A declaration of war or the start of a revolution is usually a difficult decision and is often based on hard to resolve root causes. However, this is not always the case as some formal pretexts for some wars are sometimes ridiculous. We present five conflicts which, at first sight, began in the most ridiculous ways.
1. The Pig War
The Pig War or what is also known as Episode Pig or Pig War and Potato, was a case in 1859 between American and British authorities on the islands of San Juan incident, which at that time was subject of dispute between the two countries where there was some ambiguity over the border.
It all started with an American farmer who lived on the island called Lyman Cutlar found in his garden a pig eating their tubers. As it was not the first time it happened, the farmer got angry and ended up killing the animal.
However, it turned out that the pig belonged to an Irish farmer, Charles Griffin. In return Cutlar offered him ten dollars as compensation, but the Irish demanded hundred. So Cutlar told him that instead he decided to not pay anything for the pig as the animal had invaded his property.
Griffin complained to the British authorities, who wanted to stop Cutlar, but the settlers turned to US to ask for military protection.
The Americans responded by sending 66 soldiers and the British responded with three warships. The conflict got very serious, but without shooting.
The governor of the colony of the island Vancouver ordered the British admiral to launch the combat, which he refused, saying it would be foolish to start a war by a pig.
When Washington and London learned about the situation, the appropriate steps were put on place to defuse the crisis, finally the incident was resolved peacefully.
2. Nika Revolt
Nika revolt, or Nika riots, was a popular uprising that took place in the city of Constantinople in 532. Although it was the result of a social turbulent political situation and began with a discussion on the racecourse between the Greens rival fans and the Azules.
The conflict came to a point where the 'green' went to the Emperor Justinian, who was at the racetrack, demanding his abdication. The instigators of the fight of both factions were executed, which brought the two groups together and started a revolt.
During the riots, which spread throughout the city, more than 30,000 people were killed and several important buildings were destroyed.
3. The War of the Golden Stool
So there was this stool. It was an actual golden stool, belonging to the Ashanti Empire (an African state on the Gold Coast, not the estate of the R&B singer). The stool was sacred, believed to house not only the authority of the chief, but also the spirit of the Ashanti nation, as well as the souls of the living, dead and yet to be born.
So in 1896, the Ashanti King had been exiled, leaving the Ashanti people without a chief. Fortunately, the British Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson, was there to help, in the way that the white man is always happy to do.
In March 1900, Hodgson entered the Ashanti capital and said that since the Ashanti lands were under the rule of the Queen, they had better fetch him this sacred Golden Stool so he could sit his ass right on it. "And probably fart on it," he might as well have added.
The locals sat there in stunned silence at this suggested ass-defiling of their heritage and custom, and when the speech finished, went home and rustled up as many weapons as they could find. Thus began the War of the Golden Stool.
The British sent some men out to look for the stool, and were surprised to find themselves under a vicious attack by a force led by Yaa Asantewaa (the mother of the exiled king).
The British column was nearly annihilated, and the survivors managed to scamper back to Kumasi and barricade themselves in their small fort on March 28th, 1900, spraying petrified fountains of poop with every step. Yaa Asantewaa laid siege to them for the next three and a half months with a force of up to 12,000 men.
The British had to bring in several thousand men, under the command of Major James Willcocks, as well as some serious pieces of hardware, to break through the cordon. They finally did on July 14, 1900. The besieged British had been trapped for three months, and had run out of food and ammunition and were in desperate need of fresh underpants.
In retaliation to the Ashanti's impertinence, Willcocks spent the remainder of the summer butchering local villages, razing towns and stealing land.
Though the Ashanti lost on the battlefield, suffered over 2,000 military casualties (plus many more civilians), were annexed, were brutally repressed and had their heads of state exiled, they still claimed to have won the war.
Why? Because through all of it, the British never got to sit on their fucking golden stool.
4. The Flagstaff War
In 1840, British troops were doing what they usually did, which was hang around a country that was not their own. Specifically New Zealand and, specifically, the town of Kororareka. It was a place of brothels, grog-holes and gambling dens, and was filled with people bereft of scruples and/or one or more limbs who spent their days having comical bar fights.
The British went ahead and hoisted the Union Jack over the town, figuring nobody would mind. Who doesn't love the British flag?
Meet Hone Heke, a chief of some of the natives. He rode into town and chopped down the flagpole, apparently figuring they wouldn't actually be ruled by the British as long as the flag wasn't there. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
What followed was a display of splendid idiocy. The garrison instantly erected a new flagpole, which Heke chopped down just as swiftly, and a third replaced it, only to be felled again. Then a fourth was erected, and was reinforced with iron and had an armed guard, all presumably smirking away. We like to imagine all of this taking place in the course of one lunch hour.
Back in England, the House of Commons decided that Heke and his people had no right to chop down flagpoles and live unmolested in their own country, and declared that lessons needed to be taught. Helpful missionaries carried this information to Heke, who was less than impressed.
On March 11, 1845, Heke and his tribe descended into the town with unprecedented savagery, butchering townsfolk indiscriminately. British troops tried to dig themselves in around their barracks, but probably ought to have been shooting as they were swiftly overwhelmed. As a final "fuck you," Heke chopped down that damned flagpole again.The war dragged on for 10 bloody months. The British managed to quash Heke's rebellion over time, but the war can only really be called a scoreless draw.
And while the British remained in control of the territory, they didn't dare try to erect another flagpole in that spot.
5. The Battle of Karansebes
In 1788, Austria was at war with Turkey. The Austrian army was marching down to clash with an advancing Turkish army in what is now Romania. Shenanigans ensued.
What happened was the Austrians set up camp for the night, and some scouts on horseback went out to check the immediate countryside for any armed Turks. They came across a band of gypsies with a shitload of schnapps for sale, which they eagerly bought and began drinking with a gusto rarely seen outside of a frat party.
A load of Austrian infantry were also out and about, and came across the group of scouts. They wanted to join the drinking. The boozy scouts refused and set up makeshift fortification in what probably seemed a really funny idea at the time. Things got heated, an argument broke out and someone got too excited and fired a shot.
All Hell broke loose, infantry and scouts firing wildly at each other. The infantry, in a state of confusion, began shouting that the Turks were attacking them. The scouts, even though it was they who were attacking their infantry, suddenly believed that there actually was a huge, swarthy, mustachioed Turkish army just behind them.
Filling their snazzy cavalry pants with rapidly escaping dinners, the scouts broke ranks and piled through the ranks of infantry. The infantry took this as a sign that the Turks were definitely there. They began a panicky withdrawal, all animosity forgotten in the face of the imaginary Turkish army.
Just when the whole affair couldn't get any stupider, it did. The Austrian army was made up of soldiers from several countries and they spoke different languages. So when the German-speaking officers started shouting "Halt! Halt!" in their own language, the non-German-speakers mistook it for cries of, "Allah! Allah!"
The whole frantic group of soldiers finally arrived back at the main camp. An officer there, in a moment of slapstick brilliance, reasoned that the charging, shouting men must be a Turkish attack, and ordered an artillery strike.
The entire camp then awoke to the sound of an enormous battle and they all did what every disciplined soldier would do at a time like this: ran away in different directions, firing wildly. The situation escalated until the army was called into a general retreat from the imaginary enemy. Finally, not wanting to miss out on the fun, the leader of the whole operation, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, got knocked off his horse and landed in a stream.
The only real winner here was magnificent stupidity. For a more tangible result, we'll say that the points went to the Turks, who arrived at the scene two days later to find almost 10,000 dead and wounded Austrians and, after they had all had a good laugh, promptly captured the town and surrounding countryside.
6. The War of Jenkins's Ear
Barring bouts of drunken Austrian stupidity, the War of Jenkins's Ear is yet another strong case for Britain's stranglehold on the business of stupid wars.
There was a British navy captain named Robert Jenkins. Jenkins's ship was boarded by nefarious Spaniards in 1731, and they, for reasons best known to them, felt it an appropriate time to slice off the good captain's ear.
Relations between Britain and Spain weren't exactly great at the time, though war had thus far been diverted through the actions of Sir Thomas Walpole, the British Prime Minster, who had settled upon a policy of consummate dullness.
By 1739, Britain had become bored of sitting around and not shooting the Spanish, so, to provide a reason to go to war, a Parliamentary hearing was called about Jenkins's de-earing eight years earlier, and he got to parade his severed and probably rather shriveled ear around parliament. Everyone there immediately declared this was a huge insult to the nation and war must begin forthwith.
Sadly, history is unclear if when he returned home, Jenkins's wife asked how the hearing was, only for Jenkins to reply "Awful! I'VE GOT NO BLOODY EAR."
The war continued a bit half-heartedly over the next couple of years, with the two nations bitchslapping one another in the Caribbean and on the South American coast. However, because Europe, at this time, was a mesh of alliances and political intrigue, the War of Jenkins's Ear erupted into the War of Austrian Succession, which became one of those all-continent explosions that Europe so loves to do every now and then.
An estimated half a million people died in that war. That war then formed a major cause of the Seven Years War, the first truly global conflict in which approximately one and a quarter million people died, and Britain eventually emerged as the dominant world power.
The Spanish claim a diplomatic victory for reasons known only to them, but in reality, it was the war equivalent of two elderly women bashing each other with moth-eaten handbags. When the war collapsed into the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War though, we hope that during the decades of death, misery, pounding guns and futile charges, there was an indignant, one-eared captain constantly being told to stop bitching about his ear.
