Some people find historical events exciting. They didn't study history in college or have any qualifications in the subject, but they're just fascinated by it. The sheer vastness of documented human history is a wonder to read through. How we started from hunter-gatherers to city builders and then to spacefarers is an interesting account of human development that will continue to whet the appetite of history lovers. Spread across this long campaign spanning over 10,000 years are little events that seem strange and most times overlooked but are nevertheless captivating.
1. France's Linguistic Diversity
France used to be highly linguistically diverse. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, less than half of the French population could speak French. And even fewer people spoke it as their mother language. Most parts of the south spoke Occitane, which was a midway between French and Spanish. Other languages like Basque, Breton, Corsican, Flemish (Dutch), Franco-Provencal, and a few others were also spoken. In the 19th century, France began an aggressive assimilation policy of the linguistic minorities, where many languages became less popular.
2. Made-Up Historical Names
Some of the most famous people in history changed their names to the ones people know them by. Some didn't think their real names were cool or striking enough for their status or ambition, so they changed it into something more fitting. One of them is Josef Stalin, born Loseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili. Genghis Khan was also born Temujin Borjigin before changing his name. For Che Guevara, the Che in the name was made up.
3. Major Donny Dunegan
The ex-veteran Major Donny Donegan was the youngest-ever drill instructor in the US Marines. He sustained three injuries during his three tours in Vietnam and was awarded 3 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for 25 years of dedicated service. He also did all these while hiding the fact that he was the voice of Bambi in the famous 1942 Disney movie.
4. Abraham Lincoln's Son
Former President Abraham Lincoln's son was present at three separate presidential assassinations. He wasn't involved in any, but it was a bizarre coincidence.
Some Japanese Buddhist monks used to practice a meditation called Sokushinbutsu. They would starve themselves to death while meditating, hence mummifying themselves alive.
According to tradition, the first engineer to build a bridge across the Tiber in ancient Rome was given the name Pontifex, meaning “bridge builder.” The Pontifex was seen as someone who connects people, and that symbolism was so powerful that Roman high priests (including Julius Caesar) later adopted the title Pontifex Maximus. During the Roman Imperial age, the emperor was always the Pontifex Maximus. The title eventually passed from Roman emperors to the leader of the Roman Catholic church. Today, the pope still carries the title Pontifex Maximus.
7. Titanic (1997)
The James Cameron film Titanic cost more to make than the actual RMS Titanic ship that sank. The movie cost $200 million to produce. The costs to construct the original boat from between 1910 to 1912 were $7.5 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $116 million in 1997.
8. Armored Car
The car that took Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Capitol to deliver his speech following the attack on Pearl Harbor used to belong to Al Capone. At the time, the US president did not have an armored car, nor did the government own one that would be available to him. Presidents had just traveled around in regular automobiles. Given the new threats apparent following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Secret Service took an armored car that was in the government's possession after having been seized by law enforcement from notorious mobster Al Capone.
On January 2, 1939, Time magazine published its annual Man of the Year issue. For the year 1938, Time had chosen Adolf Hitler as the man who, “For better or worse” (as Time founder Henry Luce expressed it), had most influenced events the preceding year. Also, Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon, and Ayatollah Khomeini were featured in the magazine's Man of the Year issues, too.
10. Pharaoh's Passport
The mummified body of the ancient Egyptian King, Rameses II, had begun to wear out, and its condition deteriorated. Bacterias and creepy crawlies had begun to infest it. So, to preserve the mummy, Egyptian authorities allowed France to take it back to its laboratories for better treatment. But, the condition was that, according to French laws, anyone who enters the country, alive or dead, must have a passport. So that was how a king who had died thousands of years ago got a modern-day passport.