Seven Terrifying Dark Triad Men From History

Seven Terrifying Dark Triad Men From History

In Knowledge Base, Level I by Ivan ThroneLeave a Comment

History is the playground of the terrifying dark triad.

Empires rise and fall. Great kings are crowned and torn to pieces from the throne. Nations are savaged with fire and sword and the story of history is the narrative of the Dark Triad Man and his powerful, shadowy impact on the outcomes of the world.

Men in history with the dark triad traits of personality have guided kingdoms to glory and ensnared them in defeat; supported wise kings and delivered incompetent rulers to death.

Many times the Dark Triad Man himself is seated on the throne, ruling his principality with ruthless competence and success.


The terrifying dark triad traits explained.

The dark triad of personality is the presence, to a high degree, of three specific things. Those things are narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. The first is a trait of personality. The second is a skill. The third is a mental formation, a structure of the mind that can be organically present or consciously developed through severe and rigorous training.

What makes this terrifying dark triad so powerful, and why is it so formidable?

A total belief in entitlement, a mastery of the ways of power and an absence of moral boundaries afford the Dark Triad Man the desire, ability and ruthlessness necessary to seize the throne. In his daily works and planning and efforts it is important to have role models from which he can extract important and unforgettable lessons.


On International Men’s Day 2015, I give you these men as examples.

Celebrate your male power. Honor the men who have built the empires of the world. Know that their grave and fundamental elements of manhood are in each and every one of you. Cultivate and expand them every day.

It is your birthright as a man.


Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616): First of the Tokugawa Shoguns.

Who he was: A daimyo or regional lord in Japan who used his patience, cunning and generalship to establish himself as the supreme military leader of Japan.

What he did: Starting his young career as a diplomatic hostage at the age of six, he fought and plotted his way to the seat of power and bided his time with Machiavellian patience until the death of the regent enabled him to seize the country and mount the throne of the Shogunate. His ruthless expertise and dominating power spawned the brilliant Edo Period and his descendants ruled the nation as the Tokugawa shoguns for centuries.

Why he was terrifying: Calculating and subtle, clever and bold, he was the master of icy, patient assessments and switched loyalties as befitted his master plan. Those who recognized his genius and drive and gave him their utter loyalty were rewarded. The rest lost their heads.

The lesson: Patient adherence to your concealed plan is a crucial hallmark of the Dark Triad Man. Ieyasu himself said it best:


The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one’s inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience.


Ieyasu’s ruthlessness was well known and his crowning military glory was the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Over 160,000 ferocious warriors met in the field to decide the fate of Japan. Ieyasu achieved total victory and the reins of the nation.

The Dark Triad Man models his patience after Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Gaius Julius Caesar (100 BC – 44 BC): Dictator of Rome.

Who he was: The most awesome military commander in history whose name is synonymous with the attainment of total power.

What he did: The death of his father left him as head of the family at the age of sixteen. After a stint in the army he became a lawyer and was known for his oratory and unhesitating, ruthless prosecution of corrupt former officials. Captured by pirates, he insisted on a ransom more than double their initial demands and promised them he would kill them all. He kept that promise, hunting down and crucifying them after his release.

Why he was terrifying: Caesar did not let challenges slow him down. He did not quit and he did not pursue small goals. He conquered Gaul and contemporary reports state that of the three million Gauls that faced him in the campaign, Caesar killed a third, enslaved another third, and left the rest as vassals in the subjugated lands. When he was told to disband his army, instead he crossed the Rubicon with his legions and seized the throne of power.

The lesson: When presented with enormous and fleeting opportunity of unrivaled fortune, the Dark Triad Man seizes that opportunity and strives for a life of greatness. As Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon and threw the law of Rome to the side:


Let the die be cast.


Caesar’s boldness and self confidence were the hallmarks of his career. The world will forever know his name and and associate it with the most glorious conquering empire of history.

The Dark Triad Man models his ruthless pursuit of achievement after Caesar.


Armand Jean du Plessis (1585 – 1642): Cardinal de Richelieu.

Who he was: A French nobleman who became a cardinal, foreign minister and then the chief minister of King Louis XIII. Famous for his Machiavellian expertise and his ruthless crushing of opposition to the royal power, he was an efficient and competent executive responsible for razing castles across the nation and stripping power from princes, barons and other aristocrats that represented threats to stability.

