If you’re a history lover like me, you know that the past is littered with actual events that will drop your jaw. People in extraordinary circumstances are capable of extraordinary feats, and over and over again, human beings have proved that was true.
Some of those events, when viewed through a modern lens, actually seem so bizarrely impossible that it’s hard to believe they really happened – but let us assure you, these 15 odd things did actually happen.
15. Pastries are life.
Mexico and France went to war over a pastry shop.
I live in MZT. They celebrate the win from France every year with a mock battleship scene out of fireworks …happens one of the nights during Carnival. It was an AMAZING show to see!!!
14. It sort of breaks my heart.
Christmas truce of 1914
Perhaps it is not so “bizarre” and its just some part of human nature, but it is really amazing for me.
Simultaneously the most pure, sad, happy, and tragic moment in history I’ve heard of.
13. What was that all about?
the dancing plague of 1518
12. I mean…
London’s beer flood in 1814. What a way to go.
More people died from alcohol poisoning than the actual flood.
11. I feel like another one might be in order.
That time the US house of representatives had an all out fist fight.
I think the most fascinating part is that they all just kind of laughed it off afterwards.
10. Film-worthy, for sure.
Carausius. Everything about him is boss. A Gallo-Belgic peasant who rose up the military ranks to become a Roman general.
Successfully fought actual pirates after waiting for them to raid their targets and so became insanely wealthy.
When he found out Emperor Maximian had caught wind of this and had ordered his execution he flipped him the bird, sailed into what is now Great Britain, bribed around four entire legions to join him with the money he’d nabbed, and set himself up in London as the Real Legitimate Emperor, Yo!
Why has nobody made a film about the man, yet?
9. Morbidly funny.
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (catalyst for WWI). Conspirators throw bombs at motorcade which miss but injury others.
An hour later, Ferdinand was going to visit the injured at a hospital and his driver made a wrong turn and stalled the engine right in front of a deli. A deli one of the conspirators had gone to to eat and lay low.
He came out and shot the Archduke and his wife, sparking an international crisis and WWI.
That whole story is kind of morbidly funny. It’s like the world’s worst assassins’ went after this guy. IIRC the dude who shot Ferdinand jumped into a canal to escape, but he misjudged the depth of the water and broke both his legs.
Then he drank cyanide as the police surrounded him but he ended up just getting really sick and not dying. It was like the three stooges plotting and executing a hit.
8. He’d had enough.
No Kum-sok’s defection of North Korea is actually one if the most bada$$, real life movie things to ever happen.
Dude got sick of North Korea and flew to the South Korean border at almost mach-1, too fast to be seen by North Korean or American radar.
He landed at the closest American military base on the wrong side of the runway with another jet landing at the same time on the other side, barely missing it.
When he got out of the plane, he took an image of Kim-Il-Sung that was in the cockpit, tore it to shreds, and threw up his arms in surrender.
He unknowingly got $100k (which is almost $1 million today) by fulfilling “Operation Moolah” and lives as an American citizen to this day.
7. Tall and strong.
Lincoln stopping a fight with a gentleman before it started, with a broadsword.
Most people know Lincoln was incredibly tall, but he was also immensely strong. A lifetime of grit, graft, and chopping wood made his wiry frame tight with corded muscles.
A gentleman of parliament challenged Lincoln to a duel for his honour, one day. Lincoln picked the weapons. Broadswords.
Lincoln showed up to the field of the duel the following day, and with one enormous one handed swing overhead, lopped a sizeable limb off a tree. From a standing start.
The gentleman backed out of the duel moments after witnessing the man dismember a tree as casually as one might behead a floret of broccoli.
6. Which side would you be on?
Ohio going to war with Michigan, over Toledo.
One person wounded. Ohio got Toledo, while Michigan got the entire upper peninsula and all of it’s copper, iron, and forests.
I think Michigan won this one.
Been seeing people saying “Ohio won” because it got Toledo. Yes, technically true. Just a little jab about Toledo being, Toledo, and the UP being lovely. A lot of people also have been saying “Wisconsin lost because the UP was a part of it.” That’s not technically true.
Wisconsin wasn’t a state, it was a territory, like Michigan was. The Michigan Territory included not just the area that is known as Michigan now (UP included), but also all of Wisconsin, all of Minnesota, all of Iowa, and the eastern halves of both North and South Dakota.
The area was trimmed down in preparation for Michigan to become a state, without most of the western part of the UP, but they wanted to keep the Toledo Strip. Ohio and Michigan bickered over it a while, before Congress made Michigan give it up in exchange for the rest of the UP being added into the deal.
5. Just all of it.
Entire life and existence of Ernest Hemingway is a big bizarre historical event. The following events are not in a chronological order, altho they happened during his lifetime (with some sources stating different details about certain events):
He contracted anthrax on honeymoon with his second wife.
In WW1 he was with Red Cross, and fought in WW2
He had not only the mentioned anthrax, but also pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, three concussions, and later on in his life he became impotent
When he was recovering from shrapnel injuries in both of his legs, he fell in love with an italian nurse, who later left him for an italian soldier while he went away to prepare for their wedding
He survived two separate plane crashes in the span of two days (or in 24 hours according to some sources). He had fractured skull, internal bleeding, cracked spine, ruptured liver, first degree burns, and a paralyzed sphincter muscle.
