People on Reddit were asked: "What is your favorite 'history is stranger than fiction' fact?" These are some of the best answers.
1/22 World War I was only started because the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand decided to stop for a sandwich after a hard day of failing to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
2/22 In 1504, a German Imperial Knight lost his hand to a cannon shot which forced his sword against him. He lived, pretty amazing for that time, and instead of, you know, stopping with fighting and living the rest of his life in peace, he had an iron hand forged.
Let me repeat that; This motherf*cker had an iron hand prostetic over 500 years ago
He continued fighting for 40 years, after which he chilled in the castle of Hornburg for his final years. His name was Gotz of the Iron Hand, and the hand itself is still at display.
3/22 The time Lichtenstein invaded Italy with an army of 80 soldiers and returned with 81.
4/22 Lincoln once got into a duel with one of his political opponents over some bullshit. Since the guy challenged Lincoln, Lincoln got to pick the weapon. The weapon he chose? Broadswords.
You see, Lincoln didn't really want to kill the guy, so he first tried to reason with him. When his opponent refused, Lincoln started to warm up his swings and swung at a tree branch way over head and lobbed it off in one stroke. It became apparent that Lincoln had a massive reach advantage on the guy, so his opponent yielded and he two made peace.
5/22 John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States (1790-1862) had two living grandsons as of January of last year.
6/22 A luxury liner embarks on her first voyage with much fanfare, only to hit an iceberg and capsize. Sound familiar? But this isnt an account of the RMS Titanic; this is the plot of The Wreck of the Titan, a novella written by Morgan Robertson. Wreck was published in 1898, more than a decade before the real-life wreck of the Titanic.
The similarities between the fictional and the real-life are astounding. Both were considered glorious feats of modern engineering, were touted as being practically unsinkable, contained less than half the number of life boats required, and were struck by icebergs on their starboard side, taking half of their passengers lives. Finally, both the Titan and the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on a night in April.
7/22 Hannibal managed to get elephants over the Alps. That's freakin' epic.
8/22 Napoleon faced his greatest defeat not at the hands of the Duke of Wellington's army at Waterloo, but at the hands of... bunny rabbits.
It was a fine summer in 1807. Napoleon was in high spirits having signed The Peace of Tilsit, and to celebrate, Napoleon suggested that the Imperial Court should enjoy a lavish rabbit hunt, organized by his trusted chief-of-staff, Alexandre Berthier. Berthier was so keen to impress that he had bought hundreds of rabbits to ensure that the Imperial Court had plenty to shoot at. Satisfied that nothing could possibly go wrong, Berthier waited calmly for the guests to take their position.
The shoot commenced, and the rabbits were released by the game keepers. But disaster struck. Instead of scattering in all directions, the horde of rabbits suddenly turned and charged... on Napoleon. Confronted by this flood of rabbits, the Emperors escort formed a skirmish line to protect him. But, in the words of historian David Chandler, with a finer understanding of Napoleonic strategy than most of his generals, the rabbit horde divided into two wings and poured around the flanks of the party. As the Emperor fled to the relative safety of his coach, the rabbits pursued, some allegedly even leaping into it, so that he had to lend a hand in ejecting them even as his coachmen whipped up their horses.
In the aftermath, it transpired that Berthier, despite all his attention to detail, had procured not wild rabbits, but domesticated ones. Thus, when they espied the Emperor and his coach coming towards them, they thought he was their keeper bringing good things to eat and acted accordingly.
9/22 After the British burned the White House during the War of 1812, DC got hit with a hurricane and a tornado at the same time.
10/22 At the first ecumenical council at Nicaea, the bishop of Smyrna (who would later be known as good old St. Nicolas) became so enraged with Arias, who preached a doctrine that did not believe in the holy trinity, he punched him him in the face and knocked him to the ground in the council hall. He was then thrown in prison by Emperor Constantine, and only freed after his fellow bishops has visions of Jesus demanding it.
11/22 During the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart proposed that his sister Joan marry Saladin's brother in order to bring an end to hostilities; Jerusalem would have been their wedding gift.
If this fanciful Montague and Capulet scheme had come off - and it almost did - the relationship between Christianity and Islam (and thus the whole political complexion modern world) would likely have been completely different.
