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.
In 1807, a French dude named Pierre Picaud had just about everything on life's menu going for him: a steady job as a cobbler, a home just outside the lovely French riviera and an insanely hot, wealthy French girlfriend. Everybody knows one jerk like that.
Pierre's three friends Loupian, Solari and Chaubart always thought they'd like to take him down a notch, so when he eventually proposed, his buddies seized on the opportunity to plan the most dick bachelor party prank in history--by sending a letter to the feds accusing Pierre of being an English spy. We don't know whether or not they also tied him naked to a lamp post.
Yeah, smile motherfucker. Wait till we get some rope.
He was arrested and imprisoned in the brutal Fenestrelle fortress for seven years without charge, and to make things even worse, his former friend Loupian spent that time comforting Pierre's ex-fiance with his penis.
If you think this sounds like we're just confusing The Count of Monte Cristo with reality, you're half right. The guy who wrote that book, Alexandre Dumas, based his novel on police records detailing the true case of Pierre Picaud, whose incredible story of revenge was almost too strange to be believed even then.
Details are a little hazy, but at some point during Pierre's imprisonment, he somehow became a millionaire. Apparently he had a wealthy cellmate named Father Torri with whom he struck up such a close friendship that Torri left him his fortune after he died. Either that, or he knocked over an armored car while on parole. Either way, Pierre made use of his newfound wealth to exact a tornado of justice worthy of a Death Wish sequel.
This is my warm-up gun.
Over the course of 10 years, Pierre used his new wealth to brutally trick, ruin and murder his oppressors. One by one, his former friends wound up mysteriously dead, but it was that cuckolding prick Loupian who got the shortest end of the stick. Pierre first tricked the man's daughter into marrying a criminal (whom Pierre had arrested), killing the poor girl out of shock. Pierre then burned Loupian's business to the ground, had Loupian's son arrested and then finished things off by stabbing the already ruined man to death, which was probably a small mercy.
Pierre was eventually kidnapped and killed by a fourth friend, Allut, who knew about the plot to frame Pierre but failed to report it. According to the French police, his insanely detailed deathbed confession was the basis for the entire report, which means that the only reason we know about it at all is because Pierre didn't live quite long enough to finish the job.
After Genghis Khan decapitated his way through Asia like a mustachioed threshing machine, the Mongolian Empire found direct contact with the Middle East for the first time in their history. As a sign of good will, Genghis sent a caravan into the neighboring Khwarezmid Empire consisting of 450 men and what we can only assume was one damn fine fruit basket.
Like this, but with diamonds and whores.
However, the Khwarezmids did not take kindly to these "people in felt tents," and Governor Inalchuq of Otrar seized the caravan, killing all but one Mongol merchant.
Genghis, at this point, was willing to give his neighbors another chance, figuring that perhaps they simply didn't realize who they were fucking with. He sent a delegation to Inalchuq's boss, Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad II, to ask what up. The Shah responded by shaving the heads of the Mongol ambassadors, and sent their interpreter home without a head.
Honestly? The guy that got decapitated had it easy.
When he learned about the massacre of his envoy, Genghis nodded and quietly went off into the mountains to count to 10 and compose himself. After thinking it through for a few days, he returned refreshed, then gave Khwarezmid a pounding unlike any the world would see until World War II.
Somehow, this painting fails to capture the carnage.
To avenge his lost messengers, Genghis deployed three of his "four dogs" of war, which included Subutai, better known as the greatest general who ever lived. After laying siege to Inalchuq's citadel for six months with newly-acquired Chinese technologies, Genghis finally obtained a refund for his fruit basket; supposedly by pouring molten silver into Inalchuq's eyes and mouth. Then he went after the Shah.
Genghis Khan stormed into Khwarezmia with up to 200,000 of the best trained soldiers in the world, destroyed an army five times his size, and even diverted rivers to wipe the Sultan's birthplace off the map. By the time Genghis was finished, "not even dogs or cats" were spared. The entire empire was literally erased, its four million inhabitants reduced to mounds of skeletons. The Shah himself escaped to an island in the Caspian Sea, where he died of pleurisy, bankrupt and alone. Thus cementing the popular adage, "don't kill the messenger." Especially if he works for Genghis Khan.
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