In the real life Game of Thrones, hunger for power, the fear of losing it, or just plain perversions, have often produced results as dramatic, shocking, and tragic as anything seen in the hit TV show. Minus the dragons and magic, of course. Throughout history, the lust to rule has sparked deadly conflicts not only between great families, but also between members of the same family as they sought usurp power from relatives, or to fend of usurping kin. Following are twenty fascinating episodes of extraordinary relationships within ruling families.
20. Peter the Great Hounded His Son Into Exile
Peter the Great is often credited with dragging Russia – often kicking and screaming – from its medieval ways and into the modern world. His achievements included revamping the government, weakening the Orthodox Church, modernizing and strengthening the military, and expanding Russia’s borders. He also moved the capital from Moscow to a new city that he built on the Baltic and named after himself, Saint Petersburg. As with any major reforms, those of Peter faced significant resistance from the old order, but the Tsar ruthlessly enforced his will, steamrolling over all opposition. Tragically, those steamrolled included his own son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich.
As kids often do, Peter’s son sought to stake out his individuality by contrasting himself with his father. To that end, the kid became conservative and religious, and attracted admirers from amongst the traditionalists pining for the old days. Unfortunately for the Tsarevich, the kinds of kids who get away with that are the kinds of kids who don’t have Peter the Great for a father. The reformist Tsar, determined to protect his legacy from the threat of its getting overturned by a successor down the road, sought to force his son into seeing things his way. The pressure eventually got too much for the Tsarevich. In desperation, he escaped to Vienna, where he sought political asylum from the Hapsburgs . That was bad enough, but it was about to get far worse.