Ottoman Sultan Selim II, aka "The Drunkard," made wine his official doctrine. No, seriously: The Selim doctrine was an actual thing, and all it consisted of was, "Keep Selim drunk."
Him? The guy wrapped in a rubber ducky shower curtain, drunk? You don't say...
Selim cared about only two things: drinking and his epic poetry ... about drinking. Cyprus wine was his favorite, so at least he had good taste: Cypriot commandaria remains one of the oldest and most celebrated wines in history. Unfortunately for Selim, even the most extravagant and kingly of bottles have a bottom to them. He eventually ran out of his preferred wine... until Joseph Nassy came along and suggested that if the Ottomans were to invade Cyprus, Selim would have all the wine he could possibly want. Which is a bit like proposing to your friends that you fire-bomb a 7-Eleven because you ran out of Heineken, but Selim rolled with it and declared war against an entire territory just to steal its wine. The Ottomans launched a massive invasion of the island with tens of thousands of men that laid siege to its cities and massacred some 20,000 of its civilians.
Selim's brutal conquest eventually spurred the West into action. They formed a Venetian-Genoese-Papal-Spanish coalition known as the Holy League, and with their combined forces they won a spectacular naval victory against the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto. It was one of the most crucial battles in history and the turning point of the millennium-spanning war between the Muslim East and the Christian West, in which the Ottomans lost 30,000 sailors and 90 percent of their navy.
This epic slice of military awesome is brought to you by alcoholism.
But Selim II somehow remained in control of Cyprus after the Ottoman annihilation at Lepanto, so as far as he was concerned, he had his wine, and that meant he was victorious. The Ottomans never recovered their losses, and Selim promptly ran his country into the ground until he died in 1574 when he fell on a marble floor and fractured his skull. But take heart, friends, for he died exactly as he lived: hilariously drunk.
We'll just say he drowned doing a body shot.
Union general Ulysses S. Grant suffered from perhaps the most unfair reputation of all the generals during the Civil War: He was widely regarded as a common drunk. Oh, the drunk part is true -- but he was anything but common. It is the conclusion of more than one expert on the subject, including President Abraham Lincoln himself, that Grant suffered from a unique form of alcoholism that "made him a better field commander."
Also, we're pretty sure that's a keg he's being sworn in over.
The beauty of Grant's particular breed of alcoholism was that it made him into exactly the type of leader Lincoln needed. He didn't need a gentleman to win the Civil War -- he needed the kind of don't-give-a-fuck attitude that only a dude who gets plowed on active battlefields can bring to the table. According to numerous historians and historical journals, the secret to Grant's military success was not that he was a drunk, but that he knew he was a drunk. This gave him a distinct advantage over his Confederate adversaries, because Grant "had absolutely nothing to lose," whereas the rebels, being ordinary human beings, had plenty to lose: Land, families, limbs, dignity -- you name it. Because Grant had been a complete failure at everything he had ever applied himself to throughout his entire life, he "had nowhere to go but up," and he knew it. In other words, he was exactly the loser Lincoln needed.
Aw, poor wittle guy...
Grant fought the Civil War harder than any other general of his time because, when any normal person would succumb to fear or overwhelming odds and retreat, Grant simply got himself so drunk that he could "brush aside caution" and go the extra distance. He was a self-aware alcoholic, meaning that he knew when an impossible situation simply required him to be drunk enough to do the unthinkable, and he was willing to take that Whiskey Bullet for Team America. Once Grant was promoted to commander of the Union Army, he was able to execute what no other Union general had dared: an utterly relentless war against the South, day and night.
Grant: The only man to mushroom-stamp the South.
Before Grant came along, major battles were months apart, and more often than not, they resulted in Union retreats. But thanks to his specific, self-administered prescription of alcohol, Grant was able to throw caution to the wind and force the South to fight a war of brutal attrition. Historians describe Grant's benders as providing "a release, but a controlled one, like the ignition of a gas flare above a high-pressure oil well" that he used to defeat the South and bring the bloodiest war in American history to an end.
Pictured: How Grant gets his drink on.
For more incredible acts done while under the influence, check out The 5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High. Or learn about some people accomplished amazing feats post-mortem, in The 6 Greatest Things Accomplished by Dead Bodies.
And stop by Linkstorm to see what drunk geniuses await on the Internet. (Hardly any.)
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