Your ninth grade history class may have taught you about Napoleon and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but did it ever mention that one time surrealist artist Salvador Dali filled his friend’s Rolls Royce with cauliflower and drove to the Sorbonne? Or did it inform you that Ancient Persians once believed that drunk debates contained just as much legal insight as arguments conducted while sober, or that the Aztec and Incan civilizations invented peanut butter? Did it even mention that the Ancient Greeks invented underwater exploration technology almost two thousand years before the modern submarine?
We thought not. History class may teach the important things, but rarely do teachers touch on the more strange-but-fascinating aspects of social studies. Here are 15 oddly fascinating history facts you probably won’t find in a textbook, from seventeenth-century “UFO” sightings to Michelangelo’s merciless temper (and sense of humor).
Vikings Liked To Ski For Fun.
Not only did those horn-helmeted Norsemen love to ski, but they’d been doing it for a long time! Around 6000 years ago, the Scandinavian people developed the first skis. For the most part, they used them for hunting and traveling, but they also (of course) skied as a pastime. The Norse god Ullr was even the god of skiing, and praying to him was thought to protect you while skiing through snowy terrain. Vikings even had skiing competitions in which the best and most agile Norsemen would compete for prizes.
Speaking of helmet horns, Vikings actually did not wear those into battle. Attaching horns to helmets would not only be heavy but also impractical, as enemies could grab onto the helmet much more easily. Most Vikings actually went into battle bareheaded; the horn-helm notion arose during the Victorian period, where Vikings were romanticized as charismatic savages.
The First Woman To Run For US President Won A Considerable Amount Of Votes In 1872.
Long before Hillary Clinton won the Democratic vote during the last US election, a woman named Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for US president (and the first to be represented by a political party). This remarkable figure of the woman’s suffrage movement ran a controversial newspaper (which featured articles on free love and legalized prostitution, among other things) with her sister on money they made in Wall Street brokerage.
After arguing for women’s suffrage in front of the House Judiciary Committee in 1871, the Equal Rights Party nominated her for president. Although she received some attention from voters, she spent Election Day itself in jail for publishing an article that accused well-known preacher Henry Ward Beecher of adultery. After being acquitted of these charges, she moved to England where she happily lived with a banker.