Smart People Share Some Of History's Most Ridiculous Moments That Actually Happened
History doesn't have to be boring, but WOW school text books are not helping to sell that fact. It's almost unfair how boring they make it seem! One Reddit user got tired of history getting a bad rap and asked:
We picked 20 of our favorite answers to share with you!
The Coffee Experiment
King Gustav III of Sweden was convinced that coffee was poisonous and dangerous to public health. He levied heavy taxes on coffee and even passed a royal edict banning it, however its consumption became ever more popular. Determined to prove its danger, he ordered an experiment carried out: two identical twins had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment, on the condition one drank three pots of coffee a day, and the other three pots of tea. Physicians would monitor the effects and report their eventual demise to the King.
Both of these physicians died of natural causes before this happened however. Even King Gustav was assassinated in 1792 before either of the twins had met their end. Eventually the tea drinker was the first to die, at 83 years of age. His brothers age is not known.
In 1892, the princess of Liechtenstein got so pissed at a countess criticizing her flower choices at a party, that she challenged her to a topless, all-female sword duel. To clarify, they were topless because sword duels weren't supposed to end in death, but often did due to infection of the cuts. They decided since only women were present, it would be safer to fight topless so they could clean their wounds easier/faster.
King So Fragile
King Charles VI of France was prone to delusions, and at one point believed he was made of glass. He had his clothes specially reinforced so that he wouldn't break.
Um... Hooray Australia?
Australia's first gold medal at the Winter Olympics was in speedskating. The skater (Steven Bradbury) was coming last until every single athlete in front of him fell over.
The best part is that he was only in the finals because the exact same thing happened in the semifinals. To this day, an incredibly unlikely victory is known as 'pulling a Bradbury' in Australia.
Stalin kept trying to assassinate Josip Broz Tito. Tito sent this letter to Stalin:
"Stop sending people to kill me! We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle... If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won't have to send another."
Like, A Total Joffrey, Bro.
Charles XII of Sweden was a proper party king in his youth, at one of his many party's he got a bear so drunk it fell out of a castle window and died.
edit: Hes also reported to have run amok in the city together with his pal the duke of Holstein - stealing wigs and hats from people and breaking windows while drunk.
Imagine a bratty drunk teen full of mischief and who also happens to be the absolute ruler of the country and there for held above law. Thats Charles XII as a teenager.
Take That, Sucky Old Original Antioch!
During the Byzantine-Sassanian wars in the early 6th century, Khosrau I of Persia destroyed Antioch and captured its civilians.
However, rather than enslaving them or killing them, Khosrau brought them back to Persia and rebuilt them an almost exact replica of Antioch, down to the layout of the city and rooms in the houses. The citizens were freed and made into full Persian citizens.
The city was named "Weh Antiok Khosrau" - "Khosrau's better Antioch"
Playing With Trains
During the time of Nazi-occupied France, a French train conductor learned that a train full of German soldiers had derailed. Instead of fixing it, he sent more trains full of soldiers at the wreck until the Nazis caught on and had him removed.
So... Who's In Charge?
At one point there were three Popes and they all excommunicated each other.
He Got Annoying, So They Killed Him
The story of William Walker.
William Walker was child prodigy. By the age of 16 he graduated college, Soon after he became a semi successful lawyer. Every thing was looking awesome for him.
However Walker had a crazy dream, He wanted to be a leader of his own nation. So one day him and 40 of his friends invaded Baja Mexico and took over its capital declaring it its own nation. It took a few months but eventually the Mexican army chased him of.
So Walker came back to america but not for long! He got some rich people to back him up and invaded Nicaragua with 80 men. He took its capital and since it was going trough a civil war at the time managed to take and hold the country for about a year. During that year he did a whole bunch of crazy shit like legalizing slavery in the attempt to allying himself with the Confederate States of America. Luckily the neighboring nations realized he was batshit and invaded chasing him off.
However this did not deter him. He once again got an army together and invaded Honduras. However this was a huge failure and he was caught almost instantly. By this time everyone was tired of his shit so he was executed.
Margaret Thatcher's Son Did What?!?
Well, there was that time Margaret Thatcher's son tried to finance a coup in Equatorial Guinea. It's crazy to me that nobody seems to remember that one because I would have thought "Former Prime Minister's son attempts to literally seize control of small country by force" would have been bigger news. Apparently the punishment for that sort of thing is four years in prison and a fine.
Happy Birthday, Alan!
One of my favorite funny stories is that in 1977, Australian Formula 1 driver Alan Jones won the Austrian Grand Prix. No one expected him to win, so the organizers didn't have the Australian national anthem on hand to play at the ceremony after the race. Instead, some drunk rando started playing "Happy Birthday" on the trumpet.
The race happened in August. Jones' birthday is in November.
A Little Imperial Prank Calling
Pu Yi wanting a phone
1920, Yuan Shikai was defeated and Pu Yi was put as the symbolic head of china, although he was confined to the Imperial Palace at all times and had basically no power. When he was about 14 years old, he discovers what a phone is, and wants one installed in his palace.
