6 Little-Known Historical Facts That Can Surprise Even ’A’ Students
History is a big area of knowledge. It’s impossible to learn it completely, especially the tiniest details. However, it’s the details in the form of little-known facts that increase the interest in this science and make us want to learn more about past events.
We at Bright Side love and respect history and that’s why we gathered this list of interesting historical facts.
1. The Roman emperor Commodus once gathered all disabled people in the Coliseum and made them fight to the death.
Commodus, the emperor of Ancient Rome, was eccentric and insane, just like many other emperors of those times. He liked to attribute different titles to himself: for example, at the end of his life, he ordered to call him Hercules, the son of Jupiter. He also ordered to rename the months so that they could correspond to his titles and names: Commodus, Augustus, Amazonius, Invictus, etc. In 190 AD, he renamed Rome the City of Commodus. The Senate didn’t object and fulfilled all of the ridiculous orders of the emperor.
Commodus also liked to perform as a gladiator in public. He was good at sword fighting and liked to kill animals in the arena. He held 735 fights of free citizens despite the fact that they were considered shameful but no one dared to stand up to the emperor. In order to get rid of “imperfect” citizens, he ordered to gather all the disabled people, the dwarfs, and the insane and made them fight in the arena of the Coliseum to the death.
2. The shortest war in history was the war between Great Britain and Zanzibar.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the shortest war in history was the war between Great Britain and Zanzibar that took place on August 27, 1896. After the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, who was actively cooperating with Great Britain, his cousin Sultan Khalid bin Barghash arranged a palace coup and seized power being supported by Germany. It went against the politics and interests of Great Britain that’s why the British army sent the ultimatum and surrounded the palace with troops.
The sultan had only a royal yacht, “Glasgow,” and a little more than 3,000 people on his side. The British had a squadron which consisted of more than 5 ships. Once the squadron opened fire against “Glasgow” and the palace, everyone rushed away and left the palace. However, the Zanzibari flag continued to wave on the palace flagpole, and the British regarded it as a refusal to surrender. After having destroyed the flag, the British finished the attack. Therefore, the war lasted for only 38 minutes.
3. There were only 3 Reichs in history.
Reich in translation from German means “state” or “empire.” The first Reich was the Holy Roman Empire, but not of the times of Ancient Rome. In 962, king Otto I the Great declared his state as the Holy Roman Empire which claimed the continuity of the ancient Roman Empire and the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne. In 1806, the Empire was eliminated during the Napoleonic Wars and its last emperor Francis II was abdicated.
The German Empire is considered to be the second Reich. It was founded by Otto von Bismarck in 1871. The empire stopped existing in 1918 as a result of the November Revolution. After some time, Adolf Hitler established the Third Reich on March 24, 1933.
4. The Spanish Inquisition issued a death sentence to all of the residents of the Netherlands.
On February 16, 1568, the Spanish Inquisition issued a death sentence to all of the residents of the Netherlands by the decree of Philip II. The Spanish Inquisition was established in this country in 1522 by Charles V. The majority of the population of the Netherlands professed Protestantism, against which the Inquisition was fighting. Moreover, the politics of Philip II poured added fuel to the fire as he was trying to limit the rights of the local aristocracy and insisted on introducing a Spanish tax for selling any goods.
In response to all of the complaints and the requests of the population of the Netherlands, the king only toughened the pressure of the Inquisition. Taxes, persecutions of Protestants, and the tyrannical policy of Philip II resulted in a rebellion that was started by the aristocracy in 1567. The King of Spain sent his best warlord, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, to suppress the rebellion and his methods resulted in the execution of 1,800 aristocrats. All these events became the reason for issuing an edict about executing all the inhabitants of the Netherlands for heresy.
5. The Vizier of Persia Sahib Ibn Abbad carried his library with him.
Sahib Ibn Abbad was born in Persia in 938 and started his way to power as a secretary. When his father died, Ibn Abbad was only 7-8 years old and a friend of his father, the Grand Vizier Ibn al-’Amid, took him under his wing. In 970, Ibn Abbad became the Grand Vizier of Mu’ayyad.
Ibn Abbad contributed a lot to the development of the Persian culture. He supported the development of poetry and obtained a lot of knowledge on various subjects from the books in his library. When the Samanid Emperor invited Ibn Abbad to serve as his Vizier, he answered that he couldn’t agree because of his library. It took 400 camels to carry all his books — 60 of them were carrying dictionaries.
6. The Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered to burn all of the books in the country.
In 213 B.C., the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered to burn all of the books in the country. More than 460 specialists in the educational and literary sphere were executed in 212 B.C. and a huge amount of books were burned as a result of the law forbidding the private use of books. The law was offered and penned by the Emperor’s Minister Li Si. Special attention was paid to destroying the Confucius’s Wǔjīng.
Luckily, the consequences were not that gloomy for the culture and the history of China as the ban didn’t include Qin’s state archives, the books on pharmacology, fortune telling, agriculture, and medicine. And, of course, the famous Wǔjīng has been preserved to this day; however, it went through some changes in the attempts to restore it.
Which of these facts surprised you the most? Please tell us about it in the comments section below!