People Share Their Absolute Favorite Historical Facts
nonbirinonko from Pixabay

When we think about learning history, our first thought is usually sitting in our high school history class (or AP World History class if you're a nerd like me) being bored out of our minds.

Unless again, you're a huge freaking nerd like me. But I think we all have the memory of the moment where we realized learning about history was kinda cool.

And they usually start from one weird fact.

Here are a few examples of turning points in learning about history, straight from the keyboards of the people at AskReddit.

Redditor Tynoa2 asked:

"What's your favourite historical fact?"

​Let’s start off with some super weird facts that you probably never even considered. These are the best.

Trees are honestly really effing cool.

"For 60 million years trees didn't decay. When they died the just fell over and laid there. For 60 million years trees existed before the enzyme that broke them down when they died. So tons of massive trees in the oxygen rich environment just laid on the ground. Until they burned. That's how we have coal."


Did they believe her though?

disney bambi GIFGiphy

"In 1726 there was a woman called Mary Toft who tricked doctors into believing that she gave birth to rabbits."


"There was another woman who would take the eggs from her chicken, etch 'jesus has come' into them and shove them back into the chicken who would then lay it again and people actually thought the chicken was a prophet."


A whole river.

"Some time in around the beginning of the 1500's Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli conspired to try to steal the Arno river. They both lived in the city of Florence and at the time there was hostilities with the city of Pisa which was nearer to the mouth of the Arno river and controlled trade on it."

"Da Vinci came up with the plan to create a canal to divert the river so it no longer flowed to Pisa which would allow Florence to dominate the whole region. Da Vinci drew up the plans and Machiavelli put them into action. However Da Vinci didn't oversee the project and instead the engineer who did decided to do it his own way."

"Which would take longer and need more people. In the middle of the project war broke out and the project had to be scrapped due to attacks from Pisa so it never came to be. Still a great historical footnote though."


​Some of the most stunning facts come from assassinations for some reason. Especially the ones that survive.

Beast mode.

"Roosevelt was shot in the chest during a speech and just continued on like nothing happened."


"He was shot just before his speech and he knew it hadn't pierced his lung since he wasn't coughing up blood, so he bandaged it and went to give his speech."


In another timeline, things might have been different.

John F Kennedy Democrat GIFGiphy

"It is very possible - and some consider likely - that JFK could've survived the assassination had he not been wearing a thick, girdle-like back brace that kept him stiffly upright when in public. Kennedy had terrible back problems since serving in WWII that were continually worsening."

"The back brace began as early as JFK met Stalin for the first time and wanted to appear tall and strong since it was at the height of the Cold War, however his pain was so bad he often walked around the WH hunched over and looked decrepit. JFK continued to wear the brace to keep himself upright and portray the strong youthful image he crafted."

"When the first shot was fired, the brace made it nearly impossible to move, much less crouch down in the back seat to get out of the line of fire. He was then struck with the infamous shot to the back/throat which rendered him more immobile and finally the headshot that killed him."

"Parkland doctors testified to the Warren Commission how surprised they were at the size and tightness of the brace and how long it took to get off. One remarked it likely made him a "sitting duck" because of how immobile it would've rendered him."


Good to know before she was beheaded.

"When King Henry VIII was still married to Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard(his future fifth wife) was one of Cleves' ladies in waiting. They were close, even after Cleves' divorce. With all the tragedy and abuse from the men in her life, I'm just glad that she at least had one friend to trust."


​Here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for- the facts about famous animals. You’re welcome.

The student teaches the teacher.

"Benjamin Franklin had a pet squirrel. As a little girl, I dressed as him, with a squirrel beanie-baby on my shoulder. My teacher had to look it up on the internet to check if I was right. She was amused."


Sounds on-brand for Jackson.

happy dr pol GIF by Nat Geo Wild Giphy

"When Andrew Jackson died they had to remove his pet parrot from the funeral because it couldn't stop swearing."


"He also had a comically large cheese wheel."


​Lastly, we gotta shout out the presidents. Sometimes they actually did weird sh*t.

I guess we’ll never know.

"Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech which was so good that all of reporters forgot to take notes, still to this day we don't know what exactly he said."


Well-portrayed in the Hamilton musical.

"That George Washington was known as this Really Talented Dancer, and was very in tune with the dances at the time of his being... Idk why I just never woulda thought this at all but it's dope to hear that dancing/socializing was always a thing!"

"Like from the passage I read it seemed like Whenever George was in attendance at the function, everyone knew he was gonna cut a rug and tear the house down.. and the ladies considered themselves lucky to be his dance partner."


When in Prussia...

"August von Mackensen, imperial German field marshal, commander of the death's head hussar regiment (who the SS would later steal imagery from), was born in 1849. He therefore grew up watching telegraph and train systems grow up around him, and would be 9 when the first ironclad warship was commissioned in France (1859)."

"At that time several of Napoleon's famous marshals were still alive. He served in the Prussian and later German military, and would lead the invasions of Serbia and Romania in WWI. He died in November 1945, just before his 96th birthday.

"Having grown up with muzzle loaders, wooden warships, horse carts, and trains only just being adopted, he ultimately witnessed the rise of telegraph, cinema, radio, powered flight, electricity for the home, recorded music and later film, the early theories of the atom, automobiles, submarines, airships, plastics, early computers, the jet plane, and the nuclear bomb."

"He witnessed 6 German regimes, saw both the rise and fall of imperial Japan, being alive while it was still in isolation, and watched the US go from civil war to superpower. That's how much the world changed in a single documented lifetime, from the mid industrial revolution to the end of WWII. The sheer rate of change boggles the mind. He also had a really cool hat."


