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Old 03-05-2008, 08:30 AM
IamJoseph IamJoseph is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Body Count of the Roman Empire

"Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant"
"Where they make a desert, they call it peace." (Galgacus, Caledonian chief, from Tacitus: Agricola, 30)

List of Recurring Sources

Alphabetical Index


Rome was the prototypical fascist state, but how many people did it kill? Here's a piece by piece enumeration of Roman History.

Boudica's Revolt (Britain, 60 CE)
According to Tacitus, 70,000 Romans and provincials and 80,000 Britons were killed. TOTAL: 150,000
Spain (150 BCE)
Galba massacres 8,000 surrendering Lusitani []
Total Battle Deaths:
Pitirim Sorokin (Social and Cultural Dynamics, vol.3, 1937, 1962) estimated that Roman Armies suffered some 885,000 battlefield casualties throughout their nine-century history, from 400 BCE to 500 CE. (The Greeks lost some 305,000 men on the battlefield from 500 to 146 BCE.)
VD Hanson: Carnage and Culture (2001): "[i]n five centuries [following Hannibal] enemies of Rome slaughtered nearly a half million legionaries on the battlefield."
Christian Martyrs:
Gibbon Decline & Fall v2chXVI: < 2,000 k. under Roman persecution.
Ludwig Hertling ("Die Zahl de Märtyrer bis 313", 1944) estimated 100,000 Christians killed between 30 and 313 CE. (cited -- unfavorably -- by David Henige, Numbers From Nowhere, 1998)
Caesar's Gallic War
Plutarch's Lives "Caesar": out of 3 million Gallic soldiers engaged in the wars, 1 million killed and 1 million captured.
Donald Kyle, Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (1998) mentions previous attempts to count bodies, but doesn't actually list them.
He points out that most victims of the arena were noxii, or doomed convicts. Does this put the games into the same moral category of, say, the public execution of thieves in Early Modern England?
Michael Grant, Gladiators (1967): M.Grant tallies >23,000 gladiators fighting under imperial auspices between 106 and 114 CE. Was this total typical? Is it complete? Who can say, but if it's close, then that means some quarter million gladiators per century (100/9x23=253). This yields about a million in the 4 centuries between Spatacus (revolt: 73BCE) and Constantine (outlawed the games: 325CE). How many of these died in the arena? Practically all of them, eventually.
Other numbers: "thousands" fought in the millennial celebration under Arab Phil (248CE).
Over 10,000 fighters in 8 special games under Augustus, in addition to uncounted regularly scheduled games.
From Will Durant, Caesar and Christ (1944)
2nd Punic War
Lake Trasimene (217 BCE): "nearly all" in Roman Army of 30,000 killed.
Cannae (216 BCE): 44,000 Romans and 6,000 Carthag. k.
Zama (202 BCE): 20,000 Carth. k.
TOTAL: 300,000 men killed (Appian viii 95)
Siege of Carthage (147 BCE): Population reduced from 500,000 to 55,000
Social War: 300,000 k.
Mithridates War, revolt of Greek cities in Asia: 80,000 Roman citizens massacred, 88 BCE
After B. of Colline Gate, 8,000 Samnite POWs k.
Proscriptions: 4,700 senators etc. k.
Slave Revolts (133 BCE):
Executions: 150 (Rome) + 450 (Minturnae) + 4,000 (Sinuessa) = 4,600
7,000 crucified after Spartacus fell. (71 BCE)
400 slaves executed in retaliation for the murder of Pedanius Secundus. (61 CE)
30,000 runaways captured during Augustus's reign. All reclaimed or crucified.
Jewish Wars:
Revolt of 68-73 CE: 1,197,000 Jews killed acc. to Josephus ix 3. 600,000 killed acc. to Tacitus v 13.
Revolt of 115-116 CE: 220,000 people k. in Cyrene and 240,000 k. in Cyprus
Revolt of 132 CE: 580,000 k.
TOTAL: Adding and averaging gives a total of 1,938,500 k. in the Jewish Wars
"Marius": vs. Cimbri & Teutoni
B. of Arausio, 105 BCE: 80,000 C&T k.
1st B. of Aquae Sextiae, 102 BCE: 30,000 Ambrones
2nd B. of Aquae Sextiae, 102 BCE: >100,000 Teutoni
B. of Vercellae, 101 BCE: 65-100,000 Cimbri
[TOTAL: ca. 275,000-310,000]
Catholic Encyclopedia
"Thessalonica": Theodosius massacred 7,000 (390AD)
"Persecution": 16,000 Christian victims of Persians (339/340 AD)
"Martyr": number of Christian martyrs under the Romans unknown, unknowable. Origen says not many. Eusebius says thousands.
From Stuart Flexner, The Pessimist's Guide to History
Cannae (216 BCE): 50,000-70,000 Romans and 6,000 Carthag. k.
Spartacus Revolt (73 BCE): 6,000 rebellious slaves crucified along Appian Way.
Sulla's Reign of Terror (86-80 BCE): 4,700 Roman supporters of Marius k.
Mithridates VI Eupator (88 BCE): 100,000 Roman citizens massacred
Individual Emperors:
It was a more brutal era than today, and the emperors were allowed wide latitude in passing sentence on people suspected of crimes against the state. No emperor was completely immune from the temptation to execute on a mere suspicion:
Tiberius (14-37 CE)
Suetonius says that at the height of the treason trials, not a day passed without an execution. He also mentions that there were as many as 20 executions on some days. We can take these as the minimum and maximum execution rates -- 1 to 20 per day. The geometric mean of these two extremes would come to 4½ per day, which is a credible daily rate for the really bad years. This comes to 1632 per year, or 38,000 over a 23-year reign; however, this is the peak rate. Most years would be far less. Let's arbitrarily cut it down to a quarter:
TOTAL: 9,500 (rounded)
Suetonius describes the tyrannical execution of 36 specific victims during the reign of Tiberius. Assuming that our estimated total above is more or less correct, this means that for every political killing described by Suetonius, 260 are undescribed. If we apply this ratio to the other emperors, then we can get the total number of democides for them as well.
Caligula (37-41 CE)
Suetonius describes 35 individual killings. Using the Tiberius ratio, this indicates (rounded to the nearest quarter thousand) 9,000 victims.
Claudius (41-54 CE)
Suetonius describes 12 individual killings, indicating 3,000 victims.
Suetonius specifically states that Claudius was responsible for the deaths of 35 senators and 300 knights over the course of his reign. These two numbers show a ninefold increase in victims with one reduction of rank (approximately), indicating that if we were to drop down one more rank, we would find that maybe 2,600 plebian citizens had fallen victim to Claudius as well, bringing the total to around 2,935. This roughly supports our first estimate.
Nero (54-68 CE)
Suetonius describes 22 individual killings, indicating 5,750 victims.
Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
Volume Five: Sylla's purge: 4,700
Volume One:
Mithridates: 80,000
Severus invasion of Britain: 50,000 Romans
Caracalla's purge of friends of Geta: 20,000
Maximin's Purge of Magnus et al: 4,000
Under Marcus, sack of Seleucia: 300,000
Bructeri tribe destroyed by neighboring tribes: >60,000
251 CE - Siege and fall of Philoppopolis to Goths: 100,000
269 CE - Battle of Naissus: 50,000
Deliverance of Gaul after death of Aurelian: 400,000 invaders k.
Constantius delivers Gaul: 6,000 Alemanni
Constantine v. Licinius
B. of Cibalis: 20,000 lost by Licinius
Hadrianople: 34,000
Naval B. at Byzantium: 5,000
B. of Chrysopolis: 25,000
TOTAL: 1,154,000 listed here
Volume Two:
Refugee Goths, after defeat by Constantine: >100,000 by cold and hunger
Battle of Mursa/Essek: 54,000
Siege of Amida, Sapur lost 30,000 soldiers. Town massacred.
ca. 357 CE - Battle of Strassburg: 243 Romans, 6,000 Alemanni
Constantinople: Riot between Arians and Catholics: 3,150 trampled.
Expedition against Novatians/Arians in Paphlagonia: 4,000 imperial soldiers dead.
363 CE - Julian's Persian expedition:
At Tigris: 2,500-6,000 Persians & 75 Romans
Alemanni k near Metz: 6,000
B. of Hadrianople: 40,000 Romans k.
TOTAL: 247,718 listed here
Volume Three:
390 CE - Punishment of Thessalonika: 7-15,000
B. near Aquileia: 10,000 aux
406 CE - Stilicho & Franks v Vandals and Alans: 20,000 Vandals
Theodoric v. Burgundians: 20,000 Burgs
Relieving siege of Narbonne: 8,000 Goths
Franks v. Gepids: 50,000
451 CE - Chalons: 162,000 or 300,000 (Gibbon: "exaggerations")
Gepid revolt: 30,000 enemies of Ardaric
4,096 Roman herded away to death by Hunneric
Natanleod lost 5,000 fighting Cerdic
TOTAL: 389,096 listed here
ASSESSMENT: In these volumes, Gibbon specifically enumerates around 1.8M killings. If we assume that these numbers are more or less sort of accurate, and Gibbon focused on the bigger, more noteworthy body counts (i.e. these events represent slightly more than half the death toll), then the decline and fall of the West Roman Empire killed about three million people directly -- and many millions (5M?) indirectly (see McEvedy, below)
Colin McEvedy, The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History (1992)
General population decline:
From 2nd Century CE to 4th Century CE: Empire's population declined from 45M to 36M [i.e. 9M]
From 400 CE to 600 CE: Empire's population declined by 20% [i.e. 7.2M]
(Extremely Preliminary and Debatable) TOTAL:
Decline and Fall: 3.0M
Jewish Wars: 1.9M
Gladiators: 1.0M
Gallic War: 1.0M
All Punic Wars: 1.0M
Social War: 0.3M
Cimbri-Teutoni War: 0.3M
Boudica's Revolt: 0.15M
Juleo-Claudian Paranoia: 0.028M

