4Dante Alighieri Writes The Divine Comedy as a Literary Fuck You
The Republic of Florence was long divided when it came to Pope Boniface VIII. Half the country would have gladly gone down on him, while the other half hated him and probably called him "Pope Bonerface" behind his back.
Shit got real in 1301, when the Pope appointed a Charles de Valois as peacemaker for Tuscany. A local politician named Dante Alighieri figured old Bonerface was up to something ugly (as per usual), so he decided to travel to Rome to talk it out. In a dick move worthy of the Guinness Book of Records, the Pope invited Dante to stay a while as his personal guest while he secretly ordered de Valois to march into Florence with an armed militia to overthrow and execute the government and install a more Pope-friendly regime.
To top it off, Boniface then slapped a huge fine on Dante, as punishment for being in Rome. The new council of Florence passed a declaration that Dante could never return to the city by punishment of death. This order wasn't repealed until 2008, about seven hundred years after this punishment would have ceased to be effective.
Fortunately, Dante's one-piece had shoes built into them.
The Pope probably should have just killed him instead of being such a smartass, because Dante went on to personally vilify him in what became one of the most widely read and influential works of literature in the Western world, the Divine Comedy.
Even without the aid of a printing press, Dante's brilliant rhyming style and use of the common Italian language assured that everyone would hear his side of the story. He put everyone who ever messed with him in his whole life in an ironic literary interpretation of Hell, reserving a special spot for Pope Boniface VIII.
In the epic poem, St. Peter himself denounces his papacy as "a blood-filled sewer," and his papal throne on Earth "vacant." The burn was so delicious that some families had to build entire churches to offset the damage Dante had done to their names and businesses. These days, the equivalent would be if Eminem released a 40-track album in which he personally named you and called you a fuckhead in every single song, and it went triple Platinum.
The sweetest plum in the up-yours basket is the fact that, since Dante became a superstar, Florence decided they weren't too good for him after all, and spent the next seven hundred years begging the city of Revenna, where he died, to return his bones to the city who screwed him. They refuse even to this day. Burn.
Almost as epic as this burn.
3Enrico Dandolo's Blind Vengeance
The Byzantine Empire was pretty much the Biff Tannen of Medieval Europe. When the Western Roman Empire began to crash and burn, their eastern equivalent, Byzantium, turned away and pretended not to hear their desperate pleas, thus establishing Byzantium's reputation as the alpha-asshole on the European continent.
In 1171, the Byzantines decided to step up their schoolyard-style bullying on the small but thriving Republic of Venice; arresting their merchants for no reason, stealing their goods and repeatedly calling them buttheads. Naturally, Venice got pretty pissed off over this, but with little in the way of military might they appointed an old man named Enrico Dandolo ambassador to smooth things over with the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos in the capital of Constantinople.
Emperor Manuel I Komnenos.
The Byzantines instead thought it would be more fun just to blind him, and continue to shove Venice around for another 14 years. Nevertheless, Enrico continued to serve as Venice's emissary, despite being blinded, surrounded by Nia Vardalos fans and badgered with jokes about how to make a Venetian blind.
In 1204, 33 years after the Byzantines blinded him and subjugated his people, Enrico returned from Venice armed to the teeth, and directed the armies of the Fourth Crusade to sack the ever loving shit out of Constantinople.
It was an act of blind revenge (sorry) as brilliant as it was brutal, since it caught the entire Byzantine Empire completely with their pants down. The city had never fallen to an enemy before, but this little old blind guy managed to capture its capital, and with it, the entire Byzantine Empire.
With his revenge finally fulfilled, Enrico died the next year. In his 90s.
Why you never joke about a blind Venetian.