marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

One problem with getting the women into the work force early in the Soviet Union was that the efforts that way denigrated housework to such an extent that women couldn't hire any help.

Venice always had to import food. The first trade goods it used for that purpose were, indeed, technically spices: it was the salt trade.

The French Foreign Legion actually was designed to hold -- and channel -- the foreign riffraff that were, at the time, flooding the country and being noticably on the violent and criminal side.

The one and only time Jane Austen's name appeared in print in her lifetime was in the 35-page list of subscribers to Fanny Burley's Camilla.

A queen arrived in Flanders after the Black Death, where the population decrease had raised wages, and the people were showing their new wealth in finer clothes. (Also, laws had been passed against raising wages, so one evasion was to give your servants your castoffs.) She complained that there were more queens in Flanders than in all the rest of Europe.

When the ancestors of the Maori arrived in New Zealand they found plentiful very stupid and flightless birds. Abandoning their chickens, they turned to hunting such beasts as the moa -- so enormous they could eat the drumsticks only and abandon the rest -- and then working their way through the rest of the birds, drove them into extinction. Resulting in hunger and even cannibalism. They probably shouldn't have abandoned their chickens.

In the fifteenth century, having your confinement chamber hung in green was the preogative of queens and princesses of France. Not even countesses could have such a chamber.

In ancient Mesopatomia, the temples were into money-lending. The records would state that the man had borrowed money from the god Whatshisname, and would pay the interest the god Whathisname prescribed.

Attila the Hun was besieging one city for a long time -- when, one day, he saw that its storks were flying off. He knew an omen when he saw one. It did not last another day.

Late medieval precedence could get into an elaborate game of courtesy. The queen, who has the right to have her hand kissed, hides it from the duke, but he waits, and waits, and pounces as soon as she has forgotten, and gives her her due. The Burgandian court had rules about which ladies were to walk about the court holding hands, and even which one had to take the iniative. The panetier and cupbearer outrank the cook and meatcarver because bread and wine are used in the sacrament.

We have a fair amount of clothing from the Ottoman Empire. An overwhelming majority of it was worn by the Sultan.

Louis Napoleon went to great efforts to widen and straighten the streets of Paris, whose twisted state had long been useful for barricades. Alas, this may have meant its capture in the Franco-Prussian wars; before the straightening, Paris had held out for months against some sieges.

The early Soviet Union was big on pressing such reforms as divorce on the Moslem regions, on the theory that since they didn't have a proletariate, the women would serve as a substitute one. What they got was men divorcing their older wives, and abandoning them without a means of support.

The silver fork novelists thought that Emma was an inferior piece of Jane Austen's work because it lacked high-born characters to elevate the tone. Like, say, Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice.

In medieval eras, when the church bells were the only means of transmitting information over a large area, everyone knew the bells by name and could name them by their tone.

The emperor Theophilus got the mints to produce a lot more copper coins that before, with the slogan "Theophilus Augustus, you conquer!" (He was proud of his victories.) The effect was a massive increase in trade because it was a lot easier to make change.

The massive herds of bison that Lewis and Clark reported might have stemmed from the massive decrease of their chief predator -- man -- owing to the spread of smallpox, measles, etc.

A French nobleman in Genoa bowed to two women who greeted him. When his pageboy told him they had been two whores, he told the boy that he would rather salute ten whores than omit to salute one respectable woman.

The kings of Egypt and Pergamum issued notably overvalued silver coinage, and then required that they be the only legal tender. This gave them a brisk and profitable money-exchange business on the borders. The Romans kept it up after the empire conquered them. Why lose the money just because it's all rule by one country now?

During World War II, the British ambassador urged British actors in Hollywood to stay there and produce British-toned films as propaganda.

Once, Phillip the Good of Burgandy stormed off after a quarrel with his son, and got lost in the woods. When he finally returned, one of his courtiers managed to get him back to his tasks by cheerfully asking whether he was being King Arthur or Lancelot.

One Soviet theorist pointed out that a Socialist city needed fewer people than an old one because the women would be working too, the only dependents would be children.

When the British East Indian Company issued coins, they bore no sign of being from the company. Following standard practice, they were issued in the name of the Mughal emperor.

Medieval preachers about luxury in dress were excellent at producing a temporary shift in attire. Contemporary writers compared the fashionable to snails, that would pull their horns in to avoid the danger, and slowly peek out as it receded.

Austen's Sense and Sensibility was faulted for not being new when first published. The cult of sensibility had been much bigger in the previous decade, when she had conceived and wrote it.

Medieval treatments of chivalry would praise Michael and the war in Heaven as the first act of chivalry, and gravely aspire after the chivalry of Alexander the Great and the ancient Romans.

In the late Roman empire, the coins were less portraits of individual empires and more just pictures of some generic man as a token of imperial authority.

Tags: historical tidbits

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