What he did: Crushed the decentralized powers of France and centralized the power of the State. He demolished the military structure of his nation and eliminated threats to the rule of his sovereign lord. Richelieu was also an instrumental figure in the Thirty Years War which held back the growing hegemony of the Hapsburgs in Europe. A patron of the arts, Richelieu was a noted man of letters famed for his library and his founding of the Académie française.

Why he was terrifying: An uncanny survivor of plots and coups, Richelieu was as ruthless as he was brilliant. With a network of spies, an iron hand crushing the press and a merciless willingness to put his enemies to death with all the power of the State, he was a formidable and deadly enemy to any who sought to compete with his power.

The lesson: Brilliance must be matched with scholarship and firm, unhesitating executive action while maintaining a severe vigilance against threats to one’s power. The Dark Triad Man dedicates himself to scholarship, literary expertise and the practical, successful application of Richelieu’s words:


Carry on any enterprise as if all future success depended on it.


The life, letters and example of Cardinal Richelieu are necessary topics for deep and abiding study. He left behind important works and commentary on the exercise of statecraft. His eternal example is one of the ruthless power of the State embodied in a competent first minister of government.

The Dark Triad Man models his vigilance in the preservation of power.


Temüjin (1162 – 1227): Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.

Who he was: Known to the world as Ghengis Khan, he was famed for his brutality and for his ability to unite nomadic tribes and turn them into sweeping hordes that conquered the world. Under his administration the Silk Road became a major trade route that enriched Asia and Europe.

What he did: Conquered the wide world. He created an empire that ultimately stretched  from Korea to Scandinavia and owned nearly everything in between. He established powerful state coherency and wisely demanded meritocracy within his empire.

Why he was terrifying: It It is estimated that 40 million people died as the result of his campaigns. The population of Iran did not recover from his depredations until the 20th century. His armies inspired such terror that a single Mongol warrior could ride into a village and obtain its surrender.

The lesson: One can rise from desperate positions to the ruler of the whole world with ingenuity, focus, determination and personal toughness. Temüjin demonstrates this and his ability to align competing factions, loyalties and ethnicities into a united realm is a world class example for the Dark Triad Man.


I am the punishment of God…If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.


Temüjin changed the history of mankind and reordered and redirected the flow of economic, material, military and human power. Parts of Asia did not recover for more than 700 years from the enormous impact of his armies. His very name itself still instills respect.

The Dark Triad Man models his example of life as the achievement of vision.


Timur (1336 – 1405): Founder of the Timurid Empire.

Who he was: The last of the nomadic warrior conquerors of Asia, he spend his mature years building the Timurid Empire as a vision of restoring the Mongol Empire under the banner of Islam. He was a patron of art and architecture. His descendants were sultans and even founded empires of their own.

What he did: Timur was known for his unrivaled intelligence and education. Multilingual and immensely astute in political manipulation, he moved back and forth between Islamic sultan and Mongol warlord to ensure that his goals were met, his empire expanded and his terrifying rule solidified.

Why he was terrifying: When Isfahan in Iran revolted against his rule by killing his tax collectors and a few of his troops, he responded by killing close to 200,000 inhabitants and building nearly thirty towers, each constructed of roughly 1,500 heads.

The lesson: A dream can be revived, and man bold enough to seize the throne can rebuild even a long dead empire with the force of will, effort and the brutally focused intelligence of the Dark Triad Man. His achievement narcissism was profound:


As there is but one god in heaven, so should there be but one ruler on earth.


Timur could claim neither descent from the Mongol royal line or from the family of Muhammad. Thus the titles of Khan and Caliph were forever out of his reach. Nonetheless he obtained supreme power through personal achievement and installed titular rulers under his command.

The Dark Triad Man models his total deployment of penetrating intelligence to achieve results.


Darius I (550 BC  – 486 BC): King of the Achaemenid Empire.

Who he was: Known as “The Great”, Darius ruled over most of the Black Sea cost, west and central Asia, the Indus Valley, northern Africa and the parts of the Balkans. He was an ambitous, ruthless man who climbed with bloody hands to the height of human power.

What he did: Darius reorganized the structure of an entire empire and reformed the financial affairs of the realm and the nations around it with the introduction of gold coinage bearing his image. He built highways, instituted property taxes, embarked on enormous engineering projects and deployed vast wealth in the construction of temples, roads and even completed the projects of his predecessors.

