Hell Hath No Fury: The Saint Who Went All John Wick on Her Husband’s Killers

Hell Hath No Fury: The Saint Who Went All John Wick on Her Husband’s Killers


The exact year that Princess Olga of Kiev
was born is disputed. The Primary Chronicle states her birth year
was 879, while other sources claim she was born in 890 or maybe even a littler later. Given that we know her only son was born in
942, the earlier date can be safely ruled out, and even the later one is questionable. There is also no solid evidence as to her
place of birth, with sources placing her in Pskov or Veshchy. What is known about Olga is that sometime
before 912, she married Prince Igor, the son of the founder of the Rurik Dynasty of Russian
tsars. In 912, the pair took to the throne of Kievan
Rus. As previously mentioned, the pair had a son
named Svyatoslav around 30 years later in 942, presumably implying she was extremely
young when they were wed. Whatever the case, three years after the birth
of his son, Igor travelled to meet the Drevlyans, a Slavic tribe who owed him tribute. When Igor demanded more than the Drevlyans
thought his rule was worth, instead of paying him, they simply killed him. Igor and Olga must have had a pretty happy
marriage, because she did not take his death very well. Her three-year-old son was next in line to
the throne, which meant that, as his mother, she became regent until he was old enough
to rule by himself. While having a woman in charge of the government
wasn’t exactly the norm, she had the full support of the Rus army to back her regency. However, the Drevlyans weren’t so keen on
a female leader. They decided to send ambassadors to negotiate
a marriage between Olga and Prince Mal, their top choice for king. According to the Primary Chronicles, originally
compiled in 1113 in Kiev, Princess Olga listened to their proposal and then stated,
“Your proposal is pleasing to me’ indeed, my husband cannot rise again from the dead. But I desire to honor you tomorrow in the
presence of my people. Return now to your boat, and remain there
with an aspect of arrogance. I shall send for you on the morrow, and you
shall say, ‘We will not ride on horses nor go on foot’ carry us in our boat.’ And you shall be carried in your boat.” Next it states, “Now Olga gave command that
a large deep ditch should be dug in the castle with the hall, outside the city. Thus, on the morrow, Olga, as she sat in the
hall, sent for the strangers, and her messengers approached them and said, “Olga summons you
to great honor.” But they replied, “We will not ride on horseback
nor in wagons, nor go on foot; carry us in our boats….” So they carried the Derevlians in their boat. The latter sat on the cross-benches in great
robes, puffed up with pride. Thus they were borne into the court before
Olga, and when the men had brought the Derevlians in, they dropped them into the trench along
with the boat. Olga bent over and inquired whether they found
the honor to their taste. They answered that it was worse than the death
of Igor’. She then commanded that they should be buried
alive, and they were thus buried.” Not exactly living up to Leviticus 19:18 (though
to be fair, she hadn’t converted yet) where it states, “Do not seek revenge or bear
a grudge… love your neighbor as yourself” she would soon doubled down on this. First insisting that the Drevlyans send her
“their distinguished men… so that she might go to their Prince with due honor,”
which they agreed to do, not knowing that she’d had the last batch murdered. When the second group came, she had baths
drawn for them, then when they were all in, she had the doors locked and the building
set on fire. Next up she requested to be allowed to mourn
her husband and the Drevlyans agreed, inviting her over. She then came and supposedly after everyone
was properly drunk, had 5000 men killed after a feast held in her honour. Given her attitude over the ordeal, it seems
reasonable enough to think there is a grain of truth to this story, though it’s thought
likely that the number of deaths was grossly exaggerated in the Chronicles, especially
as at this point she didn’t bring her army with her. Speaking of her army, as a last act of revenge,
she besieged a Drevlyan city. After a very lengthy siege, they asked to
parlay and offered various goods in exchange for their transgression, but were concerned
if they surrendered she might take further revenge on them. She assured them she was so over the death
of her husband and instead simply asked for a final act of penance that they give her
hundreds of sparrows and pigeons from the city. The Drevlyans agreed. However, according to the Primary Chronicles,
she then used a strategy that about 1000 years later the U.S. military strongly considered
using against Japan during WWII (but with bats in the latter case, which we’ll discuss
in the Bonus Facts in a bit)- namely, release the animals near the city with means to set
the place ablaze after they’ve roosted for the night. So how did it turn out for Olga? “Now Olga gave to each soldier in her army
a pigeon or a sparrow, and ordered them to attach by thread to each pigeon and sparrow
a piece of sulfur bound with small pieces of cloth. When night fell, Olga bade her soldiers release
the pigeons and the sparrows. So the birds flew to their nests, the pigeons
to the cotes, and the sparrows under the eaves. The dove-cotes, the coops, the porches, and
the haymows were set on fire. There was not a house that was not consumed,
and it was impossible to extinguish the flames, because all the houses caught on fire at once. The people fled from the city, and Olga ordered
her soldiers to catch them. Thus she took the city and burned it, and
captured the elders of the city. Some of the other captives she killed, while
some she gave to others as slaves to her followers. The remnant she left to pay tribute.” Hell hath no fury and all that… From all this, it might surprise you that
