Every day, weird but true things happen and take the world by storm, like when a raccoon scaled a New York City skyscraper back in 2018. But these clicky, fascinating facts aren’t anything new. Throughout history, people have done weird stuff, leading to a long list of bizarre, fake-sounding historical events.
Here, we offer just a sample platter of the weirdest, oddest, most eyebrow-raising historical events we could find around the web.
1. Introducing … the horse priest?
Roman Emperor Gaius, also known as Caligula, allegedly loved horses more than humans. In fact, he dressed his noble steed Incitatus in a jeweled collar, an ivory manger, gave him his own home, and made him a priest.
2. Bunnies vs. Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte once had a rabbit hunt arranged for himself and his men. About 3,000 rabbits were rounded up, and once they were let out of their cages, they charged right toward Napoleon and his men. Luckily, he lived to tell the tale.
3. The 1904 Olympics were a hot mess
Think your last party was a disaster? At the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, the first place finisher actually ‘ran’ most of the race in a car; the second place finisher nearly died from eating rat poison; and the fourth place finisher ran in dress pants and took a nap during the race.
4. This Genghis Khan descendent would rather wrestle than wed
Khutulun, a Genghis Khan descendant, told every suiter that they had to beat her in wrestling or she wouldn’t accept their marriage proposal. If they won, she’d marry them, and if she won, she’d get some of their horses. She ended up with thousands of horses and zero husbands.
5. ‘Miss Unsinkable’
Miss Unsinkable,” Violet Jessop, was a nurse and stewardess. She survived three sinking ships: the Titanic, the Britannic, and the Olympic, the last of which collided with a British warship back in 1911.
6. This surgeon had a 300% mortality rate
Robert Liston, an 1800s surgeon in the 1800s, was known to be one of the fastest surgeons alive. However, sometimes speed isn’t a great thing, as he never saved a patient and actually killed three people. During a leg amputation, he cut off two of his assistant’s fingers, and both the patient and assistant died of gangrene since the saw he used wasn’t clean. His third victim was a fellow doctor. Liston was performing surgery when he ended up swiping a blade through the doctor’s suit coat. The doctor thought he had been cut through, went into shock, and died of a heart attack even though he wasn’t the one on the operating table.
7. Ernest Hemingway’s brother invented a country
Leicester Hemingway, Ernests’s younger brother, decided to found his own country on a raft in international waters close to Jamaica. He called it New Atlantis, which was about 8 by 30 feet and was half independent and half part of the U.S. under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. This was all a publicity stunt to raise money for an oceanographic research facility, which he hoped the raft would serve as, but the raft was destroyed during a tropical storm in 1966.
8. Nobel Peace Prize Nominee … Adolf Hitler?
Believe it or not, Swedish parliament member Erik Gottfrid Christian Brandt nominated Adolf Hitler for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1939. The nomination was ultimately canceled, but it caused such a huge controversy that no one was awarded a peace prize that year.
9. Stalin was a fan of ‘Photoshop’ even before Photoshop
Joseph Stalin “retouched” photos of himself with photos of people who had died or, uh, “removed” from office under suspicious and, often, violent circumstances.
10. Women marched for their ‘torches of freedom’
In 1929, a group of women took to the streets, smoking cigarettes and carrying signs stating that cigarettes were “torches of freedom.” This was considered the first wave of feminism in the U.S., and women used cigarettes as a symbol of emancipation and equality with men.
11. This cat definitely had 9 lives
“Unsinkable Sam,” who was actually named Oscar, was a WWII cat who found himself on a Nazi navy ship. He later was taken on to a ship owned by the British Royal Navy. During the war, he survived three sinking ships: the Nazi ship Bismarck in 1941, which he was rescued from by British crews who took them onto their own ship; the British ship called Cossack, which killed 159 crew members; and the HMS Ark Royal, which was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat. He retired in 1955, 14 years after the Bismark sank.
12. ‘The Wild West’ is pretty much just Palisade, Nevada
Palisade invented “The Wild West” by staging gunfights, bank robberies, and other cliches that became staples in dime novels of the 1800s. The town was actually so peaceful that it didn’t even have a sheriff.
13. This flight attendant survived an airplane bomb
Vesna Vulović was a flight attendant for the former Yugoslavian airline JAT. On Jan. 26, 1972, when she was 22, she was accidentally scheduled to work after her name got mixed up on the flight roster with another Vesna, and the plane she boarded exploded in the air after a briefcase bomb went off. She was the only survivor of the Jat Flight 367 bound for Copenhagen, and she was the only person known to have survived a 33,000ft fall in all of history.
