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The Most Amazing Facts About History.


The Most Amazing Facts About History.

  1. Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word "GOLF" entered into the English language.
  2. In ancient China, doctors could receive fees only if their patient was cured. If it deteriorated, they would have to pay the patient.
  3. It has been calculated that in the last 3,500 years, there have only been 230 years of peace throughout the civilized world.
  4. The total number of Americans killed in the Civil War is greater than the combined total of Americans killed in all other wars.
  5. Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.
  6. Charles Dickens always faced north while sleeping.
  7. Roman coins have been dug up in America, suggesting that perhaps the Vikings or Columbus weren't the first Europeans to visit the New World. The coins were found in locations as far afield as Texas, Venezuela and Maine. One stash was found buried in a mound in Round Rock, Texas. The mound is dated to approximately 800 A.D. In the town of Heavener, Okla., a bronze tetradrachm bearing the profile of Emperor Nero was found in 1976. The coin was originally struck in Antioch, Syria, in 63 A.D.
  8. In 1920 for the first time in recorded history, the average life expectancy of human beings exceeded that of goldfish. Before that year, a newborn infant could expect to live 48.4 years. For many species of wild goldfish, the projected life span was over 50.
  9. Peter the Great executed his wife's lover, and forced her to keep her lover's head in a jar of alcohol in her bedroom.
  10. People have been wearing glasses for about 700 years.
  11. Seven of the eight US Presidents who have died in office - either through illness or assassination - were elected at precisely 20-year intervals.
  12. The US federal income tax was first enacted in 1862 to support the Union's Civil War effort. It was eliminated in 1872, revived in 1894 then declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the following year. In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the US tax system.
  13. People drank gold powder mixed in with water in medieval Europe to relieve pain from sore limbs.
  14. The White House, in Washington DC, was originally gray, the color of the sandstone it was built out of. After the War of 1812, during which it had been burned by Canadian troops, the outside walls were painted white to hide the smoke stains.
  15. The custom of shaking hands with the strangers originated to show that both the parties were unarmed.
  16. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
  17. Celtic warriors sometimes fought their battles naked, their bodies dyed blue from head to toe.
  18. King Charles the Second often rubbed dust from the mummies of pharaohs so he could "absorb their ancient greatness".
  19. In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb".
  20. Acupuncture was first used as a medical treatment in 2700 BC by Chinese emperor Shen-Nung.
  21. In ancient Egypt, people shaved eyebrows as a mourning symbol when their cats died.
  22. Abdul Kassam Ismael, Grand Vizier of Persia in the tenth century, carried his library with him wherever he went. Four hundred camels carried the 117,000 volumes.
  23. The Black Death reduced the population of Europe by one third in the period from 1347 to 1351.
  24. Coca-Cola was originally green.
  25. The 1st 20 African slaves were brought to the US, to the colony of Virginia in 1619, by a Dutch ship.
  26. Of the 262 men who have held the title of pope, 33 have died by violence.
  27. Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
  28. Roman Emperor Caligula was so upset by the death of his sister Drusila that he imposed a year of mourning. During this time, everyone in the empire was forbidden to dine with his family, laugh or take a bath. The penalty for transgression was death.
  29. The name of the first airplane flown at Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers, on December 17, 1903, was Bird of Prey.
  30. The worldwide "Spanish Flu" epidemic which broke out in 1918 killed more than 30 million people in less than a year's time.
  31. The punishment of a Vestal Virgin who broke her oath of chastity was to be buried alive.
  32. Pilgrims did not eat potatoes for Thanksgiving as they thought they were poisonous.
  33. Tablecloths were originally meant to serve as towels with which guests could wipe their hands and faces after dinner.
  34. Cleopatra married two of her brothers.
  35. If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
  36. At the height of inflation in Germany in the early 1920s, one U.S. dollar was equal to 4 quintillion German marks.
  37. The average life span of a peasant during the medieval ages was 25 years.
  38. Because metal was scarce; the Oscars given out during World War II were made of plaster.
  39. 3000 years ago, most Egyptians were considered old and died by the age of 30.
  40. On August sixth, 1945, during World War Two, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing an estimated 140,000 people in the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare.
  41. To take an oath, ancient Romans put a hand on their testicles.
  42. The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.
  43. Many men who acted as guards along the Great Wall of China in the Middle Ages spent their whole lives there. They were born there, raised there, they married there, died there, and were even buried within the wall.
  44. Captain Cook lost 41 of his 98 crew to scurvy (a lack of vitamin C) on his first voyage to the South Pacific in 1768. By 1795 the importance of eating citrus was realized, and lemon juice was issued on all British Navy ships.
  45. The Miss America Contest was created in Atlantic City in 1921 with the purpose of extending the tourist season beyond Labor Day.
  46. In the 1800s, if you attempted suicide and failed, you would have to face the death penalty.
  47. February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  48. The peace symbol was created in 1958 as a nuclear disarmament symbol by the Direct Action Committee, and was first shown that year at peace marches in England. The symbol is a composite of the semaphore signals N and D, representing nuclear disarmament.
  49. China is the world's oldest known continuous civilization.
