Facts We Just Learned About Historical Kings That Made Us Say 'Really?'

Facts We Just Learned About Historical Kings That Made Us Say 'Really?'

As most of us learned in history class, there have been a lot of really powerful kings and queens throughout history. And while he often learn about the battles these historical kings won or the fates they ultimately came to, there is a lot of facts we didn't learned about these powerful men. Historical king facts about some lesser known kings or simple facts about their abilities and time on the throne are often left for only historians to learn. But a lot of these facts about kings are topics many wished they'd known earlier - do you agree with them?

Here is a selection of historical facts that will make you say, "Today I learned..." (TIL). Vote up the facts about historical kings that you wished you'd known all along.

1 King Tut Had A Dagger Made From A Meteor

TIL that King Tutankhamun (14th Century BC Pharaoh) was entombed with a dagger of "extraterrestrial origin." Advanced spectrometry tests strongly suggest the iron, nickel, and cobalt contained in the blade are from a meteorite that crashed near the Kharga Oasis about 200 km west of the Nile.

Context: Inside the young pharaoh's tomb was an iron dagger. This was perplexing because iron was rare during the Bronze Age. More recent studies show the properties of the "extraterrestrial blade" were in fact consistent with the composition of a meteor.

2 Genghis Kahn Held Religious Debates

TIL that in 1254 the Mongol Khan organized a formal religious debate between teams of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. The debate went on for multiple rounds on a variety of theological topics until the participants became so drunk that it concluded without any clear winner.

Context: Genghis Khan was known for supporting religious freedom. There is documentation that Genghis Khan did invite religious leaders to debate their beliefs with leaders of other religions to enhance understanding of different belief systems.

The First King To Travel The World Started In 1881

TIL the first King to travel around the world was King Kalākaua of Hawaii.

Context: Kalakaua, the King of Hawaii, was the first King to travel around the world. He took this year-long trip in 1881, where he traveled to places like the United States, Japan, and Egypt to see how other countries led their people and upheld their rule.

4 King Richard Of England Couldn't Speak English

TIL King Richard the Lionheart of England couldn't speak English and spent very little time in England.

Context: Richard I was given the name Lionheart for being a fearless warrior in battle. And while that feels as though he's a revered leader for England, he actually spent very little time there. In fact, he likely only spent a matter of months there during his entire reign, and is believed to have not been able to even speak the native tongue.

5 John The Posthumous Holds Many Records For His Rule

TIL of John the Posthumous; a French king who ruled for the 5 days he lived in 1316. He was the youngest person to become King of France, the only one to be king from birth, and the only one to hold the title for his entire life. He has the shortest reign of any French king.

Context: John I, son of Louis X and called John the Posthumous because he expired just a few days after his birth - four to be exact. He was King from the time of his birth and remained King through the days of his life, making him the only French monarch to serve his entire life in power. Because he was born King, he was also the youngest French king and had the shortest term of any monarch in France, ever.

6 No One Knows Why Ivan The Terrible's Library Is Lost

TIL Ivan IV (the Terrible) inherited a library thought to contain ancient works from Libraries of Alexandria & Constantinople. Afraid that books would be stolen, he ordered his men to bury the books, then executed them. He died before revealing the location. Searches for the library continue today.

Context: Ivan IV was allegedly gifted a library that his grandfather had started. A book collector himself, the library is said to contain manuscripts from the Library of Alexandria and the Library of Constantinople. There are many tales about the fate of this library after Ivan IV's death: a fire that destroyed it, a curse was placed on it so all those who upon it would go blind, or it simply disappeared. Many researchers have tried to locate this lost library, and many continue to do so today.

7 King Tut Was Mummified While Aroused

TIL King Tutankhamun was mummified with an erection. It broke off soon after his discovery.

Context: King Tut was indeed found mummified with an erection. This is thought to represent the young king's defiance of his father's religious beliefs. However, the participle was broken off shortly after discovery, and he is likely the only mummy ever found with this affliction.

8 The King Of Siam May Have Started White Elephant Exchanges

TIL that the concept of a "white elephant" came from the King of Siam, where he gifted an albino elephant to people who displeased him, knowing that they couldn't get rid of it and that the upkeep cost would ruin them financially.

