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Historical Events So Ridiculous They Sound Made Up

A Redditor asked: 'What’s an event in history that is so ridiculous it sounds fake?'

historical reenactors
Sigmund on Unsplash

We've probably all heard some variation of the saying "Truth is stranger than fiction."

Real life isn't just strange, it can also be downright ridiculous.

History is riddled with moments of absurdity.

So ridiculous that people have a hard time believing real life is, well, really real.


A Redditor asked:

"What’s an event in history that is so ridiculous it sounds fake?"

Moostaken Identity

"Hannibal saved his army by tying torches to the horns of 5,000 cows and driving them in one direction."

"The Romans thought they were the enemy army and converged on them, while Hannibal quietly snuck his 10,000 man force out of the valley by another route."

~ Marxbrosburner

War Without Casualties

"That time Denmark and Canada (I think) had a 'war' over Hans island."

"Every time a Navy vessel drove by they picked up the flag of the over nation, planted their own and left a bottle of alcohol."

"I heard it stopped not that long ago."

~ FairyQueen89

"It also means that both Canada and Denmark now share a land border with more than one country."

"Also (jokingly) means that Canada could potentially join the EU, as it now borders an EU nation."

~ millijuna

Oh, 💩

"The Erfurt Latrine Disaster occurred on 26 July 1184, when Henry VI, King of Germany (later Holy Roman Emperor), held a Hoftag (informal assembly) in the Petersberg Citadel in Erfurt."

"On the morning of 26 July, the combined weight of the assembled nobles caused the wooden second story floor of the building to collapse and most of them fell through into the latrine cesspit below the ground floor, where about 60 of them drowned in liquid excrement."

~ amerkanische_Frosch

Running On Empty

"The 1904 Olympic Marathon in St. Louis."

"32 athletes took part, but only 14 were able to finish—there was only one water station in the entire 26-mile course. The 'winner' was later disqualified because they found out he drove half the race in his car."

"The new winner (the guy who came in second) had to be carried over the finish line by his trainers because they’d been dosing him the whole time with a strange mixture of strychnine, brandy, and egg whites."

"Several people almost died of internal injuries. Multiple runners stole things from passersby."

"Most people in the race weren’t even Olympic-level athletes, just amateur runners, many of whom didn’t even have to run a full marathon to qualify."

~ Blacl-Owl

Stonewalled

"When two perfectly working pistols failed to fire on US President Andrew Jackson who then beat his would-be-assassin so badly that the presidential security detail had to pull him off to save the man's life."

~ sleepwalkfromsherdog

The Log Shot First

"The guy who founded Scientology once engaged in a multi-day naval battle with a log. He would then go on to commit an act of war against Mexico."

~ Duck_Whistle

"In June 1942, Hubbard was given command of a patrol boat at the Boston Navy Yard, but he was relieved after the yard commandant wrote that Hubbard was 'not temperamentally fitted for independent command'."

"In 1943, Hubbard was given command of a submarine chaser, but only five hours into the shakedown cruise, Hubbard believed he had detected an enemy submarine. Hubbard and crew spent the next 68 hours engaged in combat."

"An investigation concluded that Hubbard had likely mistaken a 'known magnetic deposit' for an enemy sub. The following month, Hubbard unwittingly fired upon Mexican territory and was relieved of command."

"In 1944, Hubbard served aboard the USS Algol before being transferred. The night before his departure, Hubbard reported the discovery of an attempted sabotage."

"I believe he had his men fire into hills in Baja California. He must not have realized that you can’t just use another country for target practice."

~ csfshrink

Bling, Bling

"The Field of the Cloth of Gold, where King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France tried to out-bling each other."

"The fact that two monkeys covered in gold leaf were far from the most ostentatious display is a good indication of how tasteful it was."

~ notatravis

"I assumed you meant two statues of monkeys in gold leaf."

"But no, actual real-life monkeys. Somebody painted actual real-life monkeys gold."

~ Youre_so_damn_fat

Sorry We Can't Shoot You

"When America went to war with Spain, the Spanish forgot to tell their territory, Guam.

"The US sent a single warship to the island where they took 13 shots at the fort."

"The leaders on the island rowed out to apologize they couldn't return their 'salute' because they had no gunpowder."

"That is why Guam is a US territory."

~ Wetworth

Ribbit

"The Great Windham Frog War."

