In 1325, in the fragmented Italy, the cities of Bologna and Modena became embroiled in a war that was unleashed, according to the satirical poem by Alessandro Tassoni The Stolen Cube (1622), by the subtraction of a simple cube. The Bolognese were Guelphs, that is, supporters of the Pope, while the Modenese were Ghibelline, that is, supporters of the Holy Roman Emperor. The tension between these cities, separated from each other by no more than 44 kilometers, by the control of nearby territories was increasing until, one day, a group of soldiers from Modena infiltrated Bologna and stole the wooden bucket from a well from the main square. In the raid, some villagers were killed. The offended city demanded the return of the trophy, but Modena refused.
And that was the straw that broke the bucket: Bologna declared war and gathered an army of 32,000 men, which faced 7,000 of Modena in the battle of Zappolino. 2,000 lives were lost in the clash, and Modena was victorious, so the cube remained in his power. Today, this city conserves that wooden container in the town hall and exhibits a replica in the Torre della Ghirlandina in memory of the triumph.
For some cakes
The war of the cube has not been, far from it, the only meaningless shock. On March 21, 1838 ten ships of French warships, sent by King Louis Philippe I, anchored in the Mexican port of Veracruz and threatened to block it if their claims were not met by 15 April. They demanded, among other things, the payment of some cakes that some officers of President Santa Anna had eaten in a restaurant in Tacubaya, owned by Mr. Remontel, a Gallic citizen.
According to some sources, the officers had left without paying; according to others, the military, drunk, had also caused numerous damage to the premises. The claim for the damages that Remontel had raised to the Mexican Government – amounting to 60,000 pesos – was ignored, so he transferred it to the Gallic authorities, who used it, along with those of other merchants, to pressure the Aztec Executive, which required a total of 600,000 pesos. The Mexicans did not give in, and on April 16 the French initiated the blockade of all the ports of the Gulf of Mexico.
After eight months of pressure, the armed conflict broke out. Santa Anna came to defend Veracruz, and Rear Admiral Charles Baudin, in command of the Gallic fleet, sent ashore a column of a thousand troops to capture it. These failed to defeat the Mexicans and had to withdraw and return to the ships, from where they began to bomb the city. Finally, the English, to whom the blockade also prevented trading with the Aztec ports, sent a fleet to the area and got both parties to sign a peace treaty, for which Mexico ended up paying the 600,000 pesos claimed. The confectioner was satisfied, but the butcher’s bill amounted to 133 dead and 214 injured between both sides.