15 History Buffs Dish on Their Favorite Criminals Ever

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If you’re into history (or know people who are) then you’re probably aware that we’re nerds who have a lot of random favorite historical things.

Favorite pirate? Check. Favorite era? Sure. Favorite random historical story? Yep. And the list for sure includes a favorite criminal (which may or may not overlap with favorite pirate, depending on your feelings on the topic).

If you love cool stories about badass individuals throughout history, you’ll definitely want to dig into these 15.

#15. To taunt the police

“Barefoot Bandit. kid who was screwed by the state by getting placed back in an abusive home gets pissed then he ends up breaking into houses barefoot while walking in chalk to taunt the police. It ended with him stealing a plane and flying it to the Bahamas and then stealing an SUV which he crashed and was captured in.”

#14. Bathing in blood

“Elizabeth Bathory. She was a Hungarian noblewoman who was considered to be one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and an inspiration for the vampire mythos. She allegedly bathed in the blood of virgins because she believed it would maintain her beauty. She killed and mutilated hundreds of girls and lesser noblewoman with the help of her servants. She was sentenced to solitary confinement and was bricked into a room in a castle. She lived within that bricked up room for four years before she finally died.

Historians are not sure if she actually murdered all of those girls or if it was a conspiracy set up by the church to seize her lands, but either way, it’s one of my favorite historical events.”

#13. A folk hero

“Edward Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate). Hes kind of a folk hero in North Carolina where I used to live.”

#12. The President’s son

“Prison Mike. He stole, and he robbed, and he kidnapped the president’s son, and held him for random.

And he never got caught neither.”

#11. Over 400 armed robberies

“Ben Hall – the gentleman bushranger of Australia. No one comes close. The guy was pushed into a life of crime by the corrupt police of the time (truly) and managed to pull off over 400 armed robberies without killing anyone. With a huge reward on his head he was surrounded by police as he slept in the bush and his body was found with 30 bullets in it. More here: http://www.convictcreations.com/history/benhall.htm
He deserves more fame that our infamous Ned Kelly.”

#10. No need for a gun.

“Whoever committed the 300 million yen heist in 1968. Largest heist on Japanese history and the dude not only didn’t get caught, but also didn’t even need to use a gun.

The TL;DR is the guy made threats to blow up the Bank manager’s house. Next day, while disguised as a police officer, he stops a delivery of 300 million yen and tells the security that the Bank manager’s house has been blown up, and that they have reason to believe that explosives have been planted on their car. He crawls under the vehicle to search it and lights a road flare causing lots of smoke. The employees, thinking the car is going to explode, run away as fast as they can. Meanwhile, the robber just hops in the vehicle and drives away.”

#9. Real-life Robin Hood

“Ned Kelly, famous Australian Bushranger. After countless instances of assault and prejudice against him, his family and his friends at the hands of the Victorian Police, he formed a ‘gang’ and became a real-life Robin Hood-type (burning mortgage papers of the very-lower-class to free them of debt after constant tax increases is just one of the Kelly Gangs great stories) and ended up in a legendary shootout with police in the rural Victorian town of Glenrowan. Amazing story.”

#8. Deal with the government

Ching Shih. She was a Chinese pirate queen in the 1700s(?) with a huge fleet. The craziest story I remember from the video I watched was that she waked into the government building (with her whole fleet and men, it was a lot), and pretty much made a deal with the government that gave her and her men amnesty from their decades of crimes and all the loot they acquired and all they had to do was retire from a life of pirating. The government agreed to this plan and they all got off scotch free.”

#7. Not many people

“The Axeman of New Orleans. He did some pretty fucked up things, but not many people can literally get an entire city to play jazz all at once.”

#6. The most flippant manner imaginable

“Oscar Wilde. Gross indecency, i.e. being gay in the 1890s. His first trial (actually him suing the Marquess of Queensberry for leaving a card addressed “To Oscar Wilde, a posing sodomite” at his club) is fabulous so long as Queensberry’s lawyer is trying to prove Wilde’s immoral because of his literature, because he’s a genius and he makes absolute comical mincemeat of the man in the most flippant manner imaginable. Unfortunately, defense did their shoe-leather work and began introducing a string of newspaper boys and disreputable loungers Wilde had paid for sex.”

#5. We’ll never know

“There’s something really perplexing about DB Cooper. If you read up on the case it’s clear he was crazy prepared for the hijacking. This wasn’t a half-baked scheme, it was planned out down to the very last detail. One of those ‘nobody would believe this if it was a movie’ things.

So he executes this to perfection – and then jumps from the plane. Into a raging storm. Wearing casual clothes. Over the middle of nowhere. He either never got the chute open or if he did you’re talking minutes rather than hours before he’s dead from exposure. He just seemed like far too clever of a guy to think he was going to survive this. Maybe that was the plan and it was an elaborate suicide or something. We’ll never know.

But there’s that bit of me wants to believe he made it.”

#4. A litany of awesome

“Julie d’Aubigny:

She and her assistant fencing master “made a living by giving fencing exhibitions and singing in local taverns and fairs”
Fell in love with a woman who was sent to a nunnery—d’Aubigny “entered the convent…stole the body of a dead nun, placed it in the bed of her lover, and set the room on fire to cover their escape”
Was insulted by a young nobleman and dueled him, and she won by “[driving] her blade through his shoulder”
“The next day, she asked about his health…” After offering an apology she “went to his room and subsequently they became lovers and, later, lifelong friends”
She befriended a singer in the Paris Opera who “convinced the master of the king’s household to accept her into the company”
“…a performance by La Maupin [d’Aubigny] given at Trianon of Destouches’ Omphale in 1701…[it was written that her voice] was “the most beautiful voice in the world”
“She famously beat the singer Louis Gaulard Dumesny after he pestered the women members of the troupe, and a legendary duel of wits with Thévenard was the talk of Paris”
“Her Paris career was interrupted around 1695, when she kissed a young woman at a society ball and was challenged to duels by three different noblemen. She beat them all, but fell afoul of the king’s law that forbade duels in Paris”
“She retired from the opera in 1705 and took refuge in a convent…where she died in 1707 at the age of only 33. She has no known grave.”
“Théophile Gautier, when asked to write a story about d’Aubigny, instead produced the novel Mademoiselle de Maupin, published in 1835, taking aspects of the real [d’Aubigny] as a starting point…The celebration of sensual love, regardless of gender, was radical, and the book was banned by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice”

#3. When you know what you like…

“The Pontiac Bandit. Stole one specific brand of cars for years.”

#2. Nope, I’m guilty

“Socrates – for teaching. The coolest part is he could’ve gotten out of his death sentence if he pleaded, but he was like “nope, I’m guilty and I have to pay the price.” They even gave him chances to escape. But his death changed the judicial system.”

#1. Precision

“Baker Street robbery, London – £1,500,000

no one harmed, precision, and never caught.”