History books often overlook many historical moments. Some of them are forgetful, some are boring, some are great, but we have lost most of them to history. There are many more great moments that history has preserved that we aren’t going to cover in this articles, but I bet there are million more stories that we don’t even know about. So here is a list of 10 Interesting but Overseen Historical Moments.
10War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict that lasted from June 1812 to February 1815. It was fought between the United States of America, the United Kingdom, its North American colonies, and its Native American allies. It was the most badass war that Americans forgot. Lots of people know it happened but the details are incredible to think about. Here are some interesting facts from the War of 1812.
- In the lead-up to war, the US demanded that The British stopped impressment (kidnapping of US Sailors to work on British ships; they needed more sailors to fight napoleon). The British did. They voted to stop it but the US didn’t hear in time and declared war three days later citing impressment as a major reason for war.
- There were cannons fired over the Niagara River.
- There was a battle right outside of New Orleans.
- Detroit was surrendered to the British because Isaac Brock managed to trick US troops about the size of his army by running around in circles.
- When the same Isaac Brock died in the middle of a battle, his horse kept going until it was shot and killed.
- The Presidential Mansion got burnt down.
- The British troops occupied the Capitol Building, held a mock session of Congress and voted to burn down Congress, whereupon they did.
- British troops did not burn the patent office because a patent clerk came out and yelled at them.
- The original Constitution survived because someone had the presence of mind to throw it in the back of a hay wagon while they were running away.
- The same troops that destroyed Washington DC saluted Mount Vernon with cannon fire and refused to damage it because it was named after a British guy.
- The troops that burnt down D.C. were eventually defeated by a hurricane.
- The British sailed into Lake Champlain and there was a massive naval battle there.
- The British literally tried to re-conquer America and the Americans genuinely tried to invade and take parts of Canada.
9The Savior of Paris
Paris as we know it may not exist today had it not been for one man. During the German military occupation of France in World War II, Paris became the capital of this occupied zone, while France moved its own capital to Vichy to keep the state alive. During this time Paris saw no real bombing or fighting and remained relatively unscathed (compare to London or Berlin by the war’s end). However, the commander of Nazi-led Paris, General Dietrich Von Choltitz was given orders by Hitler to blow up the bridges and level the city should it be overtaken by the Allies, as he was to never return it to them the way it was.
Within a month, the Free French Forces liberated the city and Choltitz famously ignored Hitler’s call, “Is Paris Burning?” The General grew fond of the Paris during his short time there and recognized its immense cultural and historical importance, so today he is remembered as the savior of Paris.
8The Theodosian Walls
In the 5th Century A.D., Attila the Hun and his hordes were headed directly to Constantinople, laying waste to the other cities along the way. They pretty left nobody alive.
Theodosius II, the emperor of Constantinople, had nothing to worry about because he had some of the best defensive walls in antiquity. They were massive and arranged in rings and he only needed them on one side because the other three sides were water. Constantinople was the biggest and the most important city in the Easter Roman Empire.
Just as the emperor was feeling smug about his city’s safety, an earthquake shook the city and reduced his walls to rubble. He had only a few weeks to rebuild those walls before those terrifying hoards come calling. He managed to divide his unruly and uncooperative workers by their political and sports team allegiances (they took this kind of stuff pretty seriously back then. Chariot racing teams and political “parties” were aligned) into different competing groups and put them to work.
He managed to get those walls rebuilt, better than before, just in time for Atilla to get close enough to realize that he couldn’t take the city.
The Dardanelles Operation of 1807 was a fairly minor skirmish during the Napoleonic wars. It was Royal Navy’s unsuccessful attempt to impose British demands on the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans aligned with the French against Britain and Russia and refused British entry into the Dardanelles strait.
The British sent a fleet to intimidate the Turks and force them to reopen Dardanelles strait. As the British fleet sailed towards Constantinople, French engineers worked with the Turkish army to repair and improve shore defenses. Part of this restoration included reactivating a 340-year-old super cannon which was modeled on the one used in the famed Turkish conquest of Constantinople in the 1400s. This cannon weighed 17 tons and fired cannonballs made of stone that were two feet in diameter.
After meeting little resistance from the Turkish fleet, the British were forced to withdraw after taking heavy damage from the shore batteries, including from the colossal “Dardanelles Gun”.
In short, trebuchets are nice, but they can’t fire a 360 kg projectile over 2400 meters.
