They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a question that has been torturing philosophers (like some of the rulers on this list) for centuries. Of course we’ve had great benevolent leaders, but is this the truth or just great PR on their part? History is filled with lies, so it’s hard to separate fact from myth or deliberate alterations. (Read: 12 anarchists who changed the world)

There have always been nasty rumours about leaders from extramarital affairs to hiding weapons of mass destruction, some have been true and others false, the list contains leaders who most historians agree were complete psychos who hopefully the world will never have to see again, but probably will anyway because if there’s one thing there’s no shortage off it’s crazy, paranoid and ruthless people who end up in positions of power.  If you thought your leaders were awful and corrupt wait until you read about these rulers from hell:

1) Nero (37-68 AD)- Roman emperor Nero was the kind of guy who loved theatre, he probably loved music too because he reportedly played the fiddle while Rome was burning, his other feats include executing his mother and using Christians as candles, and if that didn’t make him evil enough, he played the bagpipes. Nero like many other Roman emperors met a gruesome end.

2) Vlad the Impaler (1431- 1476)- Anybody with “Impaler” as their nickname can’t have been a pleasant chap. The legend of Dracula the vampire was based on him although Vlad was way scarier. He was the King of Wallachia in Romania and once impaled 20,000 of his own people and left their bodies on the stakes to scare off the invading Ottomans, and it succeeded (for a while anyway). Once nailed the hats of some ambassador’s to their heads because they refused to remove them in his presence, Vlad considered this rude.

3) Caligula (12- 41 AD)- Another crazy Roman emperor (the Roman’s were good at making them). He was the first Roman emperor to be killed by his own body guards, and for a good reason, in his short four year reign he declared war on Neptune (God of the sea), fed ordinary people to animals when there were no criminals to kill because he was bored, he even made his horse a consul, he even reportedly turned the palace into a brothel.

4) Ivan the Terrible (1530- 1584)- The Tsar of Russia who once killed his own son in an argument, the name speaks for itself. Ivan even attacked the city of Novgorod and killed 60,000 people because he thought the nobles were planning to defect.

5) Genghis Khan (1162- 1227)- Genghis Khan created the largest continuous land empire in history, far larger than the Roman empire or Alexander the Great’s empire. Some historians believe that the Mongols wiped out 3/4th of the population of Iran and caused considerable destruction and loss of life from Poland to Korea. 10% of Mongolia’s population are believed to be descendants of Genghis Khan as he and his descendants all had huge harems, now that’s what you call a playa.