We live in a strange world. That’s nothing new: it turns out that the world has been pretty freaking crazy for a really long time. Here are some twisted and bizarre historical facts.
40. Head of the Army
King Goujian of Yue placed a row of convicted criminals at the front of his army. Before the battle, the criminals would cut off their own heads to scare his enemy’s army.
The Bronze Sword of Goujian, King of Yue State.
39. Little Foot
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov, a Russian scientist in the 1920s, conducted experiments where he tried to make a human-chimpanzee hybrid. Before you get any naughty ideas, he attempted to make this “humanzee” with artificial insemination.
38. Mad as a Hatter
Boston Corbett, the man who shot John Wilkes Booth, was totally insane from handling mercury as a hatter. Years prior to shooting Booth, he calmly castrated himself with scissors.
The vibrator was created to treat Hysteria. Why? Doctors were taking too long to manually stimulate women. Shortly after it’s invention, the vibrator became the largest selling household appliance.
36. Rebel Party
When the Russian Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government and stormed the Winter Palace in 1917, their revolution was halted for a few days because the Bolsheviks got ridiculously drunk in the Winter Palace after finding the wine stores.
35. Dear Diary…
The Diary of Anne Frank was edited by her father because, quire rightfully, since he didn’t want some of the stuff she wrote published. He edited out writing about her period, discovering herself, learning about boys from a guy that was staying with them, and her father’s infatuation with fart jokes.
34. Keep it in Your Pants, Mr. President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt kept multiple mistresses, including his wife’s social secretary.
33. Horror Souvenirs
During WWII, propaganda created to dehumanize the Japanese was so successful that American marines in the pacific kept body parts of Japanese soldiers as souvenirs.
32. The Path to Righteousness
Princess Olga of Kiev’s husband, Igor, was murdered by an Eastern Slavic tribe. Olga took over the Kievan Rus’, a federation of East Slavic tribes known as the Drevlians. Not wanting a female ruler, they sent her a group of suitors.
Olga, still furious about her husband’s murder, had the suitors carried by her servants on a boat to the courtyard of the castle. The suitors were then dumped into a giant hole and buried alive.
She told the Drevlians that she had accepted a suitor and organized a party in a bath house. After the guests arrived, the doors were barred shut and the bath house was burned to the ground.
After the memorial to the people who died in the bath house, a party was held, and the guests got drunk. Olga’s royal guard proceeded to kill all 5,000 of them that night.
When the Drevlians requested her forgiveness, Olga asked her tribesmen to give her three pigeons and three sparrows from each home. When they arrived, she had hot coals tied to their legs and sent them back home. As the city burned to the ground, the fleeing people were either killed, enslaved, or extorted into Olga’s army.
Somehow, Olga is now a saint in the Eastern Orthodox church.
During WWII, the Russians trained dogs to run under German tanks with bombs strapped to their backs. Unfortunately, the tanks the dogs were trained to run under were Russian, so they ended up running under the Russian tanks and blowing them up instead.
30. The Love of Contraception
Ancient Romans had an effective natural contraceptive: a plant called silphium. The shape of the seed is where we get the traditional heart shape that we all recognize as a symbol of love.
The Romans harvested so much silphium that it went extinct, and now we’re not even sure exactly what type of plant it was.
29. Too Lustful to Trust
The FBI ignored compelling evidence of the attack on Pearl Harbor because Hoover didn’t trust the Serbian double agent Dusan Popov, who was apparently a gambling, lustful drunk. His nickname was tricycle because of his love of threesomes. He was one of the inspirations for Fleming’s Bond.
28. Shocking Facts about Edison?
Thomas Edison electrocuted a lady circus elephant to death.
The elephant had killed three men over the years, including an abusive trainer. Over a thousand people came to watch her die, and Edison recorded it on video.
27. The Angel Of Death
Josef Rudolf Mengele, known as “The angel of death,” took Jewish kids and did experiments on them. He had two twins sewn together by the length of their spines, and the mother later killed them because they were in constant agony. He even took a baseball bat to a child’s leg, and right when the broken bone was about to heal, he broke it again. He did this repeatedly until the leg gave up on healing.
26. This is Sparta!
The reason why the Spartans were able to be so focused on war was because of massive slavery. Every single Spartan male was a soldier. Every other job was done by slaves.
The Spartans beat their slaves… by law. To clarify, we don’t mean the law allowed them to beat slaves. The law required it. Most horrifically, as a sort of coming of age holiday, there was an occasion every year where young Spartan men would sneak around and murder as many slaves as they could.
25. X-Rated Creation
There’s an Egyptian creation myth that states that the universe was the result of the ejaculation of the god Atum
To honor Atum, some Pharaohs would ceremonially ejaculate into the Nile.
24. Claim Your Dead
Mongols used to light the fat of the enemies they killed on fire, and proceeded to shoot it with their catapults onto other enemies.
