Long before the phrase, "an heir and a spare" was coined, world leaders from all eras and continents have been trying to guarantee that their bloodlines didn't end. As you read through some of the outrageous accounts, you'll realize that sometimes the whole legacy thing is just an excuse - an excuse to get busy.
From American Presidents to British Kings, Egyptian Pharaohs to Asian Emperors, both men and women in power have taken advantage of their rank and of other people. Sadly, most illegitimate children of world leaders don't even get a spot in history books. Mostly, because we're not sure who they are or how many of them there are.
Still, this posts uncovers some dark secrets of the past. So many heirs have gotten swept under the rug only to be ignored or forgotten by one of their parents. Today is their moment to have a few minutes in the spotlight even if most of them are long gone now.
All those ads you see on the side of your computer screen for tracing your "possibly royal" ancestry might not seem so silly after you get to the bottom of the post. Here are 15 world leaders who had illegitimate children. Try not to cringe when you get to King Edward VII!
15 Harding And The White House Coat Closet
As far as places you don't want to be in the White House, alone with a women who is not your wife could very well rank as number one. To be more specific, you don't want to be caught alone with another women in the coat closet...not hanging up your coat. But, this is exactly where one of our great leaders, Warren G. Harding, was allegedly caught with a young woman name Nan Britton.
To turn the heat up even more, their affair lasted over six years.
Although Britton ended up burning the love letters exchanged, she couldn't deny that her own daughter Elizabeth Ann Blessing, was indeed fathered by President Harding.
His family assumed he was sterile, but current DNA tests say otherwise. Even the media caught wind of this love affair and Britton became known as the very first White House mistress.
14 President Cleveland Nearly Ruined A Life
It's not uncommon for passionate lovers to turn vindictive and hateful towards each other after their affair ends. This was the path that another American President, Grover Cleveland, decided to pursue after his affair with Maria Halpin. Though, rather than an affair, it was more of a violent encounter. In fact, she was implicated as the victim in this situation.
After the birth of her son, Halpin threatened to tell the authorities what had really happened. Cleveland wasn't about to let her do that, so he sent her son away to an orphanage and locked her up in an asylum.
She was later removed from the asylum after staff determined that she was not insane at all. Rather, she was having her life ruined by her very own President.
13 John Tyler’s Love Child
According to ancestry records passed down throughout generations via stories and spoken accounts, our 10th president had anything but a divided house. Instead, he was all about uniting. But, more on an intimate level, per se.
The children of Rev. John William Dungy claimed that Dungy was the grandson of President Tyler.
We're not certain the nature of his mother's relationship with President Tyler, but no one in Dungy's family has ever claimed any other ancestry aside from Tyler's. Born in Virginia, Dungy lived from 1833-1903 and was known most prominently as a minister. He was also a journalist, politician, and businessman. Also, President Tyler had more legitimate children than any other president, 15 to be exact. In fact, some of his known heirs are alive today.
12 Thomas Jefferson Possibly Fathered All 6 Of Sally Hemings’s Kids
Historians have long argued about the relationship that President Thomas Jefferson had with one of the women working in his household. Her name was Sally Hemings. In those days, a relationship between Jefferson and Hemings would have been taboo. Plus, Jefferson did already have a wife, Martha Jefferson. Martha had already been married once, but was widowed at a young age, so Jefferson was actually her second husband.
Much to the dismay of historians, DNA tests have proved that Jefferson was indeed the father of at least one of Hemings' children.
There is speculation that he very well could have fathered all six of them, but that fact remains unproven.
11 Queen Elizabeth And The Historical Name Change
Any fan of the popular Netflix series The Crown (ahem, guilty) will know what this section is all about. If you're not a fan or haven't seen the show then stick with me. The current queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, originally didn't assign her children with their father's name. Her family name is Windsor, obviously. But Prince Philip's last name is Mountbatten.
Up until right before she gave birth to her fourth son (Andrew), all her children only carried their mother's last name.
In true monarchy fashion, the Windsor name had to endure. It wasn't until she was blasted by the media for failing to give her children the Mountbatten name that she added hyphenated the two to avoid them having a fatherless reputation. All her children have the last name of Windsor-Mountbatten and none are, in fact, illegitimate...in real life or on paper.
10 Augustus The Strong Had Over 300 Kids
Augustus the Strong was the German prince of Saxony. While his role in life might drone on like the dull pages of your old high school history book, this fellow was anything but dull. in fact, the "Strong" in his title had nothing to do with actual strength. No, it's way more illicit than that.
To put it into appropriate terms, Ranker.com said it best, Augustus was far "more prolific in the bedroom than he was in acquiring kingdoms."
In summary, the title referred to his prowess between the sheets. It was reported that Augustus was such an animal that he fathered around 350 children. In today's world, this man surely would had ended up on an episode of Maury, at least.
9 Ramesses II Fathered 100+ Deadbeat To None
There is much to be said of ancient Egyptians, including their pharaohs. Ramesses II was considered the greatest, most celebrated, and definitely the most powerful leader of Egypt. He could very well be the real-life pharaoh depicted in the Bible-based movie The Prince of Egypt. Marrying several times, Ramesses outlived most of his wives and over 100 children. Though his most important consort was undeniably Queen Nefertari.
Before he passed away at age 90 or 91, he fathered at least 52 sons.
Though most of his marriages and relationships were to unite the Dynasty of Egypt, he built many monuments and statues in honor of his children.
Unlike many other leaders who fail to claim their children, Ramesses was no deadbeat. His many statues are pretty much the epitome of a proud father.
