Our history is filled with weird tales, and the best part is that some of them are true. Interested in these crazy moments, Redditor u/day-tripper96 made a post on the platform, asking other users: "What's a bizarre historical event you can't believe actually took place?" And people instantly flooded the comment section with answers.

From the CIA training a cat to spy on the Soviets to the great Emu War, continue scrolling to check out the most memorable ones together with Bored Panda's treat — an interview with Dr. Darren R. Reid, a historian who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Dundee and is now a lecturer at Coventry University.

#1

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The fact that Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States of America will always shock and appall me.

ThaUniversal , Wikimedia.Common Report

simpsonsfan888
Community Member
6 months ago

one of the saddest moments for the world has

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As you might understand, history isn't just about funny gags. While it has plenty of those, the subject can offer us much more.

"History gives us perspective," Dr. Reid told us. "It helps us to understand how our own experiences fit into a much broader pattern of human behavior; why do we go to war, why do we love, and why do we cause so much pain when we are trying to do the right thing."

"These are big questions with no easy answers, but understanding how and why our ancestors acted can help us to understand why we, as individuals and as a society, act as we do."

#2

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented I can’t believe i haven’t seen the siege of Weinsberg in 1140 after so much scrolling. It was negotiated that the women would be allowed to leave unharmed with whatever they could carry on their shoulders (with the intention that the men would continue to be sieged and ultimately killed/arrested). So the women carried out the men. Conrad III wasn’t even mad, he actually applauded their deception and allowed it.

AlanMooresWizrdBeard , Wikimedia.Common Report

DennyS (denzoren)
Community Member
6 months ago

He was just like "I'm not even mad, that's impressive...fair enough" Lol

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However, once you start diving deeper, you quickly realize that historians have done so much work, it's impossible for one person to become an expert in every stage of every civilization.

"Start by learning about whatever time period or topic speaks to you," Dr. Reid suggested.

"Don't try and nail down specific periods or important people because every period and every person's history is just as valid as everyone else's. Find what speaks to you and work out from there, always being open to engaging with stories, histories, and peoples that you come across whose experiences and perspectives take you out of your intellectual comfort zone."

#3

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented 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???

Heterozygoats , Wikimedia.Common Report

Caro Caro
Community Member
6 months ago

The founder of Scientology, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911. An author of science fiction and fantasy.

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Following your own curiosity and intuition, you are bound to discover something you will be able to share in a similar post when it comes up. Just don't be afraid of challenges.

According to Dr. Reid, even though academic literature can be intimidating for newcomers, historians are increasingly exploring new ways of bringing their research to life for new audiences. "Many [of them] produce podcasts, for example, that provide a much more accessible gateway into a vast range of periods and peoples," he explained.

"Historians are also starting to take control of mediums that haven't always represented the past as accurately as they could have. For example, I co-directed a documentary about Charlie Chaplin and mental health called Looking for Charlie: Life and Death in the Silent Era (to be released for free - streaming in the first week in November)."

Dr. Reid suggested that works such as this are likely to become more and more popular in the near future, providing deep insights into topics, but in an accessible way that will hopefully give people the best of both worlds.

#4

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The life of Zheng Yi Sao, a prostitute that became the most successful pirate lord in history, commanding 500 ships at the height of her power and battling Empire of China to a stalemate. She negotiated her surrender with honors and died peacefully at old age.

Zaihron Report

Elita One
Community Member
6 months ago

The character Mistress Ching in Pirates of The Caribbean 3 is based off of her.

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#5

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented During the siege of Tenochtitlan, the conquistadors built a trebuchet. However, the conquistadors, being an exploratory expedition, had not brought any military engineers with them. So they winged it. Surprisingly, they did build a trebuchet, which fired exactly one shot, directly upwards, which promptly came down and smashed the trebuchet. This event is chronicled in both the journals of the conquistadors present as well as the Aztec records.

