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17 Truly Odd Historical Facts That I Had A Hard Time Believing Were Real

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17 Truly Odd Historical Facts That I Had A Hard Time Believing Were Real

1. In the thirteenth century, Pope Gregory IX basically declared war on the cats of the world.

2. In 1820 an entire town held a trial against tomatoes.

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The tangy red fruit was once considered ~evil~ (and poisonous) by much of the world! To dispel the rumours that tomatoes were lethal, Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a basket full of them in front of a crowd in Salem, New Jersey, who were astonished to see that he hadn’t keeled over from one bite.

3. And while we’re on the subject of tomatoes, ketchup was once actually sold as medicine.

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4. Roman emperor Caligula planned to make his favourite horse a senator.

5. In Victorian England, people used to take pictures of their dead relatives in lifelike positions to keep as mementos.

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Since photography was so new and expensive at the time, this was often the only time a person would have had their picture taken – especially in the case of children and infants. Sometimes eyes would even be painted onto the photo after it was developed, to give the subject a more ‘lifelike’ appearance.

6. Speaking of Victorian England – an unexpected fashion trend of the straight-laced era? Nipple piercings.

7. Before alarm clocks became the norm, there were people called knocker-uppers who would literally knock on people’s window to wake them up in time for work.

8. Lord Byron kept a pet bear in his dormitory while studying at Cambridge.

9. In 1923, a jockey died in the middle of a race – but still won!

10. The ancient Romans often used stale urine as mouthwash.

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Although this sounds pretty nasty, urine contains ammonia, which is actually one of the best natural cleaning agents around! The liquid gold became so in-demand that Romans who traded in it actually had to pay a tax!

11. And the wonders of stale urine never seem to cease, since it was later used to make coloured dyes brighter and more effective!

Wikimedia Commons / Nic McPhee / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The ammonia in stale urine helps to develop the colour in dyes whilst binding it to the cloth. So it’s no wonder that in 16th-century England, pee was such a valuable asset to the textile industry that it was collected in special ‘urine pots’ to be shipped across the country for use in factories!

12. Roman gladiators often became celebrities and even endorsed products – a lot like athletes do today!

13. And their sweat was considered an aphrodisiac!

14. Stalin would literally have his photos retouched to remove people that he didn’t like.

15. Between the 11th and 19th century, a number of Buddhist monks successfully mummified themselves.

16. A novel about a seemingly ‘unsinkable’ ship that was hit by an iceberg was published in 1898 – 14 years before the Titanic sunk.

Wikimedia Commons / F. G. O. Stuart / Via commons.wikimedia.org

There are lots of other eerie similarities between the book and the real-life event: both ships suffered from an eventually tragic shortage of lifeboats, and the doomed ship in the book was called – wait for it – Titan.

17. And finally, perhaps the wildest of all, Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest – and came in 20th place.

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