We can’t learn everything in school, and maybe that’s a good thing—because these bizarre historical facts are too weird for a textbook. Like Abraham Lincoln’s other assassination, Thomas Edison’s little-known dark side, or Mozart’s obsession with butts…and that’s just naming a few. Strap in for this VERY strange ride.
1. Queen Elizabeth Had A Nasty Mouth
Although dental hygiene was not necessarily at its peak in Tudor England, Queen Elizabeth I’s fondness for sweets gave her pearly whites an even darker tone…in fact, her chompers were probably very black. More than that, since sugar was a luxury, some women then blackened their teeth both to emulate their queen and show off their wealth.
2. Thomas Edison Was Evil
The famous inventor Thomas Edison had a huge dark side not many people know about. For example, he used electricity to publicly kill animals. He wanted to show how alternating current was more dangerous than the “direct” current that he used. On one occasion, he used A/C to execute a rogue circus elephant named “Topsy” in front of thousands of people.
3. Alexander The Great’s Mother Was Scary
Queen Olympias was Alexander the Great‘s mother, and she was even more ruthless than her son. On one occasion, she sent a captive enemy queen a cup of poison, a noose, and a sword…then told her to choose how she would die. According to history, the woman chose to hang herself, though she cursed Olympias to the very end of her life.
4. Napoleon Used His Wife As A “Womb”
Napoleon Bonaparte famously adored his wife Josephine, but few people remember the dark end of their love affair. Tragically, Josephine couldn’t have children, so Napoleon made a hard choice: He divorced Josephine and took up with Marie-Louise of Austria. Napoleon reportedly told his blushing bride straight off, “It is a womb that I am marrying.”
5. Ernest Hemingway Almost Died In Back-To-Back Plane Crashes
In 1954, the macho writer Ernest Hemingway got into a plane crash. He miraculously survived, but that was just the start of the nightmare. When he tried to take another plane to get medical help, that plane exploded upon taking off. Hemingway managed to survive again. Talk about bad luck. Or wait a minute…actually, is that good luck?
6. The Best Comeback In History
Richard Feynman, a physicist, bet a friend he would be able to get more than two words at a time out of his colleague Paul Dirac, who didn’t talk much. After speaking to Dirac for several hours with no success, Richard revealed his failure to Dirac. He had the most perfect response. The latter smiled and said, “You’ve lost.” Darn, Paul.
7. The FBI Knew About Pearl Harbor
The FBI ignored compelling evidence about the attack on Pearl Harbor because they didn’t trust the Serbian double agent Dusan Popov, who was apparently a gambling, lustful lush. Dusan’s nickname around town was “tricycle” because of his infamous love of threesomes. Unsurprisingly, he was one of the inspirations for Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
8. There Were Original “Siamese Twins”
Two Siam natives, Chang and Eng Bunker, were American twins joined at the sternum. During the American Civil War in 1865, Eng’s name was drawn in a draft lottery, but not Chang’s. There was little the conscription officials could do: The brothers were not only joined at the sternum, but their livers were also fused. Neither twin served in the conflict.
9. Ben Franklin Had Bodies In His Basement
While renovating his home into a museum, researchers made a horrific discovery at Ben Franklin’s house. They found 10 bodies in the founding father’s basement. This led to speculation he may have been a serial killer. However, the bodies were more likely cadavers used for the anatomical studies of one of Franklin’s friends.
10. Abraham Lincoln Cheated Death Once
Abraham Lincoln was almost killed two years before he was assassinated. Late one August evening in 1863, Lincoln rode alone by horse to his family’s summer residence. A private at the gate heard a shot ring out and, moments later, a bareheaded Lincoln clinging to his steed galloped into the yard. Lincoln explained that gunfire at the foot of the hill had sent his horse into a frenzied gallop, running so fast that it knocked his hat off.
The two men retrieved Lincoln’s hat, which had a bullet hole in it. Lincoln asked the guards to keep the incident quiet because he didn’t want to worry his wife...
11. Dogs Nearly Toppled Russia
During WWII, the Russians trained dogs to run under German tanks with bombs strapped to their backs. There was just one enormous problem with this. Although it was a brilliant plan in theory, unfortunately, the dogs were trained to run under Russian tanks. So when the battles actually came, they ended up blowing their home team up instead.
