What’s an interesting thing from history most people don’t know?

  1. The Taiping Rebellion in China between 1850-64 against the Qing Dynasty led by a man who said he was Jesus’ younger brother. 20 million people died, making it more deadly than the First World War.

  2. Otto Von Bismarck once threatened to jump out of a window if the King did not agree with his plans for Austria. The prince walked over to the window, opened it, and told Bismarck to go ahead.

    He didn’t, of course, but I think it’s hilarious that he was so petulant.

  3. Charles II of Spain is a great example of inbreeding in royalty. His mother was his father’s niece, and because outbreeding in his family tree had completely collapsed, all of his ancestors could be traced back to Joanna and Philip I of Castile.

    He was the last ~~Hadsburg~~ Habsburg King of Spain and died in 1700 at the age of 38.

    Family tree: http://i.imgur.com/CnUatIO.jpg

  4. Peter the Great collected giants. He would swap with The Polish King, Russian dwarfs for Polish Giants.
    He also had a regiment of giants in his military

  5. Lenin was a big fan of cats, but he never named any, because naming them would imply ownership, which he opposed as a bourgeois concept.

  6. The federal government is still paying for two civil war pensions.

  7. In 1941 the British raided St.Nazaire in France so that Germany’s biggest battleship couldn’t dock in any dock in the Atlantic. Because they did this the German ship spent the whole war sitting in Norway and eventually it was destroyed by bombers.

  8. During WWII over 26,000 Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai and set up in the Shanghai Ghetto. Even today you can go to Hangkou District and see the Star of David worked into traditional Chinese architecture.

    Source: Grew up in Shanghai, wrote a big a paper on it.

    EDIT: Some more information for anyone who is interest. There was this cool dude named Ho Feng Shan who has a reputation for sort of being known as “”China’s Schindler.” He was a diplomat in Vienna who risked a lot to get Jewish refugees “protected passports” to enter Shanghai. Back then, Shanghai was an open-port city, so you didn’t need papers to enter, but the proper documents were needed in order to leave Austria (how fucked up is that?)

    Also, at the time, deciding to move to Shanghai was sort of like the lesser of two evils since it was under Japanese Occupation. In fact, Shanghai has an absolutely amazing history. It’s called The Paris of the Orient for a reason. For anyone looking to travel across China, don’t skip Shanghai. But I digress…

    After the war most of the 40,000 something Jews that lived in Shanghai ended up leaving, but a good handful stayed behind. If you are ever in Hongkou District go to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. It’s tiny and I think funded through donations, but it’s worth the visit, and you can go to the local synagogue right next door.. Definitely an interesting little piece of lesser-known history.

  9. Robert E. Lee had a hen named Nellie that was with him during his Civil War campaigns. She slept under his cot at night, laid him an egg every morning. Once she went missing at Gettysburg, and he had everyone looking for her…he was very distressed. Apparently, he was known for his devotion to his army and his pets.

    He was extremely fond of cats too.

  10. There was a guy that lived in San Francisco who declared himself the Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. His cabinet consisted of two dogs. It seems like no big deal, but Joshua Norton was treated like a big deal at the time. People acted like he really was the emperor and thousands of people showed for the funeral… Of his dogs.

  11. Hitler didn’t refuse to shake Jesse Owen’s hand at the 1936 Olympics because he was black.
    At the start of the games, Hitler would only shake the hands of the German medal winners. Olympic officials told him, in order to be fair, he had to shake everyone’s hand, or no ones hand. Hitler choose the latter.
    The sad part is, in the words of Jesse Owens “Hitler didn’t snub me – it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

  12. The Carnation Revolution of 1974 in Portugal was a military coup organized by army Captains that overthrew the ruling dictatorship and restored democracy. Only 4 people died when the Secret/State Police fired into the crowd before surrendering. I think it’s one of the most nonviolent revolutions in recent history.

    [Edit]: A word. Changed Military Police to Secret/State Police.

  13. Man, I could comment forever on a topic like this! I love obscure history.

    During WWII, the French and British were allies, but there was a deliberate attack where the two sides duked it out. The attack on Mers-el-Kébir has the British navy with an aircraft carrier, several cruisers and battleships, notably the HMS Hood fighting it out. The British sank a French battleship, and damaged several other ships. 352 men died, 350 of which were French servicemen. Here’s a wikilink!

    Edit: Thought I’d add another tidbit of history I like.

    During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. had a blockade of Cuba, and restricted anyone from going in. Russia didn’t like this. A Russian sub was going through the blockade. The American Navy found it, and despite being in international waters, the navy started dropping practice depth charges. The Americans thought it was a regular attack submarine. They did not know this sub was carrying nukes. The Russians thought a war had finally broke out. Three officers on board were authorized to launch. Two agreed to do so, with a third, Vasili Arkhipov disagreeing. Arguments ensured, and finally the sub surfaced and surrendered. One man stopped a potential nuclear war. Here’s a wikilink.

    Also another interesting thing about the Missile Crisis and the Manhattan Project. The reason the Russians didn’t take so long to build their own bomb, and why Stalin didn’t seem to impressed when the allies showed him the bomb was of course, he had spies. In fact one of the heads of the Manhattan Project was a Soviet spy. Later on during the Missile Crisis, official lines of communications were hampered and untrusted. The situation kept escalating. An unofficial channel had to be opened, and the Russian who help stopped the crisis, was the same Russian spy (obviously his name escapes me atm, if someone can help). He mentioned something along the lines of how guilty he felt for bringing the world so close to annihilation because of his actions earlier, that he had to do something to save his soul.

  14. One of the richest men to ever live was little known Mansa Musa of the Kingdom of Mali. He had access to all the gold mines of Ghana. In today’s money, his wealth is estimated to be around $400 billion.

    An example of how rich he was: On his hajj from West Africa to Mecca, he stopped in Cairo. He gave away so much gold there that the value of gold plummeted and didn’t recover for 10+ years.

    He had lots of gold, Jerry! GOLD!

    EDIT: I feel as though Mansa Musa himself has given me gold from the grave! Thank you, kind Mansa (or whoever)!

  15. That not only was it commonly accepted in many BCE societies that the earth was in fact round but also that in about 190+- BC, Eratosthenes mapped the circumference of the earth.

    He was so accurate that the next best mapping of the earths circumference-or the next most accurate calculation of its circumference- was 2000 years later, at the advent of satellites.

    His theory and calculations only worked because he knew the earth was spherical.