Some moments in history are so strange that it is hard to believe such events took place and the people found it completely ordinary. Some events are funnier as it progresses but some are tragic and uneasy to deal with. Here are some historical events that you can’t believe actually took place.
1. France Declaring War on Napoleon
The King of France who wanted to alienate and eventually destroy Napoleon declared war on him personally in May 1803. When Napoleon returned from exile, he hijacked the army, but the country only considered the King as the legitimate power. So, declaring war on him meant they would not give recognition to him as a government but as a person.
After Napoleon returned from exile, France declared war on him. A handwritten note was penned by King George III where his intentions to go to war against Napoleon were written. The letter was written four days before the Napoleonic War began.
Napoleon had plans to regain his position after he came back, but the European powers were adamant about dissociating the French people from their leader. Napoleon was trying to get the army back, and the coalition did not want him to regain power.
So, for tricky legal reasons of not acknowledging Napoleon as a ruler, they declared war on him as a person. But when the French forces met Napoleon, they immediately kneeled before their ruler and changed sides, this led the King of France to flee and thus started one of the major historical events that took place, the Napoleonic Wars. (1, 2)
2. Scientology Religion
Founded by an American science fiction writer, L.R. Hubbard, Scientology is a religion that is based on texts he wrote which are similar to science fiction. It is a secretive religion that does not share its core beliefs with outsiders or new members. There has been much criticism that their beliefs sounded like they were taken right out of a sci-fi movie.
The Church of Scientology was founded by L. R. Hubbard to help “clear” the unhappiness of people. It became identified as a religion, and the church is believed to be a huge Ponzi scheme racket that grows off intimidating its members.
In the 1980s, the top eleven people in the cult were sent to jail for burglary, infiltration, and wiretapping more than 100 government and private agencies. The members were accused of being involved in financial scams while the church attracted more followers through health care, publishing, and consulting.
The infamous self-help therapies led by the church have seen many suicides over the years. It is one of the top-200 mind-controlling cults as reported by their early members.
Hubbard developed a crude psychotherapy method called “auditing” along with introducing engrams arguing that unhappiness comes from mental aberrations. His “E-meter” had claimed to knock out engrams, cure blindness, and help in improving an individual’s intelligence and appearance. (1, 2)
3. Fall of Tenochtitlan
During the Siege of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, the soldiers had to build a trebuchet. They had no military engineers with them but decided to make one anyway. They did build a trebuchet and fired one shot upwards, which immediately came down and smashed the catapult made by the unskilled carpenters.
In the five letters written by Cortez, leader of the Spanish expedition which lasted over 1,521 days, he wrote that during the siege of the Aztec Empire by the Spanish-led forces, the army was running out of gunpowder. They decided to make a catapult even though there were no engineers with them. Some carpenters offered to help with it.
It took four days to put together. When it was all set to discharge, a stone was placed in the sling and fired by the catapult. The firing was not successful as it landed back in the same spot from where they fired it. Cortez later ordered the catapult to be taken away piece by piece.
The firing of trebuchet was an attempt to make people surrender, but due to availability issues of gun powder, they had to improvise. They made brigantines and crossbow bolts in a similar way without the supervision of skilled workers, but except for the catapult, everything else came out successfully. (1, 2)
4. A President falling off from Orient Express
President Paul Deschanel of France, in 1920, fell through the window of the Orient Express during an official trip. He was in his pajamas when he came across a signalman and asked him for help, telling him that he was the President. The signalman who was drunk at the time immediately responded, “And I’m Napoleon Bonaparte.”
Deschanel was the President of France in 1920. His tenure was a short-lived train wreck that history would not want to revisit. His unusual behavior went to the extent of him tossing the flowers of the bouquet he was presented by young girls back to them and even receiving a British Ambassador naked during a formal visit.
He and his ministers were traveling in a train with nine coaches from Paris to the Loire area. About 10 p.m., he took a sleeping pill and retired to his coach to sleep. It was reported that in the middle of the night, he felt hot and fell out of the window while trying to get some fresh air.
Since the train was going only at 30 km/hr he escaped with slight bruises and sought help from a drunk railway worker to whom he had to explain that he was the President of France. Hearing that, the railway worker replied that he was Napoleon, which provided rich material for political cartoonists of the time. (1, 2)
5. The Halifax Explosion.
The Halifax Explosion occurred in 1917 as two ships passed while one was leaving in a hurry and the other was entering the Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia. The ship Mont Blanc was loaded with explosives for WWI. Due to a lack of safety measures they collided and led to the explosion.
This explosion happened in Nova Scotia on the morning of 6 December 1917. Approximately 2,000 people were killed and about 9,000 were injured in this accident. The explosion happened between the SS Mont-Blanc, a freighter carrying benzol and barrels and explosives for the French government, and SS Imo, which was unladen being sent to pick up cargo for relief supplies in New York.
Mont Blanc was fully loaded with TNT and picric acid, along with highly inflammable benzol and guncotton. Such cargo never passes through the harbor. The regulations were relaxed because of submarines by the Germans. The collision led to the opening and leaking of the barrels of benzol which led to the explosion.
Miscommunication took place between the captains. Imo decided to not yield their position, and they were well above the harbor speed limit. No special protection was given to the Mont-Blanc even after several requests, and this led to one of the major events in history as the largest non-nuclear explosion to ever happen. (1, 2)