“History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man”—Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The world has been around a really long time, and plenty of interesting stuff has happened since people have been on earth. From the successes and failures of important figures to battles, exploration and discovery, history is mysterious, fascinating and illuminating. Below are 20 historical facts to give you some perspective about how we ended up with this crazy world we live in.
01. At one point during World War 1, German and Russian forces stopped fighting each other to launch a joint attack against a pack of wolves that constantly raided them. Before this, poison, rifle fire, hand grenades, and even machine guns were successively tried in attempts to eradicate the nuisance, but fresh packs would appear in place of those that were killed by the Russian and German troops. As a last resort, the two adversaries, with the consent of their commanders, entered into negotiations for an armistice and joined forces to overcome the wolf plague. The wolves were gradually rounded up, and eventually several hundred of them were killed. The others fled in all directions, making their escape from carnage the like of which they had never encountered. – Source
02. Pope Stephen VI really hated Pope Formosus, who was The Pope before him. Pope Stephen’s hate fom him was pretty much because of powerful families, politics and grudges. But because being Pope is literally a lifelong gig, this meant Pope Formosus was already dead. So what did Pope Stephen do? He dug up the grave of Pope Formosus and put his skeleton on trial. He was found guilty, stripped of his garments, had three of his fingers removed (they were his blessing fingers), was redressed in peasant garb, and reburied in a pauper’s grave. But still his grudge wasn’t over, so he dug him up again and had him chucked into the Tiber River. Stephen VI was then imprisoned for this whole debacle and later strangled.
03. The male member in Rome was seen as a symbol of power, a ward against illness, and protection against the evil eye. Wearing a particularly nice pork sword worked in brass or precious metals was a sign of wealth and social power. Tallywackers would also point towards brothels and acted as a symbol of fertility. Of course, pre-Roman Greeks (and post-Roman naturally) were rocking the phallus imagery too. Somewhat uniquely, the Greeks preferred a rather prettily proportioned penis compared to the bulging pocket rockets of their Roman neighbors. The Greeks thought a more modest member embodied less lustiness. In other words, a big babyspitter was beastly. Maybe even before the Greeks though, the Egyptians were all about the D as it was a symbol of the cult of Osiris; after said deity was dismembered, his member was the only part of him his wife Isis never found. Don’t worry though, she made him a wooden one so he could still make her sing with the old beef whistle.
Concurrently, India was developing its own forms of wang worship, particularly associated with the lingam, a symbol of Shiva, a principal Hindu deity who both transforms and destroys. Naturally, southerly civilizations do not have a monopoly on worshipping the wily willy.
In the Balkans, what is thought to be an offshoot of the cult of Dionysis celebrates the Kuker, a godlike figurehead draped in Slavic proportions of furs with an absolutely titanic tool. And let’s not forget the Japanese. Despite what you might think with all those giffy censor blocks, there’s an ancient and artistic thread of worshipping the male form behind those phallic pixels. For example, the shrine of the bodhisattva Kannon, the goddess of Mercy, in Nagato, is a destination for pilgrims praying to the pants bishop for fertility and vitality. Rubbing the many mythically mammoth members is said to bring good fortune. Kannon isn’t the only special one in Japan; several high-flying harvest festivals celebrate the skin flute to this day.
Even further into the great white north where a nice warm wang is appreciated, in medieval Switzerland heraldic bears had to be painted with redolently red rods, lest they be mistaken for she-bears. In 1579, St. Gallen’s depiction of the heraldic bear of its neighbor, Appenzell, with an unfortunate lack of love stick nearly led to war. And where would one find the largest collection of museum quality trouser snakes in the world? Reykjavík, Iceland, where else? The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains over 200 perfectly preserved penises of various stripes, spots, and dots, and more than a few fake phalluses.
04. In early 1685, King Louis XIV of France developed a fistula, resulting in great pain. Eventually the pain got so bad that he couldn’t ride a horse, sit for long periods (which is kind of important when you’re a king) or even make a bowel movement without regretting it immensely. Normal remedies like enemas and poultices were applied from morning until night, with zero effect. He wanted to surgically remove it, but there was no specific surgery for it at that time. So he hired a surgeon barber named Charles-François Felix and asked him to fix him.