TOTAL: over 8M

The East Roman (Byzantine) Empire
Nike Revolt (532 CE)
PGtH: 30,000 massacred in Hippodrome
Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
Volume Four:
532 CE - Nike Revolt: 30,000 massacred in Hippodrome
Cabades lost 50,000 besieging Amida. 80,000 inhabitants massacred.
Battle of Dara: 8,000 Persians
Romans v. Moors, outside Carthage: 60,000 Moors
537 CE - Belisarius defends Rome: 30,000 + 5,000 Goths
538 CE - 300,000 adult males massacred by Ostrogoths and Burgundians in Milan
ca. 552 CE - Lombards v Gepids: 40,000 Gepids
Siege of Topirus: Sclavonians massacred 15,000 males
According to the Byzantine historian Procopius, throughout Justinian's thirty-two-year reign, each annual inroad of Barbarians killed 200,000 inhabitants of the Roman empire, which would come to a total of 6.4 million people. Gibbon doubts this "incredible estimate", as the area under attack probably couldn't even support this many people.
Battle of Phasis: 10,000
Battle of Tagina: 6,000 Goths
Byzantine reconquest of Italy: 50,000 laborers died of hunger in Picenum.
Reign of Hormouz in Persia: 13,000
Roman expediton against Gepids: 60,000
12,000 Roman POWs massacred
614 CE - Persian Shah Chosroes allows massacre of 90,000 Christians in Jerusalem
622-28 CE - War between Heraclius and Persians: 200,000 soldiers
514 CE - Religious War: "exterminated" 65,000 "fellow-Christians"
20,000 Sarmatians and 100,000 Roman subjects in Sarmatian War
Monophysite riot in Alexandria: 200,000 Christians k.
Volume Five:
32,000 Bulgarians k. in Thrace
Siege of Amorium: 70,000 Moslem and 30,000 Christians.
ca. 850 CE - 100,000 Paulicans executed by Empress Theodora
In Italy, k by Hungarians: 20,000 (to p.166)
Marcianopolis, or Peristhlaba: 8,500 Russians
Catholic Encyclopedia
"Jerusalem": >90,000 Christians died when city fell to Persians, 614 BCE
Notable Doctrinal Conflicts within Early Christianity
From Gibbon, above
Constantinople: Riot between Arians and Catholics: 3,150 trampled.
514 CE - Religious War: Rebellion of Vitalian "exterminated" 65,000 "fellow-Christians"
538 CE - 300,000 Catholics massacred by Arians in Milan
Monophysite riot in Alexandria: 200,000 Christians k.
ca. 850 CE - 100,000 Paulicans executed by Empress Theodora
TOTAL: 665,000
From Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual (1897)
1,000,000 perished during the early Arian schism.
1,000,000 during the Carthaginian struggle.
Wm Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire: riot after Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.), >3,000 Arians k.

