If you’re someone who enjoys history, then you know that, pretty much since the beginning of time, people haven’t really changed all that much. Historical folks are just as big of smarta$ses as we are today, and whoo boy, there have been some totally classy, but totally harsh, middle fingers thrown threw the ages.
Here are 34 that the people of Reddit consider the best of the best.
34. Lafitte is one of my favorite historical characters.
A pirate known as Jean Lafitte had a bounty of $500 put on him by a governor.
So he put a $5000 bounty on the governor.
33. I mean, he did warn them.
Julius Caesar crucifying the pirates that captured him.
32. I’m sure we’ll get a movie about this one day.
Lamborghini was originally a tractor manufacturer. The owner bought a Ferrari and discovered that they had clutch problems due to some design flaw, so he sent a letter to Enzo Ferrari explaining who he was and how his mechanic and him figured out a simple design-fix to remedy the problem.
This sent Enzo Ferrari over the edge and he answered back with a huge “go f%ck yourself” letter saying that he “didn’t know jack sh%t” about cars and that he was “just a tractor manufacturer” and told him to go pound sand.
Lamborghini responded by designing some of the most advanced cars ever made and eventually knocked Ferrari from their #1 position in the racing world by smoking them at the track.
(If that ain’t a classy “f%ck you” then I don’t know what is…).
31. That’s awkward, I don’t care who you are.
Gaius Julius Caesar was in in senate listening to one of his rivals (Cato the Younger) drone on about how one of Caesar’s was a member of a conspiracy to destroy Rome (Cato did this a lot by the way and no one really believed him this time) when a messenger brought him a letter. He decided to read it.
While not against the law, it was both rude and against custom to not only have letters delivered, but also to read them openly while someone else was speaking. It was a mild fuck you because everyone knew Cato had no evidence and the accusation was baseless.
His opponent demanded that Caesar read the letter, to which Caesar declined, claiming it was personal. Cato became furious and claimed the letter was from another conspirator, to which Caesar handed it to him and rather calmly said, “fine, you read it.”
Cato did, out loud.
It turned out to be a salacious love letter from Cato’s own sister to Caesar, who she was madly in love with. It went into rather graphic detail and due to not only the nature of Roman Latin, but also Cato’s fury he read out loud far more of the letter than he should have. (As a point, Romans did not use punctuation, lower case letters, or spaces so letters were often hard to read out loud and due to sentence structure it’s easy to speak it in such a way that you only realize what you read once the entire sentence is finished. This is even more true when using poetic language you would find in a dirty letter).
30. Mad props to this guy.
Jordan Anderson’s letter to his former master. Basically Anderson’s former master wrote to him after the Civil War and asked Anderson to come back and work.
Anderson responded with some very over the top thankfulness that the north hadn’t hung his former master and praise for the master’s good character. Anderson then went on to request his back wages for his time as a slave as proof that his former master recognized that slavery was wrong.
29. Good, clean living I guess.
When Otto von Bismarck was about 50, he was walking down a street when a man ran up to him and shot him five times. Otto then turned around and began to beat the absolute sh%t out of him until some armed guards come to help him.
When they inspected Otto for wounds, they found that all 5 hit, but they all either just grazed him or bounced off his ribs. Literally the iron chancellor.
28. Lincoln threw down several of these.
The Gettysburg address.
They originally didn’t plan to have Lincoln speak at this event, I think he was invited as a formality and they didn’t expect/want him to come. He came anyway and they told him he only had the time for an extremely short speech. Basically, they let him speak because if the President comes to your event, he has to have some time, right?
He delivered such an excellent speech that no one remembers the other people who spoke that day.
27. I’m not so sure about this…
The judge that sentenced Kevin Tunnell to write a $1 check every week for eighteen years to the parents of the girl he killed in a drunk driving accident so that he wouldn’t forget what he’d done.
26. A polite request.
“Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won’t have to send another.”
Tito to Joseph Stalin
25. “I trust you will find this satisfactory.”
