When there is injustice or when one is wronged, the feeling of a need for setting it right is a very human response. Though we cannot always commend the acts of vengeance and violence, we often find ourselves feeling that it was probably well deserved. While some of the acts we’ve listed below are done at a personal level, some are at a colossal scale. So, here are some such instances of the most brutal acts of revenge exacted by both the famous and the common among people.
1. When Alexander the Great sent men to negotiate with the island of Tyre, the Tyrians killed them and threw the bodies into the sea. So, he had his men built a causeway over seven months. He slaughtered 8,000 men losing only 400 and sold 30,000 citizens into slavery.
Tyre was the largest and most important city of Phoenicia. During his campaigns against Persia, Alexander the Great wanted to take the city to deny the Persians their last harbor. But his army was unable to capture the city by conventional means because it was on an island. At first, Alexander informed the inhabitants that if they let him make a sacrifice at the temple of Melqart, whom he identified as Hercules, he would spare their lives. When the city’s defenders refused, he sent representatives who were killed and thrown into the sea.
When he had his men build the causeway, the defenders kept attacking them. He then had two large artillery towers covered in rawhide to protect it from fire arrows, to help in overthrowing the defenders. They, in turn, sent an old ship which they had set on fire and had filled with dried branches, pitch, sulfur, and cauldrons of oil. So, Alexander mustered naval forces from all the Phoenician cities he previously conquered. The king of Cyprus sent 120 more galleys to his aid, making a total of 223 galleys under his command. During the fight, 6,000 Tyrian men died, 2,000 more were crucified, and the rest of the citizens sold as slaves. The island of Tyre is now permanently connected to the mainland because of the causeway.(source)
2. Julius Caesar was once kidnapped by pirates who demanded 20 talents of silver, but he insisted they ask for 50. When the ransom was paid and he was released, Caesar raised a fleet, pursued, and eventually captured the pirates to have them all crucified.
Caesar was kidnapped by the pirates when he was a young man traveling back to Rome across the Aegean Sea. Throughout his captivity, he maintained a superior attitude and promised them that he would have them crucified on his own authority, a threat the pirates took as a joke. After the ransom was paid and he was released, Caesar captured them and imprisoned them. As a sign of leniency, he had their throats cut before they were crucified.(source)
3. Princess Olga of Kiev, after being courted by the same tribe that killed her husband, proceeded to bury the tribe’s messengers alive before accepting the proposal. Then she burned the men alive who were sent to collect her.
Princess Olga married Igor of Kiev between 901 and 903. Igor was assassinated by the Drevlians in 945 during an uprising against a tribute levied on them. After that, Olga became the regent ruler as their son, Svyatoslav, was only three years old at that time. The Drevlians wanted Olga to marry Prince Mal to make him the ruler of Kievan Rus’. But, Olga was determined to stay a regent so that the power would go to her son.
The Drevlians sent 20 of their best men to persuade her to marry, and she had them buried alive. Then she sent word to the prince that she accepted his proposal and to send his best men to accompany her on the journey. When the men came, she welcomed them warmly and invited them to a bathhouse to wash after their long journey. Then she had the doors locked and all the men inside burned alive. With all the best men gone, she burned the capital of Iskorosten and leveled other towns to the ground.(source)
4. After angering Genghis Khan by killing his diplomats, the once powerful Kwarezmia Empire was invaded and destroyed so thoroughly by him that historians still struggle to recreate their language.
After successfully defeating the Kara-Khitans, Genghis Khan gained a border with the Kwarezmia Empire ruled by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad. By that time, the Shah was in dispute with Baghdad’s caliph, An-Nasir, who tried to instigate a war between him and the Mongols. Before Khan’s victory, the Shah also received messages from his ambassadors in China about the Mongols’ savagery towards the Jin Dynasty. Genghis Khan, however, did not have any intention of invading Kwarezmia at that time as he was gaining much wealth from trading with the Empire and enjoying a steady victory over the Jin Dynasty.
So, Khan sent a caravan of 500 Muslims to officially establish trading. However, claiming it was a conspiracy, the empire’s governor had all of them arrested. Khan then sent three ambassadors. But the Shah had two of them shaved and one beheaded before sending them back. Then he proceeded to execute the caravan’s personnel. Khan considered this a great affront as he believed messengers to be sacred. After a thorough scouting and planning, he began the invasion, and the resulting war lasted less than two years destroying the Kwarezmia Empire.(source)
5. A Frenchwoman, Jeanne de Clisson, became a pirate in the 1300s for revenge after her husband was beheaded. She sold her estates to buy three ships and set about hunting down French ships in the English Channel killing entire crews as payback to the French King.
After her first husband died and the second marriage was annulled by Pope John XXII, Jeanne married Olivier de Clisson IV, a wealthy Breton, in 1330. Olivier was captured by the English during the Siege of Vannes in 1342. He was released for a surprisingly small sum after an exchange for the Earl of Stafford who was in French custody. Because of this, some considered Olivier a traitor. He was then arrested by the French, tried by his peers, and beheaded on August 20, 1343. The execution shocked many Bretons as the evidence of guilt was not publicly demonstrated and beheading was done in a manner meant for low-class criminals.
Enraged by this, Jeanne sold the de Clisson estates, gathered loyal men, and started attacking French forces. She attacked two garrisons leaving only one alive. With the help of English king and many sympathizers, she raised the “Black Fleet” with three warships. She attacked French ships, leaving only a few alive to relay the message to the French king. She continued her piracy for 13 years earning the name “The Lioness of Brittany.”(source)
6. King Afonso IV of Portugal forbade his son, Peter I, from marrying the woman he loved and had her murdered to keep them apart. When Peter became king, he hunted down her assassins and had their hearts torn out because of what they did to his heart.