this vengeful woman was made a saint in Roman Catholocism and Russian Orthodoxy. As to why, before she came into power, Kievan
Rus was a pagan society, but Olga changed all of that by eventually converting to Christianity. She was baptized sometime around the 950s. Her son did not approve of his mother’s
conversion. He believed that Christianity wasn’t a very
“tough” religion and by switching she would lose the respect of the military, who
had stood by her even after her husband’s death. Indeed, when Svyatoslav was finally old enough
to take control of his realm, he mostly focused on trying to improve the military and was
more or less uninvolved in other aspects of running the country. While he was off on military campaigns, he
left his son, Vladimir the Great, home with Olga to raise him and otherwise run the little
empire. Despite her son’s objections, Olga continued
on trying to spread Christianity and went so far as to request archbishops and priests
appointed to her country, but because her son—a pagan—was technically in charge
at the time, the Holy Roman Emperor was hesitant. Not helping matters, one archbishop also claimed
that it was impossible to convert the people of Keivan Rus. When he tried, he was expelled by Svyatsolav’s
allies and his fellow travellers were killed. The Church thus clearly thought that they
would be sending their priests to their deaths. However, it’s entirely possible that Olga’s
intentions were pure. Her side of that particular story was never
told. To lend credence to her innocent intentions,
before she died in 969, Olga secretly kept a Catholic priest near her at all times. Her son disapproved of her Christian ways,
but with the priest, she was able to get her last rites, and her son did allow a Christian
burial rather than the pagan celebration. Things changed markedly on that front in the
nation after Svyatoslav’s reign when his son Vladimir, no doubt thanks to the influence
of his grandmother before her death, made Christianity the official religion of the
nation in the 980s. Despite her previous bloody revenge on the
Drevlyans, Olga was made a saint in 1547 because of her efforts to create a Christian nation,
and her subsequent success via converting her grandson. Bonus Fact:
Bat Bombs were an experimental weapon considered by the U.S. during World War II, at the suggestion
of a Dentist, Dr. Lytle Adams who was a friend of the First Lady. These bombs consisted of a bomb-shaped casing
with several compartments inside. Each compartment housed a Mexican Free-tailed
bat. Each bat had a small incendiary device attached
to it. The casings were refrigerated in order to
lower the bat’s body temperature and force them into hibernation until they were dropped
from a plane shortly before dawn. A parachute would slow the descent and eventually
the casing would be triggered to open and release the bats. As bats in sunlight would seek roosts in dark
places like attics, when they were released and the Sun came out, they’d seek such places. The hope was that with the incendiaries timed
to go off all at once, this would start fires in places that were hard to access to fight
a fire. Further, in many cases, the fire’s existence
wouldn’t be noticed until it had well established itself. It was thought that bat bombs would be particularly
effective in Japan where buildings were made largely of wood and paper. Release several hundred thousand of these
bats in major Japanese cities and the towns would go up in flames while resulting in much
smaller losses of life than by carpet bombing or a (later) nuclear strike. Essentially, it would help take out the infrastructure
while minimizing civilian casualties. Sort of win/win. While on the surface this plan may seem farfetched,
the U.S. agreed to develop the Bat Bomb for four reasons: bats are available in large
numbers (four caves in New Mexico alone are each believed to be the home to millions of
bats); bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (up to three times their
weight); bats can hibernate for extended periods without need of food or water; and finally,
bats fly in the dark, then find secluded places to hide at sunrise. The program was actually mildly successful
in a bad way. During testing, some of the bats with incendiary
devices attached escaped, resulting in a large part of the base they were being tested at,
Carlsbad Army Airfield Auxiliary Air Base, burning down. The results in the controlled testing were
also extremely promising and it seemed like this would actually work well. In fact, it was estimated that while standard
incendiary bombs would probably start about 167-400 fires per bomb load in a major Japanese
city, based on the testing, the bat bombs would probably produce about 3,625-4,748 fires
per load. Further, just ten B-24 bombers could carry
an astounding 1,040,000 bats strapped with the 17-28 gram incendiary devices. However, the program was cancelled, as with
the pigeons not because it didn’t work, but for other reasons. In this case, it was estimated that the bats
would not be ready for deployment until mid-1945. Despite the promising results in testing,
the program was considered to be moving too slowly, and, with an estimated $2 million
invested in it (about $25.7 million today), too expensively. Instead, the Manhattan Project was deemed
a more likely candidate for ending the war sooner, as it was thought to be progressing
quicker and certainly would have a more dramatic effect if it was ultimately successful. Both for the historical novelty of ending
WWII with literal bat bombs and for avoiding having to use a nuclear weapon in war and
the massive loss of life that ensued, I think we can all, except for maybe the bats, agree
that it’s too bad the timetable on the bat bomb project was considered too long. For reference, Little Boy and Fat Man were
deployed on August sixth and ninth of 1945 respectively. So at the original timetable, the bats would
have been ready sooner, and for cheaper, had the project continued to be funded.

