This Wooden Bucket Is The Reason For 2000 Deaths!

This Wooden Bucket Is The Reason For 2000 Deaths!

Imagine a single wooden bucket sparking a war that leads to 2000 deaths. In the early 14th century, Italy was a patchwork of fiercely independent city-states. Each had its own customs and political allegiances. During this period of intense feud, a theft of a wooden bucket created the War of the Oaken Bucket between Bologna and Modena. Let’s have a closer look at what happened. 

What Started The War Of The Bucket?

The roots of this conflict trace back to the early 1300s. After the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa declared himself the ruler of Italy, the nation was split between two factions. The Ghibellines supported the Emperor, and the Guelphs backed the Pope. 

This division fueled ongoing irritation and fights among the city-states. In 1325, this rivalry escalated when soldiers from Modena, stole a wooden bucket from a public well in Bologna, a Guelphic city. This act of theft turned long-standing tensions into an open conflict.

“The War Of The Oaken Bucket”

As war broke out, the military strategies of Bologna and Modena sharply differed. Bologna amassed an army of 32,000 troops, supported by other Guelphic forces and even the Pope himself. 

On the other hand, Modena could only muster 7,000 soldiers. But these included experienced German mercenaries. Despite their disadvantage in numbers, Modena’s forces were better trained and managed. The decisive battle occurred outside Zappolino. This was where the disorganized Bolognese forces were defeated by Modena’s troops.

This Wooden Bucket Is The Reason For 2000 Deaths
Image source: The Amusing Planet / Quora

The Human Cost and Aftermath

The war resulted in around 2,000 casualties. Its immediate aftermath saw Bologna humiliated and forced to stay within its walls. Modena mocked their defeated rivals by staging a mock decathlon outside the city.

A ceasefire signed in January 1326 temporarily settled the conflict. However, the hostility continued for centuries. It affected the political landscape of Italy until its unification in the 19th century.

Where Is The Bucket Now?

Today, the War of the Bucket is both a historical curiosity and a symbol of how minor disputes can lead to significant consequences. 

The original bucket, claimed by Modena after their victory, is now displayed in the Palazzo Comunale. A replica is also hanging in the Torre della Ghirlandina. This peculiar relic continues to be a point of playful dispute between Bologna and Modena. 


The War of the Oaken Bucket serves as a reminder of the power of symbolism and the impact of cultural identity on historical events. It prompts us to reflect on other incidents in history that might seem trivial but have had profound implications. As we delve into these stories, we uncover the complex tapestry of human society and the enduring influence of seemingly small events on the course of history.

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