"In 1754 Windham, Connecticut was still a frontier settlement. One hot night the residents awoke to gruesome sounds that convinced them that the local Natives were attacking."

"Throughout the night they strove to drive off the attackers with steady gunfire. In the morning they crept out, to find thousands of dead frogs who had spent the night competing for the dwindling water."

"Rather than being ashamed, this has become a central part of the town’s character. The town’s symbol is a frog and the bridge is decorated with large frogs at each corner."

~ DdraigGwyn

Psych!

"Operation Mincemeat."

"Basically, the British dressed a random dead guy in a military uniform, put fake invasion plans in his pocket, and dropped him on the shore of Spain."

"The Spanish found the body (and invasion plans) and informed Germany."

"Germany, believing the invasion plans were real, sent an army to Greece—which is exactly what the Brits wanted, because they were actually going to invade Sicily."

~ ThePinkTeenager

They Got Worms

"For a very long time the Roman empire was able to acquire silk through trade over 'the silk road' to China, but never able to unlock the secrets of producing it domestically themselves."

"Until 552AD, when two monks preaching in India then travelled to China, where they witnessed the guarded methods of using the live silk worm to spin the famous thread."

"Knowing the importance of what they'd learned, the monks returned to Constantinople to report directly to the emperor Justinian."

"He personally met the monks, heard all the details of what they'd seen, then asked them to return to China and find a way of smuggling these worms back to the empire."

"They agreed, and prepared for the 2 year ~6,500km (4,000mi) trek back to China on foot, hoof and wheel."

"Once back in China they acquired either eggs or young larvae, since the adults are too delicate for transport, and tucked them into hollowed bamboo canes for the long journey straight back home."

"Once the monks made it back to Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey), domestic silk production slowly ramped up and the need for long journeys along the 'silk road' ramped down."

"Over time, this allowed the same type of silk monopoly which China had enjoyed through the prior centuries to now be established in the Mediterranean, becoming one of the bedrocks of the Byzantine economy for the next 700 years.It's crazy to think about these two guys."

"1500 years before you or I were born, making their second multi-year, 6,500km trek back from China, smuggling two bamboo canes full of bugs which would fuel the economy of one of the world's largest civilizations for the next 700 years."

"I wonder if they knew and understood these possibilities when they went to scoop the worms from their baskets in China...Imagine the anxiety trying to keep them hidden and alive the whole way back!"

~ ChipHazardous

Ape 💩

"The Gombe Chimpanzee War."

"It sounds like something right out of a Planet of The Apes movie."

"The Gombe Chimpanzee War, also known as the Four-Year War, was a violent conflict between two communities of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in the Kigoma region of Tanzania between 1974 and 1978."

"The two groups were once unified in the Kasakela community. By 1974, researcher Jane Goodall noticed the community splintering."

"Over a span of eight months, a large party of chimpanzees separated themselves into the southern area of Kasakela and were renamed the Kahama community. The separatists consisted of six adult males, three adult females and their young."

"The Kasakela was left with eight adult males, twelve adult females and their young."

"During the four-year conflict, all males of the Kahama community were killed, effectively disbanding the community. The victorious Kasakela then expanded into further territory but were later repelled by two other communities of chimpanzees."

~ DeadalusJones

Hong Xiuquan Christ?

"The Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864)."

"Hong Xiuquan, who failed the imperial exam on the third try to become a civil servant, had a breakdown and dreamed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ."

"He later led a revolution resulting in between 20 to 30 million deaths. That's the bloodiest civil war in the world and the toll of death surpasses the totality of casualties in WWI."

"British diplomats at the time wanted to support the revolution but later discovered that Hong Xiuquan literally never read the Bible and they thus deemed it would be disastrous if he were to get the throne."

"This historical event feels like a fever dream everytime I hear about it."

~ Freezemoon

Pied Piper

"John 'Mad Jack' Churchill was a British officer in World War Two. He’s famous because he brought along a Scottish claymore, bagpipes, and a bow and got the 'only confirmed longbow kill of the Second World War'."

"One time he was with part of his commando unit and a shell exploded and injured everyone but him, so he played a Scottish Jacobite song on his bagpipes until the Germans captured him and sent him to a prison camp."

"He promptly escaped via a tunnel he dug and almost got to the ocean before he got recaptured."

"By then, it was April 1945, and the German military was falling apart, so they let him go pretty quickly."

"He’s famous for the quote 'any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed'."