Deaths by Mass Unpleasantness:
Estimated Totals for the Entire 20th Century
List of Recurring Sources

Alphabetical Index

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How many people died in all the wars, massacres, slaughters and oppressions of the Twentieth Century? Here are a few atrocitologists who have made estimates:

M. Cherif Bassouni, from an unspecified "1996" source which I have been unable to track down (Cited in an article in the Chicago Tribune, 25 Oct. 1998)
33 million "military casualties" (That's how the article phrased it, but I presume they mean military deaths.)
170 million killed in "conflicts of a non-international charater, internal conflicts and tyrannical regime victimization")
86M since the Second World War
TOTAL: 203,000,000
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993)
"Lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage":
167,000,000 to 175,000,000
War Dead: 87,500,000
Military war dead:
Civilian war dead:
Not-war Dead: 80,000,000
Communist oppression:
David Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia (2001)
Christian martyrs only: 45.5M [commentary & context]
Stephane Courtois, The Black Book of Communism
Victims of Communism only: 85-100M
Milton Leitenberg []
Politically caused deaths in the 20th C: 214M to 226M, incl...
Deaths in wars and conflicts, incl. civilian: 130M-142M
Political deaths, 1945-2000: 50M-51M
Not The Enemy Media []
Killed through U.S. foreign policy since WWII: 10,774,706 to 16,856,361 (1945-May 2003)
Rudolph J. Rummel, Death By Government
"Democides" - Government inflicted deaths (1900-87)
Communist Oppression: 110,286,000
Democratic democides: 2,028,000
Not included among democides:
Wars: 34,021,000
Non-Democidal Famine (often including famines associated with war and communist mismanagement):
China (1900-87): 49,275,000
Russia: (1921-47): 5,833,000
258,327,000 for all the categories listed here.
Me (Matthew White, Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, 2001):
Deaths by War and Oppression:
Genocide and Tyranny:
Military Deaths in War:
Civilian Deaths in War:
Man-made Famine:
FAQ: How did you get these totals?
(Note: It's commonly said that more civilians than soldiers die in war, but you may notice that my numbers don't seem to agree with that. Before you jump to any conclusions, however, remember that most civilian deaths in war are intentional, and therefore fall into the "genocide and tyranny" category. Many others are the result of starvation.)
My estimate for the Communist share of the century's unpleasantness:
Genocide & Tyranny: 44M
(incl. intentional famine)
Man-made Famine: 37M
(excl. intentional famine)
Communist-inspired War (for example the Russian Civil War, Vietnam, Korea, etc.)
Military: 5M
Civilian: 6M
NOTE: With these numbers, I'm tallying every combat death and accidental civilian death in the war, without differentiating who died, who did it or who started it. According to whichever theory of Just War you are working from, the Communists may be entirely blameless, or entirely to blame, for these 11M dead.
TOTAL: 92M deaths by Communism.
RESIDUE: 96M deaths by non-Communism.


For Comparison:
Total Deaths During the 20th Century
Cats and Dogs
Influenza Epidemic, 1918-19
Medical Mistakes
Eaten by Tigers

Total Deaths During the 20th Century
Approximately 4,126,000,000 people have died during this century from all causes. If man-made megadeaths account for 185 million of them, then one out of every 22 (or 4.5%) human deaths during the 20th Century have been caused by fellow humans.
Sources: Nowadays, you can just open up a statistical abstract and find reasonably accurate numbers for how many people died last year. Unfortunately, that's a very recent ability. Only industrialized countries keep vital statistics, and most of the people who have lived in this century have not lived in industrialized countries. Therefore, we've got a big margin of error to worry about.
Basically, to arrive at the following numbers, I set up a big spread sheet which multiplied each country's population by its death rate for a middle year of each decade. Then, I added them together to get a global total, and multiplied by ten for a decade total. For those countries for which I did not have accurate mortality statistics, I scrounged the death rate from a nearby, similar country -- using Argentine death rates for Chile, say.

Decade Deaths worldwide (millions) Death Rate (per 1000) Mid-decade World Population (millions) How I calculated it
late 1990s 261 Looked up total estimated deaths in Britannica's Yearbook, year by year.
early 1990s 252 8.6 5863
1980s 459 9.2 5000 Gathered mortality stats of 20 largest countries for typical years (1977, 1987) from UN Yearbook. Calculated average world death rate, weighted by population. Multiplied this average by mid-decade's world population, then by 10.
1970s 481 11.7 4100
1960s 348 11.5 3030 Estimated average worldwide death rate, based on extremely scattered data for individual countries in the 1963 UN Yearbook. Multiplied this average by mid-decade's world population, then by 10.
1950s 385 14.3 2700 Geometric mean of death rates for 1930s and 1960s. Multiplied this by mid-decade's world population, then by 10.
1940s 318 14.3 2230
1930s 377 17.6 2138 Geometric mean of death rates for 1900s and 1960s. Multiplied this by mid-decade's world population, then by 10.
1920s 425 21.9 1941 Geometric mean of death rates for 1900s and 1930s. Multiplied this by mid-decade's world population, then by 10.
1910s 385 21.9 1762
1900s 435 27.1 1606 Estimated average worldwide death rate, based on extremely incomplete and scattered data for individual countries in the 1911 Britannica. Multiplied this average by world population, then by 10.
TOTAL 4126 Added.

