1. The American hippo bill. During a meat crisis in 1910, some American legislators wanted to introduce African hippos to the southern wetlands so we could all enjoy “lake cow bacon.” Obviously, the bill never passed.
2. The time a pope dug up another pope’s skeleton, put it on trial, found it guilty, had it reburied, dug it up again, and chucked it into the river. Here’s how it went down:
So… Pope Stephen VI really hated the guy that was pope before the guy that was pope before him, aka Pope Formosus. I believe their relationship would be called “pope twice removed”. That line will work on two levels in just a second.
Anyways, so Steph super hated him. It was pretty much all because of powerful families and politics and grudges. Still, Pope is a literally life long gig, and that means the guy he hated had been dead for a bit by the time Stu became Pope. So what did Steven do? Why he dug up the ultra dead previous pontiff and put his skeleton on trial of course!
He was found guilty, striped of his garments, had three fingers removed (they were his blessin’ fingers), was redressed in peasant garb, and reburied in a pauper’s grave.
This didn’t feel like enough for Ol’ Stevie Vi, so he dug him up again and had him chucked into the Tiber River.
Stephen VI was then imprisoned for the whole thing and later strangled. History!
3. Romans believed in other peoples gods/goddess. So when they would attack a city they would pray to the god/gods of said city to abandon the occupants and support the Romans instead. If they won they would give the god a special place in Rome or completely incorporate it into the state religion.
Also the Ancient Greeks did not view it as gay or straight they saw it as dominant and submissive. In short they had no concept of being gay.
4. Alboin, King of the Lombards, took his wife Rosamund as a spoil of war after he killed her father in the Lombard-Gepid War. Then at one point he made her drink from her father’s skull, telling her to “drink merrily with your father.” She had him assassinated.
5. For all the history about WWII that is often bandied about in the culture at large I had never heard about the fascinating double-agent Juan Pujol Garcia, also known by his codename: Garbo.
The story: (Continued)
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Juan was from Spain and had become disgusted by fascism. He wrote letters to the UK and the US saying “hey, I’ll spy on Germany for you guys!” UK and US said “Nah, we got this.”
Juan said to himself “I’ll go ahead and spy anyway” and posed as a Nazi-loving Spanish govt. official to become a German agent. He was assigned to spy on London, but instead went to Lisbon and made up phony reports based on English magazines and newsreels.
After a while, the UK realized someone was doing a jolly good job diverting Nazi resources and took him on as a spy. He worked throughout the war, with Germany funding his totally real network of not at all imaginary spies. He was responsible for diverting many German troops during the invasion of Normandy. He was also awarded medals by both the Nazis and the Brits for his work.
6. That time Liechtenstein sent 80 soldiers to war and they made a friend so they returned with 81.
7. Cargo Cults.
After WWII, some tribes in Pacific islands got their first exposure to “civilization” when US military bases would be setup. The military would bring supplies and food with them which the villagers liked. When the war ended, cults formed that built new runways, mimicked army drills, and even built straw planes to try and bring back the “Gods” that gave them food, medicine, and supplies.
8. The image we have of armored knights being clumsy and slow is basically just Victorian misinformation. Knights were absolutely terrifying.
9. Attila the Hun and his hordes are headed directly for your city, meanwhile they are laying waste to the other cities along the way. They pretty much leave nobody alive.
Well, you’re going to be ok. Your city has some of the best defensive walls in antiquity. They are massive, and arranged in rings and you only need them on one side because the other three sides are water. You are in the biggest and most important city in the Easter Roman Empire. This isn’t some market town. No way those Huns can do any harm.
Just as you’re feeling smug in your safety an earthquake strikes and reduces your walls to rubble.
Well, now you have a few weeks to rebuild those walls before those terrifying hoards come calling. So, how do you manage to do that? Simple, you… (Continued)
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So, how do you manage to do that? Simple, you divide your unruly and uncooperative workers by their political and sports team allegiances (No kidding, they took that kind of stuff pretty seriously back then. Chariot racing teams and political “parties” were aligned) into different competing groups and put them to work. You get those walls rebuilt, better than before, just in time for Atilla to get close enough to realize that he can’t take your city.
10. The exact path of Lewis and Clark.
The reason why is because the men of the group had sex with prostitutes almost immediately at the beginning of the trip and the old cure for syphilis (or whatever) was mercury. So they drank it and inevitably would need to urinate. This left behind mercury as well, which as a heavy metal is easily detectable.
So they just put all this spots on a map and played connect the dots.
11. In Bernal Diaz del Castillo’s The True History of the Conquest of New Spain he mentions that a priest died during his time with Cortez. When searching through his stuff, they found a leather dildo.
Another funny incident: they held Montezuma hostage in modern day Mexico City. While a hostage, he still had gold and was a king, so he was treated half-decently. One of the Spanish guards accidentally farted in his face. The guard was embarrassed and apologized profusely for humiliating a noble. To show there were no hard feelings, Montezuma gave the guard a gold piece. The stupid guard then farted again hoping to get another gold piece.
12. When Cortez conquered the Aztecs he had 10’000’s of native allies who were more than eager to help because the Aztecs used them as slave and sacrifice farms.
13. During the First Sino-Japanese War, a Chinese admiral pawned one of the main guns on his flagship to a scrap dealer, in order to pay off some gambling debts.
This was the same war where the Empress embezzled from the army to fund her palace renovations.
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14. Cato the Elder, a roman senator, would give several vehement speeches, all ending in something along the lines of “Carthago delenda est,” roughly translating to “Carthage must be destroyed. Carthage did end up getting destroyed a couple years after he died.