23. Half-Blind Leading the Blind
A Byzantine emperor, Basil, captured 15,000 Bulgarians in battle and blinded 99 of every 100, leaving the 100th guy with one eye. He then sent them all home.
22. Mad as a Mobster
When Al Capone was arrested for tax evasion, he was found to have syphilis. Capone refused treatment because he was afraid of needles. After 11 years in Alcatraz, the disease had eaten away at his brain so much that he could no longer resume his life of crime. Before his death, he was often spotted casting a fishing rod into his swimming pool.
21. Et Tu, Caesar?
Marcus Brutus’ mother was Julius Caesar’s lover.
Julius Caesar, as portrayed in Spartacus.
20. Vlad the Impaler
Vlad earned his name by impaling his enemies through the torso with large stakes and erecting these stakes in the ground. Sometimes thousands of prisoners would be impaled at the same time, and many victims lived in agony for days.
19. Years Before Elmo Wanted Tickles…
Foot tickling was used in the Muscovite palaces and courts for centuries as a means of arousal. Many of the Czarinas (Catherine the Great, Anna Ivanovna, and others) loved it. In fact, it was so popular that eunuchs and women were employed as full time foot ticklers.
While the ticklers performed their task, they often told bawdy stories and sang obscene ballads. This was done to get the ladies into the mood for liaisons with their husbands or lovers.
18. The Rubber Police
In the 1880s, Anthony Comstock started confiscating people’s dildos and other sex toys in the United States. He referred to them as “immoral rubber goods,” and in 1882, he confiscated 64,836 pounds of illicit material.
17. Early, Condemnable Pimping
Christopher Columbus prostituted pre-pubescent native American girls.
16. Armenian genocide
During World War I, the Muslim Ottoman government systematically killed of 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey.
15. Founding Father
Ben Franklin visited brothels almost every night. Also, in 1998, while renovating his home into a museum, ten bodies were discovered in the basement. This led to speculation the Ben Franklin may have been a serial killer, but further analysis has revealed this is likely not the case: the bodies were more likely cadavers used for the anatomical studies of William Hewson, one of Franklin’s friends.
14. Unit 731
There was a biological and chemical warfare research facility called Unit 731 that undertook lethal human experimentation during the occupation of China.
They specialized in vivisection, germ warfare, and weapons testing on prisoners. The researchers didn’t even refer to the Chinese people as humans: they called them “logs” and often bragged about how many logs they had cut that day. After WW2, the leaders of the unit gave the United States their research data in return for amnesty. Many of previous members of Unit 731 became part of post-war politics, academia, business, and medicine.
13. A + B = Death
The mathematician Pythagoras, who discovered the Pythagorean theorem, killed people who didn’t agree with him or disproved him. He convinced people that facing the sun when you urinate is a punishable sin. He also didn’t believe in fractions, or decimals.
12. Malcolm XXX
Malcolm X was bisexual. He was also sex worker for almost ten years.
11. Get That Sheep
In medieval England, the animals involved in zoophilic activities were deemed equally responsible. The crime was punishable by execution. So buggering a sheep put both you and the sheep in grave danger.
10. The Saw
In the middle ages, one of the punishments for being gay saw torture. The offending person was hung by his ankles and sawed in half.
9. The Romans
Romans emperors frequently had young boys as concubines. Some even hired toddlers, from their parents, to nibble at their inner thighs while they bathed.
Emperor Commodus, as portrayed in Gladiator.
8. Horror Inspires Horror
The United States sterilized over 10,000 people against their will for promiscuity, feeblemindedness, having children out of wedlock, being physically unfit, and many other things. Hitler actually based his eugenics laws on a Supreme Court ruling in Virginia that supported the United States eugenics program.
7. The My Lai Massacre
Approximately 400 unarmed civilians were killed during the Vietnam war by United States soldiers. 26 soldiers were originally charged with war crimes. One served time. He was given a life sentence, but in the end, he served less than four years of house arrest.
6. Thank You For That. Mr. President.
Lyndon Baines Johnson’s nicknamed his Johnson “Jumbo,” and there are several reports of him waving it around during White House meetings and bragging about its size.
5. Got Milk?
The Milky Way supposedly got its name because it was formed when the Greek goddess Hera sprayed her breast milk into the sky.
4. Filthy Composition
Mozart was surprisingly obsessed with feces and bathroom humor. Two of his songs actually talk about anlingus. He also wrote letters to his family members where he described his farts in great detail.
3. A Recipe for Compliance
During WWII, the Russians would have “barrier troops” that would be set up behind Russian army forces and shoot those soldiers that were trying to desert from the front line.
2. An Eye for an Eye
In rural America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, citizens would settle disputes with gouging: an incredibly violent form of wrestling where opponents would try and gouge out each others eyes.
1. Royal Audience
On his wedding night, future king William of Orange consummated his marriage while Charles II watched from the sidelines and shouted encouragement.