The 6 Craziest Sieges in History
Sieges are violent tests of ingenuity and balls between two sides, and over the years men of war have come up with some pretty clever ways to keep their enemies the fuck off their lawns. Sieges are never as simple as ladders and ballistae, but here are six from history that are especially unusual.
The Siege of ParisNovember 885 - October 886
In the year 884, France got a new king named Charles the Fat. You might have figured this from his name, but Charles the Fat wasn't known for his toughness. At the risk of redefining ninth century comedy as we know it, I believe His Grace chose the name "Charles the Fat" because "Charles the Pussy" was too hard for his husband to spell. A Viking erection can smell weakness across 300 miles of ocean, so the Danes approached Charles the Fat and offered him a deal: Give us gold for a chance at not getting raped. The same business model is used today by Cash4Gold.Showing strange pride for someone with "Fat" in their name, Charles the Fat said no. The vikings headed towards Paris with 700 boats and 30,000 men, numbers that fussy historians have debated down to as low as 200 boats and 5,000 men. The point is, any number of Vikings more than zero is bad for Paris and its 200 soldiers. Oh shit, 200 men? Some of you guys are going to have to share a Viking erection.
Paris had two bridges leading out of it that blocked boat traffic, and each of those was guarded by a tower. The Danes laid siege to the northeast one, and all the siege all-stars made an appearance: catapults, battering rams, hot oil, murder holes ... it was classic. Everything was going according to plan on both sides until later that night. The Vikings woke up and saw that the tower got taller while they were asleep.
When you're sieging a tower, you have three choices: climb the wall, knock it down or hang out until everyone inside starves to death. But when the besieged have a bridge that leads to food and tower-building equipment, well then shit. So after two months of watching the tower get taller and the people inside it get fatter, the Vikings came up with a very Viking plan: fill the river with dead bodies so they could attack from every side. I assume everyone here has tried building an island out of cadavers, but I'm still going to list all the reasons this was a bad idea: screaming ghosts.
Plan B was slightly better. The Vikings lit a few of their boats on fire and aimed them at the bridge. With cheers raised to their Norse gods, the flaming Viking boats crashed into the bridge and ... and it was OK? Goddammit. If you ask me, the fact that the bridge didn't explode is thermodynamic proof that Thor is gay.
The Vikings went back to ramming the tower while hot oil melted them, until several days later when a heavy rain raised the river and destroyed the fire-ball weakened bridge supports with a flood of dead bodies. Holy crap! I take it back, Thor. Awesome!With only 12 men left in the tower and no access to supplies, the Franks spent their last days huddled in a Middle Age zombie movie. It was also going pretty badly for the people inside the Paris walls. I'm not a virologist, but when you have thousands of Viking armpits in your river and no place to bury your dead, you're going to catch a sniffle.While Paris festered, most of the Vikings went north. History books aren't completely clear on what they did up there, but it rhymes with rape. The pillaged French people finally got word to Charles, who I'm sure you remember was Fat, that they broke the fourth rule of European war: dropping hot oil on Vikings and then losing. Charles sent the French army, and with perfect military precision, they gave the Vikings 700 pounds of silver to leave. It was such an act of unmanliness that from that day forward, fat people were cursed to never again see their own cocks. It might be difficult to explain in modern terms how politically suicidal this ransom was, but it would be like Obama digging up Arlington cemetery to get parts for a Nicolas Cage wax figure museum.
