When the British monarch opens Parliament, an MP is "held hostage" at Buckingham Castle, to ensure the monarch's safe return.
In Renaissance Florence, an official needed special permission to wear black. It was not a grand enough color to convey his honor.
Herodotus ridiculed an absurd story that Greeks told about Heracles -- that he went to Egypt, was captured for human sacrifice, and at the last moment, burst free and killed his captor. Anyone with any familiarity at all with Egypt knew they didn't practice human sacrifice.
Stendhal once came to a staging post in France that struck him with a sense of complete isolation -- and this in comparison to the steppes of Russia, which he had already seen.
Bastard children of serfs were free. They couldn't inherit things, including parents' servile status.
A Russian official reported in early 19th century Russia that even the poorest Jews had books in their homes and saw to it that their daughters could read.
China was on a silver standard in the early 20th century, when everyone else was on the gold standard. It helped insulate it from the Great Depression.
Roman legionnaires really didn't want to invade Britain. It meant crossing the Chanel, which, as everyone knew, were infested with mermaids.
Athens once invoked the Iliad in a territorial dispute. Their opponents did not dismiss it but instead argued that the Athenians had interpolated the passage they were using to cement a connection between the city and the region.