12. The Most Ruthless French Queen
The Tour de Nesle affair was a scandal in the French royal family in 1314. In it, Queen Isabella of England accused her sisters-in-law of adultery. The scandal led to the imprisonment of the women and the execution of their lovers. The lovers were then executed. Most histories agree that they were first castrated and then drawn and quartered.
13. This Cure Was Worse Than The Disease
Amputation was the most common treatment for broken or severely wounded limbs during the American Civil War. Yes, this was a horrible idea, and it showed. More than half of leg amputations at the thigh or knee were actually fatal to the patient, and your chances were even worse if the doctor amputated your leg at the hip joint.
14. Marie Curie Slowly Killed Herself
Marie Curie, the chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, was completely in the dark when it came to the dangers of radioactive materials. Though she and her husband both suffered from chronic pain, neither considered that it was their radioactive substance-handling that was the cause. It was. Some of their original lab equipment is still so radioactive that we cannot safely view or study them.
15. Ancient Romans Dealt Out A Shocking Punishment
In Ancient Rome, the punishment for killing your father was the death penalty. But, uh, not just any penalty. Your prosecutors would sew you up in a sack along with a monkey, a viper, a dog, and a rooster. The punishment varied slightly depending on the ruling emperor; some rulers preferred more snakes and others more dogs.
16. Einstein Was A Horrible Husband
Albert Einstein’s marriage contract with his wife included these conditions: “You will make sure that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order; that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room; that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.” Worst of all, his wife agreed to these terms.
17. Ancient Roman Bathroom Etiquette Was…Weird
Ancient Romans used a communal sponge on a stick called a “spongia” to clean themselves after pooping. Once you had done your business, you would rinse the spongia in a channel of running water at your feet, give your bottom a solid wipe, rinse off the spongia… and leave it in a basin for the next person to use! Thanks, but no thanks, Ancient Romans.
18. People Wore Wigs For An Icky Reason
Back in the late 16th century, wealthy males became troubled by an outbreak of balding heads from the venereal disease syphilis. In an ingenious move to kill two birds with one stone, elaborate powdered and scented wigs became all the rage in the effort to hide hair loss as well as the unpleasant odors associated with the illness.
19. Al Capone Went Insane
When Al Capone was put in Alcatraz for tax evasion, doctors discovered he had syphilis, but 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 gangster life. Before his passing, people often spotted him casting a fishing rod into his swimming pool.
20. Gandhi Liked To Tempt Himself With Young Women
Today we see Gandhi as a figure of peaceful protest and understanding. But there’s a side of him no one knows. At the age of 36, while married, Gandhi became more and more obsessed with lust. In order to train and “perfect” his control over his desires, Gandhi would sleep naked with young women. But one night, he committed an act so heinous that it made his own staff member quit on him forever.
Gandhi had performed this sleeping act with his own grand-niece named Manu. His stenographer left in disgust.
21. The Most Notorious Hollywood Eccentric
Howard Hughes was one of the most successful men of his time, producing many famous movies and dating Hollywood’s most beautiful women. However, later in life, he became a complete hermit. Hughes spent his days in hotels, refusing to make eye contact with his aides. He also stopped bathing completely. Even more gross? He only cut his hair and nails cut once a year.
22. The Prince Of Silence
William John Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, a British nobleman who lived in the 19th century, was “the Prince of Silence.” An introvert since childhood, he became a complete hermit after a woman rejected him. He was so averse to company that he only communicated through letters. Servants had to ignore him if they ever saw him outside, and he would “act like a tree” so no one would notice him.
23. Ancient Romans Had A Drug Of Choice
The Salema Porgy is a species of fish that can cause hallucinations when eaten. Ancient Romans consumed it as a recreational drug. However, Salema porgies are regularly eaten without their consumers experiencing hallucinogenic effects. Still, in 2006, two men were hospitalized in the south of France after consuming them, one of whom was 90 years old.
They both claimed to fall “ill” and experience auditory hallucinations along with lucid nightmares for several nights until the “symptoms” finally and mysteriously abated.
