12 Lively History Facts That Actually Made Us Blush
Vote up the racy historical facts that made you say, “Oh, my!”
Have you ever noticed that history books leave out a lot of details about some of the more human aspects of the past?
Whether it's facts about the sex lives of historical figures, information about unique cultural and social practices, or unusual quirks and behaviors from historical eras, some aspects of history just aren't appropriate for some audiences.
But this doesn't make them any less fascinating.
We found some risqué details about history that definitely don't qualify as safe for everyone. Proceed with caution as you check out these historical happenings that made us say, “Oh, my!” - and vote up the ones that make you blush, too!
People who interacted with President Lyndon B. Johnson were exposed to some of his blunt turns of phrase and behaviors, like when he responded to a reporter's question about Vietnam by pulling out his penis. Johnson reportedly had a name for it - Jumbo - and didn't hold back from showing it to people. In his review of Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Marshall Frady wrote:
He would sometimes swing around still holding his member, which he liked to call “Jumbo,” hooting once, “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?,” and shaking it in almost a brandishing manner as he began discoursing about some pending legislation.
Johnson had to accommodate his size, a fact on full display when he ordered a pair of pants from the Haggar clothing company in 1964. During the phone call he made to Joe Haggar, Johnson said to make sure there was enough room in “the crotch, down where your nuts hang - [it's] always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it's just like riding a wire fence.”
- Photo: Nicola Quirico / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
In his descriptions of the court of Pope Alexander VI, 15th-century priest and chronicler Johann Burchard recounted various acts of excess and lewd behavior. At the so-called Banquet of the Chestnuts, hosted by the pope's son Cesare in October 1501:
Fifty honest prostitutes, called courtesans… danced after the dinner with the attendants and the others who were present, at first in their garments, then naked. After dinner, the candelabra with the burning candles were taken from the tables and placed on the floor, and chestnuts were strewn around, which the naked courtesans picked up, creeping on hands and knees between the chandeliers, while the Pope, Cesare, and his sister Lucretia looked on.
Finally, prizes were announced for those who could perform the act most often with the courtesans, such as tunics of silk, shoes, barrettes, and other things.
This wasn't the only instance of Borgias gazing on as sexual acts took place in front of them. Just a few weeks later, according to Burchard, the Pope and Lucretia laughed “with evident satisfaction” as:
Four stallions… ran to the mares, over whom they proceeded to fight furiously and noisily among themselves, biting and kicking in their attempts to mount them and seriously wounding them with their hooves.
Author Sarah Bradford points out that many individuals may have found this to be amusing, but Emma Lucas notes it wasn't common entertainment for a father and daughter to enjoy together.
- Photo: Francisco de Goya / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
It wasn't until Ferdinand VII of Spain married for a fourth time that he was able to produce offspring with one of his wives. His reign in Spain began in 1808, but was interrupted when Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew him that same year. He was held prisoner, replaced by Napoleon's brother, Joseph, and restored to the throne in 1814.
By the time Ferdinand lost Spain in 1808, he'd been married and widowed. His first wife, Maria Antonia Theresa, fell ill in 1806 and:
Being in an advanced state of pregnancy and assuming her dead, the doctors proceeded to extract the fetus, at which point the unfortunate mother uttered a sharp cry of pain that showed that she was still alive.
Ferdinand married again in 1816, but his second wife, Maria Isabel of Portugal, passed in 1818. The following year, Ferdinand wed Maria Joseph Amelia, a princess from Saxony. She died in 1829. Ferdinand took a fourth wife, Maria Christina, in 1830.
Maria Christina was the daughter of the King of Naples and the only one of Ferdinand's wives to bear him children who survived birth. Prior to her, Ferdinand's wives were either appalled by his behavior or his genital macrosomia. Simply put by one contemporary, “King Ferdinand VII had a larger penis than usual." Described another way by French writer Prosper Merimee, it was:
Thin as a sealing wax at its base, as fat as a fist at its extremity.
Supposedly Maria Christina devised a way to have sex with her husband that involved using a special pillow to accommodate Ferdinand's size. In the end, Maria Christina didn't produce any male heirs, but did give birth to two daughters.
- Photo: Staedel Museum / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.04369 VOTES
Elizabeth Of Thuringia's Nipples Were Cut Off As Relics
To be fair, it wasn't just the nipples of Elizabeth of Thuringia that became relics, but they were important to her holy legacy. Elizabeth was born c. 1207 to King Andrew II of Hungary and his wife, Gertrude. At age 4, Elizabeth was betrothed to Hermann of Thuringia and sent to be raised at the Thuringian court. After Hermann passed in 1216, she married his brother Ludwig five years later.
Elizabeth gave birth to three children, was a patron of the Church, and became a widow when Ludwig passed in 1227. She then entered the Franciscan Third Order and lived the remaining four years of her life under vows of celibacy and poverty. Her piety and generosity were so esteemed that when the public learned of Elizabeth's passing, people flocked to her coffin:
Many burning with devotion, cut or tore off pieces of cloth. Some cut the hair from her head or pieces of her nails. One even cut off her ears and another the nipples of her breasts to keep as relics.
- Photo: Gunn & Stuart / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain5415 VOTES
Edward VII Had A Custom Chair To Accommodate His Carnal Appetite
King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, took the throne of England in 1901. Before he became king, the prince, commonly known as Bertie, was no stranger to escapades at brothels - namely Le Chabanais in Paris. The Prince of Wales didn't solely visit Le Chabanais, but it was at the lavish establishment that Bertie kept a chair he designed for sexual encounters.
It could accommodate his weight - he also enjoyed food in excess - but modern observers are still a bit puzzled by exactly how it was used. Generally, it's believed the chair allowed the future king to have sex with multiple women at once. In addition to his trysts and dalliances at brothels, Bertie had a long list of mistresses, including Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill's mother) and actress Sarah Bernhardt. His last lover, Alice Keppel, was Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles's great-great-grandmother.
- Photo: Jean-Léon Gérôme / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Diogenes of Sinope was a Greek philosopher known for cynicism, poverty, and his famous lantern. It's said he would walk up to people in Athens and put a lantern in their faces, claiming he was looking for an honest man.
During his life, the 4th-century thinker criticized Socrates and Plato, lived an ascetic lifestyle, and generally rejected social norms across the spectrum. Diogenes lived in a barrel (also called a jar), slept where he wanted, begged for food, and reportedly behaved much like a dog. In one encounter with Alexander of Macedonia (later becoming Alexander the Great), he purportedly identified himself as one. His dog-like behavior even extended to urinating in public, something Diogenes did to openly show disrespect.
As part of his aversion to what was deemed normal behavior, the disagreeable Diogenes was also said to have masturbated in public. When confronted about it on one occurrence, he allegedly responded that he "wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach." On another occasion, he noted that “if all men were like myself, the Trojan War would never have happened,” suggesting that the abduction of Helen could have been avoided had men released themselves sexually on their own.