25 Historical Facts about the 1100s

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1 Konrad III

Konrad III

In 1140, a German King named Konrad III captured a castle and ordered all the women of the castle to leave with whatever they could carry on their backs. Thinking quickly, the women carried their men on their backs. The King kept his word and let the men live.

2. In 1191, King Richard I used chains made of silver to imprison the ruler of Cyprus because he had promised not to place him in irons.

3. In 1120, the captain of the White Ship was encouraged by on-board revelers to try and overtake another vessel on which King Henry I was a passenger. In the dark the ship hit a submerged rock and capsized, leading to the death of Henry’s only heir (William Adelin), which led to a 20-year civil war.

4. The Leper King of Jerusalem: Baldwin the fourth ruled Jerusalem from 1174-1185, refused to hide his leprosy from his subjects and took an active part in the wars and crusades of that time until his disease progressed enough to cripple and blind him.

5. Several 12th-century British historical sources report the mysterious appearance of “The Green Children of Woolpit.” A brother and a sister were discovered to have green skin, spoke an unknown language, and were capable of eating only green food.

6 Philip of France

Philip of France

In 1131, crown prince Philip of France died while riding through Paris when his horse tripped over a black pig running out of a heap of dung.

7. In the 12th century China, sunglasses with lenses made from smoky quartz were used by court judges to mask their facial expressions and appear impartial.

8. There is a surviving text of an 1121 law in Baghdad requiring all Jewish women to wear at all times: 1 yellow star on their head, 1 yellow star on their neck, a necklace with a lead plaque that said “Dhimmi” (ie “non-Muslim”), 1 red shoe, 1 black shoe and a bell on their neck or their shoes.

9. In 1193, King Philip II of France married Ingeborg of Denmark. On their wedding night, he decided not to let her be crowned the Queen of France after he discovered she had such a horrible breath.

10. In 1187, King Philip II of France and King Richard I of England (whilst a prince), shared a bed overnight in a symbol of unity between the two countries.

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11 Sigurd I of Norway

Sigurd I of Norway

In 1107, King Sigurd I of Norway launched a crusade that fought in Spain, the Mediterranean, and the Holy Land. They won every battle they participated in.

12. In the 12th century, Bologna [Italy] had up to 180 towers as high as 97 meters [318 feet] which made it look like a medieval manhattan.

13. In 1123, the people of Greenland asked King Sigurd of Norway to send them a bishop along with a polar bear as a gift to accompany their request.

14. In 1102, Baldwin I was defeated in battle by an Egyptian army, was besieged at Ramla, escaped with 5 companions, was taken to Jaffa by an English pirate, and then returned to battle to defeat the Egyptians.

15. In 1162, in revenge for insulting his wife (Beatrice), Frederick I, the Holy Roman Emperor forced every resident of Milan who wished to live to pluck a fig placed into the genitals of a female mule.

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16 Saladin


In 1183, while sultan Saladin was laying siege to a crusader Castle in modern Jordan, he instructed his catapults to avoid the tower of the newlyweds after receiving food from their feast.

17. Frederick I Barbarossa (1122 – 1190) was a German Holy Roman Emperor who gathered 100,000 men for a crusade to fight the Saracens, marched to Constantinople then rode his horse out of its depth in the Saleph River and drowned on the morning of the battle.

18. Roland the Farter was a 12th-century minstrel who was gifted a manor house in Hemingstone, Suffolk, and more than 100 acres of land for performing a dance that ended with “one jump, one whistle, and one fart,” basically for farting on cue.

19. Martim Moniz was a knight who in 1147, during the Reconquista, sacrificed himself by lodging himself in the doorway of the castle in Lisbon, preventing the moors from fully closing the door. His sacrifice allowed the castle to be conquered.

20. The pood was a 12th century unit of mass equivalent to 40 funt (or 16.38 kg/36.11 lbs). While abolished for use by the USSR in 1924, the term remains in situational cases, and an old Russian proverb reads, “You know a man when you have eaten a pood of salt with him.”

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21 Lý Anh Tông

Lý Anh Tông

In 1138, Lý Anh Tông was named emperor of Lý Dynasty in Vietnam at the age of 2.

22. In the 12th-century, women in Shanxi (a Chinese province) were considered more desirable as a wife if they had already slept with a large number of men.

23. In 1161, Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester was the largest brothel owner in the UK and his prostitutes were called the Winchester Geese.

24. By the 12th Century, 21 different churches claimed to possess Jesus Christ’s foreskin. The Pope was eventually called upon to decide which one was authentic.

25. In the 12th century, King Baldwin II of Jerusalem secured a loan using his beard as collateral.

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