Some anecdotes and figures from history have a way of humanizing distant past that can often feel so alienating.
The petty behavior of rulers on the world stage reminds us that although the events and wars we study occurred centuries ago, they were waged by people who were just as emotional, impulsive, and vindictive as us.
A recent Reddit thread applied a modern concept to the historical past. Folks were asked to identify the figures from long ago who would rightly be dubbed, in today's nomenclature, a troll.
Do not led the old dress and massively influential armies of yesteryear fool you. Many of the men and women we remember were spiteful, snarky pieces of work. They just showered less too.
drbdrbdr asked, "Who is the biggest troll in history?"
A Celebrated Crime
"There was a Prussian (I can't remember his name) who managed to make an officer uniform out of scraps of clothing."
"He used it to convince a few guards on patrol to follow him into a government building, ordered the arrest of the man in charge, confiscated all the money personally, sent the arrested man to Berlin claiming it was all on order of the King."
"He then ditched the uniformed, got on a train to Berlin and managed to beat the guards there. He than sat back and watched the absolute confusion happen."
"The guy was eventually arrested but the public turned him into a celebrity and his actions into a play that was performed all over Germany. He wasn't incarcerated for long and after his release he lived an easy life from there on."
"Mozart didn't like this singer so much that he wrote a piece for her with high and low notes constantly because he noticed that when she hit low notes her chin went to her chest and when she hit high notes her head would fling back."
"So it was like she was bobbing like a chicken."
A Modern Troll to be Remembered for Years to Come
"The guy who opened a fake No. 1 restaurant in London using Google reviews, his back garden and shed with microwave meals." -- dirtyaccomplice
"That was incredible. He also faked his way into Paris fashion show as a designer with knock-off clothes."
"Then whenever people around the world want to interview him about these things, he sends lookalikes instead. It must be quite exhausting knowing him!" -- kryptopeg
Necessity Breeds Innovation
"I was thinking more like the mortician who patented the automatic telephone switch 3 years after finding out his rival's wife worked as a telephone operator and would reroute calls asking for his funeral parlor to her husbands."
"The guy put a whole worldwide workforce out of work for one person's actions."
The Biggest Non-Party There Ever Was
"Theodore Hook - the perpetrator of the Berners Street hoax in London in 1810 in which Cook sent thousands of letters summoning all manners of various vendors and service people and physicians and dignitaries and others to all come to one random person's home..."
"....literally shutting down a large part of London as they all descended upon the same address throughout the day..."
"...all while Cook and a friend sat watching from a house across the street, presumably laughing their @sses off the whole time."
"Erik the Red. He wanted people to come and live in his new found ice covered land so he named it Greenland." -- GustavoAlex7789
"Hey, I heard there's this even better place, called Wineland, just a bit further..." -- saschaleib
"I forget the name but that one guy from the 1800s who bought specific tickets to a play and then gave them away to bald men on the street..."
"...so that when everyone took their seats and the bald men's heads reflected the light from the stage, they spelled out 'FU**' as seen from the stage."
A Very High-Maintenance Friend
"Don't know if this has been said, but Stalin."
"He convicted his closest friends of treason, then had them sentenced to death. Later on, they were blindfolded and awaiting the firing squad's bullets."
"The squad fired- blanks. Stalin pulled the blindfolds off and said 'gotcha.' Legend."
Snarky Til the End
"Gilles Corey. A farmer caught up in the Salem witch trials, he was sentenced to 'pressing' (being slowly crushed by stones) to force him to make a plea."
"Every time he was questioned, he simply said 'More weight.'"
"He died without making a plea."
A City State Pest
"Diogenese. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for an honest man."
"He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting listeners by bringing food and eating during the discussions."
"Diogenes was also noted for having mocked Alexander the Great, both in public and to his face when he visited Corinth in 336 BC."
OG Fake News
"The old-timey NYC newspaper the Sun imo."
"In the 19th Century, they published some articles about the presence of life on the moon like unicorns, winged humans, and other creatures who built temples and lived peacefully."
"This caused a massive moon craze until it was later outed as fake."
It's All About Optics
"Technically this isn't a troll since it was serving a purpose, but Admiral Nelson was escaping a French fleet when a man fell overboard."
"It was Nelson's policy of never leaving anyone behind so he turned his ship around to go pick him up."
"The French saw his ship turn back toward them, assumed he had reinforcements coming beyond the horizon, so they turned and ran."
"In China there was the war of the three kingdoms. The Wei, Shu, and Wu."
"Two of their armies met in battle and the smaller was out of arrows. They were separated by a river. One night, the leader of the smaller army stocked the front of their boats/rafts with straw bales and moved toward the opposing army over the river."
"They were immediately hailed with arrows. The men ducked behind the straw while the arrows stuck in the straw, undamaged. They then sailed away and yelled."
"'We thank you for the arrows, we will return them shortly!'"
"This may just be a tall tale from Romance of the Three Kingdoms but it may be true."
A World Waiting
"Didn't George R R Martin once say that in the future he would love to get people so immersed in a fantasy world novel and never finish it" -- Skanderani
"I swear to god this f***ing guy. At some point I'm just gonna break into his house and hook him to some life preserving device so he finishes the god damn books!" -- R1ght_b3hind_U
Getting the Heart Pumping
"Stephen Hawking was in an interview, when a cord was unplugged, and alarm went off (this was before he was completely immobile), and he slumped in his chair."
"The people interviewing him were scared out of their minds, until they realized that he was alright, and chuckling at his joke. The cord and alarm were for a computer."
"This Chinese general whose city was besieged by a much larger army, so he opened the main gate and sat atop it playing his flute."
"The enemy thought it was a trap so they packed their stuff and left."
How to Network
"This will be buried, but Sergei Korolev."
"The dude was getting frustrated with the Soviet government because they weren't interested in funding his space exploration projects, so he got his propaganda group to publish articles about how Russia was getting close to sending something into space."
"As expected, the US took the bait and started working on their satellite program, and the Soviet government freaked out when they saw the US doing that, so they funded Korolev's projects."
"He and his group played them good."
"A Greek arms dealer, he once donated a submarine to the Greek government. He then told the Turks that the Greeks had a submarine and sold them 2 submarines."
"Lastly, he went to the Russians and told them the Turks had 2 submarines so he sold them 2 as well."
"None of the submarines actually worked."
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