24. Nero Hated His Mother
According to one ancient historian, the mad Emperor Nero tried and failed several times to kill his mother Agrippina the Younger, each time trying to up the ante. First, he tried to poison her on several occasions, but she always took an antidote each time. Then, he constructed a machine that would collapse her bedroom ceiling on her while she slept, but she caught wind of the plot and escaped.
Finally, he—seriously—invented a collapsible boat that would drown her while she was on a pleasure cruise. Reader, SHE STILL SURVIVED.
25. There Was A Real Romeo And Juliet
The love story of Heloise and Abelard is one of history’s great Romeo and Juliet tales, except with a whole lot more castration. The pair met when Heloise was a young, brilliant scholar and Abelard was her tutor. Happily ever after, right? Wrong. Heloise’s uncle didn’t take kindly to the match, and after the two married in secret, he gave them a gruesome wedding “present.”
He and his friends broke into Abelard’s room one night and castrated him, severing the union and, obviously, other parts.
26. The True Meaning Of “Rosebud”
In Citizen Kane‘s famous ending, we finally see that Kane’s darling “Rosebud” is actually a childhood sled. However, the real meaning of “Rosebud” may be much more scandalous. Citizen Kane was based on William Randolph Hearst, whose mistress was actress Marion Davies. According to one source, in real life, “Rosebud” was Hearst’s nickname for Davies’, er, private nether regions.
27. Grace Kelly Was A Homewrecker
Grace Kelly has a pristine, princess-like reputation in Hollywood, but nothing could be further from the truth. She had affairs with, and I quote, “everybody.” She fell for so many of her older male co-stars that multiple biographers have wondered if Kelly had some daddy issues. There was Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and Ray Milland, just to name a few. Milland’s wife even called Kelly a “home-wrecker.”
28. History’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Lord George Byron was the bad boy poet and notorious lothario of the 19th century, so he obviously had no qualms about taking up with the very beautiful (and super married) writer Lady Caroline Lamb. Living up to his rake persona, the good Lord Byron also had no problem loving and leaving her—but Lamb’s response to their split was utterly chilling.
When things started going south, Lamb cut off a chunk of her hair “down there” and sent it to the poet.
29. Victorians Had Impossible Beauty Standards
Although the hourglass figure has always held a special appeal across Western cultures, the Victorians took their obsession to a whole new level in their use of corsets. These waist-cinching devices, while successful in achieving a “wasp waist,” had some major health repercussions. Besides causing fainting spells, which the era’s ladies unsurprisingly became famous for, the restriction on women’s lungs likely worsened potentially deadly ailments like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
30. Sweden Wasn’t Always Peaceful
Erik XIV of Sweden was super paranoid. It wasn’t unusual for people caught laughing, smiling, or whispering within Erik’s earshot to find themselves on trial for treason. Somewhat ironically, he passed in 1577 when someone poisoned his pea soup. We guess just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
31. Teddy Roosevelt Was Fearless
During his second run for president, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in a failed assassination attempt. However, instead of going to the hospital, he insisted on giving a speech with the bullet still lodged in his chest. The thick papers that Roosevelt had written his speech on and put in his pocket were actually what slowed the bullet down.
32. The Most Dangerous Platform Shoes
In the name of cleanliness, Venice’s wealthy women found a unique way to keep their feet and dress hems clean during the Renaissance era: chopines. These were tall platforms that helped women rise above filth when walking the streets. The shoes got so tall, chopine wearers eventually required attendants on hand to help keep their balance.
33. Makeup Used To Be Poisonous
In the 18th century, white face powders were the thing. The unnatural, chalky complexion these powders produced may seem bizarre enough, but modern science cringes over a poisonous main ingredient used: lead. Ironically, lead-based makeup could cause unsightly skin, which could have resulted in heavier use of the same deadly powder.
34. This Art Critic Had Big Problems
Victorian art critic John Ruskin sure knew a lot about painting and marble sculptures, but he was a total dum-dum in the bedroom. The night he married his nubile, 19-year-old wife Effie Gray, Ruskin was reportedly so disgusted at his first sight of an actual female body, he couldn’t bring himself to consummate the union. Like, ever.
