The full inventory of Shakespeare's possessions, which would have listed his books and other important information that modern historians would kill for, was probably sent to London. Important records were kept at the time in the capital. Unfortunately, that means the inventory was most likely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

Dirty People, Not Rats and Fleas, May Have Been Why The Black Death Spread

A new study suggests that we should stop blaming rats for spreading the Black Plague. Instead, the findings suggest, we should look at ourselves. Dirty humans, not dirty rats, were the likely culprits in spreading the bubonic plague. Specifically, “ectoparasites,” such as body lice and fleas carried by people, are more likely to be the guilty party.

Using mortality data from nine plague outbreaks in Europe between the 1300s and 1800s, the teams in Norway and Italy tracked how pandemics developed. In seven of the cases there was a closer resemblance to the human model for outbreak spread compared with the alternatives. Which means that if humans were just a little cleaner, the plague would not have spread so easily, or killed so many.

The Cheesiest Bank In The World

In Italy there’s a special tier of Parmesan cheese called Parmigianino Reggiano that is considered to be so valuable that it has its own (privately-owned) bank. The bank, in one form or another, has been around since the Medici Era. Here's how things work: it can take more than 3 years for the cheese to cure. And during that time, cheesemakers still need to be paid, cheesemaking buildings still need their heating bills paid, et cetera. So while the cheese is curing, this special bank will hold it in a special, air-conditioned vault and the cheese’s owner can take out a loan against it. The loan can keep the cheese making going while the  Parmigianino Reggiano gets perfectly aged and ready for the big time. When the loan is paid off, the owner gets the cheese back and can sell it for a premium.

The cheese contained in the Parmesan vault is valued in excess of $100 million. Although there is top-notch security, the bank has been robbed three times in the past, because c’mon, their vault is both valuable and delicious!

Vaccines are one of the oldest known medical treatments still widely used today; innoculation, as it used to be called, is older than antibiotics or anesthesia.

A Riddle In Time

William Shakespeare, renowned English playwrite and poet, and Miguel de Cervantes, famous Spanish novelist, both died on the 23rd of April in 1616. But they did not die on the same day. What the heck, you are thinking, when is dead not dead? This riddle has a simple answer: de Cervantes lived in Spain, and Shakespeare lived in England. The two countries followed two different calendars.

The Gregorian calendar had been instituted in Spain in the late 1500s, some thirty years before our protagonists died, because Pope Gregory XIII was displeased with the Julian calendar. It had had been in place since, well, Julius Caesar, and all of Europe used it. The Romans were extremely advanced time-keepers for their time but they were not perfect. The Julian calendar is slightly too long for a solar year, and over the centuries, it had gotten out of sync with the natural seasons. Most troubling to Gregory XIII, though, was that Easter no longer fell where it should. Easter was the ultimate Catholic holiday! Something must be done! So all good Catholic nations, including Spain, switched to the newfangled Gregorian calendar in the late 1500s at the urging of the pope. Ten days were added to the date in order to line up the new Gregorian calendar -- because of course Gregory XIII had the new calendar named after himself.

Shakespeare, however, lived in England. A good Protestant country. They were hardly going to let the pope tell them what to do. In fact, they were so anti-pope that they didn't make the switch for another two hundred years! That meant that England continued to follow the Julian calendar, and never lost those ten days. So when de Cervantes died in Spain on the 23rd of April, 1616, in England it was only the 13th of April, 1616. Shakespeare lived for exactly 10 more days, then died on HIS 23rd of April. And that is how two famous writers could die on the same calendar day, but not the same physical day.

The Astronomer's Sister

Tycho Brahe became a famous astronomer in the 1500s-1600s, but his sister Sophie is typically forgotten for her own scientific merit. When she was 17-years-old, Sophie began working as an assistant for Tycho, who was 27 at the time. In 1573, she helped her brother record a Lunar Eclipse. He had theorized the timing of it for years, and his findings went down in history. Aside from learning astronomy from Tycho, Sophie studied classic literature, mathematics, medicine, and alchemy. And she was a horticulturist to boot, something her brother never did, and was famous for her gardens. She was, in short, one of the most scientifically well-educated women in Europe in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Where Do Popes Come From?

  A map of where, in the world, popes have been born. Note that they placed each pope in the country he would be born in, if he was born today. Three popes were born in modern-day Tunisia, sure, but that was back in the Roman Empire. Those ancient "Tunisian" popes would have called it the province of "Africa" and it included eastern Algeria and northern Libya, as well as Tunisia.

Lost City Found: Etzanoa of the great Wichita Nation

The discovery of a town of 20,000 could put south-central Kansas on the map as the second-biggest settlement of Native Americans found in the United States, a Wichita State anthropologist says. The city was believed mythological for centuries. Spanish accounts of a permanent settlement with 20,000 Native Americans in it were thought to be exaggerated. With new archaeological evidence of Etzanoa emerging, historians and archaeologists are having to rethink what they know about what North America looked like before Columbus.

  In 1670, Louis XIV’s finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, ordered the planting of the Forest of Tronçais to provide masts for the French navy 200 years hence. His order established one of the principal stands of oaks in Europe, carefully interplanted with beeches and larches to encourage them to grow straight, tall, and free of knots. By the time they matured, in the 19th century, they were no longer necessary. Historian Fernand Braudel wrote, “Colbert had thought of everything except the steamship.”

A Big Oops

On December 28th, 1612, the Italian astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei became the first man to observe the planet Nepture. He thought it was a star.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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