100 Replies to “Hell Hath No Fury: The Saint Who Went All John Wick on Her Husband’s Killers”

  1. Not Catholic. Orthodox. She was Orthodox. Well, ok, this was pre-schism, so just “Christian”, but the connection was to Constantinople, and the Eastern RomanEmpire.

  2. The screen grab made me assume it was about a religious saint who inspired the John Wick movies. I’m a tad disappointed

  3. And they thought women weren't clever enough to outmaneuver men back then. You killed her love… and she exacted her revenge in a most cunning way. Rock on Saint. lol 😁

  4. There were no Catholics during that time. Russia was never Catholic. Any priest she keep around her would have been Orthodox.

  5. People are generally not aware that far more Japanese lives were lost in the firebombing raids carried out by the US air Corps than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. Bat bombs were likely far more lethal to the overall population and would have likely killed many more Japanese. My uncles dropped some of those fire bombs.

  6. Thank you Simon and team for teaching me about my 31st great grandmother.
    Could you please do one of these on Saint Leopold III, Margrave of Austria?
    His feast day is 15 November

  7. Great video Simon, like always and to what I have come to expect from you and your talented staff/crew/coworkers. Thanks and keep the greatness coming.

  8. All Time Conspiracies (Uncovered as they are now known) did a video on the same topic with more details. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/iZWo5zVcunM

  9. It’s weird to think that our subconscious is like the Player and our perceivable consciousness is like the prices in a game of chess. And if you think about it The algorithm is like the Subconscious Of youtube with the content being the Consciousness Of youtube. It’s the entity behind the wheel of all social media.
    The recommendation bar and the instinct to watch one more video is like a chess game between the Algorithm and your subconscious.

  10. This is mine and my friend's favourite saint! We are always fascinated by her, and I am so glad you did a video explaining her!

  11. Its great to see women get more representation, but you are still only doing straight, white and Christian women. Try adding some diversity if you want to get some numbers instead of trying to pander to the alt right.

  12. I am so glad you guys mentioned the bat bombs in the bonus facts section. This has remained one of my favorite weird history tidbits since I first heard of it. For anyone interested, you can listen to a really good retelling by the NPR podcast, Snap Judgement, here: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/snapjudgment/episodes/snap-938-other-secret-weapon
    Anyway, I loved this episode. This is a figure of history I've never heard about, and she is very interesting indeed.

  13. Considering that they would have had to burn a lot more cities to get Japan to surrender, would the bat bomb have really resulted in fewer deaths? There would be a lot of people still in bed at dawn, right? Slowly burning to death is not a nice way to go. 🙁

  14. St. Olga made contact with the Christian Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) for Christian instruction, not the "Holy Roman Empire" – a state pretending to be holy and Roman when in fact Constantinople is still there and has no need for a successor state.

    It was the Greek Eastern missionaries like St. Cyril and Methodius who reached out to the Slavic people, not the Germanic once who created the Holy Roman Empire.

