Historical Nonfiction

fun facts, quotes, and pictures from history

All Priests Go To Heaven?

In the early years of the Christian church, heaven was seen as a wonderful, wonderful place. So amazingly perfect, in fact, that priests would often commit suicide in order to get there earlier. In the 300s St. Augustine finally condemned the practice. Not because it was a sin, but because without a priest the congregation would have no one to lead them (and, it was implied, help them get into heaven too). For a thousand years, that was the official Vatican stance on suicide. It wasn’t until the 1200s that the whole “suicide is a sin against God and therefore wrong for everyone" became church law.

(Source: toptenz.net)

In 1944, as the Allies were preparing to invade France, British Intelligence sought a way to confuse the Germans as to their plans. They had many different schemes going on at once, but one was particularly interesting. They hired Meyrick Clifton James (right), an Australian-born lieutenant in the Army Pay Corps who bore a striking resemblance to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The Field Marshal would be commanding the Allied ground troops during the invasion. James was invited to London, and while pretending to be a journalist, he set about studying the general’s speech patterns and mannerisms. Then he was conspicuously sent off, as “Monty”, to Gibraltar and then to Algiers, watched by avid German spies.

It seemed to work. The plot went through “from start to finish without a hitch,” MI5 reported, “and we knew that the main feature of its story had reached the Germans.” The real Monty led the successful landings at Normandy while James recovered from the ordeal in a safe house in Cairo. “He was under terrible pressure and strain,” reported the wife of an intelligence officer detailed to look after him. “Coming out of that part was very difficult for him.” But he had something to cheer him up while he recuperated: Under army rules, he would receive the equivalent of a general’s pay for every day he had impersonated Monty.

In 1944, as the Allies were preparing to invade France, British Intelligence sought a way to confuse the Germans as to their plans. They had many different schemes going on at once, but one was particularly interesting. They hired Meyrick Clifton James (right), an Australian-born lieutenant in the Army Pay Corps who bore a striking resemblance to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The Field Marshal would be commanding the Allied ground troops during the invasion. James was invited to London, and while pretending to be a journalist, he set about studying the general’s speech patterns and mannerisms. Then he was conspicuously sent off, as “Monty”, to Gibraltar and then to Algiers, watched by avid German spies.

It seemed to work. The plot went through “from start to finish without a hitch,” MI5 reported, “and we knew that the main feature of its story had reached the Germans.” The real Monty led the successful landings at Normandy while James recovered from the ordeal in a safe house in Cairo. “He was under terrible pressure and strain,” reported the wife of an intelligence officer detailed to look after him. “Coming out of that part was very difficult for him.” But he had something to cheer him up while he recuperated: Under army rules, he would receive the equivalent of a general’s pay for every day he had impersonated Monty.

In 1806, future President Andrew Jackson killed a man who accused him of cheating on a horse race bet and then insulted his wife, Rachel. This was not unusual. Estimates of the number of duels Jackson participated in range from five to 100.

(Source: history.com)

General Douglas A. McArthur, enjoying a corn cob pipe during World War 2, before he became Gen. Douchey McAssface during the Korean War.

General Douglas A. McArthur, enjoying a corn cob pipe during World War 2, before he became Gen. Douchey McAssface during the Korean War.

"Chile. Fertile grain and wine, situated to the sea of Lur or Pacific; bounded to the north of Peru, and the region of the Patagos Midy [Patagonia?], and surrounded by mountains. Cities: Saint Jacques, Coqhimbo, Chile and others."

An etching and summary of Chile by Stefano della Bella, an Italian, in 1644. It was owned by Cardinal Jules Mazarin and dedicated to Louis XIV, the Sun King of France

"Chile. Fertile grain and wine, situated to the sea of Lur or Pacific; bounded to the north of Peru, and the region of the Patagos Midy [Patagonia?], and surrounded by mountains. Cities: Saint Jacques, Coqhimbo, Chile and others."

