History and Mythology! Not just for nerds anymore!

My favorite bit of history is all the graffiti in Pompeii that was preserved by the ash that covered the city.



more of this sort of thing, please!

This is fantastic, yeah. A nice reminder that humans are always gonna human. If we ever meet aliens, and become travelers of the star, some jackhole is gonna graffiti up some Salarian’s space toyoto.

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One of my favourite history-related sites is Public Domain Review, which is a site listing old public domain materials. I actually have to ration myself on it, as I can lose hours there if I’m not careful.

It also includes “collections” pulling out images from the archives. Some favourites (there are hundreds of things there, this is just a sampling):

The Art of Dreams - paintings and drawings based on dreaming.

An 1897 book on stage magic

Some of the best beards in history.

An 18th century alchemical treatise.


Napoleon once got his shit wrecked by rabbits.

He had been invited by a subordinate, Marshal Berthier, to go hunting on his estate. Berthier had arranged for hundreds of rabbits to be released for the hunt, but his staff ordered domesticated rabbits instead of wild ones. These rabbits were used to being fed scraps of cabbage by the gardeners, and assumed Napoleon and friends were there for the same reason. And so:

[quote=“Baron Thiebault”]All those rabbits, which should have tried in vain, even by scattering themselves, to escape the shots which the august hand destined for them, suddenly collected, first in knots, then in a body; instead of having recourse to a useless flight, they all faced about, and in an instant the whole phalanx flung itself upon Napoleon. The surprise was unbounded, as was Berthier’s wrath. At once he assembled a force of coachmen, with long whips, and darted forward at their head.

The rabbits put to flight, Napoleon was delivered, and they were looking on the incident as a delay - comical, no doubt, but well over - when, by a wheel in three bodies to right and left, the intrepid rabbits turned the Emperor’s flank, attacked him frantically in the rear, refused to quit their hold, piled themselves up between his legs till they made him stagger, and forced the conqueror of conquerors, fairly exhausted, to retreat and leave them in possession of the field.[/quote]

(From this source)


One of my favorite amusing historical facts is that the practice of shaving genital hair was brought back to Europe by Crusaders who learned it from the Muslims. I learned this in a class while discussing a particularly amusing anecdote from the Book of Contemplation wherein a bath house owner named Salim recounts how a knight yanked off his towel, marveled at his shaved crotch and then asked him to shave first his own and then his wife’s pubic hair.

The author commends the Franks for this on their courage in spite of their lack of honour or propriety.

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Not to be a dick, but Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the four great Chinese novels, and samurai are Japanese. V. different politics structures.

Incidentally, I’m a bit of a Chinese history buff mainly for Qing and Republican era. I also know a decent amount of Taiwanese history :slight_smile:

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I got tired of just boring people with history stories in person so I started a podcast instead: History Honeys! (RSS) (iTunes)

My wife and I take turns teaching each other something, and new episodes come out on alternate Tuesdays. We cover nerd stuff like the life and career of Stan Lee, deadly tragedies like the Iriqouis theater Fire, and not-coincidentally topical stuff like the Haymarket Affair.

For a bunch of bite-sized oddities like this thread seems to be about, try this one: http://historyhoneys.podbean.com/e/great-lakes-oddities/


I love your podcast! It is helpful for me to know that there are others out there entertained by terrible historical events!

I already listen to it. I love history podcasts. This and Ones From The Vault(A podcast about queer and trans history that is often forgotten), as well as Sawbones(Since they often discuss medical history) are my go to podcasts.

I am not familiar with Ones From the Vault, I will check that out ASAP.

So something I wondered about after watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was why there were not any hovering aircraft carriers. After my father patiently explained the impracticality of it, I asked why there were no SUBMARINE Aircraft Carries, and he told me to shut up, as the ball game was on.

This question stuck with me for a long time, and I eventually decided to look up if there had ever been an attempt to make a submersible aircraft carrier, and to my surprise, yes! There had!

Most of the major players in WWII used them, actually, but they were more like submarines that happened to have a plane strapped on that could be used for recon in exchange for a bit of firepower. However, there was one exception, built by the French between WWI and WWII, called the Surcouf, which was flippen rad.

This too was a submarine with a recon plane but also much more! It has extensive anti air capabilities, and a few torpedo tubes, along with a huge HMG attached. The concept was to make a submersible cruiser that could just fuck shit up and then flee to the relative safety of the briny depths, and it really would have, if it didnt have terrible luck bring in the wrong places at the wrong time, and wasn’t rammed by an American ship “on accident.”

The Surcouf never really saw active combat as it had been out on patrol when Germany invaded France, and by the time the sub had arrived France had surrendered. The British said that the Surcouf could dock in one of their ports, but when the Surcouf took them up on the offer the British demanded they be allowed to board and search the vessel, which the understandably upset French took offense to, for several reasons (mainly being A: This ship was a huge investment by the French into warfare technology, no way are we going to let you British get it for free; B: Our country just got conquered by Nazi’s, can we grieve for a second, and C: Your British, we are French, go suck a Spotted Dick). A fire fight broke out and several British MP’s actually died, but the Surcouf was allowed to dock for a time before being sent off to the Atlantic for patrols. Sadly, even in the Atlantic the only combat it saw was when it was run over by a US Freighter.

What happened was that one night, a freighter leaving Guantanamo Bay (the US has had ownership of GitMo since the Spanish American War at the end of the 19th Century) accidentally struck something, as they felt a scraping on their hull. They heard calls for help, but thought it was a German U-boat so fuck 'em! and just kept going. Now a lot of people think this was just a cover up for a political attack by the US for pretty complicated reasons that can be summed thus: holy shit that thing could fuck us up if it wanted too, and there was the whole thing with the British, better sink it.