Little Fella

Looney Tunes Animation GIFGiphy

"Stalin was only about 5’4” and wore high raised boots to make himself look taller"


Don't Hit Snooze

"Hitler overslept on D-Day and refused to send reinforcements because he believed it was a decoy."


"Another funny story about him: The Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun became a scumbag Nazi sympathiser in the 30’s and 40’s, which led to him having a meeting with Hitler."

"Since Hamsun’s hearing was very poor, he kept asking Hitler to speak louder, and louder, till Hitler was screaming in rage. Witnesses said they had never heard him so angry, and Hamsun was lucky to live. I think he was declared as a national disgrace. His books were good, too, but he was a despicable man."


Fast & Furious

"Orville Wright of Wright Brothers fame lived long enough to see an airplane fly faster than the speed of sound."


"Yeah it's weird to think about: the first flight was 1903, and we landed on the Moon just 66 years later. That's easily within a single lifetime."


Get the Dogs

"In WWII the Soviets tried to make anti-tank dogs which were dogs strapped with bombs trained to run under tanks. The problem was that they trained on soviet tanks that ran on gasoline when German tanks ran on diesel. So long story short the first field test resulted in them running under their own tanks instead of the Germans and thus ended that wild chapter of history."


Fun Facts

"Coolidge also liked to have Vaseline rubbed onto his head while he ate breakfast. Presidential fun facts are wild. One of my favorite ones is Andrew Jackson's inauguration turning into an absolute rager. And him beating the living crap out of his almost assassin with a cane."

"Mary Lincoln had to invite people over for breakfast because Mr.Lincoln would just start working and then forget to eat, which was apparently a very common occurrence. He'd be socially obligated to join everyone for breakfast."


Tag! You're it!

scooby doo halloween GIF by Boomerang OfficialGiphy

"Calvin Coolidge, as president, played hide and seek with the secret service."



"The taunt 'kiss my a$' was first recorded being used by a German mercenary lord named Gotz von Berlichingen and nicknamed Gotz of the Iron Hand. (He lost a hand in battle and a blacksmith made him a high tech fake iron hand). He shouted that taunt to his enemy when he was told the surrender a fort he was defending."


Found in1999

"Nobody truly knows who was the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first recorded people to reach the top, but many think climbers Mallory and Irvine reached the top before dying on the descent."

"Evidence pointing to this theory being correct is that Mallory always said how he would leave a picture of his family at the summit, and when his body was found in 1999 the picture was not in the pocket (but other papers like bills and otherwise unimportant notes were found)."

"The last person to see them alive noted that they were determined to reach the top that day and he saw them pushing towards the summit. Mallory's body was found with a pick-axe wound to the head, suggesting that his tool had bounced off a rock when he tried to use it to stop himself from falling, killing him."


The Bard

william shakespeare GIF by will herringGiphy

"William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers, poets and playwrights of British history, could not spell his own name right consistently, spelling it at least six different ways in his lifetime."


As for me, my favorite weird historical fact is that Anne Boleyn had an extra finger. That fact is frequently overlooked in favor of her identity as Henry VIII sixth wife. I could go into that, but they already made a whole musical about it.

Anyway, I hope this made history a little more fun for you. It's not all memorizing dates- sometimes you never know what you'll find in a history book

Want to "know" more?

Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again.

Remember the Dreamcast? If you don't, then you've been missing out. Sit down, sweet summer child, and listen up.

The Dreamcast was a console so ahead of its time that console has been a Dreamcast since there was a Dreamcast. Too advanced to match its competitors, not appealing enough to be considered part of the next generation. I have fond memories of that console. Crazy Taxi was a gem.

Not everything comes out at the right time. We heard about a few other examples after Redditor rentinghappiness asked the online community,

"In your opinion, what’s something that flopped because it was way ahead of its time?"
Keep reading...Show less
People Share The Most Life-Changing Purchases They've Made That Were Worth Every Penny
Annika Erickson/GettyImages

Consumers who have money to burn often buy things they don't really need, like travel accessories, specialized sports equipment for an activity they've only done once, or even cookbooks, when plenty of recipes can be found online.

Keep reading...Show less

You know, try as I might, I just can't bring myself to bother with The Walking Dead. I quit the show some years ago, probably around the time of that weird fakeout with Glen in the dumpster (and then his actual death right after that), but the truth is that the show was getting on my nerves for some time before that.

Did anyone actually care about all the nonsense going on with Deanna and the citizens of Alexandria? And can we go back a bit further and talk about how ludicrous Beth's death at the hands of some power-tripping officer in a hospital ward was? There was such a noticeable drop in quality after the third season that I questioned why I kept tuning in.

But this show is far from the only one to make people want to throw their remotes at their television screens. People shared their thoughts with us after Redditor regian24 asked the online community,

"What TV show was amazing at first but became unwatchable for you later on?"
Keep reading...Show less
People Break Down Which Professions Hollywood Gets Completely Wrong
Photo by Danial Igdery on Unsplash

More often than not, what gets us to keep tuning in to our favorite TV shows, or drawn to certain movies, is to get a glimpse into various professions which fascinate us, but which we wouldn't ever want to work ourselves.

Needless to say, there aren't many people who find the Indiana Jones films to be a remotely accurate depiction of archaeology, or that the Jurassic Park films show what paleontology is really like.

But many people tend to watch iconic procedurals like Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order under the notion that they both give an accurate depiction of the medical field and the legal world.

Only, how accurate are they?

Redditor Just_Surround_2108 was curious to learn which professions have been documented on screen without as much research as one might expect, leading them to ask:

"What profession does Hollywood get completely wrong in films and TV?"
Keep reading...Show less