~ 3000ghosts

What absurdly, ridiculous event would you add?

People Describe The Most Historically Significant Event They've Ever Witnessed In Person

Reddit user FictionVent asked: 'What is the most historically significant event you witnessed IN PERSON?'

Aircraft losing control
Richard R. Schünemann/Unsplash

Do you ever wonder what it must've been like to experience major events throughout world history when reading about them in text books?

But if you take pause and actually think about it, we're living through many newsworthy current events that succeeding generations will be talking about long after we're gone.

Reading about them online or in newspapers is one thing. But seeing them happen unfold before our eyes is another.

Curious to hear from those who'll have anecdotes to tell in the future, Redditor FictionVent asked:
"What is the most historically significant event you witnessed IN PERSON?"

People recall the natural disaster events they've witnessed.

Tremors

"1964 Good Friday Earthquake 9.2 Richter. Was a boy in Cordova, Alaska at the time."

– KitchenLab2536

"My father was skipper of the USCG cutter stationed there. He was inport, and when the quake struck shortly before 5:30pm, he and my mom gathered me and my three siblings on the front porch. At first, it felt like the house was crumbling at the foundation, but on the porch we could plainly see our whole world was shaking. I remember watching telephone poles swaying, and the wires snapping and crackling in the street. The quake lasted about five minutes initially. My dad got his ship underway to avoid the tidal wave which was sure to come. We had several aftershocks in the coming weeks, some of which were quite strong, though nowhere near as strong or as long as the quake itself. I was seven at the time."

– KitchenLab2536

Collapsing Freeway

"October 17th, 1989. I watched the 880 Nimitz freeway collapse during the San Francisco earthquake. The Honda in front of me had the upper deck crush her front-end engine compartment. The mother and her daughter were shaken up but completely fine."

"I was driving a convertible Triumph Spitfire, which was scratched up slightly from debris. However, I walked away unscathed. Aside from the fact I pissed my pants, which I didn't notice until much later."

– CatDaddyWhisper

Thar She Blows

"I sat on the roof of our house and watched Mt. St. Helens erupt less than 100 miles away."

– stinkykitty71

"This must have been fascinating and terryfing in equal measure. What a thing to witness."

– runrossyrun

"It was amazing! The ash that covered everything like snow was interesting to kid me, but less so to my parents."

– stinkykitty71

People recall seeing major catastrophes as a result of malfunctions or judgement errors.

Bomber Crash

"The b-52 crash that led to changing what large military aircraft are allowed to do for airshows."

"I didn't see the plane, but immediately saw the fireball. It was just a perfect, bright red turning to black mushroom cloud."

"Fairchild is a nuclear air base and there were a few minutes there where I was sure the world was about to end."

"A few years before a KC-135 doing the same thing crashed near the school while we were in class."

– goffstock

Tragic Takeoff

"I was standing on my front porch watching the launch of the Challenger."

– StarChaser_Tyger

"Was riding in my parents car to a basketball game in the next town over in north texas when we saw a shooting star and thought that was neat."

"It was the Columbia..."

– Misdirected_Colors

Demolition Gone Wrong

"The failed implosion of the Zip feed mill in Sioux Falls, SD in 2005."

"They hyped it up, sold tickets to it, had a big 'BOOM' marketing thing, and broadcast it live on TV."

"The explosives took out the main supports on the first floor, and the rest of the building above it just plopped down 10ft or so and came to a rest. It was a massive failure, and was a funny little blurb on news stations around the world that day. Definitely not major news, just the rest of the world taking 20 seconds to laugh at us."

"The building sat like that (the leaning tower of SuFu) for quite a while until they figured out how to safely demolish it."

"Here's a clip of the failed demolition."

https://youtu.be/I8DEDUqd0RU

– KitchenBandicoots

These well-known historical events were seen by very few who are alive today.

Historical Remnant

"The tumbling of the Wall in Germany… along with people selling bits and pieces of it on tables in lobby in front of commissary and px in the following weeks and months. I had picked up a chunk about the size of an oreo and kept it… has blue spray paint on the flat side. Wonder if anyone is buying them now?"

– SingedPenguin13

Major Upheaval

"I would have to say the LA riots. I lived about two blocks from where it started. I was on my way home from school and saw someone throw a brick through a window. I didn’t even wait. I just started running the whole way home."

– Scarlaymama0721

Day Of Infamy

"9/11, I could SMELL the collapse of the towers."