6The Kettle War
For centuries, the French had closed off the Scheldt river, so that the harbors of Antwerp and Ghent could not be reached by trade ships. This gave an enormous impulse to the economy of the northern Netherlands (namely Amsterdam), but the southern cities were dislodged from their important trading position.
Joseph II, the Holy Roman Emperor demanded reopening of Scheldt River and sent three warships including the new merchant flagship Le Louis with the Emperor’s flag from Antwerp. Joseph II and his Austrian side did not expect the Dutch to react. The Admiralty of Zeeland, the westernmost province of the Seven Netherlands, sent out the Dutch ship the Dolfijn. The Dolfijin fired only one shot that hit no one but a soup kettle on the deck of Le Louis and Le Louis surrendered. Joseph II declared war on October 30, 1784, but nothing significant happened. In 1785, a treaty between the two nations was signed and Scheldt remained closed.
It was named the Kettle War because the only casualty was a soup kettle and the soup inside.
Pope Stephen VI really hated Pope Formosus, who was the pope before him. I believe their relationship would be called “pope twice removed”. That line will work on two levels in just a second. It was pretty much because of powerful families and politics and grudges. Being Pope is a literally a lifelong gig, and this meant Pope Formosus was dead for a bit by the time Stephen VI became Pope. So take his revenge, he ordered the exhumation of the rotting corpse of the previous pontiff and put his skeleton on trial.
Pope Formosus was found guilty, stripped of his garments, had three fingers removed (they were his blessings fingers), was redressed in peasant garb, and reburied in a pauper’s grave. This didn’t feel like enough for Stephen VI, so he dug him up again and had him chucked into the Tiber River.
This trial excited a people’s uprising and the scandal ended in Stephen’s imprisonment and his death by strangling that summer.
4The American hippo bill
In 1910, the U.S. Congress considered a bold and ingenious plan that would simultaneously solve two pressing problems, solve the American meat crisis and that hippos would gobble up the invasive water hyacinth that was killing fish and choking off waterways.
The bill was introduced in the congress and newspapers ran headlines approving the culinary virtues of “lake cow bacon.” Obviously, the bill was never passed because transplanting hippos into these new environments would have been another ecological disaster. So the idea of turning America into a nation of hippo ranchers didn’t really materialize.
The Aztecs are overlooked in most history classes, but they were far from the primitive tribesmen that most people think of. At the height of its power Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance was rivaled in size by cities like London and Constantinople, and it was all built on a giant artificial island.
It is often said that they were defeated by Cortes and his handful of European soldiers. What is often left out is that Cortes was accompanied by almost 100,000 other natives that were enemies of the Aztecs. It’s a shame their culture was obliterated because though they might have been a bit too obsessed with sacrificial killing, they were an incredibly fascinating civilization.
2Little Ice Age
There were 40-100 million in the pre-Columbian North America. There are accounts of settlers noting perfect rows of trees and natural thoroughfares that resembled roads. This was of course not a natural phenomenon, but the legacy of a long-gone civilization.
The natives’ development of agriculture led to vast deforestation. When Columbus arrived, diseases from Europe wiped out up to 90% of this population. The extent of deforestation for farming was so vast that upon the demise of their society, some scholars believe the resultant natural reforestation led to a global cooling possibly contributing to the “little ice age” experienced in Europe.
Imagine how the political landscape of the continent would look today if early settlers had to contend with 100 million natives.
1A Real Life Shakespearean Play
Although this story may seem like a Shakespearean play, bear with me, it really did happen.
Alboin, King of the Lombards, took his wife Rosamund as a spoil of war after he killed her father in the Lombard-Gepid War. Then at one point, he made her drink from her father’s skull, which he kept as a trophy and fashioned into a mug, telling her to “drink merrily with your father.” So she planned to have him assassinated.
Rosamund’s lover, Helmichis, suggested that a guy named Peredeo would be a good assassin. Peredeo did not want to get involved in killing Alboin, so Rosamund dressed as a servant and had sex with him. Once she told him that he actually had sex with the queen, Peredeo agreed to kill Alboin to avoid punishment for adultery with the queen. Peredeo then successfully assassinated Alboin.
After Peredeo killed Alboin, Rosamund and Helmichis wanted to rule. This was unpopular, so they took Alboin’s daughter from his first marriage and left for Ravenna. They married, but Rosamund found a new lover, Longinus. Longinus wanted to marry Rosamund, so they planned to kill Helmichis with poison. Helmichis caught on to the plan and forced Rosamund to drink the poison that was meant for him. Then he drank some himself and they both died.