In the spirit of the annual tradition of fighting tooth and nail with relatives over trivial and essential things alike, we’re rounding up some absurd wars that most intrigue us. If we neglected to include your preferred historic dispute, feel free to write in your complaint to us. We’d love to hear it – the pettier, the better. Perhaps we’ll start a war with you over it.
THE PASTRY WAR (1838-39)
The players: France and Mexico
The cause: A French chef living near Mexico City accused Mexican army officers of damaging his restaurant.
The fallout: To back up France's demands of repayments from Mexico of 600,000 pesos, they sent a fleet to the Veracruz port on the Gulf of Mexico. After attacking a fortress and eventually occupying the city, the French won a guarantee of payment and withdrew their fleet in 1839.
Our take: We'd go to war over pastry damage, to be frank with you. Damage to a restaurant with MULTIPLE PASTRIES? Say no more.
THE WAR OF JENKIN'S EAR (1739)
The players: Great Britain and Spain
The cause: In 1738, Captain Robert Jenkin showed off his amputated ear in front of the House of Commons, explaining it had been cut off in 1731 (um...seven years prior?) by Spanish coast guards who pillaged his ship (...and his ear).
The fallout: This one fueled already-burning flames of British resentment toward the Spanish and their treatment of British ships, and it also merged later into the very-real War of Austrian Succession.
Our take: Van Gogh was not as original as everybody thought, eh?
THE EMU WAR (also known as THE GREAT EMU WAR) (1932)
The players: Aussies and literal emus
The cause: There were a lot of veterans back from war and the Australian government was looking to find them land to live on and things for them to do. They needed more land and purchased some on the outskirts of Perth. Quite a lot of emus, however, were not having it. They'd inhabited the land previously and did NOT respect the Australian government's authority over land distribution (which, honestly, is pretty badass).
The fallout: In 1932, as Australian army was summoned to help fight back the large, flightless birds, which by this point were officially classified as "vermin", soldiers launched their first assault on about 50 birds. Two days later, 1,000 birds were under fire but managed to put up their own valiant counterattack, causing many to remark that they were perhaps winning the fight. They found that for each emu killed, they shot about 10 bullets (emus are very quick), which was neither a very efficient nor impressive ratio.
A few weeks later, the (human) general was recalled, and the Great Emu War ended.
Our take: Honestly...these emus sound amazing. We're Team Emu. Shirts to come.
WAR OF THE OAKEN BUCKET (1325)
The players: Italian factions
The cause: Long story short, there was disagreement regarding papal and governmental authority – as in which was supreme – and factions appeared regarding which leader was believed to be the most legitimate. Unrest lead to some rowdy behavior, including Modanese soldiers stealing a bucket filled with loot, which they displayed publicly on a well. The bucket owners – Bologna – demanded the bucket and loot back. Modenese soldiers said no. Bologna said "we're declaring war" (*not an exact quote).
The fallout: Around 2,000 men were killed on both sides (!!), it’s the bloodiest Medieval war (who would’ve guessed?) and was the beginning of a longstanding conflict that heavily affected Italian politics.
Our take: Planning a trip to see the original bucket, which can be viewed at the Palazzo Communale in Modena, Italy. Let us know if you want to join.
THE PIG WAR (1859)
The players: U.S., Britain
The cause: Both countries claimed sovereignty over San Juan Island and started to settle there. In 1859, a pig wandered into an American’s garden (and began eating his potatoes – an egregious offense), and the American shot it in a fit of anger.
The fallout: The pig happened to be owned by a Brit, who reported the American to British authorities, who threatened to arrest the pig murderer. Americans then requested U.S. military protection (likely also reflecting the general growing territorial sentiments). The Americans indeed got some protection, which was then outdone by three British warships arriving, taking the total involvement to 3 warships and over 2,600 men. Impressive and excessive! They talked it out so no lives were lost (well...except the pig’s).
Our take: Must have been a really lovely pig. Must have been some really nice potatoes. This is sounding an awful lot like breakfast? Nobody should mess with (or miss) breakfast.
STAR WARS (long ago, far away)
The players: The galaxy, the force, jedis
The cause: To put it simply, the force was imbalanced, and the good guys got outnumbered by the bad guys, and had to do something about it.
The fallout: Planets get exploded. A lot of people die. BUT, the rebels (good guys) win and bring peace back to the galaxy, incest is narrowly avoided, parentage questions are unsatisfactorily answered, and there are very many sword fights with lightsabers. A few armies get created and there’s a lot of turnover in positions of authority.
Our take: These are crucial historic events for any die-hard history buff to know. In case that wasn’t clear from the above summary.
TWITTER WARS (literally all the time)
The players: The Twitterverse
The cause: Could be legitimately anything.
The fallout: People unfollow other people, media outlets get involved, the Internet never forgets.
Our take: Follow Cher on Twitter and forget anyone else exists.
Final and honorary mention is tug-of-wars, which are fun for field day but less fun when you’re trying to sleep. Luckily, we ended this bedroom war once and for all with our signature snap feature, which keeps your sheets in place during the night (and your bed made during the day). Bring peace to your bedroom this winter – after all, ‘tis the season!