VolJin , Wikimedia.Common Report

KJ
Community Member
6 months ago

I bet the Aztecs had a good chuckle about that one.

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#6

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented During WW1, English and German troops stopped the fighting for one day on Christmas Eve and played a game of football, exchanged gifts, and held conversations..only to go back to killing each other the next day

R-S-S , Wikimedia.Common Report

A B C
Community Member
6 months ago

War is such a weird thing.

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#7

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented 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, so it broke and they tumbled into the latrine in the cellar, and about 60 people drowned in poop.

Rasmoss , Wikimedia.Common Report

simpsonsfan888
Community Member
6 months ago

now at the top my "i didn't want to die like this" list

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#8

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Putting a man on the moon with a small fraction of the computing power used to write this message.

Kingh82 , Wikimedia.Common Report

Jo Choto
Community Member
6 months ago

Because they relied on "computers" who were people. Watch the movie "Hidden Figures". These women used their own mathematical skills to calculate speeds, trajectories, targets, all the calculations that were required for safe moon landings. That's the real wow of the moon landings.

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#9

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Mel Blanc (the voice actor who voiced every male character on Looney Tunes, as well as characters like Barney Rubble on The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely on The Jetsons) was in a head-on collision driving his sports car in a dangerous intersection known as “Dead Man’s Curve” in Los Angeles in 1961 (the same “Dead Man’s Curve” from the Jan and Dean song). His legs and pelvis were fractured, and he was left in a coma. For weeks, doctors tried everything to get Blanc to wake up. Eventually, when things were looking bleak, one of his neurologists decided to address one of Blanc’s characters instead of Blanc himself, asking him “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?” After a slight pause, the previously-comatose Blanc answered, “Eh... just fine, Doc. How are you?” Mel Blanc made a full recovery.

When he got out of the hospital, he sued the city of Los Angeles for $500,000, finally leading to the city reconstructing Dead Man’s Curve.

Ant-Fan66 , Wikimedia.Common Report

Walking On Sunshine
Community Member
6 months ago

Lots of people died on dead man's curve.

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#10

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The Cobra Effect. Basically during the British rule of India, they were concerned about the number of snakes in the capital, so they ordered a bounty on Cobras. For a while their population definitely declined, but soon people started breeding snakes just to collect the bounty. When the British became aware of this, they cancelled the bounty and so the breeders/snake catchers had huge numbers of now-worthless snakes which they let go in the wild, in turn actually increasing the population of Cobras in Delhi.

vpsj , Wikimedia.Common Report

Piet Puk
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

Can't remember where or when, but something similairly stupid happened when a bounty for archaeology finds was handed out. People would smash ancient bones into tiny fragments because they were paid per piece, not per size.

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#11

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented 1866: Lichtenstein goes to guard a spot with 80 men, returns with 81 men.

WolfTotem9 , Wikimedia.Common Report

The Scout
Community Member
6 months ago

This is said to have been the only time the Liechtenstein army acutally left the country. Quite an accomplishment for a country that managed to get invaded by neutral Switzerland three times - all three times by accident, though, as suisse soldiers did make some navigational errors at the unmarked border. Liechtenstein would not have been able to defend itself, though, as it completely disbanded its army as soon as 1868.

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#12

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The dancing plague of 1518, so from what I remember about what I learned, a few people randomly just started dancing in the town center for no apparent reason, even seeming a bit distraught not really having fun, well randomly people started joining seemingly against their will, I think it was reported that nearly 400 people were eventually involved and danced for literal days without stop, this event was apparently well documented and a few people even died from literal exhaustion, pretty much ended like it started too, everyone just kinda stopped.

Sullisk , Wikimedia.Common Report

Nixxy
Community Member
6 months ago

They suspected it was a kind of fungus, but nobody really knows

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#13

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented In 1920, President Paul Deschanel of France fell through the window of the train while traveling on the Orient Express. He stumbled up to the nearest signal box in his pajamas and told the signalman that he needed help and that he was the President of France. The signalman reportedly replied 'And I'm Napoleon Bonaparte.'

