One of the best parts of 2020 was all the memes and jokes that were made about how terrible this year was. My favorite was from Christian satire site The Babylon Bee, which headlined, “2020 Rated Worst Year Ever, Provided You Never Lived At Any Other Time In History.”
Subtle jab at complaining Americans notwithstanding, it got me thinking about the other years that ended in 20. So I did a little historical digging and made this brief timeline for you describing things that were far worse than anything we experienced this year. Enjoy. (I should add that every year ending in 20 is a leap year, which means an extra day of fun!)
1020 AD: Byzantine military leader Basil Boioannes marched against Dattus, his brother-in-law, where he was staying on the Garigliano river. Boioannes tied him up in a big sack with a monkey, a rooster, and a snake, then threw the whole sack in the sea. Um … why? 1020, that’s why.
1120 AD: The Council of Nablus was held by Crusaders in Jerusalem in part to deal with the city being overrun by rats and locusts. They also decided that if a man willingly has sex with a Muslim woman he is to be castrated. Seems extreme, I don’t know.
1220 AD: Genghis Khan secures Central Asia on his way back to Mongolia. Some Slovak princes sued for peace, but … Genghis Khan. Also 1220.
1320 AD: The second so-called “Shepherds’ Crusade” started in Northern France. They sought to keep the Reconquista going, but had no support from either the ecclesial or noble authorities. They did it anyway, and ended up just straight murdering hundreds of Jews in France.
1420 AD: A lot of stuff happening in China, I guess. Kinda sick of talking about China. Also Tomás de Torquemada (the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition) was born this year, and that guy was a tool.
1520 AD: Exsurge Domine! Martin Luther is excommunicated by the antichrist for preaching the gospel. Luther has a BBQ and burns the papal bull. Every Lutheran historian for the next 500 years weeps at the loss of the historical document, but admits that this was probably the best decision for dramatic effect.
1620 AD: The Thirty Years War. Technically this started in 1618, but by 1620 some were thinking the Bohemian Revolt had been subdued enough to end the fighting. Maybe if they had named the war something other than The Thirty Years War they would’ve had a better chance at peace.
1720 AD: Total British meltdown caused by the “South Sea Bubble.” This was due to a joint-stock venture that basically gave the South Sea Company a monopoly in the South American slave trade. Government debt couldn’t be paid off, and the economy tanked overnight.
1820 AD: Mount Rainier erupted. Seriously, can you imagine living next to a freaking volcano? Another reason why Seattle sucks.
1920 AD: A young German politician enthusiastically introduces his 25-point National Socialist Program to the German Workers’ Party in Munich. (Don’t get too excited, hipsters: the man was Adolph Hitler and the party renamed itself. Spoiler alert: socialism is a bad idea.)
2020 AD: I got yelled at for not wearing a mask. Also, Trump never pardoned the Tiger King.