Mannfred Hollinger, Introduction to Pharmacology: Half a billion people worldwide in the 20th C.
John Campbell, Campbell's Physiology Notes for Nurses: smallpox killed 300 million in the 20th Century.
Michael Oldstone, Viruses, Plagues, and History: 300M
Albert Marrin, Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster: 300M
R. Peto, "Mortality from tobacco in developed countries: indirect estimation from national vital statistics", Lancet, 23 May 1992:
1930-59: 11,000,000
1960s: 9,000,000
1970s: 13,000,000
1980s: 17,000,000
1990s: 21,000,000
TOTAL (1930-1999): 71,000,000 tobacco-related deaths in developed countries. (US, Europe, USSR, Canada, Japan, Australia, NZ)
Note: Although the bulk of humanity lives outside developed countries, tobacco-related deaths are not as common there, largely because the average Third World life expectancy does not leave enough time to develop cancer and heart disease. Ditto for the developed world prior to 1930. Basically, smoking is a rich man's way to die.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million people die each year worldwide from tobacco, which becomes 900,000 3rd-Worlders when we subtract the 2.1 million 1st- and 2nd-Worlders calculated by Peto (yearly average for the 1990s, above). This indicates some 9 million tobacco deaths in non-developed countries during the 1990s and (using the same ratio) perhaps 5 million during the 1980s. If we continue this ratio all the way back, we get an even hundred million deaths by tobacco worldwide; however, as Peto puts it, "the epidemic is generally at an earlier stage," so the tobacco-related mortality rate in the third world was relatively low before 1980. Let's add only another 5 million for the years prior to 1980, bringing the century total up to 90,000,000.
29,247,142 legal abortions were performed in the United States, 1970-95. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 47 No. SS-2)
Estimated abortions worldwide: 527M to 836M (1920-2000) []
Cats and Dogs
AHS: 9.6 million animals euthanized in the US, 1997 []
HSUS: 3-4 million cats and dogs euthanized by US shelters each year []
Influenza Pandemic, 1918-19:
Gilbert: 13,000,000
Encarta: 20,000,000 (also Time: Great Events of the 20th Century; also 30 June 1998 Washington Post)
Michael Howard, The Oxford History of the Twentieth Century: 20M d. in 1919 flu.
Our Times: 21,642,274
MEDIAN: ca. 21M
Wallechinsky: 30,000,000
R.S. Bray, Armies of Pestilence: the Impace of Disease on History (1996): 25-50M, citing Burnet & White
John M. Barry, The Great Influenza (2004)
1927 AMA study: 21M
1940s McFarlane Burnet est. 50-100M
2002 epidem. study: 50-100M
Spartacus []: >70,000,000
NOTE: Because the first outbreaks of the disease were often spread via troop movements, the temptation is to add all the world's pandemic deaths to the death toll of World War I, thereby raising it from ca. 15M to more than 35M; however, I have never seen an actual, published history of the First World War do this. Yes, histories of the war will count the soldiers and refugees that died of the flu in camps, but obviously not the millions in, say, China or India, that died far from any battlefield, long after the armistice.
11,700,000 deaths worldwide, 1981-98 (from 23 June 1998 report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS at
Very, very rough estimate until I research this more fully: 8.5 million murders worldwide, 1900-1999.
What I do know so far:
Brazil: 350,000 murders in 1990s (24 Oct. 1999 Guardian)
USA 1960-96: 666,160 murders and (non-negligent) manslaughters (Statistical Abstract of the United States,
USA 1900-59: 390,136 murders (Watenburg, The Statistical History of the United States, 1976)
USA TOTAL: 1,056,296 (more or less -- depending on how you want to count manslaughters)
739,938 murders worldwide, 1986-90, excluding the USA ( The USA produced 12.5% of the world's murders during the years 1986-90, so if we apply that ratio to the entire century, then it would indicate that 7.35M murders were committed worldwide (but outside the US), 1900-96. It looks like the century total is somewhere near 1.05M in US + 7.35M elsewhere.
Maybe this 8.5?M should be added to the wars and oppressions under the category of deaths "caused by fellow humans", above. If you want to do this, go ahead.
Natural Disasters:
According to a 20 December 1999 press release from the reinsurance company Munich Re, a total of 3.5 million people were killed in 20th Century disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanos, but not drought or famine. (A total of 15M were killed by disasters during the entire Second Millennium.) []
Just out of curiosity, I decided to calculate the death toll of racism in the United States, and it certainly looks like non-whites suffered 3,300,000 excess deaths from 1900 to 1970.
Sources: Throughout most of American history, non-whites have had a significantly higher death rate than whites. As there's no natural reason for whites to live longer than non-whites, the cause for this difference must be social -- rooted in poverty and manifesting itself in malnutrition, inadequate public health, substandard medical care, homicide, alcoholism, suicide and drug addiction.
If we subtract the number of non-whites who would have died anyway (even at a white death rate) from the number who did die -- year-by-year -- and then add it all up, we get our total number of excess deaths.
Because this is just my calculations -- not peer-reviewed or gathered from a reputable source -- I'll give you a lot of detail. My source for the raw numbers is Watenburg, The Statistical History of the United States (1976). As an example of my methods, consider this: in 1920, the death rate for whites was 12.6/1000, while for non-whites it was 17.7/1000. Now, if we multiply the non-white death rate by the estimated non-white population of 10,951,000, we find that there were approximately 193,833 deaths among non-whites in 1920. If they had died at the white death rate, however, there would only have been 137,983 deaths. Therefore, we've got 55,850 excess deaths caused by the socioeconomic handicap of not being white.
Decade by decade, here are the totals: Decade Excess Deaths
1960s 65,000
1950s 200,000
1940s 300,000
1930s 535,000
1920s 630,000
1910s 735,000
1900s 835,000
TOTAL 3,300,000

