Until 1616 coffee was essentially a monopoly run by Yemen. Merchants were forbidden to sell live coffee plants or seeds. That changed when Pieter van der Broecke, a Dutch merchant, stole coffee seeds and brought them back to Holland. 40 years later coffee had traveled as far as Sri Lanka.
2. The table knife has a rounded tip because in 1669, Louis XIV of France decreed that all pointed knives be dulled down to reduce violence in courts and the streets.
3. Julie d'Aubigny was a 17th century French swordswoman and opera singer who was challenged to duels by three different noblemen after kissing a young woman at a society ball. She beat all 3 of them. She also once rescued her lesbian lover from a covenant by burning it down. She was sentenced to death for this, but she survived that too. She was later pardoned by the King.
4. The first successful anal fistula surgery was performed on Louis XIV in 1686. Anal fistulas then became highly fashionable among his royal court, with people lining up to undergo the procedure whether they needed it or not, or placing bandages on their bums to pretend that they did.
5. A Japanese man named Tanaka Shōsuke traveled to Mexico to establish trans-Pacific trade relations in 1610. His journey was recorded in the journal of an Aztec nobleman.
Latest FactRepublic Video:
20 Scary Mental & Psychological Illnesses - Part 1
6Dutch East India Company
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company undertook the world's first Initial public offering and, therefore, became the first public company to issue stock.
7. The word “Guy” originates from Guy Fawkes, the man who tried to blow up the British Parliament in 1605.
8. The marble masterpiece "Sleeping Hermaphroditus” was unearthed approximately in 1608 after being buried for centuries. In 1620, 22-year-old Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini carved the marble mattress on which s/he lies today that’s so strikingly realistic visitors are compelled to give it a testing prod.
9. Several years before the publishing of the renowned 1611 bible which was named after him, King James published a demonology describing the types of ghosts, spirits, vampires, fairies, witches, and even werewolves that haunt the land, which inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
10. The Japanese Samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga in the years 1613 through 1620 sailed to Rome via Mexico, where he met the Pope and was made a Roman citizen. It was the last official Japanese visit to Europe until 1862.
11King James I of England
There is an old English anecdote claiming that the name ‘Sirloin steak’ is derived from an occasion when King James I of England while being entertained at Hoghton Tower in 1617, was so impressed by the quality of his steak that he knighted the loin of beef, which was referred to thereafter as “Sirloin.”
12. Since 1617, breaches of etiquette at Oxford University have been punished by making the offender drink up to four pints of beer in one go.
13. Zildjian, the cymbal maker, is one of the oldest companies in the world. Founded in 1618, it's just under 400-year-old. Zildjian means "Bell Maker," a name given to the Alchemist hired by the Ottoman Sultan to create noise-makers for war. The manufacturing process remains a family secret to this day.
14. In 1621, the Dutch hired Japanese mercenaries to murder 40 inhabitants of Bandaneira Island in Indonesia, which was a lucrative source of nutmeg. Of the 12,000-15,000 residents, all but 1,000 were killed or forced to leave the island as the Dutch created a nutmeg monopoly.
15. In 1625, English officers called off an invasion of Spain after their soldiers stopped off at a local winery and got hammered.
A man named Jeronimus Cornelisz survived a shipwreck in 1628 and transformed into a murderous dictator over the remaining survivors. He and his henchmen killed over 100 men, women, and children over a 2 month period while being stranded. Ultimately he was overcome by a group loyal to the ship's captain and was executed.
17. In 1648, a military drummer in French Canada was sentenced to death for being homosexual. He was pardoned on the condition that he became the colony’s first permanent executioner.
18. In the 1650s, an African man named Anthony Johnson won a court case that let him keep another African named John Casor, as his slave instead of ending his indentured servitude. This meant that the first legally recognized owner of a permanent slave in America was an African man.
19. With the invention of the pendulum clock in 1656, a Dutch physicist named Christiaan Huygens increased the best accuracy of clocks from 15 minutes deviation a day to around 15 seconds a day.
20. Christmas was banned in Boston between 1659 and 1681.
3 slaves were hanged for the 1660 murder of their master William Harrison in the year 1661. In 1662, William Harrison returned on a ship after escaping slavery, having been kidnapped by pirates. This lead to the "no body, no murder" rule.
22. Miyamoto Musashi was a 17th century Japanese swordsman, who twice arrived late to duels and defeated both opponents. Upon his next duel, he arrived early, and ambushed the force that was assembling to ambush him.
23. Until the 17th century most scientists believed that the speed of light was infinite. It was only in 1676 that Ole Rømer and Giovanni Cassini made the first measurement of the velocity of light by observing the orbits of the moons of Jupiter and they were the just 27% off the real value of the speed of light.
24. New Amsterdam was given to the Duke of York in 1664 as the 18th birthday present from his father. He then renamed the city, New York.
25. In 1669, an alchemist named Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus by boiling down urine and heating the residue to very high temperatures. He was trying to make gold though, and he hoped that the yellow color of urine meant that there was gold in it.