If you love history, these “plot twists” are going to delight you. And if you don’t love history…I’m guessing you either never had the right teacher or never heard the right stories!
So let the internet history buffs take you by the hand and lead you down the beautiful path of weird, wild, and unbelievable moments in the past – some of which changed the world.
#18. Washington’s humility.
“They say, George Washington’s yielding his power and stepping away.
The story I remember that illustrates that:
The American-born painter Benjamin West was in England painting the portrait of King George III. When the King asked what General Washington planned to do now that he had won the war. West replied: “They say he will return to his farm.”
King George exclaimed: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
#17. All for the crown.
Guy was appointed Marshall of France by Napoleon, got offered the throne of Sweden, accepted it, joined with England and helped defeat Napoleon, and his descendants are still the Swedish royale family.”
#16. On idolization.
“Miracle of the House Brandenburg
It’s the Seven Years War. Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, is defeated decisively at the Battle of Kunersdorf by the combined forces of his enemies, losing more than half his army. His enemies, the Russians are advancing on Berlin from the East, the Austrians are closing in from the South. Frederick manages to gather 30,000 men for the defense of Berlin against a force of more than 90,000. The situation is completely dire and Frederick is making plans to either die in the defense of his capital or take poison. He wrote of his enemies, “We’ll fight them – more in order to die beneath the walls of our own city than through any hope of beating them.” And then the enemies who were closing in for final victory… just stopped, turned around, and went home.
What happened at that moment that prevented the Russians and Austrians from reaching their goal? They had also taken heavy losses at Kunersdorf and decided they had over-extended themselves in a rapid advance, began to worry about their supply lines and their ability to occupy Berlin and so they just withdrew to fight another day.
Then, later in the war. Prussia’s position turns bleak again. Frederick is again surrounded and isolated. When suddenly the Russian Tsarina dies and is replaced by her nephew, who in a strange twist, is a complete Prussophile and admirer of Frederick’s. He once wrote to Frederick that he would rather be a colonel in the Prussian army than to be the Tsar of Russia. Of course not wanting to be the one to destroy his idol, the new Tsar turns Russia’s armies around and signs a peace treaty with Frederick.”
#15. The horse’s asshole.
“When Troy thought the Greeks had given them a cool horse statue to make peace with them but the Greeks came out of the horse’s asshole and murdered everyone in their sleep. Rude.”
“The United States assisting in the overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Iran which lead to the country hating and mistrusting is to this day.”
#13. Napoleon and the rabbits.
“After the signing of the Peace of Tilsit in 1807, Napoleon was feeling pretty damn happy. So, to celebrate, he got his trusted chief-of-staff, Berthier, to organise an afternoon of rabbit shooting for the Imperial Court to enjoy. Berthier, being keen to impress Napoleon, bought thousands of rabbits to ensure that they’d all be entertained for the afternoon.
So, afternoon came and the rabbits were brought out for the shooting. That should’ve been fine, right?
Nope. Berthier made a little mistake with the rabbits he chose. He’d chosen tame rabbits rather than wild rabbits. Because of that, they thought they were about to be fed rather than killed. So, rather than fleeing for their lives, they mistook Napoleon for their keeper and began to run towards him at 35mph.
The shooting party were unable to do anything to stop the thousands of rabbits running after Napoleon. So, Napoleon’s only option was to run away from the rabbits and try and beat some of them off with his bare hands. He was outnumbered, though, and was driven back to his carriage while other people thrashed at the rabbits with horsewhips. As you can guess, it took quite a while to get the rabbits to calm down.”
#12. Herman the German.
“Arminius ‘betraying’ Rome.
Arminius was a fella from Germania sent to Rome as a hostage (common in the ancient world – think Theon in GoT). Spends his early life there, joins the army, becomes a Roman citizen, granted equite class. Got sent back to Germania. Decided “fuck the Romans”, hooked up with the tribal leaders, and staged a revolt. He led an army in an ambush at the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest, which is considered one of the most influential battles in world history. After the battle, Rome never again even attempted to conquer Germania.”
#11. Booze 1, Mormons 0.
“How San Francisco escaped being taken over by the Mormons.
Back when it was Yerba Buena a ship of 150 Mormons (mostly women) arrived with intentions to set up a Mormon state. Yerba Buena was only about 50 people.
But Mr. Brannon, their leader found out about Sutter’s gold, became California’s first millionaire, abandoned the Mormons, became an alcoholic, and died pennyless.”
#10. Poor Napoleon… You know what? Nevermind.
“Napoleon losing the battle of Waterloo due to the pain/irritation from his hemorrhoids. The battle has been war-gamed countless times and in most instances the French win easily. However Napoleon was slow to react and often went back into his tent for some “alone-time’. “Napoleon was indeed suffering from the affliction, which “had prolapsed and were strangulated outside the anus,” causing him great pain”. (This information came from the emperor’s brother, Jerome, one of only three people aware of Napoleon’s condition; Jerome shared the story in 1860, shortly before his own death.)”
“Racist white southerner passes all the civil rights legislation JFK dragged his feet on for a thousand days in six months.
Bonus Plot twist: JFK is still the one who gets his portrait placed beside MLK’s in black homes across America.”
#8. A force of nature.
“The fact that the mongol invasion of Japan was stopped not once, but twice, by typhoons savaging their fleet.”
#7. And again…
“In August of 1814 British troops occupied and burned many of the public buildings in Washington DC (War of 1812).
A freak storm extinguished most of the fires and caused the British to withdraw.”
#6. On underestimating the Germans.
“Imagine you’re France, Belgium or the UK after the Great War.
