A Who's Who of Maori Mythology

Quick guide: goddesses/female deities are italicized, gods/male deities are not italicized. And a lot of these gods' wives are left off.   Thanks, wikipedia, for this family tree of Maori deities!

The Bizarre Silence Of The Ottoman Emperors

It was considered unseemly for the sultan to speak too much. To allow the ruler to communicate without speaking, a form of sign language was introduced, which was used by his advisors and eunuchs.  As a result, the Ottoman Emperor spent most of his day surrounded by complete silence.

Mustafa I (1591 - 1639) found this impossible to bear and tried to have it banned, but his viziers refused to allow it. Mustafa I ended up going insane and was seen throwing coins into the sea for the fish to spend.

Why Did New Guinea Warriors Prefer Daggers Made With Human Bone?

The indigenous people of Papua New Guinea did not develop metalworking before modern contact. Instead, they fought with sharpened bone daggers. Here there was a choice: fight with daggers crafted from human thighbones or daggers crafted from cassowary thighbones -- giant, flightless, dinosaur-like birds. The preferred weapon in Papua New Guinea was human bone daggers.     And a new study suggests why: the dagger fashioned from human bone is stronger than the giant bird's thighbone, largely because of the way the warriors of New Guinea carved the weapons. The human bone daggers retained more of the natural curves of the bone, making them stronger than the flatter, less curved cassowary bone daggers. Given that cassowary daggers are easier to replace than human-bone daggers, it makes sense that the human daggers were carved with greater care to make them stronger.

When Defending Rats Makes You A Great Lawyer

There was a famous trial in Autun, in west-central France, in 1522. Some rats were charged in court with feloniously eating and wantonly destroying the province’s barley crop. The rats were ordered to appear in court and answer the charges.

When they failed to show up, the rats’ attorney argued that the summons were too specific. It was not fair to summon only a handful of specific rats. He insisted that all the rats in the diocese should be summoned and that the summons should be read from the pulpits of all the parishes in the area. Just to make sure. The court agreed and another hearing was scheduled.

When all the rats in the diocese failed to appear on the specified court date, the defense attorney again had a perfectly reasonable explanation: the rats really did want to come to court, but were afraid to leave their holes and make the long journey because of the vigilance of the plaintiff’s cats. He added that the rats would appear if the plaintiffs posted bonds under heavy penalties that the cats would not molest his clients. The judges thought this was a fair request, but the plaintiffs refused to be responsible for the behavior of their cats. And so the case was adjourned without setting a date for another hearing -- in effect ending the case in the rats’ favor.

The attorney, named Bartholomew Chassenée, went on to become a famous French lawyer.

An Italian Bank Is Older Than Italy

Founded in Italy in 1472 and originally a pawnshop, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world's oldest surviving bank. It existed when Leonardo da Vinci was still alive!

Rioting Over Sports Is A Proud Tradition!

In 1314, King Edward II of England banned football (soccer) because two rival villages were physically brawling each other over their football games. But football survived. And so did hooliganism. Today, many English clubs have a proud tradition of throwing stones, beer bottles, and whatever else is handy at opposing teams as they visit for games. Some English clubs are even known to be better or worse to visit, because of their fans!

The English are not the only ones, of course. Anyone remember when Vancouver won hockey’s Stanley Cup in 2011 and the whole city rioted? Or this year, when Philadelphia’s football team (the other kind of football) won the 2018 Super Bowl and the whole city took to the streets?

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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