Years later, Cato the Younger was on the Senate. Julius Caesar was reading a note during a meeting, causing Cato to accuse him of being a spy. After Caesar denied the accusations, Cato asked Caesar to read out the note, because if he really was innocent, he wouldn’t have anything to hide. Caesar agreed. It was a love note from Cato the Younger’s sister.
Furthermore, I think Carthage should be destroyed.
15. The Sea Peoples. I am totally fascinated by them, I am currently reading 1177 B.C The Year Civilization Collapsed by E.H Cline. It focuses on Egypt, who really was the only civilization to withstand the Sea People.
16. “The Savior of Paris”. Paris as we know it may not exist today had it not been for one man. During the German military occupation of France in WWII, Paris became the capital of this occupied zone, while France moved it’s own capital to Vichy to keep the state alive. During this time Paris saw no real bombing or fighting and remained relatively unscathed (compare to London or Berlin by the war’s end). However, the commander of Nazi-led Paris, General Dietrich Von Choltitz was given orders by Hitler to blow up the bridges and level the city should it be overtaken by the Allies, as he would never return it to them the way it was. Within a month the Free French Forces liberated the city and Choltitz had famously ignored Hitler’s call, “Is Paris Burning?”. The General grew fond of the Paris during his short time there and recognized it’s immense cultural and historical importance, so today he is remembered as the savior of Paris.
How the actual call from Hitler went, or whether or not it even took place is debated, but we do know that if Choltitz had not grown sympathetic, we may have lost some of the best parts of Paris.
17. The Byzantine Empire (or the Eastern Roman Empire or whatever you would call it).
All of it.
All the stumbles, all the resurgences, not to mention all the meaningless disasters.
Any nation surviving for 1000 years from the dark ages to the start of the Renaissance has served well in its time, all things considered.
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18. The Aztecs are overlooked in most history classes, but they were far from the primitive tribesmen that most people think of. At the height of its power Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, was rivalled in size by cities like London and Constantinople, and it was all built on a giant artificial island. It’s a shame their culture was obliterated, because though they might have been a bit too obsessed with sacrificial killing, they were an incredibly fascinating civilization.
19. For four years during the 1930s scientists across Europe were splitting the atom and didn’t realize it because they were looking for something else.
The first individual to interpret the results correctly had recently fled Berlin because she (yes, she) had a Jewish heritage. She also calculated the energy release and predicted the potential for a chain reaction. Essentially she worked out the principles behind nuclear weapons, and then turned down an invitation to Los Alamos for moral reasons.
20. Hundreds of U.S. communities started using their own currencies during the Great Depression in order to bypass economic downfall. Of course there was the Dust Bowl and other factors at play, but it generally worked. Sometimes, it’s as simple as stepping outside the systems that are in place. Some of our problems really only exist on paper.
21. I will preface this by saying our sources from the time are sketchy at best, so this may not have happened, but I digress:
We all know Charlemagne yes? King of the Franks and all that. Well, while he did a great deal for the Frankish legacy, he wasn’t the first independent Frankish king. That honour went to a guy named Childeric, and this dude must have been fine because his sexual escapades are insane.
So Childeric was actually king twice, but he never got usurped – nope, he was instead exiled, not for killing anyone or stuff like that, just because he had sex with so many of the Frankish noble’s wives. Genuinely, the sources tell us he was banished because all the lords realised that their wives were all cheating on them with the same dude, and so told the king to piss off. So he duly did, and ended up in the court of another barbarian king as an ally to him. During this time, he got into the royal court, got chatting with the king’s wife, and you guessed it, diddled the lass. Following this, rather than keeping it a thing on the down-low, Childeric straight up declared that he was marrying the wife, ran off with her, and brought her back to the nobles that thought they were finally rid of the horny bastard.
Fortunately for women everywhere, this queen seems to have had a bit of mettle, because nothing else is written about him running off with any other important women. Instead he had a son, a lad named Clovis, and thus began the rise of the Frankish Empire that spawned modern day Germany and France.
So two modern European nations have a grandfather who was just a massive horny man.
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22. My history buff friends used to think it was funny that my favorite war to read about was the War of 1812.
-There were cannons fired over the Niagara River!
-There was a battle in the middle of right outside of New Orleans!
-Detroit was surrendered because Isaac Brock managed to trick them about the size of his army by running around in circles!
-The same Isaac Brock died in the middle of battle, his horse kept going until it was shot and killed!
-The Presidential Mansion got burnt down!
-The same troops that destroyed Washington DC saluted Mount Vernon with cannon fire and refused to damage it because it was named after a British guy!
-The troops that burnt down DC were eventually defeated by a hurricane!
-The British sailed into Lake Champlain and there was a massive naval battle there!
-The British literally tried to reconquer America and the Americans genuinely tried to invade and take parts of Canada!
The War of 1812 is the most badass war that Americans forgot. Lots of people know it happened but the details are incredible to think about.
23. The time a 340 year old museum piece was used to repel an invasion.
The Dardanelles Operation was a fairly minor skirmish during the Napoleonic wars. The Ottomans aligned with the French against Britain and Russia. The British sent a fleet to intimidate the Turks and force them to reopen the strait.
As the British fleet sailed towards Constantinople, French engineers worked with the Turkish army to repair and improve shore defenses. Part of this included reactivating a 340 year old supercannon modeled on the one used in the famed Turkish conquest of Constantinople in the 1400s.
This cannon weighed 17 tons and fired stone cannonballs that were two feet in diameter.
After meeting little resistance from the Turkish fleet, the British were forced to withdraw after taking heavy damage from the shore batteries, including from the colossal “Dardanelles Gun”.