A 16th century German artillery manual by Conrad Haas contains an illustration of a cat with some kind of incendiary device attached to its back. And a bird. The Associated Press called them “jet-propelled cats and birds.” They interviewed a historian who responded, “I really doubt this was ever put into practice, it seems like a really terrible idea.” Zak Smith was astounded that a historian would answer in such a way. Of all the weird things medieval people did in the name of war, this picture seems altogether tame.
European History People sent burning pigs stampeding toward their neighbors regularly and would put a rooster on trial for real actually with a lawyer and everything if someone said it laid an egg without a yolk. If someone like that was soberly strapping a rocket to a cat and you interrupted them in their cat-to-rocket-strapping-room they’d look up like “Yeah?” and they would have this big pinky white person expression on their face like it wasn’t even a little bit weird.
It turns out that the device is less of a rocket and more of an arson method. But getting from “rocket cat” to “of course they did that!” takes us on a ride through some of the awful things people have done in the name of war and progress, in a hilarious essay at The Toast. -via Metafilter