During the 13th century, England and France were having one of their many, many wars with each other. To protect his holdings in Normandy, Richard I of England wanted to build the most badass castle imaginable. Six thousand laborers worked for a year to build the fortress. When the castle was completed, Richard called it a "gaillard castle" (translated: "well built"). Yes, Richard sucked at naming things.
The castle presumably rested on "Green Mountain."
It was in the perfect spot, on a high plateau with steep cliffs to the sides and rear. The only approach was by the well-armed front, and that sucked even more: it featured a moat, 30-feet wide and 40-feet deep, with a retractable drawbridge. The whole time you're trying to cross the moat you'd be getting pelted with arrows and barrels full of burning oil. Once you make it across, you're facing walls 10-feet thick.
The Fatal Flaw:
The poop chute.
King Richard was sure he'd never see his castle taken. And he didn't. He died less than a year after it was finished. Richard's brother John became king and made one minor addition: an extra toilet in the chapel. The toilet fed the waste into a chute, which emptied outside the walls.
"It's good, but what if I have to poop in church?" - King John
It seemed like a really specific modification to request but maybe they served nothing but Indian food during the services. Anyway, when Philip II of France heard that John was now King of England, he felt it was time to take the castle. Philip marched his army to the castle and laid siege. The soldiers inside the castle were well equipped, with vast stores of supplies that could hold out for an entire year--easily until long enough for re-enforcements to get there.
After a few attempts at taking the castle failed, Philip sent his soldiers out to find a weakness. One of those soldiers was called Ralph the Snubnose. While examining the castle walls, Ralph noticed the latrine chute. He also noticed it was just wide enough for somebody to crawl through.
Ralph, a braver man than any of us, volunteered. He and a couple of soldiers, climbed up the castle's proverbial large intestine, getting covered in excrement all along the way. Once Ralph and his comrades made it through 30-feet of shit tube and reached the top, they opened the gates for the rest of the army and the castle was taken.
After the castle fell, Philip marched through the rest of Normandy. The military failure of the English forces under King John that started at Chateau Gaillard eventually led to him signing the Magna Carta.
Thanks, poop chute!
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For more battlefield monstrosities, check out The 6 Most Gigantic Everything in the History of War. Or learn about some more mistakes made in the Star Wars universe, in 7 Classic Star Wars Characters Who Totally Dropped the Ball.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.06.10) to discover the weakness in Brockway's cardboard "fortress." (It's actually his house.)
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