History has no shortage of moments when things seem to be going on their merry – or at least routine – way, before taking a turn for the worse, and stuff suddenly gets dark. Following are sixteen of history’s worst moments, ranging from the dark to the nightmarish.
The Time an Angry Mob Lynched and ATE an Unpopular Ruler
Tempers have often gotten heated in American politics, as anyone who keeps up with today’s news is aware. Passions have even gotten high enough on occasion for political violence to erupt. E.g.; that time a century and a half ago when American went hammer and tongs at each other, leading to the deaths of 650,000 to 900,000 people in a civil war.
But hot as tempers have gotten in the US, they never got so heated that an American mob lynched an unpopular head of government, then proceeded to cook and eat him. Not so the Dutch. Notwithstanding their national reputation for orderliness and politeness, a Dutch mob seized the country’s prime minister, and did a number on him in 1672.
Jan de Witt (1625 – 1672) was a decentralizing Dutch politician who sought to shift power from the central government to local ones. His decentralization agenda however led him to neglect the Dutch army and navy, and when the Third Anglo-Dutch War erupted, the result was a series of military disasters in 1672. It was so bad that 1672 is known in Dutch history as rampjaar – “disaster year”.
It was against that backdrop that Jan de Witt went to visit his brother Cornelis, who had recently been sentenced to exile, on August 20th, 1672. An angry mob spotted and seized the brothers, then shot, stabbed, and beat them to death. It then strung up their corpses upside down from a gibbet, disemboweled them, ripped off their genitalia, and roasted and ate their livers and other parts in a cannibalistic frenzy.