Slide 1 of 25
History has its share of bad dads. Consider Russian czar Ivan the Terrible, who beat his pregnant daughter until she miscarried. When his son confronted him about it, Ivan struck the younger man's head with a staff, killing him.
But we're looking on the bright side. Here's a list of historical dads who did right by their kids. [The Animal Kingdom's Most Devoted Dads]
William Jackson Smart, 1842-1919Slide 2 of 25
William Jackson Smart, 1842-1919
Smart was a Civil War veteran whose wife died during the birth of the couple's sixth child, leaving him to raise the children on his own in Spokane, Wash. In 1910, one of those children, Sonora Smart Dodd, would push for a new holiday celebrating her dad and others like him. Father's Day was set for the third Sunday in June, and the rest is history.Slide 3 of 25
Charlemagne, A.D. 742-28Slide 4 of 25
Charlemagne, A.D. 742-28
The first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne is known as the "Father of Europe." He was also an actual father, and possibly a bit of a softie. One of his (possibly illegitimate) children was Pepin the Hunchback, so named because of a spinal deformity. Charlemagne treated his son well, favoring him over his younger brothers as was appropriate in royal lineages. But when he chose a younger (legitimate) son as his successor, Pepin the Hunchback became involved in a plot to kill Charlemagne, his wife and his legitimate children.
The plot was exposed, but even here, Charlemagne showed some fatherly mercy. Instead of executing his son along with the other conspirators, he banished Pepin to a monastery, where he lived out the rest of his days.
Charlemagne also doted on his daughters, keeping them close to the royal court and educating them. When they took up with courtiers and produced illegitimate grandbabies, he indulged those children, too. After Charlemagne's death, he bequeathed his surviving daughters convents where they could live out their days.Slide 5 of 25
Li Yanwen, circa 1500Slide 6 of 25
Li Yanwen, circa 1500
Hardly a household name, Li Yanwen was partially responsible for the blossoming of one of Chinese medicine's most famous practitioners, Li Shizhen. When his son was young, Li Yanwen urged him to take the civil services exams that would win him a position in the state bureaucracy. But Li Shizhen had other plans: He wanted to be a doctor like dear old dad.
Eventually, Li Yanwen gave in and mentored his boy, who by this time had proven himself utterly hopeless as passing the civil service exams. Li Shizhen would go on to become China's greatest naturalist and the author of "Bencao Gangmu," a sort of bible of Chinese medicine.Slide 7 of 25
Thomas More, 1578-1535Slide 8 of 25