After six unhappy years, Effie left Ruskin for his protégé John Everett Millais, who presumably wasted no time blowing her mind. They did have eight children together.
35. These Soldiers Glowed In The Dark
During the American Civil War, men from both sides began reporting glow-in-the-dark wounds after the Battle of Shiloh. Of the wounded, those with glowing wounds seemed to heal faster. Later research revealed that the area was likely a breeding ground for P. luminescens, a luminescent bacterium that produces a natural anti-biotic.
36. There Was A “Blood Countess”
Elizabeth Bathory lived in Hungary in the 16th century. We now call her “The Blood Countess,” for reasons straight out of a horror story. Partly thanks to a terrible childhood, Bathory loved hurting young servant and peasant girls. Her husband built her a customized chamber for this, and some stories claim she used to drink the blood of the girls as well as bathe in it.
37. Madame Tussaud Was A Real, Horrible Person
Madame Tussaud’s wax museum is famous around the world for frighteningly life-like figures of celebrities. What most people don’t know, however, is that the real Madame Tussaud got her start by rushing over to grab heads from the guillotine during the French Revolution. She used these heads to showcase her waxing process.
38. Roman Emperors Poisoned Themselves Every Day
Roman emperors adopted the daily habit of taking a small amount of every known poison in an attempt to gain immunity, a practice called “Mithridatism.” Although effective against some types of poisons, it doesn’t work against all of them, and, depending on the toxin, the practice can lead to a lethal accumulation of poison in the body.
39. Mary Shelley Kept Her Husband’s Heart
Frankenstein author Mary Shelley had a pretty gross secret hidden away in her desk: her dead husband’s heart. When her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned in a boating accident, he was cremated, but his heart remained intact. Mary eventually took possession of it, and researchers discovered it in her desk when she passed a few years later.
40. King Henry VIII Had Royal Bottom Wipers
The infamous King Henry VIII employed four Grooms of the Stool, men whose job it was to wipe the royal bottom and attend to his other private needs. It was a position of great honor, but also—as one Groom soon discovered—incredibly grave danger. Henry VIII executed one of his bathroom staff, Sir Henry Norris, on trumped-up charges that he was sleeping with Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn.
41. Versailles Wasn’t As Glamorous As We Think
The legendary Palace of Versailles had everything—except enough toilets for everybody. Despite the villa’s luxury, Versailles simply didn’t have enough public water closets to accommodate Louis XIV’s huge court. It wasn’t uncommon for courtiers to pay each other for access to those precious commodes…or else, they simply went in the corner.
42. Einstein’s Corpse Got Defiled
The pathologist who performed Albert Einstein’s autopsy stole his brain and cut it up into pieces.
43. We’ve Been Pronouncing Julius Caesar Wrong
Julius Caesar was pronounced “YOO-lee-us KYE-sahr” in Ancient Rome.
44. Elvis Presley Had A Bizarre Relationship With His Mom
Elvis Presley was weirdly close to his mother, Gladys. Their behavior was downright disturbing. They had pet names for one another, spoke in “baby talk,” and even shared a bed well into his teen years.
45. Anne Frank’s Diary Was Censored
Anne Frank’s father edited sensitive information out of her diary because he didn’t want the world to know that she had started “discovering” her sexuality, wrote about her period, and talked about his love of fart jokes.
46. Nikola Tesla Had One Chilling Obsession
Nikola Tesla had a bizarre obsession with pigeons. Describing one of his favorite pigeons, Tesla once proudly proclaimed, “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”
47. Mozart Loved Poop
Mozart was surprisingly obsessed with bathroom humor. Two of his songs actually talk about analingus. He also wrote letters to his family where he described his bowel movements in great detail.
48. King George IV Got A Brutal Revenge
49. Joan Crawford Once Gave Her Crush A Disturbing “Gift”
50. A King Of Egypt Had A Disgusting Appetite
While many of Egypt’s citizens starved, King Farouk of Egypt reportedly ate 600 oysters a week. Not content with this, he also bought a candy red Bentley, then demanded that no one else paint their own cars red.
51. A Writer Tried To Kill His Wife
Writer Norman Mailer once stabbed his wife Adele while he was in his cups at a raucous party. But that’s not even the worst part. Did I mention that it was with a rusty penknife? Did I mention that he did it twice?
