Every era has its villains. Some of these so-called “awful people” have become household symbols for all that is dreadful. Others, just as evil, are hardly known at all. Exploring the mythology which surrounds some of these Really Awful People can reveal much about motivation, circumstance, and their true natures. For grabbing wealth and land, it is hard to top Attila the Hun, Vlad Tepes and Francisco Pizarro. For sheer megalomania and murder, Nero, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong are in a class by themselves. Bear in mind that some of the people were considered heroes in their time, and are now considered monsters. History has its large scale sexual predators in Poland's Elizabeth Bathory and France's Gilles de Rais (Retz). The act of killing twenty thousand Roman troops by Arminius is viewed as an atrocity or a victorious battle, depending if you were a Roman or German.
Attila the Hun
Gilles de Retz
Images © copyright by Peter d'Aprix