You dealt with some ambitious Germans, but you fought them back and shut them down. Even though you have deals in place to keep them from regaining power, you don’t take your chances, and decide to invest in armies and defenses that can stop future German aggression.
Your plan is fool proof. You take the most vulnerable part of your border and build the most advanced fortification network in all of world history. You basically make a new Great Wall of China, except that it has huge guns and modern technology. This new fortification, the Maginot Line, really was impenetrable. It extended from the southern part of the French border all of the way up to the impassable Ardennes Forrest.
Then, the French, Belgian, and British troops moved all of their best units north to cover the exposed northern stretch of border. It would be a fool’s errand to go through these troops.
The allies had essentially blocked off a German advance before war broke out. They had an impenetrable Maginot Line, and impassable Ardennes Forrest, and a huge army sealing things off up top. Germany had no shot at pushing through Central Europe like they did 15 years earlier.
Except they did, but even faster. The supposedly impassable Ardennes? The Germans blasted through it like lightning. They raced north and cut off the huge army, creating supply problems and general chaos. The hugely advanced and expensive Maginot Line? It blocked the Germans, but they raced right around it.
The most impressive defensive strategy and planning of the 20th century was defeated in a matter of days/weeks, with the defending French and Belgiums getting blown out and with the UK forced to retreat off of continental Europe.”
#5. It all happened by accident.
“Columbus sailing west to try to reach the east only to instead stumble across the new world. Although it would have happened at some point anyway, the discovery of the new world by the Europeans in 1492 is arguably one of the most important events in world history, one which changed the course of history: and it all happened by accident.”
#4. A divided France.
“A Jewish man serving in the French military at the turn of the 20th century was kicked out of service because he supposedly gave military secrets to the Germans. There was zero evidence to back this accusation up other than Dreyfus being Jewish. The discharge was a huge affair, the soldiers lined up on either side of him, his sword was broken and his badges were cut off. He was then exiled out of the country.
Later, a journalist found evidence that the real traitor was a general. The journalist published article after article about how Dreyfus was innocent, including a letter written by a general to the general’s girlfriend that stated how much he hated France.
France was divided, everyone had an opinion about it and a strong one at that. Actual riots erupted throughout France, several people died.
The military didn’t care and sentenced Dreyfus to North Africa. Dreyfus’ family, obviously wasnt too keen in this and begged for a re-trial, considering the evidence was pretty solid against the general and not Dreyfus. The Supreme Court agreed, annulled the first judgment and tried him again. The supporters of Dreyfus were very confident that this wrong could be fixed except…Dreyfus was convicted again of a crime he clearly didn’t commit. He was sentenced to hard labor.
TThe actual traitor is tried, but found not guilty. Still feeling hatred from those who supported Dreyfus, he shaves his mustache and skips town.
Finally the president steps in in 1906 and pardons Dreyfus of all charges. Dreyfus, being a really cool guy irl and surprisingly positive about what has happened to him, reinstates in the military, becomes a general, and fights in WW1 for the French.
I can’t over-state how much this rocked the French. A famous comic entitled “they spoke of it” shows how dramatically this divided France. Families stopped talking to each other, people were murdered. Of course, this was a big display in the anti-sometimes that had taken over Europe throughout, ya know ALL OF HISTORY. This really started the “Jews will betray your country” propaganda.
tl;dr: a Jewish man is wrongly accused of selling military secrets, is discharged, tried twice, then finally acquitted. The real traitor is exposed by his ex-lover, eventually tried but found not guilty. People had strong opinions and murdered other people because of them.”
#3. Not so stupid after all.
“Roman emperor claudius. He was the great great grand nephew of Augustus Ceasar. He was born with what modern scholars think was polio or cerebral palsey. His mother called him a monster and used him as a standard for stupidity so she gave him to his grandmother who in turn trusted him to the mule driver.
He was ostrascized by his family because of his disability. He eventually became a scholar of history and wanted to enter into public offices in order to become a politician. He was denied. His nephew emperor caligula would often mock him. A conspiracy between the preatorian guard and some senators killed caligula and the emperors family. A preatorian guard found claudius hiding and named him emperor. The senators relented and named claudius emperor if he pardoned the conspirators. He did and he became the emperor.
Turns out he was a pretty good emperor. He introduced numerous reforms in legal and public works and the empire underwent its first major expansion since augustus.
Why claudius survived, some say he masterminded the conspiracy, some say the senate spared him because they thought he was meek and disabled and easy to control. Maybe it was just luck some uninvolved preatorian found him.
Caludius survied several assination attempts only to be poisoned by his wife who then named her son nero as emperor.”
#2. A rigged game.
“The leader of the great and powerful Soviet Union deliberately aiding in the collapse of the communist government that gave him power.”
#1. A modern plot twist.
“Here’s another one I like: a misplace tweet by a politician brings down someone else’s political campaign.
In 2011, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner attempts to send a dick pic to a woman who has been sexting with over Twitter. However, he screws up and accidentally post it to his public feed. Weiner is forced to resign after it’s been discovered that he’s been sexting with multiple women. A few years later, while weiner is running for mayor of New York City, it’s discovered that she had sexted with women after the initial scandal. This inspires a teenage girl to bait Weiner and see if he will sext with her while she is underage. He does. This fact comes out during the 2016 presidential race and is a minor scandal, because his wife is Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The FBI begins investigating Weiner for illegally communicating with a minor. In doing so, they discover hundreds of emails from Hillary Clinton on a laptop which he shared with his wife. Just a week and a half before the election, the FBI announces that they are going to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails based on this new evidence. This causes her poll numbers to drop and allows Donald Trump to win the election.”