– go4tli

"A friend of mine was there. One day in the warehouse we worked in together there was an odd electrical burning smell. He stopped in his tracks and went 'this is what 9/11 smelled like.'"

– mantistoboggan287

I didn't physically witness the fall of the World Trade Center but I was living in New York City at the time.

However, I did see the smoke.

I was living up north in Washington Heights at the time and knowing what happened, uncertain of what was to come, and seeing the plumes of smoke from the attack site was the most ominous sight I've ever seen in my life to date.

Have you ever lived through a historic moment or witnessed something sure to be noted in history books? Let us know in the comments below.

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When I was in seventh grade, I had aspirations to be a poet. I made a Mother's Day card for my mom with a cute (but now, cringe-worthy) poem inside, and a hand-drawn picture of a rose that took me hours to perfect.

A friend saw the card and said they wished they could do the same. Then suddenly, she asked if she could buy the card from me. I said no, since I needed to give it to my own mother, but I said I could make her a copy. From there, my friend got the idea for me to make copies of the card to sell. I went along with it, mostly because I didn't think it would actually work.

Turns out, it did. After making sure people would actually be interested, we went to the library after school and made several color copies of my card for 10 cents each. The next day, we sold each card for $1. Not only did we make enough money so that my friend and I could both afford to get our moms an actual present in addition to the card, but we had enough leftover to put us over the top for the money we needed to buy the matching faux leather jackets we'd been wanting all year.

The next year, many people who bought cards asked me to do it again, so I did. Once again, we made a killing. We didn't try to do it again once we got to high school, but it was definitely fun while it lasted.

When we tell people this story, they think it's a pretty crazy money-making scheme. Maybe it is, but we're not the only ones who ever did anything like this. Redditors know all about crazy money-making schemes, and are eager to share their own stories.

It all started when Redditor primeiro23 asked:

"What are the craziest ways you’ve heard of people making money?"

Tumble Into Business

"In college, I take a class on how to start & run a small business. Prof tells us to think of ridiculous business models for our fictitious businesses as we will get more out of the class that way. Stupid ideas ensue. Selling paperclips door to door, refilling car gasoline tanks in people's driveways, service to read & summarize the newspaper to executives etc."

"One classmate decides he is going to sell tumbleweed."

"Guess who quits college and started a successful business? Tumbleweed guy. Takes a van to the desert, collects tumbleweed and sells them to Hollywood movie & TV studios who need them. Keeps the tumbleweed in a warehouse and since they never spoil, his only costs are gasoline, storage & a website. He eventually becomes the number one tumbleweed provider to studios around the world, shipping tumbleweed globally."

"Made a heap of money selling what millions of people drive by and ignore every year."

– Accomplished-Fig745

Synopses

"I did have a job reading and summarizing newspaper articles to the boss. Literally only task I was hired for."

– Draigdwi

"An actual union job in the film industry is reading scripts and summarizing them in short mean book reports."

– Trixiebees

Jump!

"Heard of crazier, but a guy I know, friend of my mother's, went to Texas 30+ years ago. (we are from Norway), and he noticed every single garden had a trampoline. And it was almost always "jump king" - the circular with blue mat ones."

"So he went to the HQ, bought 10 and took back to Norway. Within days they were sold, and he ordered 50 more, same thing. So he became the only importer and has God knows how many millions to his name today."

– alexdaland

"This IS wild. I went to Norway recently and one of the first things I noticed was that almost EVERY yard had a trampoline in it."

– TrulyMadlyCheaply

Working For A Home

"Back when Dogecoin took off I wrote a guide on recovering old lost wallets and it got so popular I was flooded with requests for further help. Some corrupted wallet files, some lost passwords, etc."

"I have a background in computer science and experience in data retrieval and password cracking, so I started helping people in exchange for a percentage cut (industry standard for wallet recovery). All above board with a contract and everything."

"For a while I was getting new clients every week and making hundreds up to thousands of dollars on every successful recovery (with a fairly good rate of success). The biggest one I ever recovered was a 19 letter long password someone had lost. The work dried up when the price of doge dropped but it got me the down-payment on a house."

– internetpillows

Horsing Around

"A cabbie in Dublin once told me a story about one of his fares who had a brilliant hustle."

