They say that the best revenge is living well. And that's probably true, but you know what's even better? REVENGE. Nothing scratches the itch of injustice like a giant flaming ax made out of vengeance. Just ask any of the following folks. They'll tell you that there just ain't no wrath like cold-blooded wrath, 'cause cold-blooded wrath don't stop ... until those who have wronged you are dead, dead, dead.
#5. Princess Olga of Kiev
In 10th century Kiev, Princess Olga was married to Prince Igor. She lived an idyllic 10th century princess life, which was presumably slightly less plague- and parasite-infested than normal life -- until 945, when Igor, out collecting tribute from the neighboring Drevlians, was killed. Because her son was too young to take the throne, Olga took over as ruler of the Kievan Rus' Kingdom.
God decreed that she kick ass and chew bubblegum. But the Kingdom of Man was all out of bubblegum.
As a ruler, the Drevlians considered Olga a pushover -- an unwed woman, ha! -- and because marriage would unite the two areas under their rule, the Drevlians sent suitors to make something useful out of the princess: a wife. Still wrapped up in a soft, Downy blanket of rage, Olga managed to put on her party smile and welcomed the visitors. She told her noble suitors that her people would carry them in their boats to the castle, so they wouldn't have to walk. And they did. But when they got to the castle's courtyard, the carriers dumped the suitors, boat and all, into a giant trench. Olga, smiling, had them all buried alive.
10th century Russian catfishing was serious business.
Sending word that she had accepted the proposal, even more Drevlians came down to help prepare the wedding. They were sent to a bathhouse when they arrived, where the doors were immediately barred behind them, and the whole building was set on fire. Still not getting the hint, several more Drevlian dignitaries came over to attend the funeral. Apparently not the least bit worried about the freshly dug mass grave or the smoldering remains of a bathhouse, the Drevlians got their mournful drink on. With every Drevlian well past drunk, even by Russian standards, Olga stepped in and killed them. Five thousand of them, to be exact.
And yet, Olga still wasn't done. She now directed her wrath to the Drevlian capital city itself. When an all-out assault didn't work, Olga offered a gesture of peace. If all the houses in the city gave her a token tribute -- a few measly doves -- she would leave the next day. They gladly acquiesced and delivered the birds. That night, while the city slept, Olga had hot coals attached to the birds' feet with strings, and then sent them all home. The entire city burst into flames. She then killed, enslaved, or extorted everybody who passed her trying to flee the fire.
"So, uh, does this mean the whole marriage thing is off?"
Olga ruled both hers and her newly conquered kingdoms until her death in 969, helping spread Russian Orthodoxy throughout the land. In honor of this accomplishment, the church later made her a saint. We'd make a joke about the apparently low standards of sainthood back in the day, but honestly, if we were the church, we'd have done the same thing. You just do not piss off a Russian princess.
#4. Benjamin L. Salomon
Association of Army Dentistry, John Gomez/Photos.com
In 1937, Benjamin L. Salomon became a dentist. He had a bright, if boring, career path in front of him. Then, in 1940, he was drafted into the Army. You can imagine his trepidation: Oh god, what is a mild-mannered dentist going to do against the friggin' Axis?! Luckily, by the time war was declared, Salomon was transferred over to the Army Dental Corps. He eventually reached the rank of Captain -- and all by staying behind the lines helping keep teeth clean. At this point in Salomon's life, the most badass thing he'd ever done was give a perfect root canal.
"And a handful of non-consensual cavity removals."
Then shit got real: Salomon was sent to Saipan in the Pacific Theater, where he served as an impromptu regimental surgeon to the troops. While treating the wounded, Japanese forces overwhelmed Salomon's field hospital. Four enemy soldiers stormed the tent, and when one of them bayoneted an American soldier Salomon had just pretty much finished saving, he channeled some of that infamous dentist rage.
"You haven't been flossing, have you? Have you?"
Salomon shot two of the soldiers outright, kicked a knife out of another's hands, and headbutted the last into submission. He then ordered all of the wounded out of the tent. But since his soldiers didn't have any cover fire, Salomon took up a machine gun and provided it. Just stop and imagine being a soldier in that tent: You're hurt. You know the end is near. The enemy is in your base, and there are no able-bodied guards -- just a single, solitary dentist ...
The wounded managed to make it out safely, and the last thing they saw of their camp was a meek, glasses-wearing dental technician, completely alone, mowing down wave after wave of enemies with a machine gun. When the Americans came back and retook the area the next day, they found Salomon dead. It was a tragic loss -- for the Japanese: They also found nearly 100 enemy troops dead in front of Salomon.
Florida Atlantic University
Cranky patients, bad breath, destroying platoons of Japanese soldiers; all in a day's work for Ben Salomon.
Salomon had been shot more than 70 times, most of which he shrugged off, because you can't down a dentist with anything less than an elephant gun -- everybody knows that. Salomon earned a posthumous Medal of Honor for taking out two entire platoons of enemy soldiers single-handedly. So here's to you, Benjamin Salomon: Thank you for scraping away the plaque of evil with the little ... scraper thing(?) of justice.
#3. Alec Turner Unchained
Alec Turner was the real life inspiration for Django Unchained. If not officially, then certainly in spirit: He was born into slavery on the Gouldin tobacco plantation in Port Royal, Virginia in 1845. The plantation owner's granddaughter made the stupid mistake of being a decent person in the southern half of America during the mid-1800s: She supposedly taught 5-year-old Alec how to read and write in secret. Unfortunately, Alec and his tutor were caught playing librarian by the girl's mother. The transgression would not go unpunished: The much whiter Zephie received a severe scolding for conceiving, orchestrating, and practicing the crime, while young Alec was subsequently beaten with a whip for being in the general vicinity of the crime.
"Gosh, I hope Alec's scolding wasn't as bad as mine!"
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Alec, now a teenager, escaped from the Gouldin plantation in search of the Union Army. He met up with a Union colonel named Ferdinand Dayton and successfully joined up with the First New Jersey Cavalry. Now an armed soldier for the Army of the Potomac, Alec led a mounted posse back home to do some reading of his own. Blood reading.
That, uh ... that sounded better in our heads. We're not much for vengeful one-liners.
Alec Turner's "book club" was not to be trifled with.
Just like in Django, Alec's nemesis -- the cruel, heartless taskmaster who made his life a living hell -- was actually a fellow slave, made overseer for his devotion. According to audio records, when the overseer heard the posse approaching, he stuck his head out an upstairs window and shouted: "Who is it? Who's there?"
Alec replied: "This is me! This is Alec! I'm going to shoot you!"
Shooting a man without first introducing yourself simply wasn't done back then.
Alec apparently wasn't much for vengeful one-liners either. But he was, at least, accurate: The former slave then personally shot and killed his former overseer. After the war, Alec moved to Vermont, where he bought a 100-acre farm he called "Journey's End." He spent the next 50 years of his life on his farm, presumably teaching a horse to moonwalk.