That's A New Level Of Famous

Victor Hugo was a star in his own lifetime. To such a degree that they renamed a street in Paris for him -- while he still lived there. Such idolatry was usually reserved for those who had already died. Instead, many fans took great delight in writing letters to the author, addressed "Victor Hugo, en son avenue, Paris." So, in English: "Victor Hugo, His Avenue, Paris."


"No one in their country ever ploughs a field or touches a plough-handle. They are all without fixed abode, without hearth, or law, or settled mode of life, and keep roaming from place to place, like fugitives, accompanied by the wagons in which they live."

Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, describing the Huns when they first appeared to the Roman world in the 300s CE (Res gestae 31.2.10)

Where are Witches?

A belief in witches -- and consequently witch-hunts -- have been found in every single inhabited continent of the world, and most of the peoples who have lived on it. But belief in witches is not entirely universal: the largest witch-free area is Siberia, covering about a third of the northern hemisphere, and the ancient Egyptians were notable for their lack of belief of witchcraft and embracing magic, instead of fearing magic.

The Bixby Letter's Complicated History

The Bixby letter is a brief, consoling message sent by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1864 to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow living in Boston, Massachusetts, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War. That might sound familiar - this letter was the inspiration for the movie Saving Private Ryan. Except the letter might be a forgery.

Here's a few more facts about the Bixby Letter. Lydia Bixby, the grieving Boston widow, was likely a Confederate sympathizer. At least two of her five sons survived the war, and it is possible that a third survived as well. By deserting to the Confederate Army. Finally, the letter itself is suspicious, and may have been written by Lincoln's private secretary John Hay.

Shoemaker, late 1900s. With an unimpressed customer, an empty birdcage, and an assistant/fellow shoemaker wearing an eyepatch. I could not find much on this photograph -- so I am asking for your help! If anyone has more information, please send me a message (via "contact us" at the top or bottom of the page)

According to ancient Chinese belief, a tiger's body parts have magical powers to cure disease. Tiger bones supposedly cure weakness. Whiskers are used for toothaches. And tiger tails are used for skin diseases.  These beliefs are paying for catastrophic poaching, as tiger's body parts can be sold at high prices to a Chinese market hungry for "medicine."

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door. The door was part of a settlement of "stilt houses" which have been frequently found near lakes, and started appearing about a thousand years after agriculture and animal husbandry were first introduced to the pre-Alpine region. The solidly constructed door was likely to keep out much of the cold wind blowing across Lake Zurich. Made of poplar wood, with well-preserved hinges, the rings in the boards date the door to about 3,063 B.C.E. That might make it the oldest door in Europe!

Slightly Gruesome But Well-Preserved Mummy Found In China

She's about 700 years old. Still, she looks pretty good. Found preserved in a brown liquid, her silk and cotton dress indicates she was likely at some high-ranking level in the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Click through the images to see her like some lucky researchers can!

Caligula, the Roman emperor who was ... mentally challenged ... tried to emulate Alexander the Great by riding horseback across a bridge of boats over the Naples Bay. And he did it dressed in a breastplate Caligula had stolen from Alexander's tomb.

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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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