Weird History
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12 Historical Changes Of Fate So Unbelievable They Seem Like Divine Intervention

Updated November 15, 2019 34.8k views12 items

Can a single change of fate shape history? And is there proof of divine intervention in history? Sometimes a change of fate is so unbelievable, it seems like it must have been divinely inspired. During the Hundred Years' War, King Edward thought he had France on the run - until a freak hailstorm destroyed his army in just 30 minutes. George Washington thought his Continental Army would fall to the British in 1776 - until a fog rolled in at the last minute, allowing the army to escape. The Mongols thought they could conquer Japan - until a typhoon completely destroyed their invading armada, twice.

At the time, many interpreted these changes of fate as evidence of historical divine intervention. A Dutch admiral complained that God must be Spanish, since he froze a river to let Spain's army escape. When Poland's king saved Vienna from Ottoman conquest with a surprise cavalry charge, he declared, "I came, and God conquered." And the American Revolutionaries declared that "Providence" saved their army from British destruction. These moments of "divine intervention" changed the course of history.

  • Photo: Frans Hogenberg / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A Sudden Drop In Temperature Froze Waters And Allowed A Stranded Spanish Army To Fight Back Against The Dutch

    From Redditor /u/diego_gomez:

    The Spanish army soldiers were surrounded by water without food or dry clothes, digging trenches to protect themselves from enemy artillery. As one of them dug, he found a painting representing Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Bobadilla interpreted the discovery as a sign from God.

    That night, a sudden further drop in temperature started to freeze the shallow waters of the flooded lands. This made possible for the Spanish troops to attack the rebels and burn their ships. Admiral Hohenlohe-Neuenstein supposedly responded by saying: "It seems that God is Spanish to work such a miracle for them."

    Here's What Happened:

    At the Battle of Empel in December 1585, Dutch forces used an unusual tactic to corner their Spanish rivals. After trapping the Spanish troops, the Dutch rained down fire on the Spanish. 

    The Spanish suffered for an entire night until dawn broke and they escaped across the River Maas, frozen thanks to unusually cold temperatures. Instead of simply fleeing, the Spanish used the frozen river to their advantage. They destroyed the Dutch fleet, which became known as the Miracle of Empel.

  • Photo: Johann Weikhard von Valvasor / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Western Roman Army Were Hit By A Cyclone So Strong Their Projectile Weapons Were Thrown Back At Them

    From Redditor /u/humunguswot_1:

    Battle of the Frigidus. Freak cyclone hits Western Roman Army on day two of the battle, after the Eastern Army got their [butts] handed to them on day one. Wind is so strong it throws their projectiles back at them and making it impossible to stand and fight. Literally seen as an act of God in favor of the Eastern Christians versus the Western pagans.

    Here's What Happened:

    In 394, a Western Roman army tried to fight off the Eastern Roman Emperor, returning from Constantinople to declare his supremacy over Italy. After the first day of the Battle of the Frigidus, it seemed certain that the Western Romans would soon declare victory. Until a strong wind called a bora blew into the battlefield.

    The fight took place in Slovenia's Vipava Valley, where the wind blew directly into the Western Roman forces. According to reports, the wind was so strong that it blew Western Roman javelins and arrows back into their army, and the Eastern Roman quickly subdued their forces to claim victory.

  • Photo: Domenick D'Andrea / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Fog Rolled In At The Battle Of New York, Allowing The Continental Army To Escape

    From Redditor /u/twec21:

    I'd say the fog rolling in during the Battle of New York allowing the Continental Army to escape.

    Here's What Happened:

    The Continental Army nearly lost against the British Empire in 1776. During the first months of the revolution, the British threatened to corner George Washington's troops in New York City. 

    Washington's army wasn't ready for the battle. Washington himself admitted in a letter to his brother, "We expect a very bloody summer at New-York... and I am sorry to say that we are not, either in men or arms, prepared for it."

    When fighting broke out on August 27, 1776, the British routed the Americans. Washington, from his position in Brooklyn Heights, watched his army splinter and flee. The British might have wiped out the entire Continental Army if not for "Providence" - a fog rose with nightfall and the Continental Army evacuated by boat to fight another day.

  • Photo: Pauwel Casteels / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Ottomans Were About To Take Vienna, Until A Random Cavalry Came To The City’s Rescue

    From Redditor /u/okie_gunslinger:

    The Battle of Vienna (1683), the city was under siege by the Ottomans for two months, before the tide of battle was turned by relief forces lead by Polish king Jan Sobieski who led the largest cavalry charge in history (18,000 horseman).

    Here's What Happened:

    In 1683, nearly 200,000 Ottoman troops descended on Vienna. The Ottomans demanded surrender, laying seige to the city and cutting it off from Hapsburg aide. Months passed and the situation looked dire for Vienna. The Ottomans were even able to seize part of the city walls. Everyone feared the city would fall in a matter of days, perhaps leading to an Ottoman invasion of western Europe. 

    Until the Polish cavalry led by King John Sobieski arrived. The arrival caught the Ottomans by surprise, and after a massive charge against the Ottomans, they retreated from Vienna. Sobieski later declared, "I came, and God conquered."