From presidents to philosophers, here’s a list of beloved historical figures that were actually huge jerks. We don’t just mean they let their fame and notoriety get to their heads. Some of history’s greatest icons were philanderers, racists, and dabblers in animal cruelty.
Though known for his stance against violence, Gandhi admitted to abusing and beating his wife. That’s right, innocent little Gandhi was a wife-beater. He was also known to bathe with women much younger than himself, believed semen had magical powers, and enjoyed sharing a bed with his teenage grandniece from time to time.
In addition to creating some of the most influential inventions of all time, the Wizard of Menlo Park spent his spare time electrocuting innocent animals to run a smear campaign against his competitor Nikola Tesla by using Tesla’s alternating current to fry various animals. This included the electrocution of an elephant, which was filmed.
You know how you were taught in school that it was Columbus who discovered the Earth was round and not flat? Yeah, by the time Columbus set sail, it was already common knowledge that the Earth was indeed a globe. The main reason Columbus sailed to the New World was for money and glory. Sorry.
Aristotle was a renowned Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist that taught Alexander the Great and wrote about a huge range of topics that included metaphysics, poetry and politics. And you would think a philosopher would be fairly progressive and open-minded when it came to gender. Well, think again. Aristotle was rude as hell about women and has said such gross things as “a proper wife should be as obedient as a slave” and “The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities – a natural defectiveness.”
World-renowned physicist and mathematician was a cheater.
While in Berlin Einstein cheated on his first wife Mileva Maric by having an affair with a woman named Elsa Lowenthal. Who was this woman? Why, none other than Albert’s cousin! Yep, Einstein cheated on his wife by having an affair with his own cousin. Because of his infidelity, Albert and Mileva divorced. The rest of the story doesn’t get much better. Einstein later married Elsa, who died in 1936—but not before he cheated on her, too.
Mother Teresa Accepted Money from Criminals and Deliberately Neglected Patients
Teresa wasn’t too concerned about whom she took donations from, and so she became a lightning rod for criminals and tyrants who wanted to make themselves looks better by being able to say that they donated to Mother Teresa. Among her top donors were Jean-Claude Duvalier, brutal dictator of Haiti, and banker Charles Keating, who was convicted in the 1990s for fraud and racketeering. On top of everything else, in 1991 it was revealed that only a small amount of the money donated to Mother Teresa’s organization could be accounted for. The rest probably went directly into the Vatican’s bank vaults, because if there’s anyone who needs money more than the poor people of India, it’s the pope.