"The guy was a sculptor. He would watch horse races, then when a horse won, he'd use social media to contact the owner directly with a digital mockup of a life-sized sculpture of the winning horse. Now, the people who own winning racehorses tend to be very rich - we're talking sheikhs, oligarchs, billionaires. Every now and again, one of these owners would bite, and spend €100,000 euros or so on a statue commemorating their animal's win."

"Dude only did a couple a year, and spent the rest of the time living the good life."

– escoterica

Sweet!

"Richest guy in a rich town near us makes enormous amounts of money buying Hershey bars and rewrapping them with customised retirement celebration designs or corporate logos to be given away at events. Literally just rewraps them in pieces of paper and doubles or triples his money."

"Every time I try to start a company or invent a better product or something, I ask myself why I’m not just rewrapping candy bars."

– perchance2cream

"F**k man, I think I found my new niche."

– LibertyPrimeIsASage

Slightly Used

"I went to college in a capitol C college town. A friend of mine bought an old school bus, fixed it up and took out all the seats."

"At the end of every semester she would drive around the neighborhood that was the fancier side of off campus living and collect whatever the rich kids were throwing out before they moved / went home for the summer. Flat screen TVs, couches, computers, tables, it was wild to see what people would chuck out and replace the next semester rather than having to deal with getting a storage unit or moving themselves."

"Sold it all on Craigslist over the summer or the beginning of the next semester and made a killing."

– sam_neil

Credit Where Credit Is Undue

"When I worked in a really busy, upscale restaurant my coworker would put all of his cash-paying customer’s bills on his credit card and keep the cash which he used to promptly pay off his credit card."

"He did this all day, every day for quite a while and the points started to add up and he was getting free airfare, etc."

"Worked great for a while until management notice a rise in credit card processing fees with an emphasis on one employee and they shut him down real quick."

– blinkysmurf

We Found Gold!

"My buddy worked his way through college by panning for gold. This was in 2009 in California. Most days he made nothing, occasionally he would come home with a couple hundred bucks worth and I think once he found a night worth over $1k."

– discostud1515

"My cousin had a metal detector when he was in HS. He would go every weekend down to the lake and take it with him on vacation. He found all kinds of things. He did find gold jewelry and would sell it online. He made so much money he bought his own car."

– Content_Pool_1391

Sleeping For The Job

"I knew a woman whose job was literally to sleep."

"A local office building owner wanted somebody on-site 24/7 to be the point of contact with first responders if they ever needed to be called. So they hired her to come in to the building in the evening when the maintenance crew was finishing their work. And she would settle up to sleep for the night in a bedroom they'd set aside for her. In the morning she'd hand the building back over to the office employees and go on about her day."

"No first responders were ever called. It's about the least stressful legitimate job I could ever imagine."

– CaptainTime5556

The Secret

"Back in the 90s, I knew a guy who put an ad in the classified section of the newspaper which read something along the lines of, “For $10, I’ll tell you my secret to making easy money. Send $10 cash to (address) to find out how.” People would send him $10 & he would then instruct them to put a classified ad in the newspaper telling people to send $10 & how to make money."

– freudianfalls

Accident Payment

"I was pushed down the stairs by a teen girl who told me to "pay attention and get out of her way" i ripped my dress during the fall and was getting back up when some guy rushed up to me, apologized for his daughter and handed me $500 as compensation."

– thebrilliantcounc

"LOL - years back, I was in a parking lot during a snowstorm. A guy was trying to pull around me, slid on the snow/ice and hit into my passenger side door. It really and truly was an accident. He was all apologies. We exchanged info - he said to get a quote and he would pay for the damage."

"Well, the car I was driving at the time was a crappy old Ford worth maybe $500. But, I went to a body shop, got a quote on the repair and it was $900. I faxed it to him (this was back in the 90's, LOL) thinking he'd tell me to go through the insurance company and just have the car totaled out."

"To my surprise, I had a bank check for $900 from him in my mailbox three days later. Now, I already owned another car, so I pocketed the $900, sold the smashed car for parts for $300 and ended up with $1200 on a car that was worth only $500 before the accident. I was very glad that he ran into me!"

– Deleted User

Only Feet

"I have a friend who sells pictures of her feet. In heels. Barefoot squishing cake. In mud. She charges extra for special requests. Has strict ‘no go’ rules. Never shows anything above the calf so she can’t be identified (no tats). All proceeds go to her kid’s college fund. Has made enough to fund a PhD."

– NotACrazyCatLadyx2

The things people do for money! But, I guess it works for her!