The AlamoFebruary 23 - March 6, 1836
The Alamo was a small fort, and in 1835, most Texans thought it was undefendable. Compare that to now when most Texans think the Alamo is too small to hold their leftovers. The Alamo is so small that the Bexar County Tourism Board added a decimal to the front of its maximum occupancy. But I'm digressing -- this isn't about the war Texans are losing to Mexican food; it's about the one they were losing to Mexican Mexicans.The Alamo was too isolated for support and its walls were fortified to fend off Comanches, not artillery. Against the superior numbers of Santa Anna's incoming Mexican army, it was strategically insane to dig in and try to hold it. Which is probably why Texan Army Commander Sam Houston sent Jim Bowie to the fort with orders to withdraw. But we didn't name a giant knife after the guy because that's how he lost his balls -- Jim Bowie got to the Alamo and suggested instead that everyone take out their dicks and face south.Commander Houston still thought this was a bad plan, so he sent William Travis to the Alamo with double-secret orders to withdraw. After a few minutes of talking to Jim Bowie, word was sent back to fuck that, and the Alamo was now one William Travis tougher. Santa Anna was still two months away, so the brave Texans shored up the battered walls and stockpiled gunpowder, or at least they would have if Santa Anna hadn't shown up immediately.
Five thousand Mexican soldiers surrounded the Alamo and started bombarding the 150 men inside. Low on gunpowder and impossibly far from reinforcements, the Texans only had one thing going for them: They are really good at shooting people crossing borders. Texans might not look good in bathing suits, but they hit what they're aimin' at. Santa Anna kept his men back as far as possible, but his cannons weren't doing much and there were huge gaps in his lines. William Travis took advantage of this and sent riders in the night who came back with 30 men. Not regular men, but the kind of hardasses who would sneak into a circle of Mexicans to stand where their cannonballs are landing. Now with 180 men, the Americans' odds went from impossible to stupid. And we fuckin' like those odds.For 13 days, the cannons beat away at the Alamo until Santa Anna finally decided to suck it up and charge. The Americans knew that once this happened, the best they could do was go out big, and they stuck to that plan. The men at the Alamo died so hard that San Antonians can still hear their spirits at night, punching the ghosts of bears. The restless dead of the Alamo forced Parker Brothers to completely redesign Texas Ouija boards.
Rorke's DriftJanuary 22 - 23, 1879
When the British invaded Zululand in 1879, they had the clever plan to time it during the harvest season so all the warriors would be home gardening. Unfortunately, the start of the harvest season, First Fruits, is exactly when the Zulu soldiers show up to work. And I'm sure all the white people with guns marching through their backyard gave them something interesting to talk about. King Cetshwayo came up with an awesome plan that I hope I'm not over-complicating: everybody go eat the fuckers.Another factor that the British invasion hinged upon was that guns are better than spears. They figured that a few fine gentlemen with rifles and cannons could easily prevail against armies of shirtless savages with cowhide shields and pokey sticks. And while it's true that the Zulus thought guns were for wusses, they also thought that was a pretty hollow principle if they couldn't get their enemies to agree to it, so they had a few guns.On January 22, 2,000 noisy and slow-marching British troops made camp at Isandlwana. They had God and technology on their side, so they didn't bother setting up a defense. I'm sure they realized their mistake when 20,000 Zulus showed up, but hindsight is no match for 20,000 spears. The British opening to the Zululand campaign had the same military tactics as my girlfriend playing
Speaking of tactics, a Zulu army forms up like a buffalo -- the "head" attacks first while the "horns" circle around and flank the enemy. The "loins" stay back to cut off the enemy's escape and communications. I'm not sure if they're called the loins because they fuck you or if that's only a happy coincidence. At the ass-kicking of Isandlwana, the Zulus didn't even need their 4,000-man loins corps. The British were too busy leaking from assegai holes to escape, so the 4,000 bored Zulus went looking for a fight. They jogged 20 miles to attack a mission station called Rorke's Drift because that's what you do when you're a division made up entirely of loins.The 150 troops at Rorke's Drift knew the Zulu were coming, and they also knew their walls were mostly made out of grain bags. Their first plan was to ditch the mission and escape, but the only thing dumber than trying to fight 4,000 Zulus is trying to outrun 4,000 Zulus.The Zulu impi got to Rorke's Drift after their 32K and charged in full force. The British kept them off the wall as long as they could with rifles, then fell back in a shrinking perimeter defense when that failed. The Zulus took heavy casualties as they constantly climbed over more things, which goes to show that if you kill a couple thousand of their men with spears, the British suddenly have enough respect for you to not be retarded.
