5 Ancient Acts of War That Changed the Face of the Earth

#2. The Dutch Put Themselves on an Island

Remember that little maneuver Alexander pulled during the Siege of Tyre? Well, picture a severe case of the exact opposite: Someone turning an entire country into an island at the drop of a hat.

There was a time in history that the Dutch were this close to being the most powerful country on the planet today. The only thing standing between the Dutch and Imperial British-level world dominance was the sorry fact that they were stuck on the European continent with a load of bad neighbors. Suffering from severe island-envy, the Dutch were desperate to get the hell off of the landmass, and their solution to this dilemma was the Dutch Water Line.

"That thing's operational!"

The Dutch Water Line was the brainchild of stadtholder Maurice of Nassau, who was a pretty important guy even though his job looked like a typo. The idea was to use Holland's natural water-bodies and low sea level to deliberately inundate the country, creating a natural sea-barrier whenever it was needed.

Nassau's successor put the people to work with shovels and pickaxes and by god, before long they had put Holland on a freaking island surrounded by shallow water. Then they planted a generous garden of mines, barbed wire and even animal traps that disappeared underwater once the floodgates were opened.

The Dutch Deflector Shield.

It worked, too. The Dutch won the Franco-Dutch War specifically because their little superweapon successfully stopped the armies of Louis XIV, thus forcing them to go home to their non-superweapon state, thumbs planted firmly up their own asses.

The French finished their own super-weapon just in time for the Germans to blow it up.

#1. The Mongols Weaponize the Bubonic Plague (Killing Half of Europe)

If there is one thing movies and real-time strategy games have taught us about warfare, it's that superweapons are pretty much the Konami code of combat. The Americans had the A-Bomb, the good guys in Red Alert had the Chronosphere and the Karen in Burma had a John Rambo so pumped with HGH he sweat steroids and crapped jawbones.

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left...

With that said, you can really tell a lot about a people by their superweapons, and when it came to the Mongols, it's safe to say they didn't pull any punches. Hell, even their conventional weapons were pretty damn sick. For example, when they finally won their long war with the Jin, the roads of Beijing were "greasy from human fat," and the air was saturated with a poisonous fume like Mordor.

During the Siege of Caffa in 1346, the Mongol armies of the Golden Horde unleashed a weapon of war utterly unmatched in terms of its consequence: Yersinia pestis. You might know it better as the bubonic plague. Or, by its much cooler name: Black Death.

The disease had been enjoying a nice retirement in Middle of Nowhere, Central Asia, until the advancing Mongols had to mess up the migration routes of small rodents. By the time the Horde reached the city of Caffa situated in the Black Sea, their own soldiers were already dropping dead from the illness.

But of course that wasn't their fault. Their people picked up some microbes as they were stomping across the countryside. It's not like they intentionally spread the dis-

Oh wait. They did. When they saw how effectively the disease took out their own people, they reportedly started loading their diseased corpses into catapults and launching them over the walls of their enemies.

The enemy in this case, the city of Caffa, was a major shipping port serving the entire region. People fleeing the invasion and raining corpses jumped in their boats and sailed off in every direction. By the time they drifted back to their ports throughout Europe with news from Caffa, their boats were true ghost-ships with Y. pestis patients literally bursting "like pinatas."

The world's population at the time the Mongols started flinging infected corpses was around 450 million. By the time the Black Death got through with them a few decades later, it was as low as 350 million. Their little biological weapon campaign killed one out of every four or five people on planet Earth, utterly changing the face of human civilization and creating the modern world as we know it.

Take a moment to reflect on that. In a way, everything you see around you is indirectly the result of one particular group of assholes.

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Discover more ways the world has been changed, in 6 Disastrous Ways Pop Culture Influences The Real World and 6 Random Coincidences That Created The Modern World.

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