Unknown Facts

War of the Bucket: a Bucket Fight Resulted in 2000 Deaths

In history, we have heard about many wars being fought for the economy, power, revenge, politics, and many other things which is a conflict between two personalities who simply want to gain power by suppressing the other. This was much common in the early periods and we have all read about the causalities, kingdom, etc. However, one such war was fought for an absolutely stupid reason and this was the “War of the Bucket“.

The War of the Bucket was fought between 2 Italian states of Modena and Bologna and no, it was not a satirical war but an actual war fought between these 2 states over a bucket. The war was fought in the year 1325 and it took place in the region of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. 

It was not fought on the D-day but it was an episode of a 300-year long struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The war was won by Modena and the War is known as the Battle of Zappolino and the bucket even to this day is at Modena. 

There is a common myth that the Bucket was stolen from a Bolognese well and they fought a war with Modena. However, as this is incorrect details the bucket was taken as a trophy of the war and the actual reason is that Bologna declared war with Modena.

In the late middle ages, Italy was not like it is now. It was split into several states and out of which 2 rival political claims were Holy Roman Emperor (“Ghibellines”) and the Pope (“Guelphs”). The state of Modena supported Ghibelline and the state of Bologna supported the Guelph.

History has it that in the year 1176, Frederick Barbarossa was defeated at the Battle of Legnano by the Lombard League, which supported Pope Alexander III. This sparked the war between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. And the town of Modena supported Ghibelline which supported the Holy Roman Empire and Bologna supported Guelph city which was led by the Popes.

This launched a series of wars between the two and these 2 cities which are located over 27 miles were rivals.

The story goes that in 1325 a group of Modenese soldiers snuck into Bologna and stole a bucket from the city’s central well.

This failed the honor of Bolognese as they felt that the enemy can enter the state and steal something and demanded the Modenese to return the bucket but they refused to do.

This demanded the Bolognese form a 30,000 infantry and 2,000 horsemen and the Modenese without knowing this formed a short 5,000 infantry and 2,000 horsemen. The two army men met near Zappolino which is located halfway between these two cities however, the Modena army found themselves outnumbered and they scattered themselves from the valley below.

But Bologna which had a huge army was defeated and they were driven back to Bologna by the Modenese army where they broke into Bologna destroying small castles on their way. The Modenese army also destroyed a sluice that supplied water to Bologna and the Modenese were saying  “You wanted your bucket? Well, you don’t need it anymore. You don’t have any water!”

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The army from Modena also humiliated Bologna where they paraded around the entire city enacting the war and when they left the area they took the bucket outside the Bologna city so that the locals cannot have water from the well either.

Although the war sounds satirical, this war resulted in the loss of 2000 men out of which 1500 were from Bologna and the rest 500 from Modena.

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