Reports from the fight were unkind to the accuracy of Zulu riflemen, but after 11 hours of hard fighting the British soldiers shot 19,100 bullets and killed less than 300 men. Hey, British, those are Stormtrooper numbers. Three-hundred deaths is what you expect from 19,100 rollerblade rentals, not 19,100 bullets. Still, their wanton A-Teamery was good enough to hold back the onslaught of Zulu warriors while only suffering 15 deaths.When the Zulus finally broke off their attack at 4 a.m., 500 wounded men were left behind. This gave the British troops the same idea people get when they see a cheerleading competition: 500 murders. They got to stabbing, but unknown to the fine gentlemen, a different group of Zulus was approaching Rorke's Drift. They'd been marching for almost a week straight, hadn't eaten in two days, and promptly left when they saw a bunch of half-dead white people mutilating 800 corpses with bayonets. And
The Siege of CandiaMay 1648 - September 1669
In 1644, a group of Knights of Malta attacked an Ottoman convoy and took their money and women to the fortress city of Candia on Crete. It didn't exactly start the war between the Ottomans and the Venetians, but here, let me try to explain. Imagine you're having an argument with the police over an expired zoning permit, a mugger runs into your home, and the police surround the building and try to kill you for 21 years.The Ottomans swarmed the island of Crete with 60,000 soldiers and surrounded Candia with troops and ships, starting the second longest siege in history. They cut off the city's water supply and spent the better part of two decades shooting at it with cannons. The siege lasted longer than Kareem Abdul Jabbar's NBA career. It got dragged out 33 times longer than the show
The besieged city asked everyone they knew for help, including the Knights of the Malta, so Candia was either very desperate or everyone who remembered that those guys were the ones who started everything had died of old age. No one made much of a difference until 1669, when the French sent them a fleet of ships that included the war-ending superboat, La Therese. The 1000-ton floating fortress with 58 cannons was going to blow the Ottomans off the planet. Unfortunately, right before it could do that, it demolished itself without any Ottoman help in what must have been the sweetest gunpowder accident of all time.
The Siege of TyreJanuary to July, 332 BC
Educated by his tactical genius father, Phillip, and the regular genius Aristotle, Alexander the Great became one of the greatest military minds to ever live, and in 333 BC he took his army into Persia to conquer the known world. Things went well at first. At Issus, he defeated a group of Persian soldiers that was anywhere from three to eight times his army's size while losing less than 10 percent of this men. No historians can ever come together on how big these ancient armies were, but they all agree that Alexander the Great beat the shit out of them. The Washington Generals put up better statistics than the Persians.For a year, Alexander ran through the country beating people by impossible margins or having armies surrender to him when he got there. Most people were happy to fight for him -- in 332 BC going to war under Alexander the Great had a higher life expectancy than staying home and being nice to people. The world was practically begging him to unite it like the front guy in a human centipede. And then Alexander of Macedonia got to Tyre.Tyre was a fortress a half mile offshore, and Alexander didn't have any ships. So he did what any pragmatic genius would do: He told his men to rip apart a nearby city, cut down every tree for miles, and start work on a 200-foot wide bridge. For the Hellenistic Period, this type of engineering feat might as well have been an Optimus Prime, and when the people inside Tyre saw what those maniacs were trying to do they laughed their asses off, until it started working.
The Tyrians sent out boats to attack the bridge builders, and Alexander fought them back by constructing huge catapult-armed siege towers. As the bridge got closer to their city, the Tyrians came up with some genius of their own. They filled a ship with oil, lit it on fire and rammed it into Alexander's towers. It turned months of hard work into a bonfire, and a pissed off Alexander knew he'd need boats.Luckily, all the cities he conquered on the way there had boats, so once he had those all he had to do was fit them with ramps, cranes and battering rams and invent the very concept of amphibious warfare. He did, because he was Great, but unfortunately the six months he spent building a pointless bridge under constant harassment made him bitter. Instead of welcoming the conquered Tyrians into his army he crucified them and sold tens of thousands of the rest into slavery. And he didn't seem to cheer up at all after his victory in Gaza which turned into a post-apocalyptic rapefest. By the next year, Alexander was killing prisoners and naming cities after himself all across Asia and became convinced he was directly descended from Apollo. I hope the Tyrians are happy -- that stupid little unconquerable island city of theirs managed to turn a guy from Alexander the Great into Alexander the Douchebag.
