War ... war never changes.
Oh wait, yes it does. Otherwise, all of our wars would be still be fought by naked leprous giantesses. You know, like they were back in the good old days. Doesn't sound familiar? Well, despite the homogeneous tones with which your history books have painted war, the past is full of, shall we say, "colorful" armies. Such as ...
6The Leper Knights Of St. Lazarus
Picture the medieval Crusaders: handsome, noble bearded men in shining white armor, swinging the broadsword of Christianity into the skulls of philistines. Now picture them physically falling apart like an army of religious zombies. Now you have a pretty good idea of what the Leper Knights of St. Lazarus were like.
Order of St. Lazarus
We're not 100-percent sure how leprosy works, but we know zombies, dammit.
If you caught leprosy in the 12th century, your career paths were limited to "boogeyman" and "cautionary tale." People were so scared of catching it that lepers were banished from society and forbidden to mix with healthy people. The Order of St. Lazarus was a leper hospital in Jerusalem dedicated to caring for knights who had been stricken with the disease. The Templars would send leper knights there and pay for their care -- it was like a medieval VA hospital. Well ... like a slightly more medieval VA hospital, at any rate.
Every Leper's Day, they'd reminisce about the Gross War and World War Eww.
But when the Crusades escalated and the Ottoman hordes came knocking on Jerusalem's door, the leper knights weren't about to take it lying down. Instead of waiting to fall to pieces while their healthy cohorts did God's work, the Order of St. Lazarus donned their armor again, picked up their broadswords, and entered the fray.
The leper knights weren't particularly successful in their campaigns, but they earn points for having giant balls (assuming that they hadn't fallen off yet). That doesn't mean they weren't formidable opponents, though. Imagine a bunch of dudes who know they're going to die soon anyway, who can't feel pain due to nerve damage, and who are basically walking biological weapons. Actually, if you can wait a year or so, you won't have to imagine it -- that is, if Hollywood picks up our badass new screenplay, Knight Of The Lepers.
5Prussia's Giant Army (Of Giants)
If you have an interest in military history, you might have a collection of memorabilia lying around somewhere. If you're an absurdly rich and slightly crazy Prussian king, that memorabilia might come in the form of large human beings. King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (modern-day Germany, for those frantically scouring a map) liked to collect soldiers. Real ones.
Samuel Theodor Gericke
"You have your GI Joes, I have mine."
And not just anyone who was willing to sign up; Friedrich was obsessed with tall dudes, so much so that he scoured the world for additions to his army of giants. Anyone over six feet tall was an ideal recruit. And Friedrich didn't handle rejection well -- if someone said no, the King would pay mercenaries to kidnap him and drag his beanpole ass back to join the Prussian basketball league.
There are stories of Friedrich sending teams of talent scouts out as far as Ireland and Sweden to abduct locals whom he'd heard were particularly huge. In one case, they almost caused an international incident when they spotted a tall guy getting into a cab in Hanover and tried to grab him, only to learn later that their intended victim had been an Austrian diplomat.
The Schwarzeneggers have been an angry clan ever since.
If you were the king of another nation at the time, you knew that the best way to win over the nutty King of Prussia was to send him lanky dudes as gifts. The King of Russia (not the store brand knockoff of Prussia -- totally different place) intentionally groomed his tallest subjects for such purposes of "diplomacy." Friedrich didn't simply think that an army of giants would be a good intimidation tool, though; he really, really loved his collection. When he was sick in bed, he would have his giants march through his bedroom to cheer him up with drums and, often, a bear. Why a bear?
Why not a bear?
Cornelis van Haarlem
"Nothing's unbearable when he's around!"
"HA ... but seriously, five guys died getting him in here."
Friedrich's obsession only got crazier as time went on. Eventually, he mandated that the soldiers were only permitted to marry equally freakishly tall women, so that they might have even taller kids -- perhaps because he was super into LARPing and Prussia was tragically short on authentic Frost Giants. After Friedrich's death in 1740, his heir foolishly disbanded the giant army and, as we all know, Prussia was immediately invaded by the elves.