Weird History
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10 Pairs of Historical Figures You Had No Idea Hated Each Other

Updated September 12, 2019 72.4k views10 items

There’s no shortage of news stories covering famous people who hated each other in pop culture’s recent years. Singers, models, and actors seem to have a way of creating drama with one another both on and off the stage just as easily as they breathe. But what about historical figures who hated each other? 

Believe it or not, history is full of people who straight up couldn’t stand the sight of one another. Famous enemies in history have included presidents, scientists, painters, inventors, military leaders, and authors. No profession has ever been too "proper" for a good, old-fashioned rivalry at one time on another. This list contains some of the most popular historical figures who were enemies and the ridiculous ways they tried to humiliate one another.

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  • Michelangelo Caravaggio And Giovanni Baglione

    There's certainly no lack of drama in the art world. Michelangelo Caravaggio was always strapped with a sword for protection just in case he happened to run into one of the many people he had a personal vendetta against. One of his greatest rivals was fellow painter Giovanni Baglione, who was also known for his much more morally conservative work.

    It all began in the early 1600s. Much like an epic rap battle from history, Baglione attempted to show up Caravaggio’s masterwork Amor Vincit Omnia by painting his own response to the piece. Whereas in Caravaggio's masterpiece, a handsome Cupid triumphantly represents romantic love, in Baglione's version, the same cupid is hunched and cowering at the feet of religious, sacred love.

    Caravaggio and all his friends just made fun of Baglione and publicly accused him of plagiarism. In response to this ridicule, Baglione painted another version of his painting, but this time he added a caricature of Michelangelo's face on the devil’s body. The painting also implied that Caravaggio was a sodomite, a dangerous accusation Baglione often repeated.

    The battle raged on as the apparent lyrical gangsta sprung to life in Caravaggio. He created and passed around a series of vulgar poems about Baglione. Having no other retort, Baglione dragged Caravaggio into court on libel charges, which resulted in a little jail time and some street cred. After Caravaggio’s untimely death, Baglione wrote an unflattering biography of his nemesis (because he was classy like that), stating that Caravaggio “died as miserably as he had lived.”

  • Edward Drinker Cope And Othniel Charles Marsh

    Edward Drinker Cope And Othniel Charles Marsh
    Photo: George Bird Grinnell, Marcus Benjamin / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In the 19th century, scientists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh were both friends and colleagues. Though they came from very different backgrounds, they worked well together, hunting for new species of dinosaurs and even naming fossils after one another (how sweet). Cope and Marsh are credited with the discovery of 142 dinosaur species, including the apatosaurus, the triceratops, and the stegosaurus.

    But in the late 1860s, Marsh decided to double-cross Copes. Why he did so is unclear, but he paid a worker to smuggle bones out of one of Cope’s dig sites. When Cope found out what his former friend was up to, he started playing dirty, too, in what became known as the "Great Dinosaur Rush."

    During the so-called "Bone Wars," both men spent years sending spies into one another’s excavation sites. They stole fossils and employees from the other, and they sabotaged each other’s findings by having bones smashed to bits and entire dig sites destroyed. They were so busy trying to ruin each other that they failed to realize they were ruining themselves, too. Clearly, this behavior was unprofessional and it destroyed both men's careers.

  • Ernest Hemingway And William Faulkner

    Ernest Hemingway And William Faulkner
    Photo: Lloyd Arnold, Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / no known copyright restrictions

    William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway were both masters of their craft, highly revered across the globe, and Nobel Prize-winning authors. They also had very different writing styles: Hemingway was known for short, powerful sentences, while Faulkner landed himself in the Guinness Book of Records for writing the longest sentence in literature.  

    Considering they never met one another, you’d think the likelihood of a public tiff between the two was slim. And yet, Faulkner said of Hemingway, “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

    This allegedly wasn’t meant to be an insult, but it sure sounds like one, so that’s how Hemingway took it.

    Hemingway’s retort? “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” 

  • Robert Kennedy And Lyndon Johnson

    Robert Kennedy And Lyndon Johnson
    Photo: Cecil William Stoughton / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It all began in 1960, when John F. Kennedy chose his former presidential primary rival Lyndon Johnson as his presidential running mate despite their recent contest. Robert Kennedy hated the idea: he was furious with Johnson for how he conducted himself during the primary campaign and how viciously he attacked his brother. He went ahead and confronted Johnson in hopes of getting him to turn the offer down, but it didn’t work. Thus began the seething hatred between the two men.

    Robert was known to often ridicule and criticize Johnson, before and after John was assassinated. Robert felt Johnson rushing to be sworn into office was in poor taste; here he was mourning the loss of his brother and his enemy was becoming President of the United States. Saying his hatred for Johnson intensified after his brother’s assassination is an understatement. He accused Johnson of stealing the credit for his brother’s accomplishments and once he even gifted Johnson a voodoo doll.

    Johnson was quoted calling Kennedy a “grandstanding little runt” and even threatened, “I’ll cut his throat, if it’s the last thing I do.” The two men remained rivals until RFK’s assassination:

    That evening, Johnson repeatedly phoned the Secret Service to ask if Kennedy had died. He paced the floor for hours, phone in hand, muttering: ''I've got to know. Is he dead? Is he dead yet?''