In order to form an alliance, Afonso IV had his son Peter marry Constanza, the daughter of Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena. With Constanza came her lady-in-waiting, Ines de Castro, the aristocratic daughter of a prominent Galician family. Peter and Ines soon fell in love. Constanza died after giving birth to Peter’s son and heir. To avoid scandal, Afonso IV banished Ines and refused his son to marry her. They began to meet in secret and Peter claimed he married her against his father’s orders. Afonso IV then sent three men to find her, and they decapitated her in front of one of her children.
Enraged, Peter revolted against his father and though Afonso IV won, he died shortly afterward. Peter succeeded to the throne and started looking for the three men who killed Ines. When they escaped to Castile, he arranged for an exchange for three Castilian fugitives. He conducted a public trial, and after finding them guilty, ripped their hearts out with his own hands.(source)
7. During the 18th century, a Japanese feudal lord was forced to commit seppuku, ritual suicide, for losing his temper in front of an arrogant official. Now left leaderless or ronin, 47 samurais under the feudal lord waited and planned for two years to avenge their master’s honor. Then they turned themselves in and committed seppuku.
In 1701, the young feudal lord of Ako Domain, Asano Naganori, and another lord were ordered to arrange a reception for the Emperor’s envoys at Edo Castle. They went to Kira Yoshinaka, a powerful official, to learn of the necessary court etiquette. However, Kira treated them rudely and insulted them as they refused to bribe him. This offended Asano, and blamed Kira for the slight. He lost his temper in the end and attacked with a dagger wounding Kira’s face. As any violence, even drawing a dagger, was forbidden in Edo Castle, Asano was ordered to commit seppuku. His goods and lands were confiscated, his family abandoned, and his retainers were left leaderless.
Of Asano’s 300 men, 47 swore a secret oath to avenge their lord even though the punishment would be severe. Knowing he would be attacked, Kira made sure he was under heavy protection. To mislead Kira, the ronin leader Oishi left for Kyoto, spent time at brothels and taverns, and acted obscenely. One day he got so drunk that he fell asleep on the road. Soon, Kira lowered his guard believing the reports of Oishi’s drunkenness and thinking the ronin really were cowardly. In the meantime, the rest of them collected all the information they needed.
On January 30, 1703, they attacked Kira’s house and fought all his men. The ronin gave Kira the chance for seppuku. But Kira only crouched, trembling. So Oishi killed him with the same dagger Asano used to cut his master’s head off. They sent one ronin, Terasaka, to report what they’ve done and place the head at Asano’s grave. The 46 ronin surrendered and were ordered to honorably commit seppuku. The 47th ronin, Terasaka, was pardoned by the shogun.(source)
8. In 1940, Udham Singh, an Indian revolutionary, traveled across two continents and waited 21 years to assassinate the man who endorsed the colonel responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Singh was a survivor of the massacre which saw 379 dead and 1,200 wounded.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place on April 13, 1919, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. Jallianwala Bagh is a 28,000-square-meter public garden with five entrances. Thousands of civilians, mostly Sikhs, gathered there on the first day of the annual Baisakhi celebrations. Colonel Reginald Dyer, who previously suspected an uprising, had all the entrances blocked and had machine guns fire into the crowd killing hundreds and injuring more than a thousand. Though Dyer’s action was condemned by the House of Commons, he was praised for his action by the House of Lords, especially so by the British Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, who maintained the action was justified.
One of the wounded during the massacre was Udham Singh who was 20 at that time. He soon was deeply influenced by Bhagat Singh, an Indian revolutionary, and became involved in revolutionary politics. He was soon arrested for possession of unlicensed arms and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in 1931 and was under constant surveillance. He managed to evade the police, made his way to Kashmir and then to Germany. In 1934, he reached London and planned the assassination. On March 13, 1940, he shot O’Dwyer twice killing him instantly. Singh did not resist his arrest and was sentenced to death by hanging at Pentonville Prison.(source)
9. A 12-year-old boy who saw his father murdered by a family friend killed the alleged murderer in a revenge attack he planned for 12 years. He cut him into 12 pieces, one each for the number of years he waited.
On December 16, 2015, people found scattered pieces of a human body in the river Ramganga, Uttar Pradesh, India, and reported to the police. The victim was identified by a local resident as his brother Mohammad Rais who last visited 24-year-old Alam Khan’s house for some repair work but never returned. The police charged Alam Khan for murder. They also found a knife, hammer, saw, and a waist belt that Khan used to chop up the body. He later told the reporters that he invited Rais to his house and got him intoxicated. Then he put on loud music while killing him and cutting his body into 12 pieces. He then packed the parts in plastic bags and disposed of them in the river. He also said that he waited for 12 years to “realize his dream and was happy about it.”(source)
10. A 20-year-old reportedly spent six months looking for the man who killed his online character during a virtual knife fight. After finding that he lived only a few miles away, he went to the man’s house and stabbed him in the chest.
In 2010, a Frenchman named Julien Barreaux lost a virtual knife fight in Counter-Strike game to another man identified only as Mikhael from Cambrai, a town two hours from Paris. Upon finding where Mikhael lived, Barreaux went to his home and stabbed him, missing the heart by just an inch. Barreaux was arrested within an hour. He was sentenced to two years of prison and was to receive anger management therapy.(source)