marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

The ancient Chinese sage Yu put the shapes of demons on tripods, so that people could know to avoid them.

In the 17th century, the largest source of revenue for the tsar's treasury was the sale of furs to foreigners.

Country and region differences during the World War II era meant that clothes for British spies had to be specially made to look appropriate, starting with buying clothes from refugees. Then they hired refugees to make them, which then had to be "aged" them because new clothes would stick out.

The tsars of Russia considered only hereditary and absolute rulers -- themselves and the sultans of Turkey -- to be real monarchs. Others were "on commission." Ivan IV wrote scornful to Queen Elizabeth that he had taken her for one, but there are men -- even merchants -- who rule beside her.

Skeletons were said to appear in the dreams of Chinese rulers, to demand proper burial after they went unburied, or had their graves disturbed.

Mary Queen of Scots' embroidery was scrutinized heavily during her imprisonment, for encrypted messages.

The first police force in Russia had the ostensible purpose of protecting widows and orphans, and the actual one of being secret police.

It was kapu -- forbidden -- for a Hawaiian commoner's shadow to cross that of a Hawaiian royal.

Sultans had to add lands by conquests on their ascension, to make their claim completely legitimate.

Alexander III wanted to put on a trial the Minister of Transport after a railroad accident in which he nearly died. He was talked out of it on the grounds that having been in the post for fourteen years, a trial would show that he had enjoyed the undeserved confidence of the Tsar for that time.

During the English Civil War, there was a claim -- spread about by pamphlets -- that Cavaliers had sent a witch to spy on Roundheads, and she died only because, after many bullets had killed her horse and not harmed her, one soldier thought to take careful enough aim, as a witch could be killed through the eye.

During the famine of 1921 of the USSR, the mass of vagabond children, already large, was massively increased by relatives taking over the land of the dead parents and chasing the orphans off.

In medieval times, French kings had to swear not to alienate any part of the royal domains; the only lands they could dispose of were conquered ones. Then, they added that this lasted only ten years: after that, conquered lands were also domains and could not be alienated. That is, the king no longer had absolute dominion over them.

During the English Civil War, the Roundheads paid their "intelligencers" badly and irregularly; they thought large sums would encourage them to make up things.

Radicalism just before the Russian Revolution was so associated with intellectualism that mob violence made it dangerous to wear eyeglasses.

The hippies were so prone to travel, and so helpless at it, that Iran and Afghanistan both upped their requirements for how much cash you had to enter the country, in hopes they could pay for their stuff.

Men who became immortal, according to Chinese lore, cast no shadows. Some accounts say they are transparent, others that they had light within.

A Russian law forbade the upper class Russians, who served the tsar in office, to escape that service by bonding themselves as slaves.

The pre-World War I French Army persecuted Catholics in the officer ranks. Senior officers were ordered to report men who went to Mass. Petain, then a Colonel, is reported to have retorted that since he sat in the first pew, he could hardly be expected to notice who sat behind him.

Early modern spying had the problem that it wasn't regarded as a job, so that the boss could switch, and the spy kept on spying. Rather, it was more likely a patron/client relationship between the spy and the spymaster. Countries were always having to rebuild spy rings as a consequence.

In Russian, the term mir means the peasant commune, the world, and peace.

Corned beef went into industrial production during the 19th century in Ireland. It was exported to the Caribbean, where it was eaten by both colonists and slaves -- but it was far too expensive for the Irish peasantry.

Russian peasants who were delegates to the first Duma were prone to getting drunk and then brawling, and claiming personal inviolability as delegates. One elderly woman, a tavern-owner, thrashed one of them, yelling that he was violable to her.

Despite all the difficulties of transport in 17th century Europe, one of the biggest contributors to the increase in price with distance was tolls. Since water transport was so much better, it could be as much as three-quarters of the increase.

The Russian term "tsar" was first applied to the Byzantine emperors, and then to the Mongol khan, and only after that to the Muscovite king.

Cleveland Bays were so valued as coach horses in the early 19th century that they were exported from England to as far as Poland.

When the Communists broke into the coffins said to hold the incorruptible bodies of saints, they found dummies or skeletons. Russians peasants took this as the miraculous removal of the relics and the substitution of rags and things as mockery of the unbelievers.
Tags: historical tidbits

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