Why he was terrifying: Using subterfuge and devious planning he won the support of competing nobles through ruses and displays of supposed supernatural power. When one of those nobles later insulted him he seized the man and his family, his relatives and his allies and mercilessly executed them all. He further solidified his grasp on the throne by, according to Darius himself, killing eight other “lying kings” and securing unquestioned power. Darius put down revolts personally, leading his armies to suppress each rebellion

The lesson: The attainment of great power in the land is not merely an exercise in self aggrandizement. Darius took his power and his great ambition and transformed it into a major historic upgrade in finance, commerce, infrastructure and architecture for both his own empire and the surrounding nations. The Dark Triad Man must follow that example and seek for ways to deliver improvements in all spheres of life from each success. Darius understood truth:


An untruth must be spoken, where need requires. For whether men lie, or say true, it is with one and the same object. Men lie, because they think to gain by deceiving others; and speak the truth, because they expect to get something by their true speaking, and to be trusted afterwards in more important matters. Thus, though their conduct is so opposite, the end of both is alike. If there were no gain to be got, your true-speaking man would tell untruths as much as your liar, and your liar would tell the truth as much as your true-speaking man.


Darius did not utilize his accumulated wealth and power to merely amuse himself with palaces and concubines. He employed his cunning, his ruthlessness, his personal drive and matchless ambition to leave behind a legacy that will live forever in the memories of mankind.

The Dark Triad Man models his great focus on vast and enduring achievements.


Attila (395 – 453): Ruler of the Hunnic Empire.

Who he was: Attila the Hun is one of the most memorable figures of barbaric history, Ruler of the Hunnic Empire, he held sway over Germany, Poland, Hungary and much of Russia. Bold and determined, he rampaged through Europe and Asia and nearly took Rome itself.

What he did: Attila personified the roving marauder, with his armies ranging back and forth across Europe and pushing hard at the borders of the Roman Empire and ultimately harassing them with so many bloody defeats that the Romans began paying vast sums of gold in tribute. He nearly conquered all of Europe and it took the combined armies of the Romans and the Visigoths to put a halt to his depredations.

Why he was terrifying: He was known as “The Scourge of God”. His rampaging, fast-moving armies were notorious for leaving destruction in their wake and his temper and rage were legendary. Attila jealously guarded his honor and although the Hunnic empire amassed vast wealth and sums of gold, Attila himself was known for his personal simplicity and austere habits.

The lesson: Rage, temper and furious desire when matched with a Spartan mindset and untiring effort can lead to success, conquered thrones and immortal fame. The Dark Triad Man recognizes the importance of movement in the world and strives to attain the same foundation of mobile power. And like Attila, he recognizes the depth of ferocity that man can attain:


There, where I have passed, the grass will never grow again.


Attila threw his armies again and again at empires both East and West. He understood the importance of personal power and charisma and in a name that preceded him. The city of Venice itself was created by refugees fleeing ahead of his terrible name into the marshy lagoons of Italy’s northwest corner.

The Dark Triad Man models his demonstrations of mobile power.


These seven terrifying dark triad men in history are models.

They rose from challenging and uncertain circumstances to become immensely powerful and in doing so they changed the world and made immortal names for themselves.

Darius was a simple spear carrier. Timur was lame and had a withered arm. Temüjin lived his young years in poverty. Ieyasu was abducted as a prisoner at six. Richelieu lost his father at the age of five. Caesar faced bloody purges before he was an adult. Attila was a nomadic leader surrounded by hostile empires.

None of these men used these circumstances as justification for failure or allowed it to stand between them and immortal glory and power. All of them used their ruthlessness, their intelligence, their political skill and their grim determination to achieve legends and legacies that will live forever. They did not whine or whimper or bemoan their difficulties.

They came, they saw, and they seized the throne.

The Dark Triad Man profits by their example.

Today is International Men’s Day, 2015.

Let this day be a reminder of your masculine power and worth. Let this day be an inspiration to you of the value of achievement.

Remember these terrifying dark triad men in history.

Heed their words. Model your growth on the lessons they leave behind.

Nox prendit regnvm.

Find and seize  your own immortal throne.


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Ivan Throne

Ivan Throne

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IVAN THRONE, bestselling author of The Nine Laws, is an international speaker and teacher. His vivid lessons and ruthless mentoring for the hard and often cruel demands of our pitiless high performance world have helped millions of people across social media deeply connect with radical, authentic success to the joys of partners, lovers, colleagues and clients.

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