The World's Shortest War

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know ("Learn Something New Every Day, By Email"). We've invited him to share some of his stories on mental_floss this week. To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

Off the coast of mainland Tanzania is Zanzibar, now a semi-autonomous archipelago but part of Tanzania proper. In 1890, Zanzibar was a British protectorate, but in 1964, after an uprising, it joined with Tanzania (then “Tanganyika”) to form the modern-day country of the same name.

The uprising which led to Zanzibar’s independence from Britain was not the archipelago’s first. On August 27, 1896, the British Empire and Zanzibar went to war—for forty minutes. Before an hour had elapsed, the Anglo-Zanzibar war was over.

Two days prior, Zanzibar’s Sultan, Hamad bin Thuwaini, died suddenly. His would-be successor, his cousin Khalid bin Bargash (whom many believed poisoned Hamad), was disfavored by the British—the Empire wished for Hamoud bin Muhammad to take Hamadi’s place. And, under a treaty signed a decade earlier, the British Empire had to approve of the successor in order for him to successfully accede to the throne. Khalid refused to seek this approval. This British termed this an act of war, and gave Khalid until 9 a.m. local time on the 27th to cede the throne. Khalid responded by barricading himself in the palace, defended by the palace guards.

As 9 a.m. approached, so did the British forces. With more than 1,000 land troops amassed and five ships—two gunboats and three cruisers—the British forces were formidable. The Sultan countered with 2,800 men of his own, albeit not as well armed or trained; a royal yacht and two other boats (akin to large motorboats); and a quartet of artillery batteries. Thirty minutes before the ultimatum struck, the Sultan sent a message to the British diplomatic point of contact, Basil Cave, stating that he had no intention of ceding his throne and did not believe the British would open fire.  Cave responded by reiterating the ultimatum: step down by 9 a.m. or prepare for a rain of artillery.

And at exactly 9 a.m., the gunships received their orders: fire. Within minutes, the royal palace received the promised ammunition. The Zanzibari royal yacht, the HMS Glasgow, did its best to stave off the attacks by firing its weapons at one of the warships—but by 9:15, the British navy sunk the Glasgow and the two other Zanzibari boats. The attacks on the palace killed or wounded more than 500 Zanzibaris in about a half hour, and Sultan Khalid bin Bargash fled for the German consulate, where he successfully sought asylum.

At 9:40, hostilities ceased and the Sultan’s flag atop the palace came down. By most accounts, this 40-minute war is the shortest in human history.

In the end, Britian placed Hamoud bin Muhammad in the throne, a position he would serve in until his death in 1902. During his British-backed reign, Sultan Hamoud, to his credit, ended slavery on the island.

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war

A Golden Girls-Themed Cruise Will Set Sail in 2020

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

If you've ever fantasized of taking a vacation that would make the cast of characters from The Golden Girls proud, you'll soon have the chance to make your dreams come true. In early 2020, Flip Phone Events and the cruise line Celebrity Infinity are launching a Golden Girls-themed cruise that brings the classic 1980s sitcom to the western Caribbean.

As CNN reports, the new cruise, called Golden Girls at Sea, leaves from Miami, Florida—the home of Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia. For five days, the ship will take cruisers on a relaxing trip through the Gulf, stopping in Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. While onboard the ship, guests will have the opportunity to take part in several Golden Girls-inspired activities, including a Shady Pines craft corner, Dorothy's bingo, Golden Girls trivia, and karaoke at Blanche's favorite pickup spot, The Rusty Anchor. And, yes, there will be cheesecake.

The Golden Girls premiered over 30 years ago, but the fabulous foursome hasn't lost its popularity. Even though the show has ended, the ladies can still be spotted on apparel, candles, board games, and even their own cereal box. Their new themed cruise may be the most luxurious Golden Girls-branded experience yet.

Golden Girls at Sea sets sail from Miami on February 24, 2020 and returns on February 29. Rooms start around $987 per person for a standard cabin and go up to $7657 for the top suites. Unlimited drinks are included with every ticket.

Book your tickets here.

[h/t CNN]

Harry Potter Fans Can Now Live at Hogwarts

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter? Still dreaming of the day you can walk through the Great Hall doors for the first time? Well now you can, because there are newly constructed luxury apartments right next to the real-life Great Hall from the Harry Potter movies.

Fans can now live out their ultimate Wizarding World dreams, as two luxury flats have been made in the heart of the castle at Royal Connaught Park in Bushey, Hertfordshire, home of the original Great Hall.

According to the Mirror, Rightmove—a UK-based property rental website—has shared an ad for two-bed apartments within the Victorian castle, which is home to the Great Hall from the first three Harry Potter films.

The property used to be the home of the Royal Masonic School for Boys. Now, thanks to recent renovations, Potterheads can rent out the new, unfurnished apartments for $2800 a month.

Fans who can scavenge up enough knuts, sickles, and galleons will not only have the Great Hall to visit but also 100 acres of parkland that surrounds the property, a private leisure center complete with saunas and pools, a tennis court, and 24-hour concierge and shuttle services.

The site served as a set for Harry Potter, but also for movies like Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Hot Fuzz, and the long-running TV series EastEnders.

[h/t: Mirror]

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