22 Curious Facts About Life in the 1400s


In 1452, a Hungarian engineer known as Orban offered to sell an extremely powerful cannon to the Roman Emperor. He refused, so Orban instead sold the cannon to the Ottoman emperor, who used it to breach the walls of Constantinople in 1453, which brought the end to the Roman Empire.

21420 book

There is a book that was written around 1420 that was found to have cat piss on one of its pages. The author of the manuscript even wrote on the page “Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer... and beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.”

3Voynich manuscript

The Voynich manuscript which is dated to the 15th century consists of 240 pages of text in an unidentified language, and obscure illustrations seemingly related to topics such as astronomy and biology. Despite the considerable scientific effort, it remains mostly undeciphered to this day.

4King James IV of Scotland

In the 15th century, King James IV of Scotland conducted an experiment by sending a mute woman and two infants to an empty island to learn what the 'natural human language' would be.


The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, was introduced by King Sejong in the 1440s to improve literacy. The difficulty of Chinese characters favored privileged aristocrats, whereas Sejong's phonetic alphabet allowed Koreans of all classes to learn how to read and write.


In 1475, Turkish law stated that it was legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he does not provide her with the daily quota of coffee.

7Goth legacy

In 1434, Sweden and Spain got into an argument about who was more Gothic and deserving of higher honors. The Swedes claimed direct descent from the Goths. The Spanish claimed that only lazy Goths had stayed in Scandinavia while the heroic ones conquered Spain.

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8Lausanne City

Since 1405 until the present day without interruption, the city of Lausanne (Switzerland) has maintained a lookout in the Cathedral bell tower. The lookout announces the time by yelling the hour from 10 pm to 2 am, 365 days a year. The lookout cries the hour to each cardinal direction.

9Queen Isabella

In 1475, when Queen Isabella was crowned, the queen chess piece became female, and could only move one square at a time, like the King. In 1495, when Isabella was the most powerful woman in Europe, the present rules of chess were established, in which the Queen moves in all directions on the board.

10English sweating sickness

In 1485, a disease named English sweating sickness broke out causing people to sweat to death in a matter of hours. The disease claimed the lives of tens of thousands before mysteriously vanishing.


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