Historical figures who would be ‘internet famous’ today

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We’re living in an era where the new superstars all found success online. But what would some of the most famous individuals from the history books make of social media?


The last Ptolemy of Egypt, Cleopatra is known primarily for three things; gaining political advantage by seducing Mark Antony, dying tragically after being bitten by a snake in her bed, and maintaining her youthful appearance by regularly bathing in ass milk. (That’s ‘ass’ as in ‘donkey’. Get your mind out of the gutter.) A constant target of assassination attempts, she also used to test poisons on prisoners who she had already sentenced to death. Who doesn’t love a lady boss who lives for drama and has a hella extra skincare regime? If she were alive today, Cleo would be the darling of Instagram — although her account would probably be suspended after everyone found out that she was a little bit too close to her brothers…

Henry VIII

Henry Tudor would be that guy on Facebook whose statuses read like essays; constant barrages of gratuitous detail about the ins-and-outs of his personal life, whether it be his messy divorce, how in love he is with his new wife, drama with the kids, or the fact that he’s “just telling it like it is” regarding the dissolution of the Church. Henry is “u ok hun?” personified; if you don’t like his new profile pic quickly enough, you end up getting your head chopped off. But let’s be honest, we’d all be addicted to his Facebook Live rants and #foodporn posts of his epic banquets.

Marie Antoinette

She was pretty. She was privileged. She enjoyed a life of luxury and excess without really doing anything to earn it, and her shopping addiction precipitated a national financial crisis. Boy oh boy, did people love to hate her. In other words, Marie Antoinette was a natural born YouTuber; the Zoella of 18th Century France. The world could be burning outside, but Marie would still be doing unboxing videos of all the freebies sent to her by lifestyle brands.

Grigori Rasputin

A self-proclaimed mystic and advisor to Tsar Nicholas II, the deeply creepy Rasputin has something of a reputation; his machinations caused the demise of the Romanov family, in part leading to the revolution which shaped over a century of political history. Nowadays you’d find him spouting arcane philosophy and conspiracy theories on a dark corner of Reddit, amassing a slavishly devoted following of basement-dwelling white supremacists and men’s rights activists. Either that, or he’d have a job in the White House.

Nancy Mitford

The Mitford sisters were the Kardashians of their day, only with talent. And none was more gifted than Nancy, remembered best for her novels Love In A Cold Climate and The Pursuit Of Love. She was also one of the ‘bright young things’ set, besties with Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh, and recognised as something of an expert in manners and language. Nancy would soon garner a few million followers on Twitter with her wit and wisdom, and would probably end up writing a memoir about her experiences of social media, entitled In Pursuit Of Likes. Her sisters would enjoy the digital age too; Jessica’s communist blog would go down a storm amid our current tumultuous politics, and Nazi sympathiser Unity would be an alt-right commentator in the vein of Tomi Lahren. Perhaps, on reflection, it’s for the best that the Mitfords never lived long enough to have iPhones.

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