So you might be wondering why we don’t have these today, and the answer us basically they aren’t terribly practical. Aircraft and their Carriers have such range that they can already launch surprise strikes and submarine carriers are pretty expensive as they need to have an airtight hanger. HOWEVER, there are plans to try out UMV equipped subs which have a shorter range and thus can benefit from a sneaky approach, so they can now preform more accurate drone strikes. (I will note here that I am not making any comments for or against drone strikes)

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Christianity even managed to get to get to China from the (eastern) Roman empire by the mid-600s if not before. Mostly it was Nestorians who were forced out of the main church organization and just kept walking east… It was suppressed to the point of virtual disappearance but there is still some physical evidence of the Nestorian church in China- the Daquin Pagoda, inscriptions in steles etc.

I have also heard, although I am not a religious scholar, an idea that Jesus might have visited the East and learned Buddhism. My understanding is that this is complete conspiracy, but again it is not my area of expertise so if anyone else knows more I would be glad to cede to them.

EDIT: See below for a discussion about how wrong I was.

That is a postulation that is more “New Age” than actual scholarship and get dangerously close to the “Did Jesus even exist?” question. Christianity is more likely to have been influenced by Zoroastrianism and the various Hellenic/Mesopotamian cults of the era. The Cult of Mirtha is commonly brought up as well as the cults of Apollo and Attis, all of which share many core elements of Christianity. One thing that is generally not brought up outside of religious scholarship is that Christianity was principally a Greek cult that was originally practiced in Hellenic cities, just look at Paul’s letters: Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. All of those peoples are in Greek cities either in Greece itself or on the Asia Minor coast which had been Greek nearly half a millennia. Further analysis of the way Jesus speaks about places, events, and cultural references are very Hellenic in nature.

However, after the Council of Ephesus in 431 where the Nestorians were officially condemned, the Persian Church aligned itself with Nestorianism in defiance of the Council which caused a schism between the eastern-most Persian Church and the other western churches. The schism created an environment where the Persian Church was cutoff from the leading Roman Church, but gained “support” (rather, the reduction of persecution into tolerance) from the ruling Persian class which created a geo-political barrier for the spread of Roman Christianity. The Nestorian Persian Church then went on to establish churches throughout India and eastern Asia utilizing the trade routes that Persia monopolized. The Nestorians had a lot of early success through the 6th to 9th centuries by mostly staged migrations and thrived in parts of India, Mongolia, and China. However, after the Mongols were ousted by the Ming all Christians were expelled from China and eventually the religion was quashed in Mongolia and Central Asia when Timur converted the hordes to Islam. Timur’s conquest of India and Persia almost eradicated Nestorianism completely, though it does survive today as in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Syria…though many have fled the region in recent years) and parts of South West India as the Assyrian Church of the East.


Well, in the case of Ming China it’s a bit more complicated than that. While on the whole in the Ming dynasty we see that rampant xenophobia and the expulsion of Christians, and a sort of Han-hunkering down so to speak, during the king is also when we see some of the richest Jesuit work in China. So we see folks like Alessandro Valignano, who founded a College in Macau so that the Jesuits could get a grasp on local language and customs in some way before attempting penetration.

It’s kind of criminal to not talk about Matteo Rocco and the Wanli Emperor. Thanks to him we have the first dictionary from Chinese into a European language. He’s the reason why we call Mencius and Confucius so, since he translated them into Latin and accorded them sagely names. By 1615, there were perhaps 10,000 Chinese Catholic converts, including Xu Guangqi, best known for his work with Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis in translating the Elements by Euclid.

So, it’s complicated :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

E: also, funnily enough Arf, you’ve got it kind of backwards. Buddha is an informal saint through Barlaam and Josaphat.

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Ooohhh, that is likely where I got mixed up! Thank you!

Er, to clarify what I meant, because I didn’t meant to make that sort of mix up, cowboys, while obviously not directly one for one to samurai, do have the same kind of evocative nature in fiction, when it comes to looking at the past. I then added that, much like with Romance of the Three Kingdoms being a fantastic (but still embellished by soldiers who bragged to get paid more), then Wild West has the same feel to it. It’s a time of…basically just regular stuff happening, but people where so in love with that time period they exaggerated it into being almost fantasy.

What I’m saying is I want a Dynasty Warriors game set in the Wild West.

I have no idea how i missed this thread for so long. History is one of my favorite things - mostly Imperial Chinese, medieval European and medieval Islamic. The main thing to remember about history is that ‘historically accurate’ really means ‘diverse as fuck’, which you won’t get from a lot of pre-modern historians, because western academia has been kind of whitewashing history for decades. It’s shitty but at least we’re finally getting away from it some.

My favorite history story is how Hungary had the Magna Carta’s effects centuries before anyone else, because their Magna Carta was a hat.

You see, the King of Hungary, Saint Stephen I decided to give the entire nation to the Virgin Mary as a gesture of piety in the year 1000, when he was crowned - or, at least, that’s the popular legend, and it essentially became the truth legally.

So the king didn’t own Hungary, Mary did. Mary, obviously, could not run the country, as she was far too busy. So, logically, she had to delegate the job to a lesser divine servant: the Holy Crown. The Holy Crown was a divine presence that guided the king to rule well and wisely, and which was also literally the crown.

And what this meant legally was that the laws of Hungary did not flow from the king but from the Holy Crown. As the king was only the speaker for the Crown’s will, the king was not above the law, and the nobility could use the Crown’s authority to enforce law on the king when he overstepped. After all, the Crown was divine and holy and so could only give just and correct advice, and breaking the law would clearly not be just and correct, so it could never be the will of the Crown.

This legal theory was, unsurprisingly, not adopted by many other nations.


Wait, hang on, this implies at least one country did.

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