Context: White elephants by definition of the animal are simply elephants that appear lighter color than the common elephant. But, that phrase has earned another definition over the years and has also come to mean a gift that is difficult to keep up with and is essentially more trouble than it's worth. The reason behind this newer definition is because Kings in parts of the world where these creatures aren't so rare would give white elephants as gifts. This could seem extremely generous but these types of extravagant gifts were actually a way to impose financial hardship on the recipient as they were difficult to care after.

9 William The Conqueror's Body Exploded At His Funeral

TIL William the Conqueror’s body exploded at his funeral. He died due to an intestinal infection from his horse rearing and throwing him against his saddle pommel. At his funeral, as his too large body was being forced into a too small coffin, his abdomen burst. Mourners ran to escape the stench.

Context: Though the cause of his demise has been debated, it's suspected the William the Conqueror's organs were too-far gone for a rescue no matter what the actual cause was. After he passed, his body was viewed and later robbed before anyone called for an embalming. At this point, his body would have swollen a bit and hindered the embalming process, so at his service where people come to forgive him of any wrongdoing, something went terribly awry. The casket they were placed his body in was far too small for his increased body size and after force was applied his body allegedly exploded, releasing a stench so bad people fled.

10 Why King Louis IX Was Called 'Saint Louis'

TIL King Louis IX, "aka Saint Louis," made gambling, loans, & prostitution illegal. He also introduced innocent until proven guilty, banned trials by ordeal, created the military police & bailiffs.

Context: When Louis IX reigned in France, he made it his mission to steer the governance away from vanity and personal enrichment and back to serving the church. To do so, he banned "prostitution, gambling, blasphemy, and judicial duels." These policies did not make his people very happy, but it did make other rulers consult him on their own disputes.

11 Nero Married A Man

TIL that the Roman Emperor Nero bought a young boy, married him, castrated him and dressed him up as a girl at public events.

Context: In research regarding same sex marriages, documentation of Nero's marriage to a young boy came up. According to a Roman historian, Nero did in fact marry a young male and castrated him to make him appear more woman-like. They had a traditional ceremony with a bridal veil and all.

12 Caligula Was A Nickname

TIL that the name Caligula is a childhood nickname that roughly translates to “little boots” or “bootikins.” The infamous emperor, whose real name was Gaius, hated it.

Context: Caligula was in fact a nickname. Born Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, he was given the nickname Caligula as a reference to a small uniform his parents dressed him in while he was a child. Caligula means "little boot."

13 Henry VIII Built An Extremely Large Toilet

TIL King Henry VIII built a giant toilet called the Great House of Easement. It was two stories tall and could seat 28 people at a time.

Context: King Henry VIII's Hampton Court was not well-equipped to deal with the many servants it required, nor the hundreds of guests on banquet nights. Instead of confining all bodily functions to a single room and toilet, people would relieve themselves in nooks and corridors around the building, which resulting in a rancid smell. To rectify the issue, Henry VIII did commission a large, two-story toilet that could accommodate 28 people at once. There were no walls or anything to separate the individual holes cut into these wooden planks, it was just a giant communal area to go to the bathroom.

14 Henry VIII Lost To The King Of France In A Wrestling Match

TIL in a tournament in 1520, Henry VIII asked the King of France, Francis I, to a wrestling match. The rules of the tournament stated that the two kings would not compete against each other, so the wrestling match was a surprise challenge. Francis quickly dispatched Henry, humiliating him.

Context: There was a large tournament hosted by Henry VIII, Francis I, and Charles V. The men had previously signed a peace treaty, and thus there was to be no hostility at this tournament. They even exchanged brotherly like gifts to mark the special occasion. At the end of the tournament, Henry VIII and Francis I agreed to face off in a wrestling match. Eventually, the King of France was able to outmaneuver the King of England and won in the single match fight.

15 Caligula Was So Hairy He Refused To Let Anyone Mention A Goat Near Him

TIL the Roman Emperor Caligula was so hairy it was made a capitol offense to mention a goat in his presence.

Context: Caligula was not the most appealing man to look at, and he appears to have embraced that by practicing menacing looks to make his already hairy face come off as even scarier. While he seems to be accepting of his looks in most regards, he did make it a capital offense to mention the word "goat" in his presence, which is likely because he was incredibly hairy and was self-conscious about it.

Originally published on Weird History