As I said when I created this blog: history is not only what we learn at school, and I wanted to show you that what I said was actually true, so my new post is about historical curiosities, everything you didn’t know about history.
Here you have 50 curiosities from the earliest civilizations until nowadays:
1. The Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Ibrahim I had 280 of his concubines drowned in the ocean after one of them slept with another man.
2. In medieval times people were put to death for being witches. One anthropologist conjectures as many as 600,000 “witches” lost their lives.
3. Mexican General Santa Anna had an elaborate state funeral for his amputated leg.
4. Tens of thousands of baby girls were abandoned each year in China because of the country’s one-child policy.
5. Before the mid-19th century dentures were commonly made with teeth pulled from the mouths of dead soldiers.
6. Roman Emperor Gaius made his beloved horse a senator.
7. Ice age Britons used skulls of the dead as cups.
8. After Pope Gregory IX associated cats with devil worship, cats throughout Europe were exterminated in droves.
9. This sudden lack of cats led to the spread of disease because infected rats ran free. The most devastating of these diseases, the Bubonic Plague, killed 100 million people.
10. The Aztecs made human sacrifices to the gods. In 1487, at the dedication of the temple in Tenochtitlan, 20,000 people were put to death.
11. The Mayans also made sacrifices. The most common involved pulling a still-beating heart out of a victim’s chest.
12. In the 13th century 30,000 children went on what is known as the Children’s Crusade. They were convinced God would allow them to take back the Holy Land without incident, but most died on the journey or were sold into slavery.
13. In ancient Egypt, servants were smeared with honey in order to attract flies away from the pharaoh.
14. Upon dying, some pharaohs were sealed into their tombs alongside their living servants, pets, and concubines.
15. The Romans used human urine as mouthwash.
16. In 1788 the Austrian army attacked itself and lost 10,000 men.
17. Before becoming pope, Pius II wrote a popular erotic book, The Tale of Two Lovers.
18. People were buried alive so often in the 19th century that inventors patented safety coffins that would give the “dead” the ability to alert those above ground if they were still alive.
19. Approximately 750,000 men died in the Civil War, which was more than 2.5% of America’s population at the time.
20. In Medieval times the accused often faced a “trial by ordeal,” where they were forced to stick their arm into a vat of boiling water. If their arm emerged unscathed, it was believed God protected them, thus proving their innocence.
21. Animals were put on trial in medieval times and routinely sentenced to death.
22. Beginning in 1909 (and continuing into the 1970s), the Australian government instituted a policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents and teaching them to reject their Aboriginality.
23. In the 1970s Pol Pot’s communist regime brainwashed thousands of Cambodian children into becoming soldiers who committed mass murders and other atrocities.
24. Japanese samurais disemboweled themselves with their sword (an act known as seppuko) when in danger of being captured.
25. New research suggests that 15–20 million people were murdered or imprisoned by the Nazis during the Holocaust, much more than previously believed.
26. Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the USSR from 1929–1953, is believed to have killed between 20-60 million people.
27. Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States, Caribbean, and South America.
28. The introduction of Europeans to the New World saw the Native American population drop from an estimated 12 million in 1500 to barely 237,000 in 1900.
29. In the 19th century a popular medicine for kids, “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,” included morphine.
30. In 1917, Margaret Sanger was jailed for one month for establishing the first birth control clinic.
31. In Venice during the Renaissance there was a case where a rapist was given the choice of going to jail for six months, paying a fine, or marrying his victim. He chose marriage.
32. Chairman Mao Zedong killed 45 million people during China’s “Great Leap Forward” from 1958–1962.
33. Peter the Great executed his wife’s lover, then forced her to keep her lover’s head in a jar of alcohol in her bedroom.
34. In 16th-century Canada, women drank a potion with beaver testicles ground into it as a form of contraception.
35. Genghis Khan killed 40 million people across Asia and Europe.
36. In the 16th and 17th century wealthy Europeans ate corpses thinking they’d cure them of ailments.
37. They even ate the remains of Egyptian mummies, which tomb raiders risked their lives to steal.
38. In the 15th century Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler impaled 20,000 Ottoman Turks on long, sharp poles on the banks of the Danube.
39. Vlad also enjoyed sopping up his enemies’ blood with bread and eating it. This disturbing practice, along with his family name of Dracula and birthplace of Transylvania, inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
40. African-American men were not deemed equal members of the Mormon Church until 1978.
41. South Africans gave gay and lesbian soldiers sex changes in an attempt to root out homosexuality in their army.
42. In early Rome a father could legally kill anyone in his family.
43. After finding a 36,000 year old steppe bison preserved in the ice, Alaskan zoology professor R. Dale Guthrie and his team ate some of its flesh. Guthrie said “the meat was well aged but still a little tough.”
44. Child killer and rapist Pedro Lopez, known as “The Monster of the Andes,” was convicted in 1983 of killing 110 young girls (though he confessed to killing 300).
45. Lopez was released in 1998 after serving Ecuador’s maximum sentence of 20 years. His whereabouts are presently unknown.
46. The Roman Emperor Commodus collected all the disabled and little people he could find and ordered them to fight each other to the death with meat cleavers in the Colosseum.
47. Prior to the 1960s tobacco companies ran physician-endorsed ads that suggested smoking had health benefits.
48.Soviet biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov attempted to impregnate a chimpanzee with human sperm, but failed in his quest to make a “humanzee.”
49. In 755 A.D. the An Lushan rebellion against the Chinese Tang Dynasty resulted in 36 million deaths, or one-sixth of the entire world population.
50. In colonial America pregnant women didn’t receive painkillers during delivery because pain was considered God’s punishment for Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit.