Why you shouldn’t overthrow your government and make yourself king

Fly too close to the sun and you may well burn

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get it.

Your king or emperor is weak or ineffectual.

They do nothing but sit on the laurels of their forefathers’ while the country floats listlessly from one disaster to another.

The ruler needs to be shown the door but who would replace them?

Well — you’re capable enough you say. You even have a few ideas you could implement.

Be warned, dear reader!

Better men and women than you have tried…and failed.

Learn from the experience of the five people below who tried just that — and sooner or later — paid the ultimate price.

No. 5: Colonel Gaddafi — Brother Leader

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Literally the son of a goat herder, he rose to control the reins of power in Libya. Seizing power from the erstwhile King Idris in 1969, he ruled with a velvet covered iron fist until 2011.

It all unravelled however during the Arab spring. Overthrown, caught and killed — his lifeless body was stored in the freezer at a local market, alongside that of his son.

Put on public display for four days so people could come from far and wide to see the body he was eventually buried in an unmarked grave in the desert.

The man responsible for so many human rights abuses eventually got his just deserts in the desert.

No.4: Simon Bolivar — El Liberator

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You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

When Bolivar was born, the Spanish monarchy held firm control of the lands from modern-day Wyoming in the US in the north to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina.

Despite being born into the highest echelons of Caracas society, he risked it all to see his country, nay — all South America free from the Spanish yoke.

Having a flair for the theatrical he took an oath — on the very same spot in Rome where 2,300 years prior, the plebians went on strike and created the first government position held by the masses — to not rest until independence was achieved.

And achieve it he did. Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia were established. He became the father of five nations — one named after him, and another with currency in his honour.

In the fullness of time, however — he tried to establish himself a dictator (though he had the best of intentions rather than wanting the trappings of power).

Alas, that didn’t work out and he died penniless, despised, and facing the prospect of a self-imposed exile away from his beloved South America.

No. 3: Nader Shah — Sword of Persia

Why can’t one use jester hats instead of crowns? || Credit: Wikimedia commons

Born in 1688 as the son of a nomadic herdsman and coat maker, the Sword of Persia had humble beginnings. Starting life as a gatherer of firewood, and later enslaved — he rose to topple the 250-year-old Safavid Empire centred in modern day Iran.

It is lonely at the top though — and paranoia eventually got the better of him. Thinking his favourite son was out to depose him, he had said son’s eyeballs gouged out and brought to him on a platter.

He regretted this immediately — but that didn’t stop him from having all nobles who witnessed the aforementioned eyeball extraction killed as well. Dead men tell no tales after all.

As the years went on he only got more paranoid and cruel. On one occasion — he put down a rebellion and built a tower out of the skulls of those who dared rise up against him.

Eventually — fearing for their own lives, the head of his household and captain of the guards conspired and assassinated Nadir Shah.

No. 2: Napoleon Bonaparte — Emperor of the French

None too happy about being exiled to an isolated island with poor Wi-Fi || Credit: Wikimedia commons

Breaker of chains, father of dragoons, Emperor of everything from Portugal to Italy— Napoleon the Great.

During the French Revolution, circa 1799, he overthrew the government of the day — The Directory — and soon after made himself Emperor. After trampling all over Europe and terrorising his enemies for a good few years — he was eventually defeated. He lost it all and was exiled to the island of Elba just off Italy.

Anyone can overthrow the government once, but twice? Now that was a challenge!

Ever the overachiever, Napoleon was the comeback king (well, Emperor in this case). He took back the throne once more— this time, from King Louis XVIII.

Alas, it was not to be and his luck ran out in 1815. Stripped of everything — he was shuttled off to an uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean — St Helena.

Here he lived out his days and ended them by writing a book about his great hero — Julius Caesar.

No. 1: Julius Caesar — Dictator of the Roman Empire

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The legend himself. The one who crossed the Rubicon river, and effectively ended the 500-year old Roman Republic.

Taking the unprecedented step of having himself declared Dictator indefinitely in 46BC (usually a 1-year position) — he dismantled checks and balances and enhanced his own powers.

His actions, however, were for naught. On the 15th of March, 44BC the man left this mortal coil (technically — he was forced off) when he was murdered by a group of senators — one of the perpetrators being the man closest to him — Brutus.

His only child, Caesarion, by Cleopatra no less, never took his father’s reigns. The boy was strangled at the ripe old age of 17.

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