8 Genghis Khan Populated Asia
If you can believe it, 16 million Asian men or 8% of the men on the Asian continent have the same Y chromosome sequence as Genghis Khan.
This means that he must have had hundreds of kids by his concubines. The reason why this is so outrageous is that he only fathered a handful of legitimate children by his main wife, Borte. Strangely enough, his first born son Jochi from Borte might not have even been his biological son. She had been captured by his enemies, then nine months later, Jochi was born.
Although Borte was his only empress and only the sons from her would be his successors, he had over 500 secondary wives and consorts. So many, in fact, that his relationships affected the chromosome sequence of an entire continent.
7 Ibn Saud And His “Sudairi Seven”
Although Saudi Arabia is often deemed incredibly foreign and unknown by most of us here in Western Civilization, its origin can be traced back to one person. That person is Ibn Saud. By arranging marriages with different tribes, he fused them together into one nation. Although this might have been considered exploitation of his seemingly most intimate relationships, his strategy worked.
No one is really sure of how many wives he actually had.
We do know that he took a few new wives and concubines each year, then he would later divorce them or just leave them. Like many great leaders, he had a favorite wife. Her name was Hess al-Sudairi. She was his favorite because not only was she gorgeous, but she gave birth to several sons who would also become his favorites, the so-called "Sudairi Seven."
6 Minh Mang And His Legendary Fertility
Minh Mang wasn't even in line to rule Vietnam, but after a strange turn of events, he was given the title. His uncle was in line to rule as emperor, but he passed unexpectedly a year before he was supposed to take over, leaving the runner-up or Minh Mang's father in charge.
Minh Mang was known for a few things. One thing in particular was that he broke his family's promises a lot. Because a religious person had saved his father's life, the family vowed to honor his act by protecting others following that person's specific religion. Instead, he persecuted them. When he wasn't brutally murdering religious folks, he was making his 142 children with his companions. Also, in his spare time, he built up his kingdom. Constructing many gorgeous temples, he was well-known for his glitz and virility.
5 Henry I Is The Undisputed Record Holder
Thanks to numerous documentaries on Netflix, many people are beginning to think that there aren't many secrets coming from England anymore. But, here's one you might not know. Way back in the year 1100, England's king was King Henry I. The secret is that he might be the reason Queen Elizabeth II was so adamant about adding Philip's surname of Mountbatten to her surname of Windsor for her children.
He was known as the king of the fatherless as he sired over 20 illegitimate children during his lifetime.
And received a sore reputation because of it. As the King of England, it simply wasn't an honorable thing to do. Henry I only had two legitimate kids even though he was married twice. He remarried after his first wife passed away. Even so, apparently there was no reason to worry about his lineage stopping any time soon.
4 Henry VIII And His 12+ Extra Partners
There are silly songs and nursery rhymes about this particular ruler. "Henry the 8th, I am, I am..." Whether you know the rest of the tune or not, you probably know about this red-headed fellow. Although he was ill-tempered, reportedly unattractive, and extremely emotionally insecure, he landed himself a slew of wives and partners.
He had a reputation for marrying, getting bored, then either "getting rid" of the wife or divorcing her.
Typically, he would marry one of his favorite partners and start the cycle over again.
Unlike Rameses II, Henry VIII rarely acknowledged his biological children. Instead, he pretty much behaved as if they didn't even exist. We're not sure how many illegitimate children he fathered, but aside from his six wives, he had 12 known other partners, probably double that. And most of them had kids. One can only speculate that they, too, were red-heads.
3 The Deadbeat King Edward VII
Much like Henry VIII, King Edward VII wasn't nominated for any "Dad of the Year" awards. He was King of the United Kingdom from 1901 - 1910. Unlike his mother Queen Victoria, who was known for her prude nature, Edward was a wild card. Especially when it came to women...and the bedroom. And, he didn't hide his philandering in the least bit.
Some of the most famous of his 50+ affairs include the actresses Lillie Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, the Countess of Warwick, and even Sir Winston Churchill's mom.
To make you cringe even more, his wife Queen Alexandra was the mother to the ONLY five heirs he ever acknowledged. Undoubtedly, there are many non-royal families alive today with King Edward's blood flowing through their veins.
2 Marie Of Romania Didn’t Just Have One Type
Although most of the world leaders on this list are men, this is one woman who no one can forget. She was an unforgettable force as Queen of Romania in the early twenties.
But, she wasn't a firm believer in monogamy. In her defense, her husband Ferdinand I wasn't either.
Some of her more well-known partners are Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich, Canadian adventurer Joe Boyle, and even newspaperman Waldorf Astor.
One of her favorite partners was Prince Barbu Stirbey. In fact, many historians believe that he was the biological father of her youngest son, Mircea. Though, without Maury, it's a little tricky to be able to turn that particular speculation into fact.
1 Louis XIV Wasn’t Just Hiding His Big Hair
Although he ruled from 1638-1715, the big-haired King of France looks just like he came from a 1980s movie. At least, that's how old paintings portray him. It might have been a good thing he had such big hair, because the man had a lot to hide. Firstly, he learned about "love" when he was very young from a vivacious woman named Catherine-Henriette Bellier. Evidently, their rendezvous were notoriously adventurous.
She must have taught him the art well because he went on to have a quiver full of kids with nearly each woman he was with. For instance, he had seven kids with the Marquise de Montespan while he was married to Queen Marie-Therese. To make matters worse, the queen gave him six kids herself!