  50. Approximately 25,000 workers died during the building of the Panama Canal, and approximately 20,000 of them contracted malaria and yellow fever
  51. Grenades were invented in China over 1,000 years ago.
  52. Niagara Falls experienced a break of half an hour in 1848, when an ice jam blocked the source river.
  53. The oldest working Post Office in the world is located in the village of Sanquer, located in the Scottish Lowlands. It has been operating since 1712.
  54. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had only one testicle.
  55. The Ramses brand condom is named after the great pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.
  56. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
  57. During the First World War, the punishment for homosexuality in the French army was execution.
  58. In the 1550's, the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, embarrassingly left to travel for seven years because he had accidently farted when he had bowed down to Queen Elizabeth I. When he returned the Queen said to him, "My Lord, I had forgot the fart."
  59. 1321 Dante Alighieri died just a few hours after writing the final lines of Paradise, the third section of The Divine Comedy.
  60. Napoleon took 14,000 French decrees and simplified them into a unified set of 7 laws. This was the first time in modern history that a nation's laws applied equally to all citizens. Napoleon's 7 laws are so impressive that by 1960 more than 70 governments had patterned their own laws after them or used them verbatim.
  61. The quarries where the Romans extracted travertine for the Colosseum and other great structures are still being mined today.
  62. Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
  63. The house in which the Declaration of Independence was written was replaced with a hamburger restaurant.
  64. In early Rome, a father could legally execute any member of his household.
  65. Under an old Chinese law, anyone who revealed how to make silk was liable to death by torture.
  66. When Black Jack Ketchum was hung back in 1901 in Clayton New Mexico, the noose actually ended up taking his head off. The head had to be sewn back on so Black Jack could be buried properly.
  67. In the marriage ceremony of the Ancient Inca Indians of Peru, the couple was considered officially wed when they took off their sandals and handed them to each other.
  68. Harry S. Truman was the last U.S. President with no college degree.
  69. If a surgeon in Ancient Egypt lost a patient while performing an operation, his hands were cut off.
  70. Christmas didn’t become a national holiday in the US until 1890.
  71. Ketchup was sold in the 1830's as a medicine.
  72. The dollar was established as the official currency of the US in 1785.
  73. The longest reigning monarch in history was Pepi II, who ruled Egypt for 90 years; 2566 to 2476 BC. The second longest was France's Louis XIV, who ruled for 72 years, 1643 to 1715.
  74. Ancient Egyptians used slabs of stones as pillows.
  75. In 1980, the city of Detroit presented Saddam Hussein with a key to the city.
  76. There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.
  77. In 200 BC, when the Greek city of Sparta was at the height of its power there were 20 slaves for every citizen.
  78. In Ancient Greece, if a woman watched even one Olympic event, she was executed.
  79. The first country to abolish capital punishment was Austria, in 1787.
  80. In 1897, Bayer, who is the maker of Aspirin, marketed the drug heroin.
  81. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down." It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
  82. The first-known contraceptive was crocodile dung and was used by the Egyptians in 2000 BC.
  83. A golden razor removed from Tutankhamen’s tomb over 3000 years after his death was still sharp enough for use.
  84. The first US Marines wore high leather collars to protect their necks from sabres, hence the name "leathernecks."
  85. The slang word "hooker," which means prostitute, was gotten from the US civil-war general Joseph T. Hooker. He hired prostitutes for his army to keep up troop morale. They started being called, "Hooker's girls" which was eventually shortened to "hooker." The name stuck.
  86. Ancient Romans at one time used human urine as an ingredient in their toothpaste.
  87. In ancient Rome it was considered a sign of leadership to be born with a crooked nose.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

  1. Egyptian Pyramids at Giza
  2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  4. Colossus of Rhodes
  5. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  6. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  7. Lighthouse at Alexandria

Each King in a Deck of Playing Cards Represents a Great King in History:

  • Spades - King David
  • Hearts - Charlemagne
  • Clubs -Alexander, The Great
  • Diamonds - Julius Caesar

Life in England in the 1500's (from: thebards.net):


  1. Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."

  2. England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer."

  3. Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and were still smelling pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the b.o.

  4. Baths equaled a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

  5. Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets... dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

  6. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. So, they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies. I wonder if this is where we get the saying "Good night and don't let the bed bugs bite"...

  7. The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors which would get slippery in the winter when wet. So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a "thresh hold."

  8. They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been in there for a month. Hence the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

  9. Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

  10. Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes...for 400 years.

  11. Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers - a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth.

  12. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".
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