But the Eunuchs are really hesitant. What is Pu Yi used his phone to build powerful contacts outside the palace? What if Pu Yi heard about this new ideology all the cool kids are doing, communism? How would this affect the people of china, and the people in charge? What if Pu Yi posed a threat? They would have to raze the Imperial palace and wipe out the imperial lineage once and for all! No way. Pu Yi will NOT get his phone.
But the he keeps persisting, demanding to get his phone. Even threatening some people. Finally, they relent. Pu Yi will get his phone
He is overjoyed, and demands he be left alone with his new weapon of information.
He then spent all afternoon prank calling restaurants and famous authors.
The Aztecs Didn't Even Have To Fight Back
One day, conquistadors got pretty close to the city walls of the Aztec capital and started building something out of wood. Aztecs look on with interest, unable to hear the conversation. Spanish seem to argue among themselves a bit with one guy throwing his weight around and pointing, then keep building, with a few more arguments. Many hours later, construction is complete---turns out they've been building a trebuchet. The Spanish finally start getting ready to fling some big rocks at the Aztecs. Aztecs watch as the Spanish fire the trebuchet, and manage to fling a boulder about 20 feet into the lake that surrounds the city. More arguing. They try again, and manage to smash a hole in a wall of the marketplace, but the thing takes so long to aim that by the time it hits the Aztecs have cleared all their shit out of the way. Spanish argue more, then wheel the trebuchet away in shame. It is never seen or heard from again.
Oh, cause Sindh Sounds Like Sinned. Victory Pun.
When Britain was fighting to conquer India, a General named Charles James Napier was told not to attack the city of Sindh. However, he had an opportunity, went ahead and attacked Sindh, and captured it.
When he sent news back to Britain of his victory, his telegram was a single word: "Peccavi."
This is not an English word, but a Latin one, and most people know of it through the Catholic church. Directly translated into English it means, "I have sinned."
George Bush Sr. vomited in Prime Minister of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa's lap.
Diogenes, The Original Snark-Master
Plato once defined a man as a featherless biped (while the ancient Greeks knew apes and monkeys existed, they thought they were just really hairy, dumb people). During one of his lectures, Diogenes burst into the room carrying a chicken that had been completely plucked, yelling "Behold! I have brought you a man!". After this Plato eddited his definition to "a man is a featherless biped with broad, flat nails".
Another time Diogenes was reprimanded for public masturbation. His defense? "If only I could rub my belly and satisfy my hunger so easily."
Diogenes was once asked how he wanted to be buried. He told the questioner that he could just be thrown outside the city walls. The questioner asked him what he would do about the wild dogs that would eat his body (the desecration of the body was a big fear in Greek society). Diogenes told them to throw him over the walls with a stick to beat off the dogs. When they pointed out that he would be dead and thus unable to wield the stick, he countered that if he was dead he wouldn't care what happened to his body.
Diogenes was asked what his favorite kind of wine was. "That which other people pay for".
Diogenes also talked smack to famous athletes ("I have bested men. You have bested slaves"), merchants (he spat in the face of a rich man who had invited him to dine, saying that his face was dirtiest surface in the man's house) and Alexander's less philosophically minded father Phillip ("I am a spy on your insatiable greed").
Granted most of the stories are probably exaggerations or fabrications, but I get the feeling that Diogenes would rather enjoy us pondering over that fact.
A Whole War In Under An Hour?
Zanzibar is a tiny island off the East Coast of Africa. By the 1890's was de jure independent but defacto a British subject ruled by a sultan. The British had outlawed slavery in the area, which caused friction with the local Arabs and furthered heightened tension with the nearby German forces who occupied the nearby mainland. The British tightened their grip over the island. In 1896, the old Sultan died under suspicious circumstances. The old sultan's nephew, Khalid bin Bargash, seized the empty throne and claimed the island as his. The British didn't like Khalid and told him to bugger off the throne, wanting to put their claimant on instead. Khalid refused, prepared the islands forces, and prepared to fight the British to the death.
After a two day standoff, at 09:00 AM, the British declared war by firing ship artillery at the palace. The one Zanzibary ship, which was armed with a gatling gun that had been a gift from Queen Victoria, engaged the five much better armed British ships and was sunk almost immediately, but the water was so shallow's it's masts were still out of the water, allowing the surviving sailors to hoist up a Union Jack as a surrender.
With his one ship in the sea, his men dead, and his palace in flames, Khalid bin Bargash bravely ran away to the German embassy. By 9:40 AM, the war was over, by that afternoon the British's choice of sultan sat on what remained of the throne, the one single British causality was taken care of by doctors, and Khalid was sent away to German East Africa (Khalid would be later recaptured by the British in WW1).
In short it was a 40 minute long war.
Came Back With A New Friend
Supposedly at some point Liechtenstein went to war with 80 men, but returned home with 81. Edit: Also one of my favorites is The War of the Oaken Bucket. Two Italian city states went to war over a stolen bucket from a well.
President John Quincy Adams tried to initiate trade with the Mole People he believed lived under the crust of the earth