Bunnystrawbery , Wikimedia.Common Report

Keerthi Vardhan
Community Member
6 months ago

...just doesn't happen everyday..no wonder he didn't believe him.

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#14

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Europe declaring war on Napoleon.

Not France...Napoleon.

septembervirghoe , Wikimedia.Common Report

ShadowLand 🇨🇦
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

For clarification: After Napoleon returned to Paris from exile..... "At the Congress of Vienna, the Great Powers of Europe (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia) and their allies declared Napoleon an outlaw, and with the signing of this declaration on 13 March 1815, so began the War of the Seventh Coalition." Wikipedia

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#15

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Henry starting a whole new religion because he wanted a divorce and the Pope gave him the finger

tarnishedhuntress , Wikimedia.Common Report

Caro Caro
Community Member
6 months ago

The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformation, a religious and political movement that affected the practice of Christianity in western and central Europe. Causes included the invention of the printing press, increased circulation of the Bible and the transmission of new knowledge and ideas among scholars, the upper and middle classes and readers in general.

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#16

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented When Teddy Roosevelt was shot before he was supposed to give a speech.

The bullet was slowed down by the folded up 50-page speech, so it did not kill him. The bullet was inside him and he was bleeding, but he still went on and gave the speech, which was 84 minutes long.

He started it off with "It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose" and showed the crowd the speech with the hole in it.

-eDgAR- , Wikimedia.Common Report

Sue Lynn Chan
Community Member
6 months ago

Can I say that was badass?

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#17

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The Halifax Explosion. 100 years ago two ships did a sh**t job of passing each other while entering / leaving Halifax Harbour, in Nova Scotia. One of them was LOADED with explosives destined for WW1. They collided and one of them burned for a while, then exploded. The blast was a ~2/3 again larger than the one we saw in Beirut last year.

Thousands died or were blinded by shattering windows. There was a local tsunami (which followed a brief moment where the seabed was exposed to air), and then a monster snowstorm covered the relief effort in snow.

Largest human-made explosion even until the nuclear bomb, and I think it remains the largest maritime accident ever.

kayriss , Wikimedia.Common Report

Dash Blue
Community Member
6 months ago

Dang. I had not heard of The Halifax Explosion before. I am curious to know more. Yahoo Search here I come.

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#18

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Good old Operation Mincemeat.

Basically, during WWII, the British find some dead body of some poor guy, dress it up like a British officer, attach some fake intel onto him, then throw him into the ocean, hoping he floats to enemy territory to mislead them.

It worked.

mitchade , Thomas Vimare Report

NsG
Community Member
6 months ago

They went to extraordinary lengths to give him a full back story, including a fiancee, celebrating a recent promotion etc. And they made the actual fake intel as difficult to decode as any of their real intel. It was as close to complete accuracy while being totally faked as possible. The corpse was buried with full military honours.

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#19

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented What they did to the guy who told them that you need clean hands before you put them inside someone. (Ignaz Semmelweis)

Heep-0-Creajee Report

buttonpusher
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

The father of sterilization? Just because they had a bruised ego... He saved so many lives. I heard about how they used to walk from the pathology room, hands covered in corpse fluid, and then deliver a baby. And then the mother would die days later. Awful.

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#20

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented 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.

ReaverRogue , archive.org Report

Otter
Community Member
6 months ago

In duels, the person challenged got to pick the location and weapons. So there was a duel where one guy didn't want to fight, but couldnt back out without being dishonored and forever scorned... so he chose a pitch-black unlit cellar for the location, and huge carpenters's axes that neither combatant could life for the weapons.

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#21

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented If I had a nickel for every time there was a Defenestration of Prague, I'd have ten cents, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice.