Escape Hatch: Since no one's paying me to be mired in controversy, I'll give a short list of why this calculation might not mean what it seems to mean. I'll leave it to philosophers and statisticians to iron out these problems:
I haven't adjusted for age differences.
I haven't adjusted for geographic differences -- specifically, I haven't taken into account that the South has traditionally been unhealthier than the North for both blacks and whites. Since the black population has been disproportionately Southern, then this has boosted their death rates.
Suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. are often considered to be matters of free will.
Homicides are customarily blamed on the individual murderers rather than society as a whole.
To give you a chance to check behind me, here are all the calculations in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, compressed with PKZip.
Jerry Hough, LA Times 18 August 1998 Op-Ed: With the collapse of communism in Russia, poverty and death rates soared, and some 3 million people in Russia died who would have been alive if the old life expectancy rates had been maintained. []
The Times (London) 27 Jan. 2000: The Russian population is roughly six million lower than if birth and death rates had stayed constant since the fall of communism.
28 Dec. 1994 Plain Dealer: 360,000 more Russians died in 1993 than in 1992.
Medical Mistakes:
According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die unnecessarily every year from medical mistakes made by health care professionals. (30 Nov. 1999 Washington Post, 30 Nov. 1999 AP, or pretty much any news source that day.)
Eaten by Tigers:
According to official statistics [], 34,075 people were killed by tigers in British-administered India, 1875-1912. That includes 11,423 k. 1900-1912.

Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century
List of Recurring Sources

Alphabetical Index

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Atrocity FAQ

This is an incomplete listing of some very bad things that happened before the 20th Century. I've scoured the history books and collected most of the major atrocities that anyone has bothered to enumerate.

However, just because an event is missing from these pages doesn't mean that it wasn't very bloody. There are undoubtedly many other events that were never recorded and have now faded into the oblivion of forgotten history. This makes it difficult to prove whether brutality is waxing or waning in the long term. Maybe the 20th Century really was more barbaric than previous centuries (as some people say), but you'll need more complete statistics to prove it. [n.1]

Worst Twenty
World Historical Population
Primitive War
Ancient World
Biblical Atrocities
Ancient Greece
The Roman and Byzantine Empires
European Wars and Massacres to 1700
Colonial Activities
Annihilation of the Native Americans
Outside Europe
Miscellaneous Oriental Atrocities
Slavery in the Mideast
Thuggee and Suttee
Eighteenth Century
Nineteenth Century
Miscellaneous Religious Activities
Biblical Atrocities
Religious Martyrs
Thuggee and Suttee
Total War Dead Throughout History


(Possibly) The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries
1 55 million Second World War 20C
2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C
3 40 million Mongol Conquests 13C
4 36 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C
6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C
7 20 million Annihilation of the American Indians 15C-19C
8 20 million Iosif Stalin 20C
9 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C
10 18 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C
11 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
12 17 million British India (mostly famine) 19C
13 15 million First World War 20C
14 9 million Russian Civil War 20C
15 8 million Fall of Rome 3C-5C
16 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
17 7 million Thirty Years War 17C
18 5 million Russia's Time of Troubles 16C-17C
19 4 million Napoleonic Wars 19C
20 3 million Chinese Civil War 20C
21 3 million French Wars of Religion 16C

What other people say:
"The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world." David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: the Conquest of the New World (1992) page x
"The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history." Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: I - Our Oriental Heritage (1935) page 459
"Little did we guess that what has been called the century of the common man would witness as its outstanding feature more common men killing each other with greater facilities than any other five centuries together in the history of the world." Winston Churchill


World Historical Population
For perspective
Population of the World In Millions

1991 Information Please Almanac Livi-Bacci Concise History of World Population, 2nd, 1997 Colin McEvedy Atlas of World Population History 1978 United Nations 1999
BCE 400 153
CE 1 252 170 300
200 257 190
400 190
600 208 200
800 220
1000 253 265 310
1200 400 360
1400 442 360
1500 461 425 500
1600 578 545 600
1650 470 545
1700 680 610
1750 694 771 720 791
1800 954 900 980
1850 1091 1241 1200 1260
1900 1571 1634 1625 1650
1950 2513 2520 2500 2520
1990 5321 5270
2000 6236 6060

(See also and and


European Wars, Tyrants, Rebellions and Massacres (800-1700 CE)
Before the rise of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and the rest of the gang, these atrocities were the bywords of barbarism. Now that populations have gotten bigger and body counts have grown proportionally, they don't seem that bad; however, this says more about us than it does about them.

