Revenge is a dish best served cold. Characters from Don Corleone in The Godfather to Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan have echoed this sentiment. It has been taken to mean that it's best to allow a cooling period and let the recipient of one's vengeance grow complacent so that one may strike when they least expect it. The phrase could also be interpreted as requiring the one delivering vengeance to be cold-blooded in order to enact the most terrible of revenge. Whatever the case, the temperature of vengeance is clear.
The inciting incident in all these cases changes, as do the players, as do the times. But what remains constant is the need to seek justice, right a wrong, and the unquenchable thirst to get the world to make more sense than it does at the moment. These historic acts of vengeance were ice-cold.
Saint Olga Of Kiev Had Her Husband's Murderers Buried Alive, Scalded, And Their City Destroyed
Saint Olga's husband, Igor I, Prince of Kiev, was assassinated in 945 by a group living in Kiev known as the Drevlyans when he asked them to pay what they felt was an excessive tribute. Olga and Igor's son was still an infant at that time, so she became the land's ruler. The Drevlyans sent ambassadors to Olga to negotiate a marriage between her and their choice for king. Olga had a moat dug, and the ambassadors were buried alive.
Olga sent word back that she required better suitors. The Drevlyans sent more men, whom Olga locked in a bathhouse and set fire to. She then went to visit the Drevlyans in person and they held a great feast in her honor. When they had drunk to excess, her men slaughtered the entire gathering.
As she besieged this city that had refused to pay tribute, the Drevlyans asked for mercy and offered goods in exchange. Olga simply requested three sparrows and three pigeons from each household in the city. She had her soldiers fit each bird with bits of sulfur within small pieces of cloth. When released, the birds flew back into the city and set it ablaze.5,088148Ice cold?
When A Shah Broke A Treaty, Genghis Kahn Obliterated His Entire Empire
The Mongols often gave other kingdoms a chance to peacefully submit to their rule, and by 1219 had already ruled over most of what would one day become modern China. Genghis Kahn was looking to establish trading relations along the Silk Road with the Khwarazmian Empire, which inhabited what would later become modern Iran. Kahn sent a trade caravan to the Khwarazmian city of Otra, but its governor, Inalchuq, was suspicious of the Mongols and attacked. Inalchuq was uncle of the Khwarazmian Shah, and with the Shah's permission he executed the Mongols.
When word of this got back to Kahn, he kept his cool and simply sent three ambassadors to meet with the Shah, to explain his trade intent and to demand that Inalchuq be punished. However, the Shah shaved the beards of two of the ambassadors and beheaded the third, sending the beards and head back to Kahn.
An enraged Kahn went out and took the city of Otra, executing its governor Inalchuq by pouring molten silver into his eyes and ears. The Mongol army was focused on wiping the Khwarazmian empire off the map, which they succeeded in doing. Some say Khan even had a river diverted through the Shah’s birthplace, making it uninhabitable.2,911152Ice cold?
Jeanne de Clisson Became Pirate 'The Lioness of Brittany' To Avenge Her Husband's Beheading
Jeanne de Clisson's husband, Olivier, spent years defending his land of Brittany against the English. But King Phillip VI of France began to suspect Olivier of defecting to the English side and had him beheaded. Olivier's head was displayed on a pole outside the castle of Bouffay.
Filled with rage and grief, Jeanne raised a small force and defeated the pro-French forces of Brittany to avenge her husband. But her vengeance didn't stop there. She sold all their land, purchased three warships, and took to the seas. She scoured the English Channel for French ships owned by King Phillip so she could kill nearly the entire crew, leaving a few alive to tell the king that she had struck again. Her ships were called "The Black Fleet" and she became "The Lioness Of Brittany."2,221175Ice cold?
Peter I Of Portugal Ripped Out The Hearts Of His Lover's Killers
Peter I, also called Peter the Just or Cruel, was 16 when he was betrothed to Constanza Manuel of Villena. Like many royal marriages of the time, it was a political one meant to keep peace and strengthen power. It was arranged by his father, King Alfonso XI. But when Constanza arrived in Portugal in 1340, Peter fell in love with her cousin and lady-in-waiting, Ines de Castro. Peter and Ines had a scandalous love affair that King Alfonso and Constanza both tried to end.
In 1345, Constanza died and Peter rushed to the convent in Coimbra where Ines had been banished. After many happy years and children, Peter went to King Alfonso to ask his permission to marry Ines. This was unacceptable, as the King disapproved of their affair and Ines's family had grown into a powerful threat within the kingdom. Later, while Peter was away on a hunting trip, the King ordered Ines' assassination. Her killers stabbed her to death with their swords and quickly buried her in the cemetery of the Santa Clara Church.
Peter declared war against his father but was defeated. Two years later, King Alfonso died and Peter ascended the throne. One of Peter's first orders was the public execution of Ines's killers by ripping their hearts out, one through the front, one through the back. Peter then proclaimed that he had married Ines in secret and demanded that she be recognized as the Queen of Portugal. Her body was exhumed, dressed in royal robes, and given a proper procession. Her corpse was placed on a throne and crowned, then the country's nobles, clergy, and peasants lined up to kiss her hand.2,735242Ice cold?