SandmanAlcatraz , Wikimedia.Common Report

LuckyL
Community Member
6 months ago

thanks for the laugh

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#22

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The Emu-War.

Odrozic-Boroda , Jeremy Bezanger Report

Nixxy
Community Member
6 months ago

Emus won!

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#23

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Dr. Robert Liston performing a surgery with a 300% mortality rate. Wild if you read the story

memeparmesan , Wikimedia.Common Report

LuckyL
Community Member
6 months ago

His most famous (and possibly apocryphal) mishap was the operation where he was moving so fast that he took off a surgical assistant's fingers as he cut through a leg and, while switching instruments, slashed a spectator's coat. The patient and the assistant both died from infections of their wounds, and the spectator was so scared that he'd been stabbed that he died of shock. The fiasco is said to be the only known surgery in history with a 300 percent mortality rate.

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#24

Napoleon was once attacked by a horde of rabbits.

Basically, a rabbit hunt was set up to celebrate the Treaties of Tilsit and they ended up amassing somewhere between hundreds and thousands of rabbits (accounts vary). Anyway, the day of the hunt they set the rabbits in cages surrounding the area that they would be hunting in.

They released them once everyone was set, but instead of being scared the bunnies swarmed the hunting party. At first they thought it was funny, but then it got overwhelming and Napoleon and the others had to flee from the bunnies in a coach.

-eDgAR- Report

chi-wei shen
Community Member
6 months ago

This sounds like it came straight out of Monty Python. Napoleon wouldn't have survived an attack by that vicious Monty Python rabbit.

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#25

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented I am a big fan of the period when there were like three different popes all excommunicating each other and the term anti-pope is valid in Christian theology.

Mnemonics19 , Wikimedia.Common Report

Rob
Community Member
6 months ago

If a man tells you he's the Pope, chances are he's Avignon... ...I'll get my coat.

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#26

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The citizens of Holland once ate their prime minister, that's a bizarre case. It was the case of Johan de Witt 1672. You know, your political career is over when your citizens start to eat you...

Diacetyl-Morphin , Wikimedia.Common Report

Olivia Lisbon
Community Member
6 months ago

To be fair, we didn’t eat all of him.

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#27

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented The Battle of Pelusium the persians straight up attached cats to their shields so the egyptians couldn’t attack the shields or fire arrows at them

Jormungandr181 , Wikimedia.Common Report

Don Golosso
Community Member
6 months ago

Must have been Catastrophic..... I'll show myself out.

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#28

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Alexander the Great named (or renamed) 70 cities after himself. Some still have the name or derivatives of it - Alexandria in Egypt being the most obvious, but also Iskandariya in Iraq and Kandahar in Afghanistan.

mordenty , Wikimedia.Common Report

simpsonsfan888
Community Member
6 months ago

thats one hell of an ego

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#29

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Battle of Tsushima in 1905.

Russian Baltic fleet sails the long way (16k miles and 7 months) started by them opening fire on British fishing boats mistaken for Japanese vessels in the North sea.... sank their own ships while conducting target practice, then were destroyed by the Japanese fleet upon arrival (they mistook the Japanese ships for Russian and signaled them instead of firing).

IMakeLowballOffers , Wikimedia.Common Report

A B C
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

Were the commanding officers/captains drunk the whole time? That's a lot of whoopsies.

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#30

People Share What Historical Events They Wouldn't Believe Had Happened If It Weren't Actually Documented Austro-Hungarian army started shooting at itself while fighting Ottomans. The German speaking troops apparently yelled "Halt" when they encountered the Slavic troops of the same army, which then the Slavic troops who spoke s**t German (if any) mistook for "Alah" and started shooting. I believe the Slavic troop was also severely drunk at that point

Actually... I can totally see this happening

lillie_connolly , Wikimedia.Common Report

Walking On Sunshine
Community Member
6 months ago

Nothing worse than drunk people with weapons. LOL I am from the United States.

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