Felix requested six months to practice, which he did on live, healthy prisoners, sometimes as many as four a day, in an era where antiseptics and anesthetics didn’t exist. At least some of the prisoners survived and eventually he felt confident enough to perform the surgery on the king and it worked! Within three months, the king was riding his horse like nothing had happened, and Felix was the talk of the town. People were desperate to emulate the king so badly that people who were entirely healthy would pay Felix to perform the surgery on them, and those less willing to suffer or pay faked having the surgery, wearing bandages known as le royale to mimic the king and pretend that they too were cool and with it, even though ‘with it’ meant suffering from a painful condition of the anus. – Source
05. The1904 Summer Olympics were the third modern Olympics and took place in St. Louis, Missouri. It was very poorly organized. The biggest mess was the marathon at the Olympics. It was run in an intolerably hot weather of 90 degrees, over dusty roads, with horses and automobiles clearing the way and creating dust clouds. The conditions forced 18 of the 32 competitors to withdraw the race. The winner of the marathon was disqualified for using a motorcar. The medal was then awarded to Thomas Hicks, who had been given a near-fatal dose of strychnine and brandy during the race and was carried over the line by his personal trainers. A Cuban postman who arrived last minute came in 4th despite running in street clothes that he cut into shorts and falling ill after eating rotten apples during a break he took in an orchard. Len Tau, Tswana tribesman and student in Orange Free State in South Africa was also competing and ran just fine until being chased by aggressive dogs for a mile off course. – Source
06. Powdered wigs became popular to hide the baldness caused by syphilis, which was rampant in Europe during the 17th century. Here’s another crazy fact about these wigs. The wigs the French aristocracy wore at the time were massive. To keep them from losing shape, they starched them, meaning they used edible grain to create wig starching powder, all while the population couldn’t afford to eat because a loaf of bread became more expensive than a week’s wage. It’s no wonder the revolution started and ended the way it did because French aristocracy was literally using foodstuffs to make their giant wigs stay up. – Source
07. After Hitler committed suicide, the Nazis had to make peace with Soviets. Russian General, Vasily Chuikov, oversaw this negotiation and wanted to make sure he looked intimidating to the Nazis so he pretended several war correspondents were part of his staff. However, these correspondents happened to be with the musician Matvei Blanter. Blanter was wearing a suit and so, couldn’t pass as a Soviet. Out of desperation, Chuikov shoved Blanter into a closet moments before the Nazis entered the room. As the negotiation was coming to an end, Blanter passed out due to lack of oxygen and fell out of the closet, terrifying the Nazis and humiliating the Soviets. – Source
08. Here is a true tale that sounds like a Shakespeare play. Alboin, King of the Lombards, took his wife Rosamund as a spoil of war after he killed her father in the Lombard-Gepid War. Then at one point he made her drink from her father’s skull, which he kept as a trophy and fashioned into a mug, telling her to “drink merrily with your father.” She wanted him assassinated. So Rosamund’s lover, Helmichis, suggested that a guy named Peredeo would be a good assassin. Peredeo did not want to get involved in killing Alboin, so Rosamund dressed as a servant and had sex with him. Once she told him that he actually had sex with the queen, Peredeo agreed to kill Alboin to avoid punishment for adultery with the queen. After Peredeo killed Alboin, Rosamund and Helmichis wanted to rule, but they quickly became unpopular and so they took Alboin’s daughter from his first marriage and left for Ravenna. They married, but Rosamund found a new lover, Longinus. Longinus wanted to marry Rosamund, so they planned to kill Helmichis with poison. Helmichis caught on to the plan and forced Rosamund to drink the poison that was meant for him. Then he drank some himself and they both died.
09. Some ancient temples and holy places, especially in India, depict acts that range from orgies to bestiality. Temple prostitute is one of the oldest professions and were widely accepted in early history, showing up as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh (from ancient Mesopotamia), which coincidentally also featured bestiality. – Source
10. ThoughPablo Picasso ins’t exactly considered a hero, but most people don’t realize how much of a sociopath and rude he was, especially towards his wives/partners and children. He gave little to no money to his kids. Once they were in dire straits and came to his mansion to ask for help. Pablo let them in, had them watch him eat dinner without giving them any, and once the meal was over said “no.” He was also rumored that he never carried a wallet nor money with him, only a pad of paper and a pencil. When paying for things in town instead of money he would scribble an autograph and hand it to them. He also used to carry a revolver loaded with blanks, which he would shoot at people who asked about the meaning of his paintings. – Source