52. Lysol Has A Gross Origin Story
In the not-so-distant past, Lysol, the household cleaning product, was an intimate hygienic solution for women’s nether regions.
53. Jack The Ripper Might Have Been A Royal
54. An Emperor Of Italy Liked To Eat People
Justin II of Italy spent the end of his reign rolling around his palace on a throne with wheels. The roller throne was designed by his servants who needed to find a way to distract the king because he had an utterly disturbing tendency—he had a penchant for eating them.
55. A Famous Comedian Hated One Color
Comedian Peter Sellers hated the color green. He claimed it gave him “strange vibrations.” He not only refused to wear the hue, but he also refused to act opposite of anyone who did.
56. The First Joke Was Filthy
The first joke ever recorded was a fart joke. It goes all the way back to 1900 BC.
57. Victorians Were Terrifying
It was common in the Victorian age to have photographs of loved ones taken after they passed. Families in Victorian Britain would even pose with the dead, with tykes “sleeping” and young ladies “reclining.”
58. The Ultimate Scare Tactic
King Goujian of Yue placed a row of convicted criminals at the front of his army. Why? Because before the battle, he would make them cut off their own heads to scare the enemy.
59. American Soldiers Weren’t Allowed To Do This
An American Civil War code of honor forbade men from shooting at enemies while they were pooping.
60. Sideburns Have A Namesake
Sideburns are named after American soldier General Burnside.
61. There’s A Mysterious “Blond” Town In China
Inhabitants of the Chinese town of Liqian have blond hair and white skin. Historians have speculated they are the descendants of a lost Roman settlement.
62. This President Had A Hidden Skill
Abraham Lincoln is the only president who was also a licensed bartender. He co-owned Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois.
63. Russian Tsarinas Had A Naughty Addiction
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. It was so popular that eunuchs and women were employed as full-time foot ticklers.
64. The Most Spoiled Dogs In History
Muhammed Mahabat Khan III kept over 800 dogs as pets, but that’s not even the crazy part. Each had its own room, servant, and telephone. Not content at giving them rooms and telephones, Khan also held lavish birthday parties every year for them.
65. The Weirdest Breakup In History
Artist Oskar Kokoschka had an affair with Alma Mahler, but when she broke it off, he went off the deep end. He commissioned a life-sized Alma doll complete with fake teeth and feathery skin. He then destroyed the doll in the middle of a party.
66. Ulysses S. Grant Was A Murderer
Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration got so cold while the ceremony was going on, the canaries that were supposed to sing at the inaugural ball actually froze to death.
67. The Royal Mistress Who Was A Dominatrix
Dancer and royal mistress Lola Montez carried a whip around wherever she went and lashed it out on anyone who displeased her, including members of the public, bored theatre-goers, and critics who gave her bad reviews.
68. Ben Franklin Was A Nudist
Ben Franklin liked to take “air baths,” where he sat naked in front of his window each morning while reading and writing.
69. Dracula Had A Dirty Little Secret
Dracula actor Bela Lugosi once had an affair with starlet Clara Bow, and commissioned a naked portrait of the actress. He then displayed the large painting prominently in all of his homes from 1929 until his passing—including in the houses he shared with his last two wives.
70. Concrete Is Actually An Ancient Invention
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the technology to make concrete was lost for 1,000 years.
71. Rasputin Never Changed His Underwear
The mystic monk Rasputin went for incredibly long periods of time without touching himself or washing. He once bragged about not changing his underwear for over six months, and food would often rot in his beard.
72. Sigmund Freud Was A Cocaine Addict
Sigmund Freud loved cocaine, and published his Cocaine Papers (1887), which was a “song of praise to this magical substance.”
73. Einstein Was Stupid In One Way
Albert Einstein‘s secretary once got an anonymous call asking where Einstein lived. The secretary declined to respond. The caller then admitted he was Einstein himself, and that he had forgotten his address.
74. Neil DeGrasse Tyson Was Almost “Magic Mike”
Scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson almost became an exotic dancer. Having danced and wrestled through university, Tyson considered dancing at a Chippendale’s-type club for extra cash.
