Have you ever wondered about the bizarre history you never learned in school? There’s a lot of it, but here are ten of the most bizarre historical facts to get you started.
Cats Declared Satan’s Instruments
During the 13th Century, Pope Gregory IX, in his public decree, Vox in Rama, addressed the rumors of satanic cults, and associated cats, particularly black cats, with these cults. Once a sacred animal worshiped by the ancient Egyptians, the perception of cats began to change. Now thought of as Satan’s instruments, a killing spree ensued across Europe.
Knockers-Up as Alarms
Before the invention of alarm clocks, how did everyone wake up in time for work? They simply hired knockers-up. These hired hands would either tap their long sticks on a client’s window or use a blowgun to shoot dried peas at their windows. For this, one could earn a few pence per week.
Molasses Flood of 1919
Who knew molasses could be so deadly? Yet it did indeed prove deadly during the Molasses Flood of 1919.
A large supply of molasses, used to make rum and also industrial alcohol, was stored in a 50-foot holding tank. On a day in 1919, over two million gallons of it poured from the tank and ran through the streets at somewhere around 35 miles per hour. Imagine a tsunami of molasses nearing 15 feet tall heading down your street at such speed! Buildings were knocked clean off their foundations. Twenty-one people were killed and over 150 injured.
Forks Declared Sacrilegious
It’s hard to believe that one of our everyday utensils, the fork, was once considered blasphemous. Invented in the 11th century in Italy, the Church found these pronged instruments to be offensive to God. We already had God-given fingers to eat with, and using these artificial hands to eat God’s food was deemed sacrilegious.
President Killed by Cherries
At a 4th of July party back in 1850, then US President Zachary Taylor indulged himself with multiple cherries and milk. Suffering persistent stomach pains in the days that followed, President Taylor died on July 9th. Many sources claim his death was due to gastroenteritis, caused by the many acidic cherries and milk. Others claim it was cholera, but the cherries’ connection has fascinated many and has yet to be disproven.
Jackson’s Vulgar Parrot
Little is it known that President Andrew Jackson spent considerable time with an African grey parrot, teaching it to curse. Being a tough war hero, it doesn’t seem too hard to imagine why. At Jackson’s funeral, as the crowd gathered to pay their last respects, the parrot began to swear loudly and had to be removed.
Medicine has come a long way since the 1800s. Back then, you could be declared dead without actually being dead. This led to the fear of being buried alive and the creation of the safety coffin.
The first safety coffins were said to include such things as escape hatches and feeding tubes. Then, in 1892, a bell system was created. Strings connected to bells above ground were attached to the presumed corpse’s head, hands, and feet. Once buried, and if alive, you had to hope the cemetery watchman heard the bells ringing. Sadly, no one seems to have a record of anyone being saved this way.
Soldiers Teeth Served as Dentures
During the 19th century, the demand for dentures rose as people began to eat more sweets. One way to meet this demand was with dead soldiers’ teeth. After the Battle of Waterloo, the teeth of dead soldiers were collected then sold to dentists. After boiling them, the dentist would cut off their roots and form them into perfect sets of dentures.
Honey to Catch Flies
It must have been tough being a servant in ancient Egypt. Not only did you have to fan someone all day, but you also had to serve as a flycatcher. During his reign, Pharaoh Pepi II despised flies so much that he surrounded himself with naked slaves covered in honey.
Army Frontline Decapitation
There have been bizarre practices in war throughout the ages, but those espoused by King Goujian of Yue (496 to 465 BC) ranks high up there with the most bizarre. Before battle, he would line up a group of convicted criminals to stand in front of his army. As the enemy approached, these convicted criminals cut off their own heads. This was to show how crazy King Goujian and his army were and to instill fear.
As you can see, what you think you know of history is only the beginning. History is filled with the bizarre, almost to the point of being unbelievable.