History Buffs Reveal The Biggest Overreactions In History

History is always doomed to repeat itself, if it is not known. And we as a race may only learn from our mistakes if we reflect upon them.

We often frown upon the past. For their awful prejudices, for the lack of technology, for the things they seemingly didn't know--but are we any better than history? The answer is, no. We are our own point in history. We must really reflect in order to continue progressing. Some day, people of the future will probably make fun of us.

u/WiiKiil asked:

What is history's biggest overreaction?

Here were some of the answers.

The Battle Of Pie Hill


I think the "Pastry War" wins this one by a landslide (link is to 6 stupid wars).

In 1828, angry mobs destroyed large parts of Mexico City during a military coup. One of the victims of the rioting was an expatriate French pastry chef named Remontel, whose small café was ransacked by looters. Mexican officials ignored his complaints, so Remontel petitioned the French government for compensation. His request sat unnoticed until a decade later, when it came to the attention of King Louis-Philippe. The king was already furious that Mexico had failed to repay millions in loans, and now he demanded they pay 600,000 pesos to compensate the pastry chef for his losses. When the Mexicans balked at handing over such an astronomical sum, Louis-Philippe did the unexpected: He started a war.

In October 1838, a French fleet arrived in Mexico and blockaded the city of Veracruz. When the Mexicans still refused to pay up, the ships began shelling the San Juan de Ulua citadel. A few minor battles followed, and by December as many as 250 soldiers had been killed. The famous general Santa Anna even came out of retirement to lead the Mexican army against the French, and he lost a leg after he was wounded by grapeshot. Fighting finally ended in March 1839, when the British government helped broker a peace deal. As part of the treaty, the Mexicans were forced to shell out the 600,000 pesos—no doubt a large sum for a pastry shop at the time.


Kicking The Bucket

An entire war was fought over a bucket being stolen in 1325.

In this atmosphere of tension and hostility, some Modenese soldiers slipped into the center of Bologna, and stole a civic bucket filled with loot from the main city well in the center of Bologna. The humiliated Bolognese demanded the return of the bucket, and when that was refused declared war on Modena.


The Haley's Comet Panic

In 1910 [Haley's] comet made a super close pass. It was so close that the earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. It was also the first time the comet came around that we could collect spectroscopic data on it, and we subsequently learned that one of the substances that makes up the tail is cyanogen, a toxic gas. An astronomer made the claim that when we passed through the tail the gas would wipe out all life on the planet. People panicked and there was a spree of buying ridiculous inventions such as anti comet gas masks, anti comet pills, and anti comet umbrellas (yes, umbrellas).


Let's Get Down To Business

Genghis Khan, anyone?

Genghis sends a messenger to a city-state or wherever to propose a peaceful trade agreement.

They kill the messenger.

Ghengis Khan kills every single man, women, and child and burns their city to the ground.


The Opposite Of Overreaction


Y2K was a success. Folks in IT spent years working to fix the problems that would have, if ignored, caused tremendously expensive and possibly even dangerous problems. We worked our asses off and the reason it 'fizzled' wasn't because it was a scam or a hoax or an overreaction, it was because industry got its shit together for possibly the first time to Fix A Problem before it became a f*cking disaster.


In Parable And In Mass

I do maintain that Old Testament God really needed to chill the f*ck out.

But this was God being pissed off that His so-called 'perfect creation' was given free will then almost immediately used it to defy Him. Sort of like being sent to the naughty corner when you're a kid for drawing on the wall even after your parents say 'please don't draw on this specific wall, you can draw on any other wall in the house but not this one'.

God overreacted more to other stuff, like Moses, the tower of Babel, Jonah (not just the whale but literally everything he did to Jonah), Sodom and Gomorrah and the stuff that happened to Lot's family after that, the time he sent a bear to kill those kids for making fun of that bald guy...

Then God comes down in the form of Jesus because he feels bad about stuff and is tortured and killed for our sins and we're released from the naughty corner and allowed back into paradise. That's if you're Christian though.


Ah, 1929

The start of the Great Depression. It happened (or was definitely exacerbated) because of an overreaction, actually.

  • Stock market falls a bit, whatever... it happens.
  • People notice stock market falling more than regular. People decide to stop borrowing from banks and stop investing in the stock market. (Stock market does climb back up in early 1930 though)
  • People generally start spending less, but wages remained the same, resulting in a steady economic deflation, standard for a recession.
  • Bank interest rates stayed inflated so everyone started withdrawing money from the banks.
  • Banks can't give people their money because they don't have that much physical liquidated currency, it's mostly just money on the books or cash being loaned out.
  • People panic and more people try withdrawing from banks.
  • Banks close across the nation as more and more people are withdrawing money with no help from the Federal Reserve.
  • Problem is exacerbated and people find themselves without money when they had a large savings in the bank previously.
  • People can't spend money they don't have, so businesses go under and people find themselves jobless and moneyless.
  • Welcome to the Great Depression, ladies and gents.

A Fan By Any Other Name

The Fan Incident (27 April 1827), Houssein Dey (The leader of Algeria at the time), told the French ambassador to leave Algeria while pointing a hand fan at him. (Or that's what they said)

Later the French government claimed that the Dey hit their Ambassador with the fan and took it as an insult to the glorious kingdom. They sent hundreds of ships to Algeria 3 years later.

This is how the French occupation of Algeria started in 1830 and ended in 1962 (132 years).

This is called the Fan Incident.


Helen Of Troy

Have you read the Iliad? Basically most of greek mythology is about demigods with an incredible sense of entitlement. The Trojan War was started over a woman abandoning her husband because she was magicked into loving another man.


Can't Rage If I Can't Hear You


The War of Jenkin's Ear.


"The War of Jenkins' Ear (known as Guerra del Asiento in Spain) was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858,refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.

The seeds of conflict began with the separation of an ear from Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company hoped to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain's trading opportunities in the Caribbean. Also ostensibly providing the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire was a desire to pressure the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slavers permission to sell slaves in Spanish America.

The war resulted in heavy British casualties in North America. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. From the British perspective, the war was notable because it was the first time that a regiment of colonial American troops (Oglethorpe's Regiment) was raised and placed "on the Establishment" – made a part of the regular British Army – and sent to fight outside North America."

Not only was it an over-reaction deliberately, but it took 8 years for it to go off...


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