75. There’s A Dildo Heaven
In the 1880s, Anthony Comstock started confiscating people’s dildos and other “toys” in the United States. He referred to them as “immoral rubber goods,” and in 1882, he had confiscated 64,836 pounds of illicit material.
76. This President’s Death Was Hugely Ironic
The first president to ever ride in a self-propelled vehicle was William McKinley. Unfortunately, it was the ambulance that was taking him to the hospital after he was fatally shot.
77. The Russian Revolution Almost Didn’t Happen
When the Russian Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in 1917, their revolution was halted for a few days because they got ridiculously sloshed after finding the palace wine stores.
78. One President Believes In Aliens
Jimmy Carter was the first president to go on record as having seen a UFO.
79. A King Thought He Was Made Of Glass
Charles VI of France got the name “Charles the Mad” because he started to imagine he was made of glass. He was very careful not to “break,” and even sewed steel rods into his clothes to “prevent” this from ever happening.
80. “Stonewall” Jackson Got His Name In A Strange Way
Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson got his nickname during the first battle of Bull Run. His men stated he stood “like a stone wall” in the midst of battle. He was accidentally shot and killed by his own men.
81. Sparta Was An Awful Place To Live
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 they had to.
82. Few People Know Malcolm X’s Real Story
Malcolm X was bisexual. He was also a sex worker for almost 10 years.
83. Gladiators Weren’t The Only Roman Entertainment
In the 1st century AD, polar bears fought seals in Roman amphitheaters flooded with water.
84. This Inventor Was A Masochist
Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions in his 73-year-old life, got his creativity from sinking himself underwater for hours at a time. The point of all this? As he put it, it was, “To starve the brain of oxygen. Zero-point-five seconds before death, I visualize an invention.”
85. Isaac Newton May Have Been A Virgin
Though Isaac Newton lived to be 84, he never married. Some even believe he never lost his virginity.
86. There Was A Vampire Beauty Trend
It’s no secret that paleness was a sign of high class for much of European history. However, one trend even had women drawing over their skin with blue pencil to emphasize their veins and thus their ghostly skin.
87. Einstein Could Have Been A President
Albert Einstein declined the Presidency of Israel, saying he had no head for problems.
88. The Roosevelts Were Circus Performers
Every member of Teddy Roosevelt’s family owned a pair of stilts. They often walked around the White House on them for fun.
89. This Medieval Queen Was A Grave-Robber
Shortly after her beloved husband’s passing, Queen Joanna of Castile ordered his body exhumed, had the casket opened, jumped to his side once again, and kissed his dearly departed feet. She then carried his casket everywhere with her.
90. Romans Buried Non-Virgins Alive
During the 7th century BC, ancient Roman “vestal virgins” had to keep their hymens intact as proof of virginity until age 30. And if they didn’t stay intact, people would bury them alive.
91. Cleopatra Had Wild Parties
Cleopatra wasn’t just a powerful queen; she was also a party girl. She created a drinking club known as the “Inimitable Livers” with her husband Marc Antony. The club would feast and drink heavily and then go out to play pranks on unsuspecting citizens.
92. People Actually Slept In Coffins
Actress Sarah Bernhardt had a peculiar obsession with death, and from the tender age of 15 onward, she sometimes slept in a custom-made, satin-lined rosewood coffin.
93. Andrew Jackson Was Obsessed With Dueling
Andrew Jackson was apparently involved in over a hundred duels, most of which he fought to defend his wife’s honor. Why her honor was constantly besmirched is another story.
94. Caligula Loved His Horse WAY Too Much
The Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula made his horse a senator.
95. The Prince Who Was Raised Like A Girl
Philippe, Duke of Orleans was the brother of King Louis XIV. To prevent Philippe from threatening his famous brother, Philippe’s mother Queen Anne of Austria raised him to be very feminine, calling him “my little girl” and even urging him to dress up in frilly, feminine clothing as a child.
96. Soldiers Had To Undergo Surgery Without Medication
Anesthesia wasn’t available on the battlefield. Sometimes, patients were given chloroform, but mostly they just took a glass of the hard stuff.
