What historical story is so incredible it would seem unrealistic in a movie?

#51
Liquid fire throwers proper, large contraptions mounted on the bows of ships, first appear in the first siege Arab siege(s) of Constantinople in the late 7th century, in which they played a decisive role, but I have heard that there are some vague references to possible predecessors to the weapon in a 5th or 6th century source with which I'm not familiar. Handheld fire-throwers are a later invention, of the late 9th century if you believe Leo VI (who claims in his Taktika that they were "fabricated recently by our majesty"), and references to swivel-mounted fire-throwers, both on land and sea, first appear around the early-mid 10th, in both military manuals and accounting lists. Bow-mounted fire-throwers were still used through this period, and we have some detailed descriptions of them and their decoration with bronze animal heads in the Alexiad, but swivel-mounted varieties seem to have been more common from the mid 10th century onward, as shown by the aforementioned lists for Constantine VII's Cretan expedition.
This is a fascinating topic that I wish I knew more about. When is the last known use of Greek fire?
 
Jan 2016
1,099
Victoria, Canada
#52
This is a fascinating topic that I wish I knew more about. When is the last known use of Greek fire?
I'm not really familiar enough with the sources for the very late 12th or early 13th centuries to say if fire-throwers were used then, but -- while they were probably used throughout the Komnenian period -- they had certainly fallen out of regular Roman use by the mid-13th century. We're not explicitly told why, but it's probably down to A: a lack of naptha, which was traditionally collected from pools in Georgia and the Armenian highlands, after 1204 cut off from direct Roman access (outside of Trebizond, for which we have very few sources), and B: the disappearance of the specific recipe and/or engineering expertise needed to manufacture and supply fire-throwers after the 1204 sack and occupation of Constantinople. It's worth noting that naptha- and pitch-based incendiary weapons, often included under the umbrella-term "Greek fire", were still used during and after the 13th century, particularly in the Levant (where crude oil pools could also be found), but these took the form of grenades and barrels lobbed by hand or traditional artillery, not the far more complex pump-based flamethrowers used by the Romans from the 7th through 12th centuries.
 
Aug 2016
874
USA
#54
There are tons of stories like this on badassofthweek.com

Guy invents the phrase "kiss my ass". Has his arm blown off by a cannon ball and gets a steel prosthetic arm and hand made that allows him to manipulate a sword in battle. Can even sign his name. Fights as a mercenary for 47 years, then retires.

Badass - Gotz von Berlichingen

World War I German commerce raider who sank 64,000 tons of British shipping and destroyed 14 vessels. With a three-masted old-school sailing ship. And without killing a single person.

Badass - Felix Von Luckner
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
15,689
Welsh Marches
#55
Yes. It (post 9) really stretches credulity. No one in their right mind would believe it, but it's great fiction( except it's not.)
I would call your attention to post 29, the poster was warned by the moderator for breaking the rules of the forum by sneaking in a contemporary political polemic; so this is a dead issue and you can make your political points elsewhere. (I wasn't actually responding to post 29 on political grounds, but because the same unoriginal thoughts have already been repeated by the same self-satisfied people tens of millions of times already and it is boring boring boring, especially for those of us who don't want to have the political obsessions of a foreign country forced on us in every moment of our lives - this a history forum, a world history forum).
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#56
There are tons of stories like this on badassofthweek.com
Not as badass as this one — the soldier-bear Wojtek, a brown bear fought with his Polish comrades against the Nazis !
Badass of the Week: Voytek (Wojtek) the Soldier Bear

"He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."
(recalled by his comrade, who was a Polish soldier)

We have enough of WW2 films showing all kinds of blasting, explosive and thrilling battle scenes involved with hundreds of human appearing on the scene in combat, now there're something much refreshing ! How about having a wild, adorable brown bear as the main character in WW2 movie !?

Trust me, this is a genius idea for making one of the greatest WW2 movies !

It's god-damned awesome for having a "bear" as your comrade in the army — excellent symbol for morale-boosting, great entertainment, and he's pretty helpful for the war cause (such like capturing an emeny agent in surprising "greeting", carrying ammunition to his comrades under heavy fire in Monte Cassino). It helps delivering a totally "shocking" and super-colorful perspective of WW2 (while conveniently depicting the epic Polish struggle in WW2 for vibrating the "nationalistic" passion for arousing audiences' heart).

At last, let me quote the line from badassoftheweek.com in conclusion :

"The idea of a fxxking alcoholic Nazi-fighting bear is so awesome that you’d think it was something out of a bizarre cartoon or a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie. It’s the sort of **** that, even with all of the historical evidence, seems too totally awesome to be true. The bear was a hero of World War II, and there are statues of him and plaques memorializing his brave service in Poland, Edinburgh, the Imperial War Museum in London, and the Canadian War Museum. Unbelieveable ! "
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,713
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#57
Hannibal and elephants over the Alps.
You know that Hannibal's army contained thousands of men and animals beside a few dozen elephants, don't you?

Do you imagine that they climbed to the tops of sheer mountains and then climbed back down the sheer far sides of those mountains? Instead Hannibal, like everyone else, crossed mountain ranges by using passes that wound between mountains, passes that already had trails in them which had been used for thousands of years. Hannibal's men walked up and down relatively gentle slopes instead of climbing up steep slopes using their hands as well as their feet.

And elephants are surefooted and not clumsy.
 
Oct 2013
6,158
Planet Nine, Oregon
#60
You know that Hannibal's army contained thousands of men and animals beside a few dozen elephants, don't you?

Do you imagine that they climbed to the tops of sheer mountains and then climbed back down the sheer far sides of those mountains? Instead Hannibal, like everyone else, crossed mountain ranges by using passes that wound between mountains, passes that already had trails in them which had been used for thousands of years. Hannibal's men walked up and down relatively gentle slopes instead of climbing up steep slopes using their hands as well as their feet.

And elephants are surefooted and not clumsy.
Still pretty amazing though! Some elephants were lost too, iirc. And the use of vinegar to remove some obstructions at those passes. So, at the end of the day, elephants s crossed the alps. Right, they weren't extreme skiing. Also trouncing the Romans after arrival.
 
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