Khan Janibeg and the Corpse Catapult
In 1345, Khan Janibeg, the chief of the Golden Horde of Mongols, was doing what he was best at: conquering his enemies and wreckin' European shit. Janibeg had already raked in impressive swaths of Eastern Europe when he came to the next major city on his "things to seriously mess up" checklist -- the heavily fortified Caffa, a Black Sea port city ruled by Venice. Janibeg laid siege to the city, only to watch everything go to hell almost immediately. Not only did Caffa hold out, but a strange illness soon struck Janibeg's army, gleefully mowing down his men like a wrath from above. Meanwhile, the Caffan defenders were basically left scratching their asses and looking on as the Mongols dropped left and right.
And hoping itchy butts weren't among the mystery disease's early symptoms.
All in all, the situation was looking pretty grim for the Golden Horde. They could not conquer their enemy and were rapidly losing a fight against a goddamn microbe. Janibeg had literally no options left, except for the most insane one: On the off chance that whatever was killing his men was contagious to the other side as well, he started flinging the dead bodies of his men into Caffa with catapults.
This proved to be a fairly good strategy, as the corpses were infected with a little something called the goddamn bubonic plague. After inadvertently inventing biological warfare, Janibeg just waited until there were fewer and fewer projectiles and Monty Pythonesque insults flying out of Caffa. Then, when the people inside were too sick to fight him, he just up and stormed the place with his remaining army.
Walking gingerly to avoid the corpses, stumbling into other corpses. Giggling.
Janibeg might have won the battle, but the real winner in this particular war was the plague itself. When Italian mercenaries fled the city back to their homes, they brought the disease with them, letting the Black Death spread all over Europe and kill off over a third of the continent's population.
Thanks a ton, Janibeg!
Evan V. Symon is a moderator in the Cracked Workshop. When he isn't busy trying to train cats for nefarious purposes, he can be found on Facebook. Be sure to bookshelf and vote for his new book, The End of the Line.
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