25 July 1938
20 Northmoor Road, Oxford
Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.
I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and
remain yours faithfully,
J. R. R. Tolkien
24. That seems fair.
Louis Pasteur, instructing in his writings on sterilization, that they never be translated into German, because he’d been screwed over by beer companies.
23. It is, even if unintentional.
Putting Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Jackson was openly against the centralized bank, and for the gold standard. He openly opposed “greenbacks” (paper money). He was also known to duel anyone who opposed him politically.
He was basically U.S. history’s biggest bully. They waited several decades after his death to put him on the twenty note. Some think it was a blatant “fuck you.”
22. One of the best.
A group of blackmailers managed to get hold of a love letter that Oscar Wilde wrote to Lord Alfred Douglas in the late 1800s, when gay s*x was still illegal and severely punished.
Wilde realized that the letter was missing, hastily turned it into a poem, and published the poem. When the blackmailers came to try to collect money from him, he told them that they could show the letter to anyone they liked, as he would just explain that it was the rough draft of his poem, now published for everyone to see.
The blackmailers gave up and refused to come back and try again, saying that Wilde only taunted them.
21. Good ol’ A. Ham.
“There are approximately 1010300 words in the English language, but I could never string enough words together to properly explain how much I want to hit you with a chair.”
– Alexander Hamilton
20. Hitler has several, but he got his in the end.
Hitler invading the Czechoslovakia after signing the Munich Agreement.
19. Their connection never ends.
Was just reading up on Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr… apparently much later in Burr’s life he remarried but it didn’t last because he was spending up all his wife’s money trying to reignite his political plans.
So four months after they wed she filed for divorce. The real kick in the pants is that the she got Alexander Hamilton Jr. as her divorce attorney. Talk about never escaping a shadow.
18. Why no one messes with the Swiss.
In WW1 (i think it was ww1?) Switzerland had a very small army but they were very well trained and could shoot well.
So a german commander asked the Swiss what they would do if they sent 500,000 troops against the 250,000 Swiss troops.
The Swiss said, ‘shoot twice and go home’
17. He was a jerk who had it coming.
Ford beating Ferrari in Lemans after Enzo fu’d Ford.
They even turned it into a movie!
16. A big burn from a small man.
When a Russian officer was talking to Napoleon Bonaparte, he said: “We Russians fight for honor, you French fight only for gain!”
To which Napoleon replied saying “You are quite right, each fights for that which he does not possess.”
15. I would like to say this to so many people.
“I do wish we were better strangers.”
– William Shakespeare
14. You just have to lol at some parts of French history.
So when France exiles Napoleon Bonaparte (the first time), they didn’t think to change out military personnel.
So he basically rolls up to the first French outpost he gets to, says “‘sup” and begins reassembling an army.
By the time he gets to Paris, he’s got enough forces that France is like “well. Welcome back.”
13. Imagine one word doing the trick.
A prominent example involves Philip II of Macedon. After invading southern Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, he turned his attention to Sparta and asked menacingly whether he should come as friend or foe.
The reply was: “Neither.”
Losing patience, he sent the message: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.”
The Spartan ephors again replied with a single word: “If.”
Subsequently, neither Philip nor his son Alexander the Great attempted to capture the city.
12. Definitely negative. Ha!
“Nuts is strictly negative.”
Story goes that American troops in WWII were being defeated by German troops and the German leader offered them the option to surrender.
American corporal, sergeant, whatever upon hearing the offer says “Nuts.”
Translator relays in German to German leader.
German leader does not understand and asks “Is ‘nuts’ negative or positive?”
“Nuts is strictly negative!”
11. Gotta love the Brits and their turns of phrase.
Similarly, General Anthony McAuliffe’s famous “nuts” quote.
The 101st Airborne Division was encircled by Nazis in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and were sent an ultimatum by the Germans calling for their “honorable surrender.”
Gen. McAuliffe sent back the message:
“To the German Commander:
-The American Commander”
The 101st then dug in and withstood the German attack until the 4th Armored Division was able to reinforce them 5 days later.
