#2. The 250-Year Family Feud
In America, the most famous and iconic family feud is the Hatfields and McCoys, but it lasted only 13 years (and a dozen deaths). Meanwhile, the feud between two Korean families, the Yooms and Shims, has lasted longer than America.
To understand why the two families hate each other, you have to go back even further than that. The whole thing started in the 12th century when Yoon Gwan, a general, expanded Korean borders in the north and achieved the status of awesome. For his efforts, he got a nice grave in a hill just outside of Seoul.
We hope he was actually dead first.
Several hundred years later, in the 1600s, the Shim family thought the same hill looked like a cherry spot to put Shim Ji Won, a former prime minister. Well, what does it really matter, right? There's plenty of room for everybody and the dead don't need much breathing room.
Everything was fine until the mid-1700s, when Yoon's descendants rediscovered the hill and realized 1) the great Yoon Gwan was buried there and 2) he was now sharing a hunk of land with some asshole. They flipped the hell out. Graves were vandalized, and the two families came to the brink of violence. The feud was on.
Belts were hiked up to the nipples, and there was a great tugging of beards.
You have to understand that in Korea, ancestral reverence and geomancy (feng shui in China) are taken very seriously. It matters where you bury your dead because the land itself can affect their ability and willingness to help you from beyond the grave. And it's serious business even today -- South Korea's Samsung Electronics, for example, consults geomancers when deciding how to set up shop displays. Politicians have been known to move their ancestors before an election.
After years of this bullshit, King Young Jo ordered the graves to be left as they were and for the violence to stop.
"Stop trying to kill each other! This is a cemetery."
Each side declared "piss on that" and went on fighting, prompting the king to intercede again, with a vengeance. He had the elderly patriarchs of both families flogged and exiled; the Yoon member actually died from the punishment. And still, nothing close to peace was achieved. Hundreds of years of violence and actual marriage bans between families went by without a compromise. They did build a nice wall between the graves, though.
Because good fences make good fuck yous.
Finally, in 2008, the feud came to a dramatic head when both sides ... decided this crap had gone on long enough. Seriously, they just got together, talked for about a year, and came to a decision that would make everyone happy. The Yoons would give up some land on a hill nearby so the Shims could move Shim Ji Won. That's it. Peace had finally been found! Or would have, if the government hadn't vetoed the whole idea.
The feud, the government argued, had gone on so long that it was part of Korean culture now; moving the graves would be like erasing that. So technically the problem hasn't been solved because Korea loves their wacky antics.
#1. The Grudge Against Dante Alighieri Lasted 700 Years
Dante Alighieri, of Inferno fame, really pissed off his government.
They've never quite forgiven him.
Turns out the 10th circle of hell is full of stubborn people and those who don't replace the toothpaste cap.
Back in those days, Dante belonged to a political group called the White Guelphs, the enemies of the, uh, Black Guelphs. They'd all just been Guelphs once, but fell out over a difference of opinion about papal influence.
"OK, whoever says his hat isn't big enough, get on the damn Hell-boat!"
In 1300, Dante had been part of the government in Florence that exiled a bunch of Black Guelphs, but the Blacks soon returned to power and did some exiling of their own. About 600 White Guelphs (along with Dante) were told to stay away from Florence for two years and to also pay a fine.
Dante seemed to have no problem with the exile, but refused to pay the fine -- even though it meant they'd burn him at the stake if he returned to Florence. So while other White Guelphs were eventually allowed to return, Dante wasn't.
"No thanks, I'll just sit here in my terracotta pants and adorable floppy red hat."
But, time heals all wounds, right? So around 1316, the Black Guelphs welcomed back all the exiles. Even Dante. All he had to do was pay up some money and perform a public penance. No big deal.
"We've got the demons rounded up already, eager to hear it."
Dante, as you can guess, said no. A last offer to return was extended on the condition he stayed under house arrest. Again, Dante refused, which pissed the Florentine government off enough to extend his death sentence to his sons. Dante would stay in exile the rest of his life, and be buried in Ravenna. End of feud, right?
Ha, no. Florence eventually regretted this whole fiasco and wanted to bring Dante's bones home. Ravenna refused, repeatedly, over the next 500-plus years, probably after a visit from Dante's ghost. Eventually a fancy tomb was built for him in Florence anyway. Tourists visit it often, thinking it actually houses the poet's body, when, in reality, Dante is still serving his now seven-century-long exile.
You'd think they'd at least throw a few hobo bones in there, just to fill it out.
Finally in 2008, two city councilors in Florence thought it'd be nice if they pardoned Dante and gave the Golden Florin (the city's highest honor) to Dante's family in a public ceremony. This, however, simply got the argument started again (with one councilor saying "Dante's heirs didn't deserve to be called Alighieri").
As a result, Dante's last descendant, Serego Alighieri, boycotted the ceremony. Hell, we're pretty sure Dante would have wanted it that way.
He's now making a killing in the tourist industry.
For more awesome fights, check out The 7 Most Badass Man vs. Beast Showdowns. Or find out what you would do when your unstoppable force meets your immovable object in So You're Locked In a Room With Your Clone: Fight or F#@k?.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see what happens when Brockway's beard goes to-to-toe with DOB's abs.
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