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20 Fascinating Historical Facts You Didn't Know

Unraveling lesser-known historical facts

By Dennis Thomas IVPublished 10 months ago 5 min read
20 Fascinating Historical Facts You Didn't Know
Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Unveiling the Past of lesser-known historical facts : 20 Fascinating Historical Facts You Didn't Know

Discovering lesser-known historical facts can be truly fascinating, shedding new light on the events and figures that have shaped our world. From wars starting over food to curious incidents involving famous personalities, history is filled with intriguing stories that many of us have yet to uncover. In this article, we'll delve into 20 captivating historical facts that you might not know.

Wars That Incredibly Started Over Food

While it may seem unlikely, several wars throughout history were triggered by food-related disputes. One such example is the "Pastry War" of 1838-1839, involving Mexico and France. It began when a French pastry chef, Monsieur Remontell, requested compensation from the Mexican government for damages caused to his pastry shop by Mexican soldiers. This seemingly trivial conflict escalated, leading to a full-fledged war between the two nations.

Olympics Once Awarded Medals for Exquisite Arts

Between 1912 and 1948, the Olympic Games featured competitions in various artistic categories, including literature, architecture, sculpture, painting, and music. Medals were awarded to talented artists and writers, making the Olympics a celebration of both physical and artistic prowess.

Napoleon's Unusual Encounter with Bunnies

The mighty Napoleon faced an unexpected challenge when a horde of rabbits attacked him during a rabbit hunt in 1807. The incident occurred when domesticated rabbits, hungry and mistaking Napoleon for food, swarmed around him, nibbling at his clothes and boots.

Poisoning Alcohol During Prohibition

During the Prohibition era in the United States (1920-1933), the government attempted to curb alcohol abuse by mandating the addition of toxic chemicals to industrial alcohol. The aim was to discourage illegal consumption, but the plan resulted in thousands of deaths from alcohol-related poisonings.

Over 600 Plots to Kill Fidel Castro

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro was the target of more than 600 assassination attempts throughout his life. Despite numerous attempts, including poisoning and exploding podiums during speeches, Castro survived them all, earning him the title of a legendary survivor.

Pope Gregory IX's War on Cats

Pope Gregory IX declared a war on cats in the 13th century, considering them to be associated with the devil. The belief led to the mass killing of cats, resulting in an increase in the rat population and contributing to the spread of the bubonic plague.

The Real America's Independence Day

Contrary to popular belief, America's true independence day is not July 4th. The colonies voted to become a new nation on July 2, 1776, making it the actual Independence Day. The date of July 4th is associated with the final version of the Declaration of Independence, which was delivered to the printer.

Thomas Edison and the Electric Light Bulb

Thomas Edison is often credited with inventing the electric light bulb, but he actually perfected the design. The concept of electric light bulbs dates back to the early 19th century, with earlier versions created by European inventors such as Humphry Davy and Warren De La Rue.

George Washington's Wooden Teeth Myth

Contrary to popular legend, George Washington did not have wooden teeth. While he did suffer from dental issues, his dentures were made from a combination of materials, including ivory, gold, lead, and human teeth. The wooden teeth myth likely originated due to the staining of ivory dentures.

Columbus Didn't Discover America

Christopher Columbus is often credited with discovering America, but the Americas were already inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years before his arrival. Columbus's voyages did lead to European exploration and colonization of the continent.

Execution by Elephants

Elephants were used for brutal executions in ancient India and parts of South and Southeast Asia. Known as "gunga Rao," this form of execution involved crushing the limbs of a convicted person with the brute force of an elephant, resulting in a slow and torturous death.

The World's Oldest Parliament

Iceland's Althing, established in 930, is considered the oldest national parliament in the world. It was a meeting of powerful leaders who made laws and rules on matters of justice. The Althing still exists today, making Iceland a nation with a long-standing parliamentary tradition.

Turkeys Were Once Worshipped as Gods

The Mayans regarded turkeys as vessels of the gods and used them in religious rituals. These birds were associated with power and prestige and were mostly owned by the rich and powerful. Turkeys played a significant role in Mayan cultural practices.

The Ancient Practice of Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years in India, making it one of the oldest known forms of physical and mental discipline. Originally integrated into religious rituals, yoga has evolved and gained popularity worldwide as a holistic approach to health and well-being.

Egyptians Used Stone Pillows

Ancient Egyptians used stone headrests as pillows while sleeping. These headrests were designed to keep the head elevated and allow air currents to cool the sleeper in hot climates. Stone pillows were believed to protect the spiritual life represented by the head.

The Shortest War in History

The Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 holds the record for the shortest war ever, lasting only 38 minutes. It erupted when Britain tried to install its own puppet sultan in Zanzibar after the death of the previous ruler. The British quickly bombarded the palace, and the war was over within minutes.

The All-Thing - The World's Oldest Parliament

Iceland's Althing, established in 930, is considered the oldest national parliament in the world. It was a meeting of powerful leaders who made laws and rules on matters of justice. The Althing still exists today, making Iceland a nation with a long-standing parliamentary tradition.

The Vikings Settled in America Before Columbus

Viking explorer Eric the Red established a colony in Greenland during the 10th century, while his son Leif Erikson founded a settlement in Newfoundland. These settlements predate Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas.

The Mayans Developed a Calendar System

The ancient Mayans were skilled astronomers who developed an advanced calendar system. Their calendar included a combination of solar and ritual cycles, demonstrating their profound understanding of celestial movements.

Einstein's Brain Was Stolen After His Death

After Albert Einstein's death in 1955, a pathologist named Thomas Stoltz Harvey removed Einstein's brain without his family's permission for scientific study. For decades, Einstein's brain was kept in jars and later sectioned for research, aiming to uncover the secrets of his extraordinary intellect.

Unraveling lesser-known historical facts can be both surprising and enlightening, offering new perspectives on the events and people that shaped our world. From wars over food to quirky incidents involving prominent figures, history continues to captivate with its rich tapestry of tales. The more we explore and discover, the deeper our understanding of the past becomes.

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Dennis Thomas IV

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