Fun Facts about History

Fantastic facts about the past as it is described in written documents, and the study thereof.

lord byron

Lord Byron had a pet bear, three pet monkeys and a pet crocodile in his house

Who was Lord Byron? Described as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know,’ Byron was born in London in 1788, son of Captain John (“Mad Jack”) Byron. Lord Byron was a scoundrel, revolutionary and groundbreaking poet, considered one of the leaders of the romantic movement. He is also known for his many love affairs with both …

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alexandra limp victorian fashion ladies

Discover the Alexandra Limp and other bizarre Victorian fashions

The Alexandra Limp In 1863 Alexandra of Denmark married the Princess of Wales. She was very popular and particularly admired for her style among fashion-conscious women of society. Everything the Princess did, the fashionable young women would copy. So when she wore a choker to hide a scar on her neck, all well-to-do women wore …

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burlesque dancer

Meet the Burlesque dancer who unleashed her pet cheetah on an orchestra

Icon of the Jazz Age Burlesque dancer, French Resistance agent, human-rights activist and iconic symbol of the Jazz age, Josephine Baker was often called ‘the Black Venus,’ but was much more than just a burlesque dancer. Street urchin Josephine was born into a poor family in St Louis Missouri. Aged 13 she was living on …

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pont saint espirit

The mysterious collective madness of an entire French town in 1951, by the CIA?

In 1951 the people in the town of Pont Saint Espirit in Southern France went collectively insane. A mysterious delirious affliction affected hundreds of people and their pets. Twenty percent of the victims had to be incarcerated in mental asylums, and seven people died. On the night of the 24th August people were heard crying …

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spanish flu

Spanish flu killed 5 times more than WWI and the Black Plague put together

Not a fun fact but perhaps surprising. In 1918 an epidemic called ‘Spanish Flu’ killed about 50 million people or 3% of the global population. It claimed more lives than the First World War (8.5 million) or the Black Plague (20 million). Bonus fact: Why was it called Spanish flu? The global pandemic became known …

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meteorite

The first iron tools were made from meteorites

For years scientists and historians have been puzzled by mysterious iron artefacts found thousands of years before the Iron Age. Albert Jambon (French Museum of Natural History) discovered that the artefacts were in fact made from meteors. For decades historians have been puzzled by iron beads dating from 5000 years ago were discovered in Gerzeh …

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coronavirus

Why is it called quarantine?

The word quarantine comes from quarantena, the Venetian for ‘forty’. This is because during the times of the Black Death (15th century) ships returning to Venice were ordered to remain on an island for 40 days( which is where we get the word ‘isolation’ coming from the latin ‘insula’ meaning island). Why 40 days? The …

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a statue of Genghis Khan in Mongolia

In Mongolia Genghis Khan is a national hero

He may have been responsible for the deaths of around 40 million people but in Mongolia Genghis Khan is a national treasure with rock star status. He is considered the greatest hero in Mongolian history and most Mongolians worship him. There are statues of him in every town and many places, buildings and businesses named …

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“If I die you’re all coming too!” What were ‘retainer sacrifices’?

When Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs died, their court officials, servants, and artisans would often be sacrificed so that they could accompany them in the afterlife. The Ancient Mesopotamians also carried out these ‘retainer sacrifices.’ In the famous tomb of Queen Puabi were found 74 attendants, 6 men and 68 women, all adorned with gold and silver. …

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golden fly

Forget the Victoria Cross, what about the ‘Order of the Golden Fly’?

Forget the Victoria Cross or the Medal of Honor, Ancient Egyptians were awarded the Golden Fly for the their military succcesses. The fly represented tenacity, the ability to keep harrying your enemy like a horsefly that just won’t give up. They were also awarded to female soldiers and spies. The pendants were awarded by the …

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Weimar, Schlossmuseum, Angelica Kauffmann, Julia learns the supposed death of her husband Pompeius

Ancient Romans called all their daughters the same name

The Ancient Romans called all their daughters the same name and then used numbers to distinguish them. They called their daughters in the feminine form of their father’s first name. For example Julius Ceasar’s daughter was called Julia. If he’d had any more daughters they would have all been called Julia too! This created problems …

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