97. Catherine The Great Tested Her Lovers
According to several historical records, in order to become a lover of Catherine the Great, there was an intimate test. Before jumping into Catherine’s bed, prospective suitors had to first satisfy Catherine’s lady-in-waiting.
98. The Worst Diet Ever
Meet the tapeworm diet. Women in the 1800s sometimes ingested tapeworms in their effort to be slim. While the promise of weight loss wasn’t necessarily a sham, the side effects of meningitis and epilepsy may have made the benefits a little difficult to enjoy.
99. History’s Most Shocking Sideshow
Tarrare was an 18th-century French showman. His party trick? He obsessively ate everything, and lots of it. His circus act had him eating, among other things, whole live animals, a basket of apples, and even rocks.
100. That’s One Way To Win An Argument
Famous eccentric Sir George Sitwell put up a sign in front of his home asking people who entered to never contradict him. The reasons why were as bizarre as it gets. He said arguments “interfere(d) with the functioning of the gastric juices” and disturbed his sleep at night.
101. A “Huge” Claim To Fame
1950s international playboy Porfirio Rubirosa had such an infamously large “package,” Parisian waiters used to call their 16-inch pepper mills “Rubirosas.”
102. The Princess Who Thought She Was A Piano
Princess Alexandra Amalie of Bavaria was, by all accounts, a lovely and charming woman…who had the slight defect of being convinced she had swallowed an all-glass piano. She was also obsessed with cleanliness and wore only white.
103. Caligula Once Made A Twisted “Joke”
Caligula had a malevolent sense of humor. Once at a dinner party, he reportedly burst into raucous laughter. When asked to explain the reason for his mirth, he replied, “I’ve just thought that I’ve only to give the word and you’ll all have your throats cut.” Hilarious, right?!
104. Tsar Ivan Really Was Terrible
When Tsar Ivan the Terrible saw his pregnant daughter-in-law walking around in clothing that he didn’t approve of, he absolutely snapped. He viciously attacked her, causing her to miscarry. When his son came into the room, Ivan also ended up killing him in a fit of rage.
105. Romans’ Pee Smelled Weird
In Ancient Rome, women would drink turpentine to make their urine smell sweet like roses.
106. Long Lashes Weren’t Always Popular
Contrary to the modern trend towards lashes with extreme volume, the 1800s employed a more minimalist approach. Armed with castor oil for shiny eyelids in lieu of mascara, women trimmed down their lash lines.
107. Ivan The Terrible Wasn’t The Only Mad Russian
Anna, the “Mad Tsarina” of Russia, once tormented one of her hated courtiers by locking him up in an ice palace for the night. Before that, she made him pretend to be a chicken, sitting in her ante-chamber and “laying” eggs.
108. There Was A Male Version Of A Push-Up Bra
It turns out that men had their own version of the padded bra in the 15th and 16th centuries: the codpiece. These puffed up a man’s member beyond natural proportions, as paintings from the times affirm.
109. Grover Cleveland Was A Hangman
As sheriff of Erie County, future President Grover Cleveland twice had to spring the trap at a hanging. That’s right: Grover is the only US President to have ever held the job of hangman.
110. Romans Worshipped Poop Gods
The inhabitants of ancient Rome had a sewer goddess, a toilet god, and a god of excrement. Reportedly, the gods frequented the latrine in large numbers, as excrement was the food of the dead.
111. Cannibalism Wasn’t Always Taboo
Medieval doctors kept their patients in check with drinkable byproducts of human blood and flesh. “Mummy powder” was a commonplace fixture of 12th-century apothecaries, and these practices even had a name: “corpse medicine.”
112. The Church Of Bones
In the Czech Republic, there is a church called The Sedlec Ossuary that has decorations made entirely of human bones.
113. Dentures Used To Have Real Teeth
In the 1800s, people needed dentures just like they do today—but they didn’t have access to our modern technologies. Instead, people made dentures at the time out of the teeth of dead people, usually soldiers.
114. A Fart Got An Elizabethan Courtier Exiled
One day, the 17th Earl of Oxford came into Queen Elizabeth’s courtroom, bowed to her—and let out an enormous toot. The man was duly mortified. So mortified, in fact, that he went into self-imposed exile for seven years. When he returned, Elizabeth’s first reply was, “My lord, I had forgot the fart.”