Waco, TexasFebruary 28th - April 19th, 1993
Cult leader David Koresh claimed to be the second coming of Jesus, but that's a tough thing to scientifically confirm. Putting a lab technician and God's DNA in the same room always leads to a fist fight. The only real way to tell if someone is Jesus is to put them in a box for 1900 years and see if Nazi faces melt when you open it. However, rival nutjob George Rodan, thought of a different way. He exhumed a body and challenged Koresh to a resurrection contest. A fucking resurrection contest. In theology, this is commonly known as "Calling the second-coming-of-Jesus' bluff."Instead of bringing the lady back to life, David Koresh ran to the police. Check and mate, David Koresh. Jesus would never be so unsportsmanlike. Plus, when you go to the police and tell them you just came from a resurrection contest, they know two things: 1) You're fucking nuts and 2) they should make a special note of this.Being on the nutbag watchlist came back to haunt Koresh a few years later when he started stockpiling assault rifles and women. It's not hard to get a search warrant for a place that has M16 parts and breast pumps delivered by the case. And when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up to search his compound, David Koresh did what Jesus would do: he started a gunfight with the government. To be fair, there's some historical conflict on who shot first. The Davidians say the ATF opened fire without warning or maybe only on accident, while other reports say the first shots were fired by a squad of dog murderers that had snuck in to shoot the Branch Davidian dogs. It makes no sense that there are conflicting reports since you don't normally see dishonesty from the government and people who say they're Jesus.
Shooting at the ATF showed a surprising lack of foresight from the man whose goal in life was having 140 wives. Oh, if only women had qualities that would make being married to 140 of them seem like an absurd idea! It would really help me write a joke if that many women syncing their cycles together caused every wolf for 50 miles to run straight for their house. Man, I really think I'd have something to go on if the sex life of a man with 140 wives was getting halfway in before 139 people needed jars opened.After the initial shooting, the FBI started their 50-day siege. They set up loud speakers and blasted bad pop music and the sounds of dying rabbits to fuck with the cultists. David Koresh was himself a musician and he turned the siege into the world's worst battle of the bands when he played his own songs right back at the FBI. His music, coincidentally, was exactly like a mix of bad pop and dying rabbits. David Koresh's songs are less tough than dildo chafing. After hearing him sing, I think the only reason he wanted 140 wives was so he lived in a house with a handbag for any outfit.The siege of Waco dragged on and on. The FBI had 25 fucking negotiators, and none of them spoke Crazy. Every day, the news told us how many hundreds of thousands of dollars it was costing taxpayers to stand outside a lunatic's home and play Nancy Sinatra songs at him. It was the perfect example of how we'll never see another classic siege. Never again will someone build a tower and roll it up to a parapat to brain a man dropping burning pitch on a battering ram. We have thermal imaging, bunker buster missiles and Seal Team Six (Â© Disney 2011). The only thing keeping Waco from being wiped off the map was the fact that it was filled with pregnant women and children, because neither of those things can be held responsible for their actions.
Finally, on April 19, 1993, tanks smashed holes in the walls and filled the place with tear gas. The FBI did this for six hours and still nobody came out. This was impressive because six hours in tear gas time is like seven, maybe eight hours in regular time. No one knows exactly what went on inside, only that it was insane and everything started catching on fire. I take back some of the things I said about David Koresh. This wasn't just a guy that managed to deal with multiple wives, he managed to deal with multiple women stubborn enough to burn alive in tear gas rather than admit they were wrong. The fact that his nuts survived one day into that relationship is the craziest part of this whole story.
For more Seanbaby, check out The 10 Most Butt References Per Second in Music History and 7 Super Powers That Steven Seagal Actually Believes He Has.