We've all heard that story of a butterfly that flaps its wings, and through a chain of events triggers a hurricane on the other side of the world. We've always taken that as just some kind of trippy thought experiment for guys to ponder while stoned, but if you look at real history you find entire world events turning on the actions of creatures every bit as insignificant as that butterfly.
Their stories are presented here in precise order of how ridiculous they are.
7The Dog that Saved Napoleon
Today "Waterloo" is synonymous with a massive, cataclysmic defeat. It was the last clash of the Napoleonic Wars and a spectacular end to the career of a man who wanted to rule all of Europe. And it wouldn't have happened if not for a random, unnamed dog.
A few years before all that, things started going downhill for Napoleon (something to do with his deciding to invade Russia, with the mindset of a man going to hunt grizzly bears with a bouquet of freshly picked parsley). After he was roughly cornholed in Russia, Bonaparte was exiled to the small island of Elba.
However, in 1815, Napoleon, being Napoleon, had enough of that shit and slipped past the guards and set sail off the island. But legend has it that during a particularly rough storm at sea, the fleeing Napoleon was thrown overboard. The tale of one of the most important figures in history would have ended right there, had not an unnamed Newfoundland dog plunged into the water to save him.
Imagine that little tiger is Napoleon.
It sounds like something from a Disney cartoon, but Newfoundlands are known for this (it's probably why one was on the boat in the first place). And, where in a Disney movie this is when Napoleon and the (talking) dog would strike up a friendship that teaches them both about the value of accepting people different from themselves, in real life Napoleon returned to France and started killing people, setting off his famous Hundred Days, a military campaign to regain power.
The final stage of this campaign was the famous Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon's career as a conqueror came to an end once and for all.
6The Pig that Created European Democracy
See if you can follow this domino-like series of events. You have King Philip of France, the eventual successor to the throne and his younger brother Louis, who spent his childhood training for the monastery. After Philip was enthroned as co-king in 1129, he quickly turned into an angsty teenager, often rebelling against his father, which by 12th century standards probably amounted to attending a lot of underground flute concerts.
Philip was out being rebellious one day, tearing ass along the Seine on his 12th century motorcycle (sometimes referred to as a horse)...
More or less this.
...when suddenly a small, black pig darted out of a dung heap and tripped the horse. The resulting wreck killed Philip.
But why do we care about that, almost nine centuries later?
Well, the pig-triggered death opened the throne for Louis VII, up to that point known as Louis the guy who'd spent his entire life preparing to not have sex with anyone in a monastery. His strongly Catholic upbringing caused him to accompany the Pope on a little trip to the holy land known as the Second Crusade.
How did that end? Jerusalem was lost, thousands died on both sides and Muslims regained control of the Holy Land.
"All according to my devious, convoluted plan. Perfect."
Another thing Louis's monastic upbringing didn't prepare him for was boning. His wife Eleanor of Aquitaine famously said "she had thought to marry a King, only to find she'd married a monk." To pour salt on that fresh BURN, she divorced his ass and married Henry II, King of England, and gave birth to five of his sons. One of those sons was King John (yes, comic relief from all those Robin Hood stories).
Not only did this cause an enormous rift between England and France, but King John sucked at being king so much that he would eventually be forced to sign the Magna Carta, which then became the basis for all of democracy in Europe. He wouldn't have existed if not for Eleanor's re-marriage, which wouldn't have happened if not for the Second Crusade, which France likely wouldn't have been in if not for Philip's accident. That'll do, pig.