Stories from history – curious facts from the past
“The truth is stranger than any fiction.” No one can confirm this expression from English better than historians from all over the world. The myriad of curious facts that historians can tell overshadow anything that could be imagined.
The strangest videos. (Scroll down to the article.)
Whether it’s mummy-eating Europeans or filthy cursing parrots that amaze you – there are so many bizarre historical facts that studying them never gets boring.
Much of the curious historian facts have to do with human stupidity. All too often, when you read them, you catch yourself thinking, “That would have happened to me as well.”
Curtain up on some particularly crazy stories from history.
1. Not a nice funeral
William the Conqueror exploded in his coffin. He died of an intestinal infection and decomposition gases accumulated inside. When he was placed in the coffin for his burial, the body gave way to the pent-up pressure.
2. A man and his bird
Andrew Jackson (1829–1837), the seventh President of the United States of America, had a tame parrot. Jackson was a man who liked and often tossed around with vulgar curses and swear words. After all, at his funeral, the parrot had to be carried out because he kept screaming obscenely.
3. That hurt
Jack Daniel, after whom his world-famous cheap whiskey is named, died of an inflamed toe. Mr. Daniel had kicked his own safe in anger when he couldn’t remember the combination.
4. This is bad luck
Bobby Leach was a daredevil stuntman who made a name for himself by crawling into a barrel-like capsule and rushing down Niagara Falls in it. He died in 1926 when he slipped on an orange peel.
5. It was one of those evenings
Captain Benjamin Hornigold, once a pirate, later a pirate hunter – both on behalf of the English crown – led an exciting life in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Once he is said to have attacked a ship just to steal their hats from the entire crew. The night before, he and his crew had gotten drunk and for a reason no one could remember afterwards, they had all thrown their own hats overboard.
6. Would he have liked that?
Harold Holt (1908–1967), the 17th Prime Minister of Australia, drowned in a swimming accident. The country named a public swimming pool after him.
7. Emus laughed last
In 1932, Australia lost what would go down in national history as “The Great Emu War”, and indeed against a lot of birds. Thousands of emus had devastated the wheat fields in the west of the country until the government sent armed soldiers against them. The birds turned out to be smarter than they looked, and eventually a long fence was just built.
8. Whimsical facts of a calamity
The Titanic’s lookout had no binoculars. For a long time it was thought that these had been forgotten on land, but it turned out that they were on board – locked in a safe.
9. The turtle wasn’t thrilled either
It is said that the Greek dramaturge Aeschylus died because an eagle dropped a turtle on his head. The birds drop turtles from great heights on rocks to crack open their shells – maybe this eagle was a little short-sighted.
10. Dance to the death
In 1518 a woman suddenly started dancing in the city of Strasbourg. Around 400 people joined her during the month. They danced for so long for no reason that they fell into a frenzy that made them feel no more exhaustion. Many of them literally danced themselves to death until about 50 of them collapsed and died. To date, it has not been possible to explain where the dance madness came from, even if there is the theory that the citizens of the city had eaten cereal infected with the ergot fungus and suffered from hallucinations as a result.
11. In Her Majesty’s Service
Contrary to popular belief, carrots do not measurably improve eyesight. This is a lie that was circulated by the British military during World War II. This was to explain how the British pilots always seemed to know where the German attackers would be coming from. Before pointing out his successful espionage work, one wanted to praise a root vegetable. However, a good supply of the vitamin A contained in carrots is actually important to prevent early blindness.
12. Kings should also be careful where they run to
Not just one, but two kings of France died because they hit their heads on a door frame. Louis III in 882 and Charles VIII in 1498.
13. The disputed island
Hans Island is basically just a 1.25 square kilometer rock with no residents, trees, shrubs or animals that both Canada and Denmark claim. When the border between the Danish-ruled Greenland and Canada was determined in 1973, nobody had the time or inclination to deal with the little rock. The decision on who should own the Hans Island was postponed. In 2005, both countries hoisted their respective flags, but promised each other to resolve the question of ownership at some point. Since then, both Canada and Denmark have alternated expeditions to Hans Island. Each time the visitors remove the competitor’s flag, plant their own and leave a bottle of local schnapps.
14. Quackery is booming
Europeans ate mummies for years. It has been mistakenly believed that mummies contain the substance mumijo. Mumijo – or Asphaltum punjabinum – has been used in Central Asian medicine as a remedy and tonic for thousands of years. The material bitumen, which is used in the mummification process, looks similar to the mummy. The similarity of names and the mix-up of the substances led Europeans to believe that mummies contained the coveted medicine. Soon mummies were being shipped on a large scale, ground into powder and made into questionable remedies that were selling at breakneck speed. At some point, mummies were in short supply – and a lot of irreplaceable cultural treasures had been consumed in extremely unsavory ways.
15. Worst farm day ever
On July 26, 1184, King Henry VI sat. advised with a large retinue of princes and bishops on the upper floor of the cathedral provost of the city of Erfurt. Suddenly the old and rotten floor of the storey gave way under the weight of the many people. Most of them fell and the floor of the lower floor couldn’t take the impact of all the people. Those who fell fell into the pit below, into which the excrement from all the toilets in the house was channeled. About 60 people drowned and suffocated in it. King Heinrich himself was sitting in a stone window niche when the wooden floor broke away and was saved from the floor by a ladder. He left Erfurt immediately.
Many of these curious facts from days gone by have been carefully documented. Lucky for everyone who still wants to wonder nowadays what went wrong back then and how it came about. History just inspires – even if it tells of incredible disasters.
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