History’s Greatest Plot Twists

A plot twist is defined by most as “an unsuspected occurrence or turn of events in a story that completely changes the direction or outcome of the plot from the direction it was likely to go”. Throughout history, there has been a series of plot twists that give meaning to the saying “getting your just desserts” and “what goes around, comes back around”. Even the people involved were shocked by the events. Let’s take a look at some of history’s greatest plot twists.

1. When an Impersonator Meets the Real Deal

During World War I, back in 1914, the Germans converted a cruise liner into an auxiliary cruiser, the SMS Cap Trafalgar, which they then disguised as the British liner RMS Carmania. By a stroke of fate, the SMS Cap Trafalgar ran into the ship that it was impersonating near the island of Trinidad, next to Brazil. The RMS Carmania’s captain, who was aware of the imitation, immediately recognized it and launched an attack. The two ships battled it out and although the Carmania barely floated away, it was triumphant. The SMS Cap Trafalgar, the imposter, on the other hand, sank to the bottom of the ocean.

2. Alliance? No Thanks! 

During Genghis Khan’s reign, he secured alliances with several nations and extended invitations to many more, one of which was the Khwarezmian Empire. In his attempt, he sent a large caravan with travelers which the Shah was not impressed with. Rather than turn them away, he arrested them then sent them to meet their maker. Genghis Khan sent more ambassadors to not only ask for his men’s release but to also explain his intent. Rather than hearing what they had to say, the Shah disposed of one ambassador then sent the rest back with shaven heads, an insult to the Khan. Genghis responded by taking the nation by force. Within two years, the Khwarezmian Empire was no more.

3. Protected Against Poison

Mithridates VI was the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus, one of Rome’s most formidable opponents, from 120 – 63 BC. During his reign, the kingdom became the largest it had ever been, but despite being a great ruler, he was paranoid that one day he would meet his end by poison, as so many around him had. In an attempt to prevent this, he took small doses of the concoction every day, thereby building up his resistance. After being defeated in battle by the Romans, Mithridates VI and two daughters fled and rather than allowing himself capture, he decided that a better fate would be death. His daughters went first, but when Mithridates tried to take it, it had no effect.  

4. The Tale of Two Typhoons

Kublai Khan, the 5th Khagan of the Mongol Dynasty completed the conquest of China in 1274 which began with his grandfather Genghis Khan. Looking for a new challenge, the Khan decided that Japan was next on his agenda. His first attempt was met with swift resistance by Japanese Samurai and while on their way back to China to recuperate and re-strategize, they encountered a typhoon which sank the entire fleet. Almost 10 years go by when Kublai Khan launched his next attack, what we now know as the 2nd biggest naval invasion in history. Japan, who anticipated their return, blocked off their beaches with seawalls and while the fleet searched for an opening to land, it was destroyed by a second typhoon.

5. Don’t Bluff with Julius Caesar 

During the 1st century BCE, the Mediterranean Sea had a serious pirate problem. During that period, in 75 BCE to be exact, 25-year-old Roman noble Julius Caesar, while on his way to Rhodes was captured by a band of Cilician pirates. Historical accounts suggest that Caesar refused to act like a captive. When he learned that his ransom was set for 20 talents of silver, he laughed and told them to ask for 50 instead. While waiting for the payment to be made, he played games with the pirates and joked that they would all be arrested and crucified once he was freed. The pirates, not knowing who he was, laughed until the day they were all arrested and crucified. 

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