35 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Middle Ages

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26Here be dragons

Here be dragons

The medieval practice of putting dragons, sea serpents and other mythological creatures on their maps was to denote uncharted areas.

27. The biggest medieval codex ever discovered is a collection of manuscripts commonly referred to as the Devil's Bible. The 'Codex Gigas' weighs about 165lbs (roughly 75kg) and is said to be a product of a desperate monk's deal with Lucifer himself.

28. The origin of the piggy bank was in the Middle Ages. The material used to make storage jars for coins was an orange clay called "pygg." Through language evolution and cultural overlap, English potters were asked to make pygge banks, so they started making them in the shape of pigs.

29. According to legend, Cnut, the 11th Century Viking King of England, Denmark and Norway, once commanded the tide to halt. His intent was to prove a point to members of his privy council that no man is all-powerful, and we all must bend to forces beyond our control, such as the tides.

30. When medieval Islamic scholar Al-Biruni was trying to determine the exact position of Qibla (the Muslim direction for prayer), he realized that a vast span of Earth's land was unaccounted for in the modern maps of the time. This turned out to be the American continent.

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The Cagots community were a minority in Europe during the medieval times. They were shunned, hated, and segregated from entering taverns or touching food in markets. They were not an ethnic or religious group and were indistinguishable from other people, and no one knows why they were so despised.

32. The urine of ginger boys was prized in medieval Europe for making stained glass.

33. Greek Fire was almost impossible to put out and was generally used to attack ships. It was created in the 7th century but its recipe has been lost to history and we still aren't completely sure what it was made of.

34. There is a 9th century Germanic 'bible' (Heliand) which presents Jesus as a warrior-king.

35. During the black death, several French cities ran out of places to bury the dead, so Pope Clement VI had to consecrate the entire Rhone River so that it could be considered holy ground and bodies could be thrown into it.

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In Medieval Germany, peasants believed in a magical land called “Cockaigne”, or “schlaraffenland”, where you could grab pork sausage off of trees or have cooked fish swim out of a beer river and onto your plate. This tale stuck and motivated the working class. In fact, it is still told today.

37. In medieval times, red hair was associated with moral degradation and intense sexual desire. Redheads were regarded as vampires, werewolves, and witches. The Spanish Inquisition singled them out for persecution, believing their hair to be sure sign that they stole the fires of hell.

38. An anonymous Brit drew penises around potholes in Manchester to force authorities to stop delaying fixing them and it worked.

39. An NGO named Bidyanondo in Bangladesh sells over 10,000 meals daily at only 1 Taka ($0.012) per meal instead of giving it for free, so that people don't feel like they are begging.

40. Donald Lau, who was the chief fortune cookie writer at Wonton Foods for over 30 years retired in 2017 due to writer’s block.

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41Chinese Uber drivers

Chinese Uber drivers

As of 2018, China has a so-called "Ghost driver" problem, in which many Uber drivers over there change their profile photos to those of ghosts and zombies so that when potential passengers see these pictures they would cancel the ride they had just booked, thus earning the driver cancellation fee without any effort.

42. Actor Kenny Baker who operated R2-D2 (from inside) in Star Wars franchise hated the actor (Anthony Daniels) who played C-3PO, calling him "the rudest man I've ever met."

43. Saguaro National Park's cacti have ids with microchips implanted in them to prevent theft.

44. Michael Buffer, the "Let's get ready to rumble" guy had the phrase trademarked and as of 2009 it has generated $400 million in revenue for him.

45. Road damage mostly results from trucks and buses. The damage a vehicle causes is proportional to the axle load raised to the fourth power, so doubling the weight an axle carries actually causes 16 times as much damage.

46Fake cocaine

Fake cocaine

The fake cocaine actors snort on film is vitamin B powder, a common cutting agent for real cocaine.

47. Chicago has a large pack of coyotes that patrol the city, hunting rats.

48. A doctor named Robert Liston once performed a surgery with 300% mortality rate. In 1846, during an amputation, Dr. Robert Liston accidentally cut his assistant's fingers off and later slashed an observer's coat. The observer, thinking he'd been stabbed, dropped dead of shock, and the patient and assistant died afterward of infected wounds.

49. In 2014, English drummer Phil Collins donated the world's largest private collection of Alamo artifacts to the state of Texas. It included a fringed leather pouch and a gun used by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie's legendary knife.

50. The London 2012 Summer Olympic Committee contacted 'The Who' manager Bill Curbishley about Keith Moon performing at the games, 34 years after his death. Curbishley said "I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to the line 'I hope I die before I get old'.

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