For further context, in 1944, “nuts to you” basically meant “f%ck you” or “go to hell”
10. Churchill had 🔥 comebacks.
“A well-known story of Winston Churchill and Nancy Astor. He and the Astors were staying with Churchill’s cousin, the Duke of Marlborough, at Blenheim Palace.
Nancy and Churchill argued ferociously throughout the weekend. At breakfast one morning Nancy said to him, ‘Winston, if I was married to you, I’d put po***n in your coffee.’ Winston Churchill replied: ‘Nancy, if I was married to you, I’d drink it.’”
9. the emus won that war, I believe.
A few that I can remember
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which obviously led to the south’s rise in economic power. He didn’t make a penny off of any of this though, as his invention was copies and southern courts ruled against him. He did end up becoming wealthy though, as he later went on to invent inter-changable parts which definitely played a roll in the Norths victory of the South in the civil war.
France helping out the American colonies during the American Revolution after centuries of wars in Europe.
During china’s “great leap forward” they had a few, I think 4 pest control campaigns. One of them was against Sparrows. Order was to practically make Sparrows extinct because they ate planted crop seeds. Well the campaign worked a little too well, as crops began having locust infestations, and with no natural predators, the crops ended up being fucked leading to a massive famine.
South Korea blasting k-pop across North Korean boarder lol
Some emu’s told the Australian military to fuck off once
8. Another Churchill ftw.
“You, sir, are drunk.”
“And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.”
7. Never miss and opportunity.
While Picasso was living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, one German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in his apartment, “Did you do that?”
Picasso responded, “No, you did.”
6. Jackson was many things, but dumb wasn’t one of them.
President John Quincy Adams said Democrat Major General Andrew Jackson was a “ barbarian who couldn’t write a sentence of grammar, and can hardly spell his own name”.
Jackson replied saying: “it’s a damn poor mind indeed that can’t think of at least two ways to spell a word”. Jackson was elected President later that year.
5. If only the white man had listened.
In 1744, the collective chiefs of the Native American nations met to discuss a letter that was sent to them by the College of William and Mary. The letter suggested that they send 12 of their men to the college so that they could learn how to read and write. The Native American chiefs sent the following reply:
“We know that you highly esteem the type of leaning found in colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men while with you would be very expensive to you. We are convinced therefore, that you meant to do us good by your proposal and we thank you hardily. However, you that are wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things, and you will not take it amiss if our ideas about education of this kind happen to not be the same as yours. We have some experience with it, as some of our boys have been to the colleges of the northern provinces. They were instructed about all of your sciences, but when they came back to us they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, did not know how to build a cabin or take a deer, kill an enemy, spoke our languages imperfectly, and therefore were neither fit to be hunters, warriors, or councilors. They were in effect, good for nothing. We are however, not the less obliged to your kind offer though we decline accepting it.
To show our gratefulness, if the gentleman of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take care of their education.
We will instruct them in all that we know, and make men of them.”
4. I wonder if they’re still married…
Boris Johnson promised a political rival a good place in Johnson’s future Prime Ministerial cabinet IF the political rival supported him.
Political rival asked his wife’s opinion about this. She “accidentally” SMS’d the entire SMS chain plus her answer of “Get it in writing, or he’ll deny he ever said that.” …. to her entire contact list. Including other MP’s, journalists, her entire social circle…..
That completely blew up Johnson’s credibility and his first attempt to become Prime Minister.
3. You don’t challenge a master.
Probably the time when someone challenged Beethoven to a contest on who was the better musician.
Sfter the challenger finished playing one of his own works, Beethoven took the sheet music, flipped it upside down, and played it that way.
“If I had any ammo left, you wouldn’t be here”
Pedro María Anaya, a Mexican General during the Mexican-American War while surrendering.
1. I need to get one of these. Excepting delivery people.
“End of the laneway, don’t come up the property.”
I’m thrilled to learn about some of these, honestly.
If you could add something to the list, what would it be? Let us know in the comments!