History – the subject that often feels like a collection of dry dates and dusty textbooks. But what if we told you that beneath those seemingly mundane details lies a world of weird history facts that will make your jaw drop? From fashion faux pas that will make you question our ancestors’ taste to outlandish historical figures who defy the conventional norms, this journey promises to unearth some truly remarkable and often overlooked tales.
1. King Charles I wore two shirts at his execution
Scheduled to take place on Tuesday 30 January, you kinda have an idea of just how cold the weather was. Upon waking, the king asked for two shirts so people don’t confuse his shivering from cold with shivering from fear.
2. Alexander the Great named more than 70 cities after himself
Yes, he placed the “Alexandria” name plate on more than 70 cities. The exact number of cities named after Alexander still remains uncertain, but it is important to know that many of the cities he founded were also named after various individuals, including his companions, family members, or deities.
3. Count Dracula was inspired by a real person
4. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth
This is a myth that seems to be deep rooted in that the first American President had quite severe dental problems. His passion for cracking nuts with his teeth surely didn’t help. However, he had real teeth, from both living and deceased ‘donors’, along with animal teeth and ivory ones. All these were held together with wires and springs, making chewing a rather unpleasant episode.
5. The Great Emu War
In 1932, Australia declared war on emus. The country’s military was deployed to combat the large population of emus that were causing havoc for farmers. However, the emus proved to be elusive, and the military’s efforts to eradicate them were largely unsuccessful.
6. The Dancing Plague of 1518
In Strasbourg, France, a bizarre phenomenon occurred where hundreds of people started dancing uncontrollably in the streets. The dancing persisted for weeks, and it is believed to have been a form of mass hysteria or a reaction to stress and extreme conditions.
7. The Tulip Mania
In the 17th century, the Netherlands experienced a speculative bubble known as the “Tulip Mania.” People were willing to pay exorbitant prices for tulip bulbs, sometimes even more than gold. Eventually, the market crashed, leaving many investors bankrupt.
8. The Ketchup as Medicine Gimmick
In the 1800s, ketchup was marketed as a medicinal product. It was believed to have healing properties and was promoted as a treatment for ailments like indigestion, diarrhea, and jaundice. Dr. John Cook Bennett, an American physician, started this ‘trend’ and even came up with the idea of selling tomato pills.
9. Mike the Headless Chicken
In 1945, a chicken named Mike had its head chopped off, but surprisingly, it survived for 18 months. Mike became a celebrity and toured around the United States as “The Headless Wonder Chicken” before eventually passing away.
10. The Bicycle Face Hysteria
In the late 19th century, the invention of bicycles led to a phenomenon known as “bicycle face.” It was a term used to describe the supposed facial strain and deformities that women would develop from riding bicycles. This fear was largely unfounded and fueled by societal concerns about women’s increasing independence.
11. The Basque Witch Trials
In the 17th century, a series of witch trials took place in the Basque region of Spain and France. What made these trials peculiar was that many of the accused witches were believed to have the ability to transform into animals, such as wolves or birds.
12. The Flammable Fashion
In the 18th century, ladies’ fashion often involved wearing voluminous dresses adorned with ribbons, bows, and other decorative items. Unfortunately, these highly flammable garments posed a significant fire hazard, resulting in numerous incidents and even deaths.
13. The Great Stork Derby
In the 1920s, a Canadian lawyer named Charles Vance Millar left a bizarre clause in his will, stating that the woman who gave birth to the most children within a specified time period would inherit his substantial fortune. This led to a race among women in Toronto to have as many babies as possible between 1926 and 1936, known as the “Great Stork Derby.”
14. The Millerite Movement
In the 19th century, a religious movement called the Millerite Movement gained popularity in the United States. Followers believed that the world would come to an end on October 22, 1844. When the predicted date passed without incident, it became known as the “Great Disappointment.”
15. The Codpiece Fashion Trend
During the 15th and 16th centuries, men in Europe wore padded pouches called codpieces over their groin area as a fashion statement. These exaggerated garments were often elaborately decorated and served both practical and symbolic purposes.
16. The Great Boston Molasses Flood
In 1919, a massive tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses ruptured in Boston, resulting in a wave of sticky molasses that flooded the streets at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The incident caused extensive damage and tragically took the lives of 21 people.
17. The Corpse Medicine Trade
In medieval Europe, it was believed that consuming human body parts had medicinal properties. Human bones, blood, and even mummies were ground into powders or consumed as remedies for various ailments.
18. The Cod Wars
In the 20th century, a series of conflicts known as the “Cod Wars” occurred between Iceland and the United Kingdom. These disputes were centered around fishing rights in the North Atlantic, with both nations deploying their navies and coast guard vessels to protect their interests.
19. The Human Hair Jewelry
During the Victorian era, it was common for people to create intricate jewelry and keepsakes using human hair. Locks of hair were woven into bracelets, brooches, and even mourning wreaths as sentimental mementos.
20. Cleopatra Was A Polyglot
Yes, Cleopatra was indeed a polyglot. As the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra VII was known for her ability to speak multiple languages. She was fluent in her native language, Egyptian, which included the dialects of Koine Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphs. She also spoke Ethiopian, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Median, Parthian, an Arabic language and the Troglodytes language.
Remember, beneath the polished surface of mainstream narratives lies a hidden trove of oddities, reminding us that the human story is as diverse and eccentric as it is fascinating. So, keep your curiosity alive, embrace the unconventional, and never stop seeking those weird history facts that make history an endless source of wonder.
Recommended reading next: Creepy places in the US
What is one useless fact?
People are less afraid of dying than they are of spiders. How about that?
Is history made up of facts?
No. History is made up of a combination of what ancestors recorded and what we think happened based on those recordings.