25 Interesting Facts From the 1200s You Didn’t Know

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1King Louis IX

King Louis IX, who died in 1270, is the only French monarch venerated as a saint. He invited beggars to eat with him at his table daily and replaced trial by combat with evidence-based trials.


2. When Edward I, King of England annexed Wales in 1277 A.D., he promised them his son, and heir to the throne would be Welsh. This is why the heir apparent in the UK is always titled "Prince of Wales" before taking the throne.


3. The Children's Crusade of 1212 was an unofficial crusade during which Nicholas of Cologne attempted to lead approximately 30,000 children to the holy land. They later found a fleet of boats willing to give them free passage to the Levant. The sailors ended up selling the children as slaves in Africa.


4. In 1255, Henry III of England was given an elephant by Louis IX of France. It died in 1257 having been fed a consistent diet of prime beef and red wine.


5. On July 31st, 1200/1201, John Komnenos the Fat, a Byzantine noble attempted to usurp the imperial throne. When he sat on the throne, it broke under his weight, and he was captured and executed that same day.


6Henry III

In 1251, Henry III was given a polar bear by the king of Norway. He kept it in the Tower of London, on a long chain so that it could swim in the Thames.


7. During the Papal election of 1292-1294, a hermit named Pietro de Morrone wrote a letter to the cardinals stating they would be punished by God if there was any more delay. The cardinals, in turn, elected de Morrone as Pope Celestine V and sent for him. He initially refused and attempted to flee.


8. In 1204 A.D., King Phillip of France attempted to lay siege to Chateau Gaillard. After months of failed attempts, his army found a weakness in toilet chutes. They climbed up through tunnels of sewage and were able to breach the second wall which later led to the surrender of the castle.


9. In the 1200s, Arab inventor al-Jazari created several humanoid robots, including a drink-serving "waitress", a hand-washing automaton, and a programmable music-playing robot band.


10. In 1285, a Buddhist nun named Kakusan-ni opened the Shōkozan Tōkei-Ji temple as a refuge for battered wives. Women were considered divorced after living there for 2 years. Temple records show that, during the Tokugawa period alone, an estimated 2,000 women sought shelter there. The temple lost its right to concede divorce in 1873 when a new law was approved and the Court of Justice started to handle the cases.


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11Cow war

In 1275, the theft of a cow by a peasant led to a war (Guerre de la Vache) that resulted in 15,000 deaths on the territory of present-day Belgium.


12. The papal conclave in 1241 lasted two months, during which the urine of the rooftop guards leaked through into the election chamber, and one of the candidates was allegedly poisoned. The pope who was finally elected died 17 days later, probably of dysentery contracted during the previous weeks.


13. A religious debate between a friar and a rabbi was held in 1263 before King James I of Aragon, who ultimately awarded the rabbi 300 gold coins, saying he had never heard “an unjust cause so nobly defended.”


14. The 4th crusade from 1202-1204 A.D., was commissioned to take back Jerusalem from Muslim control, and take down the Egyptian Sultanate, but all they were able to achieve was sacking Christian controlled Constantinople, and getting excommunicated.


15. In 1280, Pisa was hit by a series of earthquakes that were believed to threaten the tower; however, it remained upright. Researchers later discovered that the soil (the cause of its lean) also protected from the quakes, absorbing the shock of the tremors.


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16Anders Sunesen

According to legend, the Danes were losing the 1219 Battle of Lyndanisse to the Estonians until an archbishop (Anders Sunesen) prayed and stretched his hands upwards. The Danes won the battle after down from the sky fell a Danish flag.


17. The Mongol hordes, in 1223, executed the recently conquered Kievan nobles using the traditional caveat reserved for nobility: without shedding blood. They were buried and suffocated under the Mongol general's victory platform at the victory feast.


18. During the sack of Kyiv in 1240 by the Mongols, only two thousand of the city's fifty thousand residents survived, and only six of an original forty buildings were left standing, however, Voivode Dmytro, the commander in charge of the city's defenses was shown mercy because of his bravery.


19. In 1222 A.D., a physician named Najabuddin Unhammad described the delusion of love as one of the seven mental disorders.


20. In 1241, a Mongol general named Subotai destroyed the armies of Hungary and Poland within two days of each other, with forces over five hundred kilometers apart.


21Gaspard de Stérimberg

In 1224, the Knight Gaspard de Stérimberg returned from battle wounded, and with permission from the Queen of France, he built a hillside sanctuary for his recovery, dubbed Hermitage Hill. Today, that hill is where Hermitage wine is produced.


22. In his 1225 essay on the nature of color (Du Luce/On Light), the English Bishop Robert Grosseteste described the birth of the Universe in an explosion and the crystallization of matter to form stars and planets in a set of nested spheres around Earth. This was seven centuries before the Big Bang theory was put forth.


23. Mathematician Ramon Llull, who discovered ether in 1275, became a Franciscan monk after trying to write a dirty poem three times and seeing a vision of Christ each time.


24. The setting for the videogame Ghost of Tsushima is based on an actual Mongol/Yuan invasion of Japan, starting at Tsushima Island in 1274. The invaders landed on Komoda beach, were held there until evening, where the battle ended in a final cavalry charge that ended with all of the defenders being slain.


25. In 1277, Pope John XXII was so worried about the discovery of the laws of nature, he declared them a heresy. Later that year gravity visited him, when the roof of the palace collapsed, killing him.

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