40 Insanely Creepy Historical Facts They Never Taught You in School
Remember studying for your world history tests in school? You may have hit on the major points of humanity’s past, but there are plenty of gory details to be uncovered, ranging from fascinating to absolutely gruesome. Take a look at these 40 crazy historical details that school definitely skipped over!
Witch-trials have a long, dark history.
You’ve probably heard of the Salem witch trials, but the hunt for witches goes back much further than that. One anthropologist has estimated that, in medieval times, as many as 600,000 “witches” lost their lives.
Animals were also regularly put on trial in the medieval ages—and given a death sentence.
During America’s Dust Bowl (in the early 1930s), sewing flour sacks into clothing became quite popular. So popular, in fact, that flour companies began selling flour in decorative bags intended for future repurposing into clothing.
Coffins used to need built-in safety nets.
In the 19th century, before medical professionals had the tools to discern comas or paralysis from death, the fear of being buried alive was very real. Patented ‘safety coffins’ were invented so that mistakenly buried people could alert those above ground to their predicament.
This Papal decree backfired horribly.
During Pope Gregory IX’s term, he declared that cats were associated with devil worship, resulting in their mass extermination.
Ironically, it is believed that this large-scale expunging of felines helped to spread the Bubonic Plague, which ravaged Europe in the 1300s and killed over a hundred million people. No cats meant the rat population (which carried the plague) ran wild.
The most ineffective senator ever:
Roman emperor Gaius (also known as Caligula) went out of his way to humiliate the Roman senate by making one of his favorite horses a senator.
The horrifying extent of Europeans’ Native American decimation.
via: Google Sites
The Europeans’ arrival in the Americas caused the Native American population to drastically decline from approximately 12 million in 1500 to roughly 237,000 in 1900.
Cannibalism was a health fad once upon a time.
via: Encyclopedia Britannica
Wealthy Europeans in the 1500s and 1600s ate parts of corpses, believing them to have medicinal properties. Blood, power ground up from the human skull, and human fat were all used to cure various ailments.
Tomb raiders even desecrated Ancient Egyptian tombs to steal the remains of mummies, which the aforementioned wealthy Europeans proceeded to consume.
President Einstein was almost a thing.
In 1952, Albert Einstein could have become the president of Israel. He declined the offer, however.
The shortest war on record lasted for 38-45 minutes in total. The Anglo-Zanzibar War began and ended on August 27th, 1896.
Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by bunnies.
In a celebratory rabbit hunt after concluding the War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon was swarmed by the very rabbits he intended to hunt. He was forced to make an escape via carriage (though a few of the bunnies managed to follow him into the coach). And you thought Waterloo was humiliating!
Dentures have a disturbing history.Embed from Getty Images
Before proper dentures came about in the mid-1800s, dentures were crafted using teeth taken from the mouths of deceased soldiers.
An unfortunate lineage:
King Tut’s parents were recently confirmed to be siblings. DNA from the mummified remains of Tut’s mother revealed her to be both mother to Tut, and sister of his father Akhenaten.
During World War I, Jackie the baboon was awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of corporal.
This funeral was extremely unconventional.
Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna held an entire state funeral for his leg after it was amputated.
A real-life vampire scare took place in New England.
The “New England Vampire Panic” was an event in the 19th century where people thought that “consumption” (i.e. Tuberculosis) was actually the result of vampires. It got to the point where people would dig up those who died of Tuberculosis and stake them through the heart. –TheManicMonocle
Human sacrifice was a common practice among the Aztecs.
Over 20,000 people were sacrificed at the ancient temple of Tenochtitlán.
This woman may be Lady Luck in the flesh.
Anna Mae Dickinson is quite possibly the luckiest woman ever. She survived the sinking of both the Titanic and Lusitania, the Hindenburg explosion, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and, when she was 97, the destruction of her apartment during the 9/11 terror attack.
Medicine has come a long way.
From 1898 to 1910, the Bayer pharmaceutical company marketed and sold heroin as cough medicine and non-addictive substitute for morphine.
via: The Quack Doctor
Another children’s medicine, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, didcontain morphine.
The supposed un-death of Rasputin:
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, a Russian mystic, survived several simultaneous murder attempts. He was shot, stabbed multiple times, and poisoned…before finally drowning in in the the Volga river.
This historical figure was the gruesome inspiration behind Dracula.
15th century Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler consumed the blood of his enemies with meals. He was born in Transylvania; combined with his disturbing habits and the family name ‘Dracula,’ Vlad provided the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic vampire novel.
Joseph Stalin’s pre-Photoshop retouches.
via: The Chive
Stalin ordered photographs to be revised, editing out people who forcibly went missing (were murdered).
