Cleopatra remains fascinating, 2,047 years after her death. To date, she has been the subject of five ballets, seven films, forty-five operas, seventy-seven plays, and innumerable paintings.

"Men would never be superstitious if they could govern all their circumstances by set rule, or if they were always favored by fortune. But being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept in fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's greedily coveted favors, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity."

Baruch Spinoza, from the Theologico-Political Treatise. His parents were Jewish, and for that were tortured and condemned by the Inquisition in Portugal; they escaped to Amsterdam where Baruch was born. He received Jewish schooling, but became interested in the historical inaccuracies of the Bible, and was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam for heresy in 1656. In 1661, Spinoza moved to a small town on the Dutch coast where he wrote the above treatise.

This was just one of many works Spinoza wrote, although it was the most controversial; other notable writings include a demonstration of Descartes’ thinking and a master work on Ethics. He is known today as one of the most influential philosophers of the Enlightenment.

The first free Muslim in the Americas might have been Anthony Janszoon van Salee. He was Muslim because his father, Jan Janszoon, was a successful Dutch Barbary Corsair who converted to Islam and ended up running a small city-state for pirates in today’s Morocco.

Anthony, his fourth son, for some reason decided to immigrate to Dutch New Amsterdam in 1630. He became quite wealthy in what is today New York, but always remained a Muslim. And he used his position to support other religious minorities -- Anthony  once was fined for housing an English Quaker at his home

What’s A King To A Caesar?

From 27 BCE to 1946 CE, someone, somewhere in Europe has had a title “Caesar.” The czar of Russia, the kaiser of Germany...many, many European titles were just local derivatives of “Caesar.”

The last Caesar was Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, who was removed from office in 1946 by the Soviets. He’s still alive, too!

"When a lion eats a man, and a man eats an ox, why is the ox more made for the man, than the man for the lion?"

Thomas Hobbes, Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance, 1656

When I learned this fact, it really struck me. So now I'm sharing it with you. When you picture the Salem Witch Trials, when Massachusetts Puritans had a literal witch-hunt against friends and neighbors and sometimes family, what time of year do you picture? Did you say winter? Maybe autumn? Those seem like the time of year to be afraid of witches, right? Well, the first Salem Witch Trial started on March 1st, 1692. The first arrests did happen in winter, though, in February 1692.

In Mesoamerica children are warned about El Coco. A shapeless, hairy monster, it kidnaps and devours children. So they had better listen to their parents!

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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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