It will come as a great surprise and comfort to medievalists and weary travelers alike that Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. Pray do not let the Middle English muddle you, for Chaucer has much good counsel for we moderns about the nefarious ends to which terrorists were willing to go in his day to place "Serpentes on a Shippe!" He describes one such ancient incident that sounds eerily like the real and imagined threats to air travel we face today, a scheme so nefarious it is worthy of big screen treatment in a Hollywood blockbuster.
"Withinne the hulle of the shipe he had privilye yputte manye a caske fulle of serpentes and wormes and foul addres, and therto he put aboute the boate a philtre ycleped Far-Amoun by the Arabes, the which maketh serpentes to freke the helle oute and starte juste bitinge eny oon thei see. And wyth alchemy he sette the lockes of the caskes for to bursten whan the boate was yn the middel of the see. And yn this wise nat oon of the securitee gardes did knowe of the ambusshe of the serpentes that was to be, even thogh thei did make al the passengers remove her toothpickes and lettre-openeres and especiallye ther jarres of oyntmentz and sportes-drinkes. And thus the vessel departed wyth the serpentes hidden vpon it."
Geoffrey Chaucer has done us a great service in exposing this terrible case of naval insecurity, though I fear once loose in the blogosphere it may inspire modern-day copycat acts of terrorism. Be sure to read this blog before it is blocked by Homeland Security: it does originate in England, after all. I can also recommend the blog of his sister-in-law Katherine de Swyneford, who shares many amusing anecdotes of medieval living.