12/22 Rasputin's death...
Poisened, but didn't die. So he went after the guys who poisoned him, and they stabbed him. Still didn't die, kept going after the assassins... so they shot him and though they finished him. His eyes open and he lunges for one of the assassins to strangle him, so they shoot him some more, this time he starts to crawl away. They beat the f*ck out of him, tie him up, throw him in a sack, and throw the sack into the river. 2 days later the sack was recovered, and it looked like Rasputin almost escaped his bindings and clawed out of the bag. On top of it all, while his body was being burned, the tendons shrunk and he sat up in the fire.
13/22 "Owyhee" is the older spelling of Hawaii and there is a river in the remote high desert of eastern Oregon called the Owyhee River because it was first explored in 1819 by some Hawaiians.
14/22 Caligula appointing his favorite horse as part of the consul. Classic Caligula!
15/22 The first battle of the Civil War took place at Bull Run on Wilmer Mclean's farm. Fed up with the war and for the protection of his family he moved 120 miles away to Appomattox Court House, Virginia. On April 9, 1865 a messenger knocked on his door to ask if they could use his house to negotiate the conditions of the south's surrender. The War Started in his back yard, and ended in his parlor.
16/22 Henry Ziegland thought he had dodged fate. In 1883, he broke off a relationship with his girlfriend who, out of distress, committed suicide. The girl's brother was so enraged that he hunted down Ziegland and shot him. The brother, believing he had killed Ziegland, then turned his gun on himself and took his own life. But Ziegland had not been killed. The bullet, in fact, had only grazed his face and then lodged in a tree. Ziegland surely thought himself a lucky man. Some years later, however, Ziegland decided to cut down the large tree, which still had the bullet in it. The task seemed so formidable that he decided to blow it up with a few sticks of dynamite. The explosion propelled the bullet into Ziegland's head, killing him.
17/22 The entire Taiping Rebellion. A war started by a Chinese peasant who dreamed (and believed) he was Jesus' younger brother. Although poor, the first thing he did was have a giant demon slaying sword forged. Took over a city. Asked the British why they wouldn't pay him tribute as the new head of their faith. Engaged in total war with the Qing. Applied pseduo-communist policies like abolishing private property. Separated women and men from ever interacting, and sent the women to the front lines.
Over 20 million people died, with some estimates as high as 40 million. I did a research paper on them. My professor thought I was making shit up.
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18/22 Operation Mincemeat.
During the Second World War the British secret service pulled a dead Welsh tramp out of the morgue, create a huge back story for him, put him on a submarine and then ditched his body off the coast of neutral (but Nazi sympathising) Spain. He was decorated as a high ranking officer with secret plans detailing the Allied invasion of South Europe (NOT Normandy). That, along with several other ruses, convinced the Germans that the Normandy preparations and eventual invasion was itself a ruse, and as such they concentrated a massive portion of their defence force in the wrong part of Europe.
Some brilliant misinformation and one dead welsh tramp helped save a countless number of lives.
19/22 What always sticks in my head is the Christmas Truce of 1914. It's a well known story, but that doesn't make it any less strange - that soldiers who had been fighting for months independently decided, on both sides, to effectively have a ceasefire on Christmas and even mingle with the enemy on Christmas day, exchanging gifts and sharing food.
If you'd written it in a book and there was no precedent, it'd be an implausible plot point, but there it was.
20/22 In the 1600s, prices of tulip bulbs in the Netherlands were so high that they cost the same as a house. People saw that the prices were rising so they decided to invest in tulips, so prices continued to rise. When the highest price bulb failed to sell it caused a massive crash in prices. This is one of the first examples a financial bubble.
21/22 That a 5 foot 7 twenty year old became king of nobles and the army, and would over the next eleven years become one of the greatest generals in all of human history. He would often be outnumbered, but his tactics and strategy would help him remain undefeated in battle throughout his life. I of course am talking about Alexander of Macedon.
Most people don't even know what career they want when they are in their twenties.
22/22 A few months before John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln, his brother, Edwin Booth, saved Lincoln's son from being run over by a train.Mr_Tony_Stark
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