14. Ronald Reagan saved 77 people from drowning
Before becoming an actor or the president, Ronald Reagan was a lifeguard for six summers in Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois. Research has since shown that he saved 77 drowning people from the notoriously treacherous Rock River.
15. PepsiCo had the 6th largest military in the world
In 1959, the vice president of PepsiCo tried convincing the former Soviet Union of the benefits of capitalism during an American exhibit in Russia. While The Soviet Union loved Pepsi’s product, Soviet money wasn’t accepted around the world, so they bought billions of dollars worth of Pepsi by giving Pepsi military ships, submarines and vodka in exchange for the soda. So, for a while, Pepsi had the world’s sixth largest military. It later sold the ships and subs as scrap recycling.
16. An eagle & tortoise took down the ‘Father of Tragedy’
“Father of Tragedy” Aeschylus died from a comical, strange death after an eagle dropped a tortoise on his head. The eagle was trying to break the shell so it could get the tortoise meat. Aeschylus didn’t survive, and his death is still the only documented case of a human death occurring because of a tortoise.
17. This tortoise met Darwin & Steve Irwin
Harriet the tortoise became Charles Darwin’s pet after he found her in the Galápagos Islands 50 years before his death in 1882. Harriet died in 2006 at the ripe age of 175 at the Queensland-based Australia Zoo, which was owned by Steve Irwin.
18. This silent-film era giant died the same year Apple was founded
Charlie Chaplin, the comedy king and silent-film era giant, died in 1977, the same year Apple was founded. Chaplin’s death could therefore be said to have marked the end of one tech era and the beginning of another.
19. Great Dane pee stopped a bomb from going off in WWII
Very good girl Juliana the Great Dane won herself the Blue Cross Medal during WWII. Her accomplishment? She extinguished an incendiary bomb … by peeing on it!
20. Alexander the Great was buried alive
Alexander the Great was accidentally buried alive … well, at least, mummified alive. It’s believed that he had a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which left him physically paralyzed but still mentally aware when he was pronounced dead and mummified.
21. The original Avengers were arguably more awesome
Avengers, assemble … to poison 2,283 German prisoners of war! Before they were box-office heroes, the Avengers, originally called Nakam, or Vengeance, in Hebrew, was actually a Jewish assassin group dedicated to hunting Nazi war criminals after WWII. Throughout their time of operation, it’s believed they had poisoned German prisoners of war.
22. Salem witches weren’t actually burned at the stake
Throughout the Salem Witch Trials, accused witches weren’t actually burned at the stake. Of the 2,000 or so accused witches, most of them were jailed, a few were hanged, and zero were burned alive.
23. Cherries & milk may have taken down President Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor died after a July 4 party in 1850. Many reports claim a combination of cherry acid and milk caused him to eventually die on July 9, after suffering from cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and dehydration. His official cause of death was cholera morbus, a bacterial infection found in the small intestine.
24. The shortest war in history
On Aug. 27, 1896, Britain went to war with Zanzibar … for a whopping 38 minutes. The war was fought over the ascension of Zanzibar’s next Sultan. The Anglo-Zanzibar War ended when the new sultan, Sultan Khalid, who was anti-British, lost about 500 men, while only one British sailor died. Khalid sought asylum in Germany, and the British placed Sultan Hamoud in his stead.
25. Tug of War: Our favorite Olympic sport?
Tug of War was actually a summer Olympic sport between 1900 and 1920. Teams competed in it during five summer Olympics. Britain took home the most medals in tug of war, five, followed by America with three.
26. This university is older than the Aztec Empire
The University of Oxford is actually older than the Aztec Empire. The university opened back in 1096, while the Aztec Empire began in 1325.
27. The day Russia ran out of vodka
Russians celebrated the end of WWII with vodka and lots of it. In fact, they ran out of vodka, emptying the nation’s entire vodka reserves in just 22 hours.
28. Pass the tablecloth, please!
Tablecloths were actually designed to be one big, long, communal napkin. While that may sound unthinkable in Covid times, back before 1465, tablecloths were meant to be shared as guests to wipe their hands and faces during dinner parties.
29. Wakey, wakey!
Think your alarm clock is annoying? Until the 1970s, people called knocker-uppers used to go around waking people up for work by knocking on people’s windows. They used sticks, hammers, rattles, and pea shooters to wake up their clients.
30. Roman gladiators endorsed products
Before athletes appeared on cereal boxes and energy drinks, Roman gladiators often endorsed products like oil and skincare. These gladiators were even made into clay “action figures” for kids. Women thought gladiator sweat was an aphrodisiac, so they would mix it into their skincare products to entice lovers.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.