Charlemagne (768-814 CE)
Gibbon Decline & Fall v5, also Trager, People's Chronology: 4,500 Saxon hostages beheaded (782 CE)
Wars of the Carolingian Succession
Gibbon Decline and Fall v.5: 100,000 Franks
Crusades (1095-1291)
Estimated totals:
Wertham: 1,000,000
Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841): 2,000,000 Europeans killed. []
Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual: 5,000,000
Individual Events:
Davies: Crusaders killed up to 8,000 Jews in Rhineland
Paul Johnson A History of the Jews (1987): 1,000 Jewish women in Rhineland comm. suicide to avoid the mob, 1096.
Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, v.5, 6
1st Crusade: 300,000 Eur. k at Battle of Nice [Nicea].
Crusaders vs. Solimon of Roum: 4,000 Christians, 3,000 Moslems
1098, Fall of Antioch: 100,000 Moslems massacred.
50,000 Pilgrims died of disease.
1099, Fall of Jerusalem: 70,000 Moslems massacred.
Siege of Tiberias: 30,000 Christians k.
Siege of Tyre: 1,000 Turks
Richard the Lionhearted executes 3,000 Moslem POWs.
1291: 100,000 Christians k after fall of Acre.
Fall of Christian Antioch: 17,000 massacred.
[TOTAL: 677,000 listed in these episodes here.]
Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) []
Jaffa: 20,000 Christians massacred, 1197
Sorokin estimates that French, English & Imperial German Crusaders lost a total of 3,600 in battle.
1st C (1096-99): 400
2nd C (1147-49): 750
3rd C (1189-91): 930
4th C (1202-04): 120
5th C (1228-29): 600
7th C (1248-54): 700
James Trager, The People's Chronology (1992)
1099: Crusaders slaughter 40,000 inhabs of Jerusalem. Dis/starv reduced Crusaders from 300,000 to 60,000.
1147: 2nd Crusades begins with 500,000. "Most" lost to starv./disease/battle.
1190: 500 Jews massacred in York.
1192: 3rd Crusade reduced from 100,000 to 5,000 through famine, plagues and desertions in campaign vs Antioch.
1212: Children's Crusade loses some 50,000.
[TOTAL: Just in these incidents, it appears the Europeans lost around 650,000.]
TOTAL: When I take all the individual death tolls listed here, weed out the duplicates, fill in the blanks, apply Occam ("Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate"), etc. I get a very rough total of 1½ M deaths in the Crusades.
Albigensian Crusade (1208-49)
Rummel: 200,000 democides
Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History: 1,000,000
Max Dimont, Jews, God, and History: 1,000,000 Frenchmen suspected of being Albigensians slain
Michael Newton, Holy Homicide (1998): 1,000,000
Individual incidents:
PGtH: 20,000 massacred in Beziers.
Beziers: 20-100,000
St. Nazair: 12,000
Tolouse: 10,000
Newton: 20-100,000 massacred in Beziers.
Sumption, Albigensian Crusade (1978): <5,000 k. by Inquisition [ca. 1229-1279]
Padua, Tyranny of Ezzelino da Romano (fl. 1237-1259)
Colin Wilson, The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder: As ruler, 5,000 inhabitants of Padua executed. After loosing power, all but 200 of 10,000 Paduan POWs, executed.
Sicilian Vespers (1282)
PGtH: 2,000 k. 1st day.
Davies: 4,000 Fr. k. in Palermo
Gibbon D&F6: 8,000 French
Hundred Years War (1337-1453)
English + French battlefield losses: 185,250 (Sorokin)
Total Loss:
Philip Pregill, Landscapes in History, 2d Ed.: Population of France began at ca. 19M; by end of 100 Yrs War, had declined by one-third. [i.e. loss of ca. 6.3 million]
Frederic J. Baumgartner, France in the Sixteenth Century: Population of France 20M in 1340, 10M a century later. [loss of 10 million]
Henry Heller, Labour, Science and Technology in France 1500-1620: 17M at beginning of 14th Century; 9M in 1440. [loss of 8 M]
NOTE: This period also includes the Black Death, so there's no telling how much of this population decline was war-related, although all three of these sources specifically point the 100YW as a principle cause.
ANALYSIS: It's usually said that the Black Death killed 1/3 of the affected populations, so we can guess that France should have lost 5.7M of Heller's 17M or 6.3M of Pregill's 19M or 6.7M of Baumgartens' 20M to the plague alone. The difference between this and the actual population decline might then be attributed to the 100YW. This would mean the war may have killed 0.0M (Presgill) or 2.3M (Heller) or 3.3M (Baumg.)
West Europe (1348)
Jews killed as scapegoats for Black Death
Trager, People's Chronology: 2,000 hanged in Strasbourg
Davies: 2,000 in Strasbourg; as many as 12,000 in Mainz
Paul Johnson A History of the Jews (1987): 2,000 in Strasbourg; 6,000 in Mainz
France, Jacquerie Revolt (1358)
PGtH: 7,000 peasant massacred in Meaux
England, Wat Tyler's Rebellion (1381)
PGtH: 1,500 peasants executed
General Religious Mayhem:
From Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual (1897)
7,000,000 during the Saracen slaughters in Spain.
2,000,000 Saxons and Scandinavians lost their lives opposing the introduction of Christianity.
1,000,000 in the Holy Wars against the Netherlands, Albigenses, Waldenses, and Huguenots.
Witch Hunts (1400-1800)
Wertham: 20,000
Jenny Gibbons [] cites:
Levack: 60,000
Hutton: 40,000
Barstow: 100,000, "but her reasoning was flawed" (i.e. too high.)
Davies, Norman, Europe A History: 50,000
Rummel: 100,000
Bethancourt: The Killings of Witches, lists 628 named and 268,331 unnamed witches killed as of Dec. 2000, and estimates that between 20,000 and 500,000 people were killed as witches. []
M. D. Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual (1897): 9,000,000 burned for witchcraft.
5 Jan. 1999 Deutsche Presse-Agentur: review of Wolfgang Behringer's Hexen: Glaube - Verfolgung - Vermarktung:
estimates cited favorably
Thomas Brady: 40-50,000
Merry Wiesner: 50-100,000
Behringer, at lowest: 30,000
estimates cited unfavorably
Gottfried Christian Voigt (1740-1791) extrapolated from his section of Germany to calculate 9,442,994 witches killed throughout Europe. From this came the common estimate of 9M.
Mathilde Ludendorff (1877-1966): 9M
Friederike Mueller-Reimerdes (1935): 9-10M
Erika Wisselinck: 6-13 Million
MEDIAN: Of the 15 estimate listed here, the median is 100,000. If we limit it to just the ten estimates that are cited favorably, the median falls between 50,000 and 60,000.