Speaking of Stalin, he and his regime are responsible for up to 15 million deaths between 1929 and 1953, though the exact number could not be determined.
via: Getty Images
The Democratic Party’s symbol is a donkey because in 1828, someone called Andrew Jackson a “jackass.” In their defense, he totally was, but the donkey became a democratic symbol as Jackson’s way of shooting back at the name-caller.
Edgar Allen Poe predicted a shipwreck.
via: Getty Images
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” (1838) was about 4 shipwreck survivors stranded in a boat before they killed and ate a cabin boy–Richard Parker. In 1884, a boat was stranded with only 4 survivors. 3 of the men killed and ate the cabin boy, also named Richard Parker. –Darclite
Some people in the Victorian Era made jewelry out of their deceased loved ones. Teeth, hair, and bone could all be incorporated into “memorial jewelry.”
President Lincoln’s assassination had a lingering effect on one survivor of the attack.
Major Henry Rathbone shared Lincoln’s box, along with both of their wives, when Lincoln was shot. Rathbone tried to stop John Wilkes Booth, got stabbed by the assassin, and 18 years later Rathbone shot and stabbed his wife to death in the same manner. Rathbone spent the rest of his life in a mental institution.
Countess Elizabeth Bathory was named by Guiness World Records as the most prolific female murderer, and is basically the female counterpart to Vlad the Impaler. She reportedly killed at least 80 young women between 1585 and 1609—although personnel at her trial estimated that roughly 200 bodies were removed from her castle, and another unverified testimony passed down through the years suggests the number of victims was upwards of 650.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two founding fathers who were present for the signing of the Declaration of Independence (which Jefferson wrote) died on the anniversary of their nation’s birth. They both passed away on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the original Independence Day—July 4, 1776.
16th century Canadians had the wrong idea about birth control.
via: Getty Images
In Canada in the 1500s, women imbibed a formula that was supposed to prevent pregnancy: a mixture of alcohol and ground beaver testicles.
Not very effective, obviously.
These snowmen weren’t your average Frosty.
In 1511, the people of Brussels, Belgium built over 100 snowmen in lewd or ridiculous positions. Amongst the snow-mermaids and snow-unicorns, there were also fornicating snow people, a snow-nun seducing a snowman, and one snowman ‘peeing’ into the mouth of another. Believe it or not, the townspeople used the construction of these snowmen as a form of protest.
Joan of Arc was unknowingly allied with a serial killer.
Joan of Arc was a legendary badass, better than the stuff of legend because she really lived, fought, and died for her beliefs. One of her allies, however, was one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Gilles de Rais, one of Joan of Arc’s ‘companion-in-arms,’ began murdering young children after her death and his own retirement from the military. Before he was caught and executed, he killed between 80 and 200 children—though a few have suggested the number goes as high as 600.
Innocent or guilty?
‘Trial by Ordeal’ used to be a method of judging innocence or guilt in the Middle Ages. One method? By sticking one’s hand in boiling water. If the wounds were completely healed within three days—which would indicate a sign from God—that person was innocent.
You can imagine how often that actually happened.
via: Getty Images
The carnivorous Venus flytrap plant is native only to North and South Carolina. It can’t be found naturally anywhere else in the world.
Ever wonder what happens if you crash into a wall at 185 mph head on? Gordon Smiley’s 1982 Indy 500 qualifying crash is exactly that. Dr. Steve Olvey is the source of this account. –HammableOfCarthage
“While rushing to the car, I noticed small splotches of a peculiar gray substance marking a trail on the asphalt leading up to the driver. When I reached the car, I was shocked to see that Smiley’s helmet was gone, along with the top of his skull. He had essentially been scalped by the debris fence. The material on the race track was most of his brain. His helmet, due to massive centrifugal force, was literally pulled from his head on impact…I rode to the care center with the body. On the way in I performed a cursory examination and realized that nearly every bone in his body was shattered.”
Arsenic was used to clear up facial complexions.
via: History Files
As late as 1902, edible wafers containing arsenic were sold to improve any facial imperfection—you know, because that’s what you think of when you think ‘arsenic.’ The wafers were supposed to be most effective with constant use, which definitely didn’t help its users’ health.
The Italian High Renaissance included a ‘zombie’ outbreak.
The first major outbreak of syphilis occurred in 1494, and before medicine, it “caused flash to fall from people’s faces and lead to death within a few months.” Basically, whole parts of a person’s body could rot away from the disease, making it a fairly common sight to see someone with syphilis shambling around like the living dead.Share
22 Famous Celebrity Co-Stars Who Actually Couldn’t Stand Each Other
Acting is all about believability. If the audience doesn’t trust the characters to be whom they present themselves as, the viewer will oftentimes stop caring. Great actors deliver memorable performances by either becoming their character, or developing chemistry with their co-star. In some instances however, that great chemistry is merely a ruse directly resulting from the actors’ skill and technique. Because sometimes those two actors you swore were truly in love, actually couldn’t stand being in the same room as each other. Are you now curious for some real-life examples? Here are 22 celebrity co-stars from film & TV who couldn’t stand to be around each other.
Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams
Although Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams would date on and off for four years following the making of The Notebook, during filming the two did not click immediately. In fact, at one point Gosling asked the director to find a replacement for McAdams’ character. The director’s solution to the lack of chemistry was an impromptu therapy session. Apparently the two screamed at each other for a little and then returned to set much better for the remainder of filming. I guess couples therapy can work.
Ariana Grande & Victoria Justice
For fans of the Nickelodeon series, Victorious, it might have come as a surprise to discover that Tori & Cat (Victoria Justice & Ariana Grande) weren’t actually best friends in real life.
Following the show’s cancellation after four seasons, a social media feud between the two stars began with Grande tweeting, “Sweetheart the only reason Victorious ended is because 1 girl didn’t want to do it. She chose to do a solo tour instead of a cast tour. If we had done a cast tour Nickelodeon would have ordered another season of Victorious while Sam and Cat filmed simultaneously but she chose otherwise. I’m sick of this bs.”
Justice tweeted back saying, “Some people would throw some1 they consider a friend under the bus just 2 make themselves look good. #StopBeingAPhony #IfTheyOnlyKnew”
Claire Danes & Leonardo DiCapri
It would appear the only chemistry displayed between ’90s teen actor royalty, Claire Danes & Leonard DiCaprio, was while the Romeo + Juliet cameras were filming.
Even though DiCaprio was six years older than Danes, it’s reported that she found him “very immature.” While Danes didn’t enjoy DiCaprio’s pranking of cast and crewmembers, Leo found her to be uptight.
Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey
In his autobiography, The Time of My Life, Patrick Swayze touched on some of the difficulties in filming Dirty Dancing with co-star Jennifer Grey. “We did have a few moments of friction when we were tired or after a long day of shooting. She seemed particularly emotional, sometimes bursting into tears if someone criticized her. Other times, she slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she’d start laughing.”
Nathan Fillion & Stana Katic
Hard to believe that ABC’s most-beloved TV couple couldn’t stand each other, but it’s true. With on-set descriptions like, “Stana Katic is an absolute diva,” or “the show is called Castle, not Beckett” – it’s no surprise the two were forced to attend couples therapy at one point.
Sources say Katic and Fillion didn’t speak on set, and that it’s “been going on for seasons now.” The co-star drama could be one of the main reasons behind ABC’s decision to cancel the show after eight seasons.
Jamie Dornan & Dakota Johnson
The story goes that 50 Shades of Grey required a large amount of reshoots due to the lack of chemistry between Jamie Dornan & Dakota Johnson. One source reportedly called Johnson a “dishrag,” while a 2014 interview with Today’s Natalie Morales went like this…
Natalie Morales: What is it like shooting together. I mean, is there that instant chemistry?
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson: [Shake heads no.]
Natalie Morales: No. You hate each other.
Jamie Dornan: [Nods head yes.]
Dakota Johnson: [Studies ceiling.]
Natalie Morales: He’s hard to work with?
Dakota Johnson: [Loud exhale.]
Nicki Minaj & Mariah Carey
In 2013, Nicki Minaj & Mariah Carey both served as new judges on the 12th season of American Idol, and it was a disastrous catfight from start to finish. The constant shade-throwing between the two upstaged the rest of the show’s contestants, and was unsurprisingly the first and last season for both Minaj & Carey.
Anne Hathaway & James Franco
A couple years after being recognized as the two worst Oscar hosts in recent memory, James Franco appeared on The Howard Stern Show. When Howard began speaking negatively about Hathaway, Franco chose not to come to her defense.
Stern said, “Everyone sort of hates Anne Hathaway, and I’ve explained that I do too and I don’t know even know why sometimes. She’s just so affected [and] actress-y that even when she wins an award she’s out of breath, and then she has the standard joke that sounds like it’s [been] written [for her]. And it all seems so scripted and acted.”
Franco simply responded, “I’m not an expert on — I guess they’re called ‘Hatha-haters’– but I think that’s what maybe triggers it.” I wouldn’t call that the ideal response from a former co-worker.
Shia LaBeouf & Tom Hardy
While shooting the 2012 film, Lawless, Shia LaBeouf & Tom Hardy reportedly threw hands while the cameras weren’t rolling. Hardy confirmed the confrontation, saying that LaBeouf, in a moonshine-induced rage, knocked him “out cold.” Meanwhile, Shia cited the incident as nothing but part of their characters’ brotherly love. Sure, Shia. With your track record, that sounds real believable.
