Weird History
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14 Facts About Historical Figures We Just Learned This Week

Updated September 28, 2020 2.9k votes 459 voters 46.0k views14 items

List RulesVote up the facts about historical figures you're excited to finally know.

With technology the way we experience it today, it's hard to comprehend how much information we're missing out on - even though we have it all at our fingertips. Thankfully, this technology also makes it possible for us to learn new things each and every day. It's still possible to learn fun and weird facts about even well-known historical figures like Queen Elizabeth II, Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Abraham Lincoln - just to name a few! There are so many quirky, hidden facts about historical figures we just didn't learn in school.

Vote up the ones you're glad you know now.

  • From Redditor u/Kladinov:

    TIL That Napoleon commissioned the development of a system that would allow his troops to communicate at night in the front lines, which was eventually taught to and perfected by 12 year old student Louis Braille.

    Context: While at war, soldiers who lit lanterns to read orders and letters at night were often targeted. To combat this, Napoleon wanted to come up with a way to communicate in the dark without giving up their location. A member of his army, Charles Barbier, came up with a raised dot system that communicated general words or sounds so the soldiers could effectively communicate necessities at night. That system was later refined to make what we know today as braille.

    • Age: Dec. at 52 (1769-1821)
    • Birthplace: Ajaccio, France
    Glad you know?
  • From Redditor u/jmayne:

    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.

    • Birthplace: Delüün Boldog
    Glad you know?
  • From Redditor u/Lennycool:

    TIL in 1785, Benjamin Franklin (79) freed both of his slaves and became a member and later president of The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage.

    Context: Benjamin Franklin did fall into the system of his time and actively believed that white children were superior to their Black counterparts. Around 1763, Franklin visited a school that was teaching young, Black students and realized quickly that these students seemed just as smart as white students of the same age - in fact, he saw that they were equal in every respect. After Franklin's return from France, he quickly joined and became president of an abolitionist group The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Once he immersed himself in the movement of freeing slaves, he realized these people needed education in order to properly fend for themselves in the society, and wrote a paper explaining why and how former slaves should be educated to help them contribute best to society.

    • Age: Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)
    • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    Glad you know?
  • 4

    A Hawaiian King Was The First To Travel The Globe

    From Redditor u/olagon:

    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. 

    • Age: Dec. at 55 (1836-1891)
    • Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
    Glad you know?