There is a roast from the annals of history so perfect, so brutal, and so gobsmackingly-daring that I'm sorta shocked I'd never heard of it before - especially because it ALSO inspired one of the funniest and wildest classical paintings I've ever laid my eyes on. The painting (and the roast) are known as "Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire" (or "Cossacks of Saporog Are Drafting a Manifesto" for short) and for the life of me I can't understand why my history teachers never mentioned this fun little burn, which actually might've gotten me to pay attention to things in-between trying to memorize boring stuff like dates and places where NO ONE told the leader of the world's largest empire to go fuck his mom...TWICE.
The Zaporozhian Cossacks were a loosely-knit group of communities in what is now central Ukraine, who has existed on the fringes between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire in the mid-16th century. Tensions between them and the Ottoman Empire flared over a series of raids and attacks by the Cossacks against Ottoman-controlled territories, leading to some military engagements...that the Cossacks won. In retaliation, the Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire wrote the Cossack leaders a letter, demanding they give in and submit to rule by the Turks:
Sultan Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks:
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians - I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
All in all, a pretty standard type of demand to be making as the head of the largest empire on the face of the planet, right? Nothing too out of the ordinary in there. The response, however, by the Cossack military leader Ivan Sirko (supposedly co-authored by others in the Zaporozhian host), is absolutely bonkers. Like, the kind of thing you'd expect to be written by a pissed off teenager. Like, he literally tells the most powerful man in the world to fuck his mom....TWICE (this is the 2nd time I mention that because HOLY SHIT HE REALLY DID IT).
Here's the text (bolding ours):
Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!
O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil's kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are thou, that canst not slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil shits, and your army eats. Thou shalt not, thou son of a whore, make subjects of Christian sons; we have no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck thy mother.
Thou Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig's snout, mare's arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw thine own mother!
So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won't even be herding pigs for the Christians. Now we'll conclude, for we don't know the date and don't own a calendar; the moon's in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day's the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!
What makes this unbelievably crass, hilarious historical roast even better though, is the main reason why it's well-known today: because of a VERY famous classical painting depicting the writing of the Mehmed IV roast, filled with boisterous caricatures, ridiculous faces, and what may just legitimately be the best possible way it went down imaginable. So, without further ado, please enjoy the amazing painting by Ilya Repin:
Again, this should be the ONLY thing art history teachers bother with - look at it! Look at the faces! The mustaches and the fashion! It's all amazing - but mainly this guy:
Oh, wait, also this guy:
And we CAN'T leave out ALL THESE GUYS:
If you want to see this painting yourself, just hop on over to the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. But if that's not something you can do, just appreciate this on your phone like everyone else, because it rules. If anyone wants to learn a piece of history that's actually interesting and engaging, it's hard to think of a better example than this.