An Emir Once Controlled Part of France

Yes, what you’re thinking is true, an Islamic ruler once ruled France?!?!

At the greatest extent of Al-Andalus, a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, it controlled a piece of southern France. As well as most of modern Spain and all of modern Portugal. From 719 to 759 -- that’s a full forty years -- Muslim rulers controlled the port city of Narbonne. Depending on the year, they also controlled various nearby cities including  Nîmes, Béziers, and Avignon. The Islamic rulers weren't entirely unpopular, either. Narbonne was satisfied enough with Umayyad rule that it successfully defended itself, twice, from Frankish attempts to retake the city.

Kalaw Lagaw Ya, the language spoken by central and western Torres Strait indigenous peoples, was a lingua franca before western colonization. Kalaw Lagaw Ya was the language often used by Papua New Guineans and Australians to communicate when trading or traveling.

Cato the Elder Almost Got Into Trouble For Cowardice, Talked His Way Out Of It

Here [in Hispania], as [Cato] was engaged in reducing some of the tribes by force, and bringing over others by good words, a large army of barbarians fell upon him, so that there was danger of being disgracefully forced out again. He therefore called upon his neighbours, the Celtiberians, for help, and on their demanding two hundred talents for their assistance, everybody else thought it intolerable that even the Romans should promise barbarians a reward for their aid; but Cato said there was no discredit or harm in it; for, if they overcame, they would pay them out of the enemy’s purse, and not out of their own; but if they were overcome, there would be nobody left either to demand the reward or to pay it.


quoted from a translation of "Plutarch's Lives"

Counting Coup Was Plains Warrior Tradition To Show Bravery

What was a "coup"? Many acts of bravery in the face of an enemy counted. Any touch to an enemy warrior, or their defensive works or even stealing their horse counted. The most prestigious "coup" was touching an enemy warrior, without harming them, and getting away without being hurt oneself. And the most daring way to do that was to sneak up to an enemy warrior, while they slept, and touch their body without getting caught. As you can imagine, that last one was pretty rare.

There were many ways of counting coups, from notched sticks to lines on one's shirt. In general practice, a warrior who won a coup was permitted to wear an undyed eagle feather in their hair. If the warrior had been wounded in the attempt, however, they had to paint the feather red.

Quaker Women Were Early Feminists

Quakers were one of the first groups to provide equal access to education and leadership skills, for both genders. The Quaker faith believed in equality between the genders. And they acted like it. Women as well as men were given education. Women as well as men could give sermons, and lead Quaker meetings. Women as well as men could run business meetings for the church. It was revolutionary stuff in the mid-1600s and 1700s!

The Interesting Accomplishment Of Hannah Callowhill Penn

Hannah Callowhill, born in 1671, was the second wife of Pennsylvania founder and proprietor William Penn. “Proprietor” means he owned the colony. And he could run it as he saw fit.

When William Penn died in 1718, his will gave control of the colony not to his son but to his widow. Though a son from Penn’s first marriage fought the will, he lost in court, and Hannah Callowhill Penn controlled Pennsylvania for six years, until her death. Although she did so through a deputy. Still, she lives on in the history books, as the only woman to control a British proprietary colony for so long.

Enantuma The Builder

Enantuma, the daughter of King Ishme-Dagan, was the high-priestess of Ur. Known as the entu, this position was often filled by the king's daughter. What makes Enantuma special is her role as a builder: she is the only woman known to have authorized a major building project at Ur. Enantuma authorized the building of the Giparu, or “cloister” as it has been translated, south of the major ziggurat.

"Cloister" is a small word. It doesn't convey how important the Giparu was. Not only did the Giparu house the residence of the high-priestess, it also housed important burial vaults, and the temple of Ningal, consort of the moon god.

Scotland Has Liked Its Whiskey For A Long Time

The first written record of Scotch Whiskey was made of June 1st, 1495. And it comes from an accountant. The Scottish Exchequer was responsible for recording royal income and expenditure in Scotland. The well-preserved calfskin parchment, better known as vellum, bears an entry on 1 June 1495 that records “To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.”

The Latin term aqua vitae means ‘water of life’. In Scottish Gaelic this same phrase translates as uisge-beatha, the first word being pronounced ‘ush-kee’. English language transcriptions subsequently recorded the word as ‘whisky’.

Austria built a fully-functioning nuclear power plant for about 650 million euros, 1978. It was never turned on.

A public movement against the nuclear power plant started, culminating in a national referendum in which 50.47% of the country voted against keeping the plant. It was dismantled in 1985, and in the end, it cost Austrians about 1 billion euros for a power plant that never produced any power.

The First English Queen Since The Norman Conquest Caused Quite A Scandal

In 1464 when Elizabeth Woodville, widow of a Baron's heir, married Edward IV, king of England, it was a bit of a crazy match. She was way below his station. Woodville's father was a mere knight. Woodville's mother was the widow of a duke before her remarriage, and related to the royal line of Luxembourg, but in that day and age importance came through the male line, not the female line.
Elizabeth Woodville was also a non-virgin, with two sons from her previous marriage. Royal consort's virginity was greatly prized at a time when there was no real way to check the paternity of a child. Although as Edward IV pointed out, her two sons did show that Woodville was fertile. That's something you can't know for certain with a virgin bride.
Their marriage was secret, and the ceremony announced only after the fact -- after a couple months, too. That's very different from the usual royal marriage ceremonies, involving lots of preparations and lots of tax money. To make it even more scandalous, this was not necessarily Edward IV's first secret marriage. He already had at least one child from a previous relationship, who may have been considered legitimate because the child was raised by Edward IV's mother. Unfortunately, the child's mother is unknown and there is no record of a true marriage. But that previous secret marriage was widely believed to have happened. If it did, and the woman still lived, Edward IV could have been a bigamist. Making his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville invalid.
The icing on the cake, if the cake is anti-Woodville, was that Elizabeth Woodville was five years older than her husband! When they married the young king was 22, and Woodville was 27. Quel scandale!

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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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