Lea Michele & Naya Rivera
What happens when you have a bunch of twenty and thirty-year-olds portraying high school teenagers… they start acting like them. That sure was the case with Lea Michele & Naya Rivera on the set of Glee. Clearly the two didn’t get along, but apparently the drama resulted in a “major altercation” on set, in addition to rumors about Lea Michelle & Chris Colfer plotting to get Naya Rivera & Darren Criss kicked off the show. In the end, Michele got exactly what she wanted as Rivera was written out of the show.
Tisha Campbell & Martin Lawrence
Rumor has it that the sitcom husband and wife of Martin Lawrence & Tisha Campbell had a real life affair resulting in jealousy from Lawrence when Campbell announced her engagement to another man.
The drama led Campbell to quit the show and file a sexual harassment suit against Martin. Campbell would later return to the show only after reaching an agreement where Lawrence would not be allowed on set while Campbell filmed her scenes. This ordeal concluded with the Martin series finale, in which Martin and Gina (Lawrence & Campbell) were never seen together on camera again.
Sarah Jessica Parker & Kim Cattrall
Although they played best friends on Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker & Kim Cattrall began to drift apart when Cattrall discovered SJP was making double what other cast members were. Meanwhile, SJP started resenting Cattrall because her character Samantha was quickly becoming the show’s fan favorite. In the end, Sarah Jessica Parker told Marie Claire “sometimes feelings get hurt.” And that is why there will not be a third Sex and the City movie.
Charlie Sheen & Selma Blair
After complaining about Charlie Sheen’s “work ethic,” Selma Blair was fired from the FX series, Anger Management. To make things worse, Blair was fired by executive producer… Charlie Sheen. And we all know he didn’t pick that moment to finally be professional. Sheen sent Blair a series of profane texts, calling her a C-word and firing her from the show.
Lindsay Lohan & America Ferrera
It’s never a good sign when you’re booked on a show for six episodes, but only end up shooting four. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Lindsay Lohan on Ugly Betty.
Lindsay and America Ferrera clashed on set, with sources saying that every day was The Lindsay Lohan Show. She had a large entourage, trashed her dressing room, and was constantly smoking. Sounds like a good enough reason to get rid of her two episodes early.
Harrison Ford & Josh Hartnett
It sounds like the filming of 2003’s Hollywood Homicide was a miserable experience for all. Apparently co-stars Harrison Ford & Josh Hartnett never made eye contact during production and continued bickering at one another throughout the film’s promotional tour. At one point, Ford called Hartnett a “punk,” while Hartnett responded, calling Ford “an old fart.”
Way to keep it professional, boys.
Will Smith & Janet Hubert
Ever wonder why Aunt Viv changed after the first three seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Well, according to Janet Hubert, the actress who played Aunt Viv #1, it was all Will Smith’s decision.
Smith claims the two had difficulties working together prior to her firing, however, Hubert came out hot, calling Smith “an ego-maniac” and an “a**hole.”
Kiefer Sutherland & Freddie Prinze Jr.
Freddie Prinze Jr. has been very vocal about his negative experience working alongside Kiefer Sutherland on 24. “I did 24; it was terrible. I hated every moment of it,” Prinze Jr. said. “Kiefer was the most unprofessional dude in the world. That’s not me talking trash; I’d say it to his face. I think everyone that’s worked with him has said that. I just wanted to quit the business after that. So, I just sort of stopped.”
Blake Lively & Leighton Meester
They might have played best friends for six seasons on Gossip Girl, but to this day, Blake Lively & Leighton Meester aren’t speaking. One rumor is that the friendship ended when Lively didn’t congratulate Meester on her engagement to Adam Brody.
Robert Downey Jr. & Terrence Howard
In 2008, Terrence Howard accused his Iron Man co-star, Robert Downey Jr., of “[taking] the money that was meant to go to [Howard] and pushed [him] out.” Downey Jr.’s attorneys threatened to sue Howard, but since then, Howard has buried the hatchet, citing that “life is too short.”
Bill Murray & Lucy Liu
Bill Murray was in the first Charlie’s Angels movie with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu. However, after he told Liu she couldn’t act, she attacked him, and Bernie Mac replaced him in the sequel.
Bea Arthur & Betty White
How could anyone not love Betty White?! Well, apparently one of her co-stars from The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur, wasn’t a fan of her sunny disposition… or Emmy nomination.
Bette Davis & Joan Crawford
Rumor is Bette Davis & Joan Crawford had already hated each other for nearly 30 years when they both signed on to co-star in the 1962 film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? At one point during filming, Davis kicked Crawford in the head requiring three stitches. Davis would also call Crawford “the phony c***” and was later quoted saying, “The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?”