An etching and summary of Chile by Stefano della Bella, an Italian, in 1644. It was owned by Cardinal Jules Mazarin and dedicated to Louis XIV, the Sun King of France

Interesting facts about this populous and modernizing African nation
the country has over 250 ethnic groups, but three make up the majority: the Igbo (18%), Hausa-Fulani (29%), and Yoruba (21%)
"Nollywood" is the second-largest movie producer in the world, making 200 movies a week! (Bollywood is #1)
it is the most populous African nation and 7th in the world
the Portuguese reached Nigeria in 1472
but British imperialism that left the deeper mark — British conquest began in 1880 and reached the modern northern border in 1903
under the British, there was official segregation between “foreigners” and “Nigerians”
Yoruba and their bloodlines worldwide have the highest rate of twinning (having twins) in the world
the ”Aguda” is a specific population of repatriated Cuban and Brazilian slaves, which includes descendents of slaves who participated in the Brazilian “Great Revolt” of 1835

Interesting facts about this populous and modernizing African nation

  • the country has over 250 ethnic groups, but three make up the majority: the Igbo (18%), Hausa-Fulani (29%), and Yoruba (21%)
  • "Nollywood" is the second-largest movie producer in the world, making 200 movies a week! (Bollywood is #1)
  • it is the most populous African nation and 7th in the world
  • the Portuguese reached Nigeria in 1472
  • but British imperialism that left the deeper mark — British conquest began in 1880 and reached the modern northern border in 1903
  • under the British, there was official segregation between “foreigners” and “Nigerians”
  • Yoruba and their bloodlines worldwide have the highest rate of twinning (having twins) in the world
  • the ”Aguda” is a specific population of repatriated Cuban and Brazilian slaves, which includes descendents of slaves who participated in the Brazilian “Great Revolt” of 1835

Caral-Supe, one of the great cradles of civilization. It arose near when the more famous ones in China and Mesopotamia did, around 2600 BCE. Caral-Supe, on the coast of modern-day Peru, grew thanks to the abundance of the sea. In this it was unique — other “cradles” were based on newly invented agiculture. Caral-Supe had monuments of stone. It had a writing system made of textiles. It did not have ceramics. Or decorations of any kind. I suppose it’s hard to invent something like drawing if no one has ever thought of it before.

(Source: timetravelturtle.com)

In 1927, two German gynecologists Zondek and Aschheim developed the rabbit test. They injected a woman’s urine into a female rabbit. The rabbit was then examined over the next couple days. (Read: killed and surgically examined.) If the rabbit’s ovaries responded to the female’s urine, then hCG was present and the woman was pregnant. For the first time there was a test that accurately detected pregnancy and it was widely used from the 1930s to 1950s. All rabbits that were used in the program had to be surgically operated on and were killed. It was possible to perform the procedure without killing the rabbits, but it was deemed not worth the trouble and expense. Today, modern science doesn’t need to kill rabbits, but the rabbit test is considered a stepping stone during the middle of the 20th century.

In 1927, two German gynecologists Zondek and Aschheim developed the rabbit test. They injected a woman’s urine into a female rabbit. The rabbit was then examined over the next couple days. (Read: killed and surgically examined.) If the rabbit’s ovaries responded to the female’s urine, then hCG was present and the woman was pregnant. For the first time there was a test that accurately detected pregnancy and it was widely used from the 1930s to 1950s. All rabbits that were used in the program had to be surgically operated on and were killed. It was possible to perform the procedure without killing the rabbits, but it was deemed not worth the trouble and expense. Today, modern science doesn’t need to kill rabbits, but the rabbit test is considered a stepping stone during the middle of the 20th century.

(Source: listverse.com)

For The Food Enthusiasts

The Jerusalem artichoke is neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke; it belongs to the sunflower family. The Italians called it girasole articciocco, “sunflower artichoke”. Over the years girasole became “Jerusalem”.

(Source: allfunandgames.ca)

Spartan warriors were known for their long, flowing hair. Before a battle, they would carefully comb it. Cowardly soldiers would have half their hair and half their beards shaved off.

(Source: facts.randomhistory.com)

A vision of 2000, drawn by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists to be used on cigar boxes and postcards, for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. It’s actually kind of sad how little of this we have. Who wouldn’t want to travel by whale?

(Source: news.distractify.com)

The equal sign (“=”) was invented in 1557 by Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing “is equal to” in his equations. He chose the two lines because “no two things can be more equal”.

(Source: todayifoundout.com)