marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

The king of Bantam, hearing of the English merchants celebrating Ascension Day (of Queen Elizabeth) with revelry, commended them for holding their prince in such reverence from so far away.

The Portuguese learned to sail about Africa by sailing far out into the Atlantic and then south, because sticking near the coast was to fight the prevailing winds.

The inhabitants of Iceland are heavily of Irish descent in the female line.

In the third century, Ulpian, a Roman jurist, declared that a book was a scroll. Reluctantly, he admitted that the codex form was also a book, if not a proper one. This was the typical pagan view, going by the scarcity of pagan codices. Meanwhile, Christians went bonkers for codex form, especially for the works they valued most highly.

Bread, even if kosher, that is made only by Gentiles, is pas paltar and acceptable for kosher eating only if it was made by a commercial bakery, and there is no pas Yisroel, bread made with the participation of an observant Jew, is available. Pas Baal Habayis -- bread of the master of the household, made by a Gentile for his family's use -- is not allowed. This is to discourage intermarriage. Being made by a Gentile is also forbidden for food fit for a king, resulting in much debate about whether it's the king's dinner or any meal of a king, and because it changes over time.

Pope Gregory VII wrote to the king of Denmark rebuking him for executing women as witches when there were poor harvests. Poor harvests were divine punishments, not the consequence of witchcraft.

The Korean pronoun gwain was reserved for a king. It meant, at its root, "one who is not virtuous enough" -- that is the king was modestly declaring he still need to attain more virtue.

In classical times, writers often cynically portrayed Danae as having been bought by gold; in medieval times, she (often depicted in a tower rather than a dungeon) was portrayed as an exemplar of modesty and chastity, impregnated by the sun.

The boroughs in Britain had differing qualifications to vote. The widest was "pot walloper" -- any man who could boil a pot, that is, had his own hearth, in the town.

Roman slaves were often threatened with being sent to the gristmill. The wheat had to be ground by hand, they provided the muscle, and the particulate matter damaged the lungs. It was a slow death sentence.

The Irish, referring to the Viking raids, talked of "white foreigners" (Norwegians) and "black foreigners" (Danes) and what they meant by this is a topic of great debate.

One demand of the French Revolution was the "bread of equality" -- a quarter rye, and the rest whole wheat, because of the serious shortage of bread.

Trying to sail around South America from the west to the east was considered tantamount to suicide before steam.

Lingering on thresholds was said to expose a person to the danger of being possessed by a jinn. Particularly dangerous were pouring water over it, or beating a child on the threshold.

Under Diocletian, the coloni, the main class of Roman tenants were legally forbidden to leave the estates where they were renting, in an attempt to ensure their landlords could pay their taxes. This was not a major change, because it had been very difficult for them to leave before.

Telegraph companies took great pains to be polite to the tribes when they ran the wires through their lands, hiring the workers from the tribe, because of the great vulnerability to sabotage. It worked. The tribes would avoid even accidentally damaging the wires during their own wars.

Annona was the Roman goddess of the grain supply to the city of Rome.

Viking strongholds in Ireland made raids easier, but facilitated Irish counter-raids as well.

One topic of great discussion in Islam was whether all the prophets were human or whether there were jinn prophets as well.

Japanese soldiers were delivered to Guadalcanal mostly by destroyer, in what Americans called the "Tokyo Express" and the Japanese "Rat Transportation." This was because Henderson Field meant that the Japanese controlled the seas by night but were desperately vulnerable to air attacks by day. Speed was all important.

Among the other duties of the Vestal Virgins was to prepare the mola salsa -- salted flour -- that was used in every sacrifice.

In medieval times, an Arabic magical talisman would be written with each of the letters separated, not joined. This allowed them to operate their magical powers individually.

In classical times, it was worth going over the Isthmus of Corinth to avoid going about the Peloponnese by ship.

About 1000 AD, the silver mines in the Islamic regions stopped producing silver, and their rulers stopped issuing silver coins. The resulting "silver famine" resounded from China to western Europe.

There was a widespread belief in England during the 19th century that contagion was as much a superstition as witchcraft, and would fall before the advance of science.

It was common in the modern era for slaves in West Africa to buy other slaves rather than purchase their own freedom, for better security in their old age.

The Stamford oath bound Oxford and Cambridge graduates for many years, to lecture nowhere but those universities. It was enforced for centuries, preventing other universities from opening.

Despite their extensive maritime dealings, both the Romans and the Greeks tended to treat the sea as a sacred realm that ships profane.

Hélène Jégado, a French serial poisoner, confessed to all the deaths she had been suspected of causing before her execution, except for three which she blamed on another woman, whom, she said, had taught her poisoning. It was a lie, she was just trying to commit one last murder.

Roman citizens and Roman subjects had different rituals for the worship of the emperor.
Tags: historical tidbits

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