Miguel de Cervantes was born in Spain, but soon moved to Italy where he started a prosperous career in nothing. He lived as a drifter for a while and eventually got a job as a tax collector. At that point he promptly wound up in jail over accusations that he was skimming some cash off the top.
Anyway, rather than masturbating into a sock while fantasizing about stabbing his father, as most prisoners would, Cervantes decided it was time to launch his writing career. This was at a time where writing in the Western world was almost entirely fantastical and mostly reserved for the aristocratic class. In short, if it wasn't by a princess and about a unicorn, nobody gave a shit about your stories.
Miguel's book, hopefully to the surprise of nobody unless the education system has completely failed you, was called Don Quixote, and it is largely regarded as the first modern novel. His characters were normal: human, flawed and deep; his story-arc worked on several metaphorical levels; and the entire tale was woven with an emotional complexity unheard of at the time. It is widely regarded to be one of the greatest books in the history of ever, and its influence inspired some of the most revered authors of modern times.
...And while he was giving birth to this deep and ingenious progenitor of modern literature, he had to ask a giant, violent Italian with an authority complex just for permission to take a crap. At which point he was likely beaten for his insolence, and then beaten again for having the nerve to crap himself during beating-time. Chew on that, aspiring writer at Starbucks with your damned Apple notebook.
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To see other odd instances that altered the course of history, check out 5 People You've Never Heard Of Who Saved the World and 5 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World.
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