When it comes to kings, queens, and presidents of the past, their hobbies are often hidden in history. Not every book tells how a Tudor monarch almost lost the bell tower of the capital’s oldest cathedral, and what Marie Antoinette’s mother taught her daughter. Today, we invite you to dive into history and read about 5 of the most gambling personalities of the past.
1. Henry VIII
Henry VIII was a very hot-tempered and inconsistent monarch. He renounced the Roman Church twice, executed his wives, and prohibited gambling, although he was a passionate gambler himself. The king called himself the best gambler in England, which was almost true: Henry learned almost all gambling activities in the country, but his most favorite were cards, dice, and backgammon. Once, Henry VIII bet the bells from St. Paul’s Cathedral and lost them in dice. He didn’t want to play for free, however, the winner did not have a chance to enjoy it for a lifetime. Soon, he was executed for his treason, and the bells remained in the cathedral.
2. Charles II
Charles II was fifteen years old when the English Revolution started. This made the throne’s successor escape in France for almost a decade. During this time, the young king discovered gambling. After the restoration of the monarchy, he finally ascended the English throne. He also brought gambling to his motherland, which was legal throughout the country and became a passion among the nobles.
3. Louis XIV
Louis the Fourteenth was a true king, including his passion for gambling. The king made gambling an expensive hobby of the French aristocracy. Cards became almost the main activity of the Palace of Versailles. At least three times a week, the royal apartments were open for card meetings, but this was not enough for the noblemen, and they arranged extra tournaments. To entertain the guests, the king and his queen regularly acted as croupiers.
4. Marie Antoinette
The wife of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette was a scandalous and at the same time charming person. She came from the royal family of Austria and was a foreigner in France. The courtiers disliked her and, feeling this dislike, the queen looked for ways to distract herself. She spent time at balls, hunting, horse racing, but mostly gambling. She was taught to play by her mother, who was convinced that without this skill, her daughter could easily be left without money. Marie Antoinette emerged as a brave gambler: the stakes were very high. The king, to protect the treasury from the wife’s expenses, forbade her to play. Marie Antoinette made the last game in the last three days.
5. Franklin Roosevelt
He regularly played poker at his official residence a couple of times a week. Some argue that Roosevelt fingered poker chips during his Fireplace Conversations radio broadcasts, in which he spoke directly to ordinary Americans. On the last night of Congress sessions, the head of the White House always played poker matches. Harry Truman inherited this unusual hobby from his predecessor. However, whether for Roosevelt gambling was just a nice pastime, then for Truman it was a diplomatic tool.
There are many more world leaders that participated in gambling with pleasure. For some of them, it was only a hobby, while others used gambling games for political reasons. Perhaps, they knew that gambling reveals all the best and worst traits of people.