England, War of the Roses (1455-85)
Charles Carlton: Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651 (1992)
citing Thomas Craig in the 16th C.: 100,000
citing Thomas More: killed more English than the 100 yrs War
Clodfelter: 105,000
Terence Wise, The Wars of the Roses (1983): Tudor historians exaggerated death toll as propaganda
Vlad Dracula, Wallachia (r.1456-1462)
PGtH: in all, 50,000-100,000 victims "impaled, tortured and killed"
Florescu & McNally, Dracula: Prince of Many Faces: 100,000 k. (citing Bishop of Erlau, but questioning it.)
Cecil Adams: 40-100,000 []
Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)
Cited in Will Durant, The Reformation (1957):
Juan Antonio Llorente, General Secretary of the Inquisition from 1789 to 1801, estimated that 31,912 were executed, 1480-1808.
In contrast to the high estimate cited above, Durant tosses his support to the following low estimates:
Hernando de Pulgar, secretary to Queen Isabella, estimated 2,000 burned before 1490.
An unnamed "Catholic historian" estimated 2,000 burned, 1480-1504, and 2,000 burned, 1504-1758.
PGtH: 8,800 deaths by burning, 1478-1496
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (1910): 8,800 burnt in 18 years of Torquemada. (acc2 Buckle and Friedländer)
Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic: 10,220 burnt in 18 years of Torquemada
Britannica: 2,000
Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual: 35,534 burned.
Fox's Book of Martyrs, Ch.IV: 32,000 burned
Paul Johnson A History of the Jews (1987): 32,000 k. by burning; 20,226 k. before 1540
Wertham: 250,000
Rummel: 350,000 deaths overall.
MEDIAN: 8,800 under Torq.; 32,000 all told.
Punished by all means, not death.
Fox: 309,000
P. Johnson: 341,000
Motley: 114,401
Lisbon (1506)
Trager, People's Chronology: 2,000-4,000 converted Jews k. in riot.
Tudor England
Henry VIII (r.1509-47)
Lacey Baldwin Smith, Treason in Tudor England (1986): total of 308 traitors executed, 1532-40
Holinshed, Description of England: 72,000 "great thieves, petty thieves, and rogues" hung under Henry. Traitors and enemies of the state are implicitly excluded from this total. [ XVII]
NOTE: Although it's common to accuse Henry of 72,000 executions, the description of his victims sometimes drifts from common criminals to Catholics, and the venue from nationwide to just Tyburn gallows in London.
Rummel: 560 executions per year (i.e. ca. 21,840)
Mary I (r.1553-58)
Lacey Baldwin Smith: 132 traitors executed under Q M
Morgan, Oxford History of Britain: >287 Protestants after 2/1555, and "others died in prison."
Elizabeth I (r.1558-1603)
Lacey Baldwin Smith: 183 traitors executed under Q E
Catholic Encyclopedia: 189 Catholics executed + 32 Franciscans were starved to death = 221 []
Peasants' War, Hungary (1514)
PGtH: >70,000 deaths in all
Frederick Engels, The Peasant War in Germany: 60,000 peasants k. in battle or massacred towards end []
Germany, Knights' War, von Sickingen (1519-1523)
Wm Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire: 250,000 Germans killed or executed
Peasants' War, Germany (1524-25)
Dict.Wars: 100,000 peasants slain in the war
Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity (1977): 100,000 100,000 peasants k. []
Wm Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire: 100,000 peasants d.
Douglas Miller: Armies of the German Peasants' War 1524-26: 70-100,000 peasants
Ivan the Terrible, Russia, (r.1533-84)
Novgorod Massacre, 1570: 60,000 people killed. (PGtH)
Decimated boyars, "killing hundreds, probably even thousands" (Richard Dunn, The Age of Religious Wars 1559-1715)
Henri Troyat, Ivan the Terrible
Toward the end of his life, Ivan drew up lists of all the victims he could remember and sent these to monasteries for prayers. One listed 3,148 people killed; another 3,750.
Novgorod Massacre (various estimates):
Kurbsky: 15,000
3rd Chronicle of Novgorod: 18,000
Taube & Kruse: 27,000
1st Chronicle of Pskov: 60,000
Troyat says that Ivan's gang of special thugs, the oprichniki, numbered 6000, and lasted for seven years. My analysis: If each one killed at least one person every year (Very possible. They were a pampered, unregulated and thoroughly nasty bunch), that's over 42,000 deaths.
Rummel: 200,000 not incl. Novgorod.
Persecution of the Waldensians (1540-70)
Halley's Bible Handbook, 24th ed. (1965): 900,000 Protestants k.
Dutch Revolt (1566-1609)
Gibbon Decline & Fall v2: 100,000 executed under Charles V, in Netherlands
John Lothrop Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic (1855)
Alva boasted of 18,600 executions in Neth.
Sack of Antwerp (1576): 8,000 k
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (1910) []
Dutch martyrs under the Duke of Alva: 50,000 (acc2 P. Sarpi) or 100,000 (acc2 Grotius)
Britannica, 11th ed. (1911) "Alva": Duke of Alva boasted of executing 18,000 persons in 6 years, not incl. k. battles and massacres.
Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity (1977): 100,000 k. by Alva
Halley's Bible Handbook, 24th ed. (1965): 100,000 massacred under Charles V and Philip II
France, Religious Wars, Catholic vs. Huguenot (1562-1598)
Robert J. Knecht The French Religious Wars, 1562-1598 (2000): Deaths during the wars estimated at 2M to 4M
St. Bartholomew's Massacre, France (1572)
Encarta hedges its bets by giving the death toll as 2 to 100 thousand.
The 15th edition of Britannica (1992) does too: 2 to 70 thousand, although it explains that the low number comes from an unnamed "Catholic apologist", while the high number comes from a contemporary Huguenot, Duke de Sully
The 11th edition of Britannica (1911) was more certain: 50,000 in the whole of France
Davies: 2,000 in Paris
Catholic Encyclopedia: 2000 in Paris; 6000-8000 nationwide
Richard Dunn, The Age of Religious Wars 1559-1715: 3,000 k in Paris, 10,000 k in provinces.
Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History: 10,000
Fox's Book of Martyrs, Ch.IV: 10,000 in Paris; 6,000 in Rouen; 100,000 nationwide.
Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic: 5,000 k in Paris, 25,000-100,000 nationwide.
