a very cold Mongolia and his real name was Temujin, which means ‘finest steel’. Even though it was super cold, he had a cool childhood riding horses and hunting with his brothers.

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  • When he was only nine years old his family shipped him off to live with his future wife Borte. He quickly went back home when he found out his father had been poisoned by some enemies. He became the khan of his home tribe.

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  • But then they were betrayed and another warrior kicked him and his family out of the tribe. That’s not too cool. But Temujin was a fighter and he helped his family survive and then started plotting his revenge. He was obviously not a very happy camper.

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  • So onwards and upwards for him as he started to build his own tribe and married Borte. The two tribes became one, which gave him more power.

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  • He was fierce and brutal, but very courageous. He built up an army until he was ready for revenge for the death of his father.

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  • He finally fought the people who’d betrayed them and then also fought his enemy tribes. They all soon began to realize that it was probably better for them to be on his side than not, as he was almost unbeatable. So if you can’t beat them, join them, and that’s what they did. They then named him Genghis Khan or ‘ruler of all’.

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  • He was cruel to his enemies but loyal to people who followed him and he was one brilliant general. He taught his armies well, and they were the best fighters across the land. He was clever and knew exactly how to trick his foes.

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  • He went on to fight many battles and conquered most of the world.

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  • Once an enemy called Jebe shot him in a battle with an arrow. Genghis was so impressed with his skills that he spared his life, and Jebe went on to become one of his greatest generals. They nicknamed him ‘The Arrow’. So if you wanted your life spared, you had to show some very impressive fighting skills it seemed.

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  • He was so powerful, but unbelievably he actually lived in a tent called a yurt! Can’t see many powerful kings doing that.

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  • He once said that “conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.”

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  • He died in 1227 but no one really knows why. People think it could have been because he fell off his horse. His son Ogedei took over from him.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was a very successful leader of France in his time and basically dominated the whole of continental Europe during his time. He carried on as a powerful force until the French Invasion of Russia in 1812, and his success went downhill from there.

  • He was born in 1769 in France and his title was Emperor of France, although he conquered a lot of Europe.

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  • Did you know his nickname was ‘Little Corporal’?

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  • His dad was a very important lawyer who represented Corsica at the court of the French King. So Napoleon came from quite a wealthy and well-known family.

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  • As his family had quite a lot of money, he went to a good school and also went to a military academy in France, which obviously taught him his very good fighting skills! His father died in 1785 and Napoleon made his way back to Corsica to help out the family.

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  • When he came back he helped Italy fight against the French, but a bit later on changed sides and returned to France. It doesn’t seem as if he was very loyal.

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  • When the French Revolution started in Paris all the people turned against the King of France and took over the country. A city by the name of Toulon had been taken over by the British and clever Napoleon came up with a great plan to defeat them and force them away. It worked and he became an important man at the age of 24.

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  • After fighting a few wars all over the country, Napoleon returned to Paris in 1799 and created a whole new government. He gave himself the title of First Consul which basically made him the dictator of France. Quite a clever way to get to be the head honcho.

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  • As the dictator of France, he actually made some really cool changes which helped the country. One of his most famous was the Napoleonic Code. This code meant that anyone could have high-powered positions in government, not just people who were well connected or came from wealthy families. This was a big change for France as previously there were people in government who didn’t have a clue what they were doing, but they had done favors for the king, so they were in.

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  • He also built new roads to help businesses along and made the Catholic Church the religion of the land. But people were allowed to choose their own religion and weren’t captured or jailed if they had other beliefs.

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  • He was crowned the first Emperor France in 1804. At his coronation, he wouldn’t allow the Pope to put the crown on his head, but instead did it himself. Don’t think the Pope would have been too happy with that!

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  • Napoleon fought many battles and kept growing the French Empire. At its biggest in 1811, he controlled most of Europe from Spain to the borders of Russia. Not too bad!

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  • As they say all good things come to an end, and in 1812, Napoleon made a big mistake. He marched a huge army to Russia, but a lot of his soldiers starved to death along the way. There was a fierce battle and then he entered Moscow. The city was deserted and on fire, which meant there were no supplies for his men. They went back to France, but he didn’t have much of an army left with no food and very cold weather.  From here things went downhill for him and he lost his power.

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  • After this he had to go into hiding but escaped and took part in the Battle of Waterloo. He was once again defeated and went back into hiding in a place called Saint Helena, which is where he died.

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  • He was actually known for being quite short and even today, if someone is trying to pretend they’re not really short they are said to have a “Napoleon complex.” So, just be happy with your height.

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  • His birth name was Napoleone di Buonaparte, but when he moved to France he changed his name, so he sounded more French.

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  • He married his first wife, Josephine, in 1796 and she became the first Empress of France, but he then got divorced in 1810 and married Marie-Louise of Austria.

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  • Beethoven was going to dedicate his 3rd Symphony to Napoleon, but changed his mind after Napoleon crowned himself emperor.

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  • Napoleon wrote a romance novel called ‘Clisson et Eugenie’. From what we’ve found out, he doesn’t seem to be the type that would write a romance novel, but obviously he was. You just never know.

Tutankhamun

Tutankhamen was probably one of the most famous Egyptian Pharaohs who is still remembered today and his burial mask and historical items found from his tomb have been shown all over the world.

  • Tutankhamun was only eight or nine when he became ruler of Egypt. It seems that most of the famous kings all took their thrones at an early age. Obviously he couldn’t make the decisions, so two senior people did, probably Ay, who was the father of Nefertiti and Horemheb, an army commander.

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  • He was only King for about ten years and died in his late teens. That was very early. It is thought that he ruled from 1333 B.C. to 1324 BC.

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  • Over the years, scientists have used every available technology they have to try and understand how he died. The two most popular theories are that he had a blow to the back of the head, either accidentally or someone did it on purpose, or that he broke or fractured his leg which became badly infected. So no one really knows what happened to him.

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  • Nobody really knows who he married, but some people think it was his step sister.

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  • So who was his family? It is thought that his father was Akhenaten who was married to Nefertiti, and they had six daughters. Akhenaten had another wife, Kira, and it is thought that she was Tutankhamun’s mother.

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  • Even though he is one of the most well-known Egyptian pharaohs to modern people, evidence of his time as ruler was almost rubbed out. Horemheb was the next ruler and he replaced Tutankhamun’s name with his own on many monuments. Seemed like Horemheb wanted all the glory.

egyptian monument

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  • Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922. It was so well-preserved that this is why we’re able to understand quite a lot about his life. His remains are still in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, Egypt.

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  • His famous burial mask is on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which by the way is the only air-conditioned room in the building! He must have been important.

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  • Now this is something. Apparently there were some very strange events that took place after the discovery of his tomb and removing items from it. Apparently people called it The Curse of Tutankhamun or the Pharaoh’s Curse. Lord Carnarvon was the man who gave up all the money to find the remains of Tutankhamun. But in April 1923, seven weeks after the opening of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, Carnarvon died from a mosquito bite on his cheek which got infected.

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  • When they lifted Tutankhamun’s death mask, he had a sore in the exact same place on his cheek. How weird is that? At the same time of Carnarvon’s death, the lights in Cairo went out and back at his home in England, his dog Susie howled and dropped dead. Everyone believed that when Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened a number of people died soon after. But what they ignored, was that actually most people lived! So who knows whether it is true or not.

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