  15. Imagine if we won WW2 with bats for a second..
    . Interest in combat effective-ness, interest in atomic science surpassed by bats. The Bat Age…
    .America. respect for the bat and it's immense prowess in war sways people to elect it as new national bird. The Mexican Bat.
    .America known as "Bat Country".
    .The world expresses fear and intense, prolonged paranoia.
    .No Cold War. The fear of a fire-y bat-mageddon successfully suppresses communism.
    -The near future.
    .US controls Earth.
    .Bat-science advances.
    . Through successful gorilla fighting and insurrectionist movements. America succeeds.
    .America learns from the noble Mexican Cave Bat. Creates a govt free Earth.
    .People live in massive communal cities developing shit..
    .Bat-Tech reaches peak ability. Humanity leaves Earth in.. . Mexican Cave Bat ships. .
    .. Species saved by bats.
    .Because those nukes took too long.
    .Bats.

    .I'm not going to proofread this. Damnit, once .I'm supposed to be at a party .

  16. As I get older religion seems to make less sense.
    I suppose it is all about forgiveness but.. these stories.. man!

  17. This is why I studied Slavic history. Crazy stuff like this happened all the time! When I learned about her in undergrad she was referred to as Olga of Constantinople — she brought Christianity to Kievan Rus by way of Byzantine, not Rome. The Russian Orthodox Church is closer to the Greek Orthodox Church and not the Roman Catholic Church.

  18. Finally I heard the real reason why Bruce Waynes mansion burned down, in batman begins everybody knows batman's fetish with bats, you know he strapped one of those Wayne tech gadgets to bats, and he was so ashamed of his bat fetish, he blamed Ra's al Ghul for burning down his house. and when Robert Pattinson plays him you can only imagine what kind of freaky stuff he's going to do in there.

  19. I can't believe the gall of these people to murder her husband and then decide, you know what? We don't like his wife ruling, let's ask her to marry one of us. Like, if she wasn't angry before, that surely put her over the top.

  20. Too bad that The US was the first to use nukes? Who would you rather it had been? The Nazis and Japanese were trying their best to beat The US to it. Do you think they would have given fair warning as did The US? There's no better choice than a nation comprised of people from the entire globe to have the upper hand. This American has zero doubt that nuking Japan was the right thing to do.

  21. Simon, you have so many works. It seems like you work too hard. Thank you, thank you to the team that supports.

  22. Seems less "hell hath no furry" is it does "mother hen". She is securing her childs rule by quelling potential revults.

    This is what happens when you dont play the war game. A one sided victory.

  23. A friend sends me a picture of her titties and next thing I know Simon is talking about Bat Bombs and the Manhattan Project. I guess I gotta re-watch this to see how that transition from Saint Olga to Bat Bombs happened.

    Epstein didn't kill himself either.

  24. A Canadian author wrote a story about bats called Silverwing, (Kenneth Oppel) has a plot line in which the main character becomes one of these bat bombs. Read it as a kid.

  25. Ummm…bat fires would not have ended Japanese resistance. Two atomic bombs did. We should have used both methods along with the firebombing of Japan. I am thinking of Nanking right now. I feel a lot better about Fatman and Little Boy when I ponder Nanking.

  26. As far back as history can recount, it appears that Russian leaders and boyars were consistently cruel and controlling. And although the present leadership of Russia may not be cruel to most, the control factor remains with cruelty dished out to those who step too far out of line……..especially those who ridicule the government (such as reporters and spies who have sought asylum in the West).
    It's as if the people in Russia over the centuries have become psychologically dependent on needing a strong autocratic type leader. It's as if they're lost and aimless without a leader forcing their will and agenda on them. Saint Olga was another example of this for although the Dark Ages could be cruel, her murderous revenge tactics were exceptionally horrid for the era.

  27. Researcher: "Sir I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that the Bat-Bombs work. The bad new is that we may have kinda sorta completely burned down the base"

  28. what a Christian or Catholic saint going all mass-murderous on heathens? It can never happen, except the thousands of times it did.

  29. Got to find me a lady like that. That’s true love right there when you wife slaughters tons of people and burns down villages to avenge you. “Aw, honey. Did you murder all those peasants for me? <:) that’s horrifying but romantic kinda!”

  30. You have to take the annals of Rus with a grain of salt, as even the earliest surviving ones show clear signs of being what's today called fake news, as they contradict drastically to reliable sources. That said, Olga should've been a Daeneris anyway.

  31. "The bats wouldve been ready sooner"

    Thats the most history nerd complaint about history one can utter

    good one tho, love it.

  32. You neglected to mention that the U.S. carried out a fire bomb raid on Tokyo in which 100,000 people.we're killed and another 1,000,000 were left homeless. The loss of life was more than either atomic bombs caused.

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