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How have some of history's other great tyrants met their demise?

Saddam Hussein's capture is a great Christmas gift for us and the 1 percent to 3 percent of Iraqis who celebrate Christmas. It's seldom that tyrants and mass murderers ever face justice for their murderous misdeeds. Most either die while ruling, or during the course of their overthrow. For your holiday reading pleasure, I've prepared an incomplete list of some awful tyrants and how they met their demise. So gather the family round and read aloud, but not while anyone is eating.

Vlad the Impaler — His real name was Vlad IV. His daddy was Prince Vlad Dracul. He was therefore known to many as Dracula. Despite the name, Vlad was not the inspiration for Bram Stoker's book. Between 1448 and 1476, Vlad intermittently ruled Walachia (modern day Romania).

The reason he was called Vlad the Impaler, as opposed to Vlad the Efficient Administrator or Vlad the Good Listener was that he enjoyed impaling people. In the name of fighting off the Ottoman Empire's expansion, he had tens of thousands skinned, boiled, sliced, diced and impaled. Legend has it that he arranged the impaled bodies in concentric circles outside of towns so that all passersby could see it.

Vlad's rule was intermittent because he spent 12 years in prison, thanks to the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. After jail, he retook the throne in 1476 only to be killed the same year by the Ottomans. Thanks, Ottomans.

Ivan the Terrible — St. Basil's Basilica in Moscow sure is pretty. Ivan the Terrible had it built in 16th century. He was so impressed that he asked the builder if he could build him another one. When he replied, "Yes," Ivan the Terrible gouged out his eyes to assure that he wouldn't.

Ivan's hobbies included concentrating Russian political power in the hands of a single leader, the Tsar, conquering Siberia, and killing people. He invented Russia's first secret police force, the Oprichniki. They once killed so many people in Novgorod that they clogged the Volkhov River with the bodies, causing it to overflow its banks. Ivan died in 1584 while, of all things, getting ready to play chess.

Caligula — The name sounds evil, I know, but it means "little boots." Caius Caesar Germanicus got the nickname Caligula because, as a child, he wore military boots.

Did I mention that Caligula was insane? He was probably schizophrenic, a condition seldom desirable in an emperor. He waged ridiculous wars and, as seems to be a pattern with your A-list tyrants, loved to disembowel people. Caligula's high point of lowness was when he decided it'd be really great if Jews worshipped him instead of God. He ordered that a statue of himself be erected in Jerusalem. His own guards killed him before it could be done though.

Because Caligula's terror also included a lot of sex, Penthouse magazine pioneer Bob Guccione made a movie about it 1979. It's now available on DVD!

Attila the Hun — You'd think that being called Attila the Hun would eliminate the need for a derogatory nickname, but no. Attila's nickname was Scourge of God. Attila is one of the main reasons that Barbarians get such a bad rap. Attila killed his brothers, ate his sons, and as King of the Huns horsebacked Huns in the mid-5th century, terrorized all of Europe. They killed monks, they killed babies, they killed virgins. You named 'em, they killed 'em, leaving piles of bones for everyone to see.

Attila trashed several of Europe's big cities including Strasbourg, Cologne, and, my favorite, Worms. If not for his setbacks against the Romans at the Battle of Chalons in 451, it's possible the Western Civilization as we know it today would not have developed.

Attila died not long after Chalons, in bed, on his wedding night. Supposedly he was so drunk that he passed out and died by drowning in his own nosebleed. Facial tissues were not invented until 1920.

Contact Andisheh Nouraee at [email protected].

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