115. People Used To Pluck Their Foreheads
In the effort to accentuate facial length and forehead size, trendy women in the Middle Ages removed annoying distractors—such as eyebrow hair. If the forehead still wasn’t prominent enough, hairlines were fair game for plucking as well.
116. The English Used To Drink Out Of Human Skulls
Do you ever wonder what people did before the invention of assembly-line cups and bowls? In ancient England, people used the tops of hollowed human skulls to drink and eat.
117. King Tut Was The Product Of Incest
King Tutankhamun passed at the tender age of 18. Some researchers believe he died from genetic disease, due to the fact his parents were brother and sister.
118. King Henry II Liked Farts
King Henry II employed a professional “flatulist” named Roland the Farter.
119. You Can Actually Rip A Person’s Heart Out
When Peter I of Portugal’s father sent assassins to behead his son’s lover, Ines de Castro, Peter got revenge with an utterly brutal gesture. The Portuguese royal tracked down the killers and ordered his men to literally rip their hearts from their still-alive bodies.
120. People Have Been Sticking Things Up Their Butt For Centuries
In 2009, a woman walked into the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. She had a brass object in hand that had no inscriptions or markings. She said that one of her Confederate ancestors used the device to smuggle secret messages, hiding it in his posterior until he reached his destination.
121. The Most Expensive Nose In The Renaissance
The 16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe lost his nose in a duel. Too bad, right? Well, Brahe had a pretty genius solution. He donned a metal one instead, designed to mimic his original schnoz.
122. George Bush Coined An Unfortunate Word
After George Bush Sr. vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister, the Japanese invented a new word: Bushusuru. This means to “do the Bush thing” or to “publicly vomit.”
123. Roman Wives Only Got Naked Once
After the wedding night, a modest Roman wife wasn’t supposed to let her husband see her naked again.
124. The Mad Sultan Of The Ottoman Empire
Ibrahim I became Sultan of the Ottoman Empire when he was very clearly mentally unstable. He drowned his entire harem and imposed new taxes to fund his lavish lifestyle. His people deposed him, and then 10 days later, they strangled him. Drowning women is one thing. But new taxes? Unacceptable.
125. Henry VIII’s First Wife Had A Literal Black Heart
Catherine of Aragon’s demise was utterly mysterious in its time. While preparing her body for burial, her embalmer noticed the corpse was in perfect health—save for her heart, which had turned black. The ghastly condition, coupled with Catherine’s chilling premonitions of her own demise, led people to some dark rumors about her end.
After witnessing her strange condition, those loyal to Catherine and disloyal to Henry and his new wife Anne Boleyn started whispering that the Royal Couple 2.0 had poisoned Catherine in a chilling act of self-service, leading the “Dowager” to die poetically of a broken heart. Modern historians, however, believe a much different story.
Most experts today believe that rather than foul play, Catherine passed of cancer of the heart; sometimes it can turn the heart black. Nonetheless, it’s still tragically poetic given the circumstances of Catherine’s life and her queenship.
126. You Can Use Honey For Some Messed-Up Activities
King Herod, the tyrant king of Judea, had his wife, Mariamne I, preserved in honey after her death. Herod ordered her execution, but found her too beautiful to bury and so kept and preserved her body for seven years. Some even claimed Herod had er, relations, with the body.
Herod suffered from paranoid delusions, rage, and arteriosclerosis, but his death in 4 BCE came at the hands of a mysterious and agonizing illness which modern doctors are still not able to identify. At one point, the pain was so excruciating, the king attempted suicide. The illness came to be known, among the Judean people, as “Herod’s Evil.”
127. Public Beddings Were A Thing
Catherine de Medici was only 14 when she married Henri, the son of King Francis. And although she was young, the King and other older men insisted on watching the consummation of the marriage.
128. King Edward VIII Was A Colossal Jerk
King Edward VIII lost his brother Prince John at a young age from a severe seizure. The boy had suffered from epilepsy and other ailments for years, but Edward’s response was so disturbing, it’s impossible to forget. He referred to John’s passing as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”