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10 Historical Events that Sound like Fiction but Are Actually Real

Historical events

The world we live in is a crazy place and has witnessed numerous events from time immemorial. The world’s history is full of both serious and hilarious events that have been passed over by numerous generations. Though many of these events are known to us, there are certain events that sound like fiction and are hard to believe. Here is a list of the top ten events that sound like fiction but are actually real, historical events.

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1. In 1325, the rival cities of Modena and Bologna had a war due to stolen a bucket. The city of Bologna declared a war on Modena which still has the bucket to this day.

War of the bucket
(Image 1) Communal fight in Bologna. (Image 2) The stolen bucket, inside the Ghirlandina Tower. Image credits: Giovanni Sercambi/Wikipedia, Alien life form/Wikipedia

Have you ever heard of a war that was over a silly wooden bucket? Well, the War of the Bucket was fought in 1325 between the two rival cities Modena and Bologna. Both cities had been rivals for many years. The Modenese soldiers backed by the Pope and the Roman Emperor snuck into the city of Bologna and stole an oaken bucket. The bucket was used by the city’s people to draw water from a well located in the heart of the city.

The people of Bologna were offended by this humiliating incident and asked Modena to return the bucket. When the Modenese refused to return the bucket, the outraged Bolognese declared war on the city of Modena. In the ensuing war, the Modenese managed to overpower the Bolognese. A truce was arranged, and the Modenese returned a couple of things that they had stolen from Bologna. However, the bucket was never returned, and to this day, the city of Modena holds it in the basement of Torre della Ghirlandina. (source)

2. The “Great Stink” was an event in central London in 1858. The hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames.

Great stink of london
Cartoon from Punch Magazine-Great Stink. Image credits: Punch Magazine/Wikipedia

In 1858, the city of London faced an unprecedented situation after it faced an unusually hot summer. The event occurred during July and August in 1858 after the hot weather aggravated the smell of human and industrial waste discharged into the Thames River. The incident was attributed to an aging, excessive population and inefficient sewer system that emptied into the Thames River.

The ensuing melee which was further aggravated by pointless rumors made people believe that the bad odor was capable of causing communicable diseases such as cholera. The smell combined with possible side-effects prompted authorities to seek the help of civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette. His proposal ensured that the sewage was no longer dumped on the shores of the Thames. (source)

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3. In 1859, English settler Thomas Austin released only 24 rabbits onto his property in Australia. He underestimated the consequences of his deed, and by the 1920s, the rabbit population reached a staggering 10 billion.

Rabbits in Australia
(Image 1) Thomas Austin, generally credited with introducing rabbits to Australia in 1859. (Image 2) Rabbits causing soil erosion by removing vegetation. Image credits: British Library/Flickr, Liz Poon/CSIRO

Have you wondered how much harm a small fluffle of cute little rabbits can cause to a country? Considered to be an invasive species in Australia, these cute critters have caused widespread ecological destruction to Australia for over 150 years. A fluffle of 24 wild rabbits imported from England was introduced by a man named Thomas Austin in Victoria, Australia. However, by the 1920s, the rabbit population had exploded to a staggering 10 billion.

To aggravate the existing situation, these rabbits started migrating across Australia and destroyed around 2 million acres of Victoria’s floral lands. Moreover, excessive grazing caused widespread damage to vegetation. During the 19th century, the country set up rabbit-proof fences to protect its pastoral lands. Finally, in the 1950s, the Australian government used biological methods to control the excessive population. (1, 2)

4. One day in 1871, Canada was perfectly visible from Rochester, NY. The phenomenon was known as the “Rochester Mirage.”

Rochester Mirage
Image credits: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper/Wikimedia

On April 16, 1871, the residents of Rochester found themselves witnessing a perfect mirage. The residents were able to make out the opposite shore of Lake Ontario in striking detail. The residents were able to witness lakes, forests, and Canadian landmarks although they were located over 50 miles away. This phenomenon that occurred near the mouth of the Genesee River on the Lake Ontario shoreline was called the “Rochester Mirage.”

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Scientists have named this type of phenomenon as “Fata Morgana.” It occurs due to obscure atmospheric conditions. The mirage occurs when objects are distorted significantly beyond recognition. The Fata Morgana can be witnessed on land or at sea. It also occurs near polar regions or deserts. People can see very distant objects such as boats, islands and the coastline. (1, 2)

5. During Christmas of 1914, a truce was held between Germany and the UK. They decorated their shelters, exchanged gifts across no man’s land, and played a game of football between the soldiers.

Christmas Truce
Christmas day football WWI 1915. Image credits: Varges Ariel, Ministry of Information/Imperial war museum via Wikimedia

The event dubbed as the “Christmas Truce” was considered to be a series of unofficial ceasefires during World War I in 1914. The event is celebrated as a peace offering on the Western Front. Men from both sides emerged from trenches and met in the buffer zone to play football and exchange gifts. The idea for the temporary hiatus was put forth by Pope Benedict XV on December 7, 1914.

Both Germany and the United Kingdom refused to declare an official ceasefire, however, soldiers from both sides declared a temporary ceasefire on their own. They gathered together and celebrated the season of joy by singing carols. They also exchanged gifts that included cigarettes and plum puddings. As a good gesture, soldiers from both sides played a friendly game of soccer. (1, 2)

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