Rummel: 36,000 democides
Trager, People's Chronology: 50,000
MEDIAN: 3,000 in Paris; 36,000 nationwide
Russo-Tatar War (1571)
Burning of Moscow by Tatars: Half million victims (Henri Troyat, Ivan the Terrible)
Spanish Armada (1588)
PGtH: half of the 30,000 Spanish sailors, sailors etc. lost. 100 English KIA and 3,000 dead from food poisoning.
VD Hanson: Carnage and Culture (2001): 20,000-30,000 d.
Russia, Time of Troubles (1598-1613)
Duffy & Ricci, Czars: Russia's rulers for over one thousand years: Population plummeted from 14M to 9M
Transylvania, Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1604-1611)
PGtH: 650 girls killed for their blood.
Cecil Adams: 610 []
The Thirty Years War (1618-48)
Population Loss
R.J. Rummel: 11.5M total deaths in the war (half democides)
Richard Dunn, The Age of Religious Wars 1559-1715: Empire was 7-8M fewer
C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (1938): "The old legend that the population dropped from sixteen to four million people, rests on imagination: both figures are incorrect. The German Empire, including Alsace but excluding the Netherlands and Bohemia, probably numbered about twenty-one millions in 1618, and rather less than thirteen and a half millions in 1648. [A loss of 7½ million.] Certain authorities believe that the loss was less, but these are for the most part writers of a militaristic epoch, anxious to destroy the ugly scarecrow which throws so long a shadow over the glorious past."
Alan McFarlane, The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap (2003): Population of Germany went from 21M to13.5M. [a loss of 7.5M]
Geoffrey Parker, The Thirty Years War (1984): The population declined from 20M to 16 or 17M -- a loss of 3 or 4 million.
Colin McEvedy, Atlas of World Population History "Germany" (1978): Population inside modern borders of Germany, 2M fewer.
MEDIAN: Of the six estimates of the overall loss of population, the median is 7½M.
Military Deaths
Clodfelter: "one source" estimates 350,000 k. in battle
K. in Battle: 180,000
Military. Killed and died: 600,000
Levy, War in the Modern Great Power System: 2,071,000 battle d.
British Isles, 1641-52
English Civil War
Charles Carlton, Going to the Wars: the experience of the British Civil Wars, 1638-1651 (1992)
England & Wales: 190,000
Total k. in recorded fights: 84,830
Parliament: 34,130
Royalist: 50,700
War-related diseases, soldiers & civilians: 100,000
Bishop's Wars: 1,000
Accidents: ca. 500
(Thomas Hobbes est. 100,000 d. from fighting & disease.)
Scotland: 60,000
Total k. in recorded fights: 27,895
Parliament: 16,245
Royalist: 11,765
[Disease: ca. 30,000], incl. ca. 10,000 POWs who never came home
Ireland: 618,000 [see below for details.]
TOTAL: 868,000
Leslie Clarkson, Death Disease & Famine in Pre-industrial England (1975): 100,000 Englishmen, 1642-46 (citing another unnamed author, and doubting that this refers to battle deaths alone -- must include deaths by all causes)
Sorokin: 50,500 battle losses, all sides, 1642-51
Charles Carlton, Going to the Wars (1992)
Petty's 1672 estimate of dead in Ireland, covering 10/1641-10/1653:
Protestants d. by war, dis., malnu.: 112,000, incl. 37,000 massacred at outbreak. Carlton says that 37,000 is exaggeration by factor of 9 or 10.
Catholic d.: 504,000
Total: 618,000 [sic.]
R.F. Foster, Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (1988)
Irish population decline from 2.0M (ca. 1640) to 1.7M (1672) [i.e.: 300,000]
1641: 4,000 k. in Ulster
Pitirim Sorokin:
The Sociology of Revolution (1967): 100,000 to 200,000 Irish massacred, 1651
Social and Cultural Dynamics, vol.3: 5,500 battle losses, 1649-52
Hirst, Authority & Conflict: England, 1603-1658 (1986): Ulster rebellion, 1641: 4,000 Protestants k. immediately + 8,000 refugees died in winter.
Morgan, Oxford History of Britain: Ulster rebellion, 1641: 3,000 Protestants k.
France, The Fronde (1648-53)
Clodfelter: >50,000, only a fraction in battle
Poland (1648-54)
Dnieper Cossack Rebellion under Chmielnicki: 100,000 Jews k. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, also Lipman,]
Clodfelter: 150,000-200,000 Jews k. in pogrom, Ukraine, 1648-49
England (17th C)
LOC []: 243 Quakers died in jail of mistreatment, 1652-80
Russia, (1667-71)
Razin Rebellion in Volga area: 100,000 serfs d. (Richard Dunn, The Age of Religious Wars 1559-1715)
Franco-Dutch War (1672-78)
Levy: 342,000
New England, King Philip's War (1675-76)
1992 Britannica: 3,000 Indians and 600 settlers.
Habsburg-Ottoman War (1682-99)
Clodfelter: 120,000 k.
Levy: 384,000
Russia, Peter the Great (Pyotr Alekseyevich, r.1682-1721)
Peter Neville, A Traveller's History of Russia and the USSR
Worker deaths during the building of St. Petersburg: "[C]ontemporary estimates gave a figure of 100,000 dead which is an exaggeration, but a figure of 30,000 is quite probable."
After 1699 revolt, 1,200 strelsky (musketeers) were killed.
War of the League of Augsburg (1688-97)
Levy: 680,000
(For the 18th Century, see wars18c.htm
(For the 19th Century, see wars19c.htm)
(For the 20th Century, see warstat1.htm, et seq.)
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Old 03-05-2008, 04:01 PM
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by conquistador_ View Post

I wasn't kidding when I said Rome's greatest war was with the Jews, which took 75 years with numerous uprisings, and a toll of almost 2M Jewish lives. Because one nation refused to surrender its beliefs: still the NT spewed that Jews rejected its newfound religion, thus they're dis-believers - while attaching Roman as its prefix. And everyone believed the NT.

European christianity out did Rome and went on to become the greatest murderers of humans - all in the name of love and IN JC. The muslims are lagging behind - but only out of a lack of ability and screaming allah akbar in the wrong pitch. Its all a zionist plot - so says the two biggest murderous groups. And everyone believes it. IMHO, but for the OT laws - chrstians and muslims would have long ago made humanity Jurasic.
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