Wacky Wars!

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Wars can start over the stupidest things! Entire countries have lost their sense of what is worth fighting for in some cases. We hope you wouldn't let a soccer game, pigs, or a bucket do the same to you.

Among the more unusual armaments of war are the boomerang of the Australian Aborigines, the yo yo of the Filipinos, and the slingshots of European armies before the 16th century.

The War of the Oaken Bucket (Italy)


This ridiculous war started over a stolen bucket. When a group of soldiers from the city of Modena in northern Italy invaded nearby Bologna to steal a brown oak bucket, thousands of citizens were killed. Bologna became angry and went to war with Modena to take back their bucket and restore their pride. The two cities fought for 12 years and thousands of lives were lost. Modena won the war; the people of Bologna never got their bucket back.

The War of Jenkins' Ear (Great Britain vs. Spain)


War was immediately declared after Captain Robert Jenkins appeared in Parliament, the governing body of Great Britain, holding the remains of his ear in his hand. He claimed that the Spanish had cut it off after boarding his ship in the West Indies, for they did not want English traders doing business in their American colonies. The war went on for four years, because of Jenkins and his ear. There was no clear winner; it ended in a draw.

The War of the Fleeing Wife (Africa vs. Great Britain)


Husbands and wives often disagree. In this case, a marital disagreement resulted in war. Umblana, the wife of the Zulu chief Sitlay, left him and hid in British territory. When the Zulus found her, they shot her. England declared war on the Zulus for crossing into their territory. The Zulu forces were crushed by the British.

The Pig War (Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia)


We know that pigs can make a big mess, but in this case they caused a war. Pigs were not allowed to be sold by Serbia to Austria-Hungary. Serbia wanted to become less dependent on goods from Austria-Hungary and started trading their pigs for French goods. As a result, Austria-Hungary got angry with Serbia and forced Serbia to find new markets for their pigs.

The War of the Stray Dog (Greece vs. Bulgaria)


Dogs are always straying from their owners, and that's just how this war began. When the dog of a Greek soldier wandered across the border into Macedonia, the soldier ran after it and was shot by a Bulgarian guard. The Greek troops became so angry that they invaded Bulgaria. More than 50 men were killed before the League of Nations intervened and stopped the war.

The Soccer War (El Salvador vs. Honduras)

July 14-30, 1969

If these soccer fans had practiced good sportsmanship, this war may never have begun. Tensions from a soccer match between the national teams of El Salvador and Honduras, aggravated by the economic inequality between the two countries, escalated into fighting. Salvadoran immigrants were then expelled from Honduras and the countries went to war. Some 2,000 people were killed in 16 days. The Organization of American States intervened to end the fighting.

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