He got into multiple car accidents
Accidentally shot himself in his leg (or both of his legs according to some sources) while he was aiming at a shark
hunted nazi U-boats in the Atlantic on a fishing boat, armed with nothing but a machine gun and hand grenades
when he tried to flush a toilet, he pulled on a lamp cable instead, pulling it down directly on his head, cutting it open
he had three kids and four different wives
after getting married twice he converted to catholicism
got attacked by a lion he was playing with
was an avid hunter both in Africa and in NA
led a militia outside of Paris, and was charged with breaking the Geneva convention, AND GOT AWAY WITH IT
won a Nobel Prize for literature and was nominated for Pulitzer Price
was on the run from FBI because he was a KGB spy in the 40s
despite all the illnesses he had, he killed himself with his favorite shotgun after two rounds of ECT in a psychiatric ward
In between all that madladdery, he found time to write books.
4. It really is nuts.
I know it’s not very old, but it still amazes me that a science fiction author can talk about wanting to create a fake religion and then proceeds to create a fake science fiction religion and it somehow has actual followers???
I realize that all religions fall under that unprovable, by faith only, category. The difference to me is that this guy was openly talking about creating a religion for the sake of creating a religion, fantasy, money, what have you.
Plenty of older ones could have been the same way, but this one was recent enough that I would have thought people to be less gullible? Who knows.
3. Massive misfortune.
During the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, a man by the name of Tsutomu Yamaguchi managed, in a feat of massive misfortune, to be present at both atomic bomb detonations.
He was working in Hiroshima for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on an oil tanker when the first atom bomb was dropped on August 6th, the last day he was supposed to be in the city before returning home to his wife and infant son. He recounted watching the bomb go off, saying it looked like a massive magnesium flare going off.
He dove into a ditch in the handful of seconds it took for the blast to reach him, which is probably what saved his life. The blast actually pulled him out of the ditch, and tossed into into a nearby potato patch. He came to later, the sky darkened by the debris kicked up by the blast, covered in 2nd and 3rd degree burns and both his eardrums were ruptured.
He got up, and managed to find his way to the Mitsubishi shipyard, where he found a couple of colleagues who had also survived, and together they spent the night in the bomb shelter. The next day they found that miraculously a train still worked, so the survivors loaded in, and taken out of the still burning ruins of Hiroshima by train and taken overnight to Nagasaki.
August 8th, After stopping at the hospital to have his burns checked out, he went home. His mother thought him a ghost, come to haunt them when he first showed up, covered in burns and bandages as he was.
Despite all this, Yamaguchi still woke up and went into work the morning of August 9th, and was immediately taken into see the Director of Mitsubishi to tell him what had happened. The Director straight up didn’t believe Yamaguchi, thinking he’d gone mad from his experience. That’s when Yamaguchi saw the flash of light, exactly like the one in Hiroshima. He hit the ground just in time to dodge the worst of the glass exploding in a wave of sharp death from the shockwave.
This time, however, due to Nagasaki’s hilly topography, and the design of the building he was in, he sustained only superficial injuries, but did get bathed in yet more radiation from the bomb, having be unfortunate enough to be within 2 miles of this blast as well. Yamaguchi leaves the broken skeleton of the building, and immediately goes to find his wife and child.
He goes home and nearly loses hope when he finds his house mostly reduced to rubble. However, in yet another fortunate twist of fate, his wife and their baby hadn’t been home when the bomb went off. They’d been out looking for burn cream for Yamaguchi, and had managed to take refuge in a tunnel which protected them for all but a few superficial injuries.
Despite everything, Yamaguchi would live to the ripe old age of 93, and having 9 children.
TL;DR Man manages to survive being within two miles of both of the deadliest bomb detonations in the history of mankind, becoming one of the luckiest unlucky people to exist.
2. I can’t imagine a worse way to go, honestly.
The Erfurt Latrine Disaster of 1184 where a bunch of nobles met in a church, where it turned out the wooden floor couldn’t hold their weight.
It broke and they tumbled into the latrine in the cellar, and about 60 people drowned in poop.
1. And they let him.
Henry starting a whole new religion because he wanted a divorce and the Pope gave him the finger.
In fairness to Henry, popes granted annulments on the most flimsy of excuses before. Eleanor of Aquitaine famously got her marriage to King Louis VII of France annulled on the grounds that they were fourth cousins … only to immediately turn around and marry King Henry II of England who was also her fourth cousin.
Henry VIII suffered from two problems: one, he’d already had to get papal permission to marry Katherine, and even the corrupt popes of the sixteenth century recognized that undoing the decisions of their predecessors could set a precedent of their successors undoing their own. Two, the pope was literally being besieged by Katherine’s nephew at the time. “Aunt Katie stays married or I’ll kill you” is a rather persuasive argument.
I’m off to research some of these that were new to me.
What other event would you put on this list? Tell us the story in the comments!