7. French Invasion of Algeria
Algeria was under French rule from 1830 to 1960, prior to that it was a part of Ottoman Regency. The relations between France and the regency during that time were on the edge. Dey Hussein (Ottoman provincial ruler to Algiers) demanded an answer over the outstanding debt from the French Consul. Unsatisfied with the answer, the irritated ruler allegedly hit the consul with his hand held fan.
This incident was taken quite seriously by Charles X of France, who took this as an opportunity to increase his popularity among his disgruntled population. Charles X ordered a blockade of Algerian ports. The blockade lasted for three years until a ship carrying a French ambassador to Dey for a proposed negotiation was bombarded. France took this as a declaration of war and ordered a full scale invasion.
Although there was resistance over the years, the French took full control of Algeria by 1834.
8. The Pemmican War
The Pemmican War was a serious armed confrontation between two British fur-trading companies operating in Canada: Hudson’s Bay Company and The North West Company. The problem started in 1811, when Earl of Selkrik, Thomas Douglas, started the colonization project known as Red River Colony on a 120000 sq miles of land provided by the HBC.
Thomas wanted to monopolize the fur trading business to HBC, hence he banned all the Métis (Europeans who got married to the natives) from trading with NWC. And in 1814 the Governor of the Red River colony issued a proclamation intended to limit the number of buffaloes killed by the Métis. This enraged the Métis who disregarded the proclamation and started converting the buffalo’s meat to pemmican.
The governor issued ban on pemmican export and seized four hundred bags of pemmican belonging to NWC. He also ordered the company to end its trading post in the Red River. NWC, along with Métis, declared war on HBC and Red River, looting, pillaging and burning down post forts belonging to the HBC. The commercial struggle of both of the companies turned into guerrilla war fare when HBC retaliated with militia of its own.
The Crown, disgraced by the two company’s action, forced both the companies to merge under one name. 21 people including the Governor who was killed in the
9. Honey War
The Honey War was a 1830’s territorial dispute between Iowa and Missouri. The 9.5 mile long strip running across the border was the source of the dispute caused due by unclear wording in the Missouri Constitution on boundaries. The Governors of both states ordered their respective militia to patrol their side of the border, after a Missourian sheriff was incarcerated trying to collect taxes in the disputed zone. There was other incident where three trees containing valuable honey were cut down, hence the name Honey War.
The situation was on edge until Supreme Court intervened and declared the issue in Iowa’s favor. 10. 301 Year War for Shaving a Beard.
The bearded King Louis VII of France married Eleanor Duchess of Aquitaine in 1137 and received two massive provinces in France as dowry. Later on, he went for the Crusades and upon his return, he presented himself to his queen clean shaven. Eleanor didn’t like his ugly clean shaven look and demanded that Louis grow his whiskers back. Louis furiously refused and the bitter resentment that followed resulted in divorce. Eleanor went to England where she married King Henry II. After her marriage, she demanded the return of her dowry land back. Again, Louis refused which resulted in King Henry declaring war on France that lasted for over 300 years.
The war lasted for 301 year from 1152–1453, France won the long and arduous war but at very high economical and collateral losses.
11. The War of Dahis and Ghabra
The war of Dahis and Ghabra ,which lasted for 40 years, was fought between two Arabian tribes (Abs and Dhubiyan) over a disputed horse race, in which the former accused the later of cheating. It began when the leader of Abs challenged his counterpart at Dhubhiyan to a race. Abs had a horse called Dahis (a breed famous for its speed) which they pitched against the Dhubhiyans horse, Ghabra. The race was to be one hundred bow shots in length, and the wager of hundred camels was agreed.
During the race Ghabra took the lead but Dahis overtook and was about to win the race when Dhubyanites ambushed the leading horse and drove him off course. Hearing about the foul play, Abs proclaimed victory but the later refused to pay. Resenting the treachery, the Abs slew the brother of Dhubiyans leader. The Dhubiyans did the same to the Abs’s leader brother. The horseman declared the war which lasted for forty years.
Although Dhubiyans held their own, neither could take a decisive advantage, and the war dragged on for years.
12. The Cod Wars
The Cod War is a jocular term given to a confrontation between Iceland and Britain over the issue of fishing rights. It started in 1958 when Iceland took it upon itself to increase its fishing boundaries from 4 miles to 12 miles, and then in 1972 when it further increased its boundaries to 50 miles. Iceland wanted exclusive fishing rights since that was its only source of income. Both the countries came to an agreement where Iceland would allow certain fishing zones for British trawlers to fish in and also imposed a limit on the amount that could be caught by the British trawlers. The agreement was valid for 2 years and expired in November of 1975, soon after which the Third Cod War started. Iceland further increased its fishing boundaries from 50 to 200 miles and overall banned British trawlers in its water. The British deployed over 20 frigates to protect the interest of its fisherman.
You could say Iceland. Britain and the other fishing countries agreed to the Icelandic demands after NATO and US intervened. Iceland had previously threatened NATO of shutting down their base in Keflavik (a strategically important base to NATO during the Cold War) if their demands weren’t met.