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The top 10 toughest men in history

By John Bailey
On September 19, 2008

Michelangelo da CaravaggioIn Caravaggio's day, it was manly to visit prostitutes. This wasn't enough for Caravaggio: he painted prostitutes. He also killed people in fights all the damn time. As far as anyone's aware, he never got in a fight with a prostitute, and so isn't terribly high on this list.

Laurence OlivierOlivier is famous for revolutionizing the craft of acting, directing the first widely successful Shakespeare film ("Henry V"; during the filming he actually got shot by a legitimate archer - very manly) and being the only actor to win an Oscar for a Shakespearean role. He is less famous for leaving his wife and dying of an obscure degenerative muscle disorder.

William ShakespeareThe hardest of men wear the hardest of leggings, and they write the hardest of dramas. And they refuse to bow to the whims of smaller men, like Sir Francis Bacon, who was absolutely not manly enough to write any of Shakespeare's plays, even though he had "Bacon" in his name. Also, Shakespeare's father was once arrested for having a dung heap in his yard. Frederic ChopinBefore Elvis and before the Beatles, there was Chopin. A leading figure in the departments of "stupid hair" and "playing the piano really fast," Chopin was also quite the magnet for underwear thrown at the stage. Like, he actually had an enormous magnet in his body, and nearby underwear always got stuck to it. It was weird.

Queen Elizabeth IElizabeth I did about the manliest thing I can think of: ruling as supreme monarch over an entire nation and executing her treasonous sister along the way. And she did it without any junk, a feat which no man has yet accomplished. Also, she played her hordes of eager political suitors off each other with her wiles and femininity. I wish I were that manly.

Toussaint LouvertureSome people think they have problems. Toussaint Louverture actually had problems. He was born into slavery in Haiti, he had to deal with the armies of three Western powers and also nobody had invented late-night talk shows yet. And yet, he overcame his meek beginnings to become the first leader of a successful slave rebellion against colonialism. What a hard man.

Nikola TeslaForget about Edison. What did he invent, again? The kite? Was that Ben Franklin? Whatever. Nikola Tesla invented the way-cooler-than-direct-current alternating current (pretty manly), argued with Einstein over relativity (really manly) and designed an actual particle gun, which was so manly that no government ever bought it. I bet they were just scared.

Bill Nye the Science Guy"Bill Nye isn't history," you argue. You're right! Bill Nye isn't a liberal art at all - he's an elementary force of physics, like gravity. You probably remember Bill Nye mostly for distracting you from your gross fifth-grade science teacher, but did you know that Bill Nye once had a real job as a mechanical engineer? He eventually quit because the other engineers made fun of his music videos.

Winston ChurchillWinston Churchill essentially won the Second World War single-handedly, which is cool, and he was also the single greatest exporter of witty British one-liners, at least compared to other fat bald politicians. The weight of his manliness was so great that it actually affected all human babies until the end of time, who now all look exactly like him.


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