Why you should care
Some people are too evil to forget … so OZY is resurrecting some of history’s greatest monsters.
Everyone can name the greatest hits when it comes to the evilest people the world has ever known: Vlad the Impaler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin. But they’re not the only game in town. Here at OZY, we love finding forgotten stories from history to share, and this week, it’s gonna get messy.
From South Africa to New Orleans, these people all have one thing in common: They were absolutely horrible people who murdered innocents and abused their power. Many of them never saw anything like justice, but they’ve got a place in the pantheon of awful that is OZY original series, “Long-Forgotten Bastards.”
If you happened upon a Thug gang on the road in 19th-century India, you might not know it. These masters of disguise and charm would often travel with people for days or even weeks before strangling them and taking all their stuff. Among the most prolific was Feringeea, whose gang murdered an estimated 105 people in a single winter.
Delphine LaLaurie was a wealthy homeowner in early 19th-century New Orleans. Like many of her neighbors, she owned slaves … but in the LaLaurie house, the slaves were subject to actual torture, undiscovered until a house fire let the world in on her terrible secret. Delphine was run out of town, but her story has hung around NOLA in the form of gawkers at her supposedly haunted house.
You’ve heard of King Leopold II of Belgium, whose greed and disregard for human life led to unimaginable atrocities in the Congo. Now meet his lieutenant, Léon Fiévez, who was good at getting people to produce rubber … and once boasted about having ordered hundreds of human heads cut off.
Willem Adriaan van der Stel was a terrible manager: As governor of the Cape Colony he neglected his responsibilities and extorted his constituents to build a giant (and still-standing) estate. Unfortunately for him, his colonists ratted him out. While he tried to stage a smear campaign against them, the truth eventually won the day.
The story about him embarrassing and expelling the British ambassador is probably apocryphal, but the fact that anyone believes it is proof that Mariano Melgarejo had an absolutely bonkers political career. From murdering his biggest rival in front of a crowd to drinking and gambling his way through years in office, Melgarejo is still talked about with contempt by modern Bolivian politicians.