90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 R-Rated History Facts You Won’t Learn In School

Sunday, March 4, 2018

10 R-Rated History Facts You Won’t Learn In School

Let’s face it—schools could do a much better job of making history fascinating for students. Teachers seem obsessed with getting us to remember dates of wars and reigns and often forego the juicy bits that make history so much more captivating. Admittedly, it’s hard to include all the sex, violence, and debauchery in a school curriculum, but a bit of salaciousness does wonders to kindle one’s interest.

10James Cook Was Mistaken For A Sex God

British navigator James Cook became famous for his voyages where he explored regions barely known to Europeans, such as Australia and New Zealand. During his third voyage between 1776 and 1779, Cook explored the islands in the Pacific. It was here that Cook met his demise at the hands of Hawaiian natives, and it might have had something to do with him being mistaken for Lono, god of fertility.Cook’s first contact with the natives in 1778 was friendly. They traded with each other and exchanged gifts. After establishing a successful relationship, Cook continued exploring the archipelago. He returned to Hawaii in 1779 to winter in Kealakekua Bay. However, he happened to arrive during Makahiki, a festival in honor of Lono, and many Hawaiian priests took it as a sign that Cook was actually the god returned from his travels. At first, this was a stroke of fortune. Cook was paraded from village to village where he was met with gifts, supplies, and sacrifices. However, the Hawaiians soon became concerned with the Europeans’ disregard for their culture. The relationship worsened when Cook and his men began using wooden idols of Lono as firewood.Due to a cultural misunderstanding, natives tried to take goods from the Europeans on several occasions. Eventually, Cook’s men began retaliating with gunfire, which led to several extended conflicts. As a final gamble to end hostilities, Cook kidnapped the king of the island, King Kalani’opu’u, but was beaten to death on his way back to the ship (shown in the painting above).

9The October Revolution Led To A Massive Drinking Binge

The October Revolution of 1917 officially ended the Tsarist regime and shifted power to the Bolsheviks. The defining moment of this insurrection was the assault on the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, the official residence of the monarch. It was almost a bloodless affair. The palace was mostly guarded by cadets and female soldiers who surrendered to a superior force with superior firepower. A few years later, Lenin staged “The Storming of the Winter Palace,” a reenactment witnessed by 100,000 people which portrayed the Bolsheviks in a much more heroic light and became the official story. It also omitted the fact that after seizing the palace, the Bolsheviks got completely stinking drunk.While exploring the palace, the revolutionaries stumbled upon the Tsar’s secret stash—the largest wine cellar in the world. This discovery sunk most of the city into a drunken stupor for days on end. Any efforts from the few sober Bolsheviks to try and contain the situation were completely in vain. They barricaded the cellar, but the thirsty mob knocked down the wall. They poured the wine down the drain, but crowds of people simply gathered at the other end, drinking straight out of the drainpipes. People even died in the freezing waters of the Neva trying to recover crates that were thrown into the river. It wasn’t until the new year that the city finally restored some semblance of order.

8The Ballet Of Chestnuts

The House of Borgia is well-known for the power it attained in Renaissance Italy and all the crimes, depravity, and debauchery that came along with it. Arguably the most influential member of the family was Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI. His papacy was fraught with controversy due mainly to his many illegitimate children by several mistresses.One of those children was Cesare Borgia who, with the help of his father, became a cardinal. On October 30, 1501, Cesare allegedly staged what was probably the most depraved party ever held at the Papal Palace—the Ballet of the Chestnuts. Along with nobles, clergymen, and everyone else you might expect at this kind of event, 50 prostitutes were invited to attend the banquet. At first, they simply danced to entertain the guests. After a while, servants covered the floor with chestnuts. The prostitutes undressed, got down on all fours and proceeded to crawl between attendees, collecting all the chestnuts. Afterward, the guests were invited to have sex with the prostitutes, and rewards were even offered for the ones who showed the most stamina. All the while, the pope and his entourage sat back and enjoyed the show. Although this kind of debauchery fits perfectly with the historical view we have of the Borgias, not everyone agrees on the chain of events. The only written source for the banquet comes from Johann Burchard, who mentioned it in Liber Notarum, his compendium on all the papal ceremonies he attended. While Burchard was a respected chronicler, he also wasn’t a friend of the Borgias. 

7Olga Of Kiev’s Revenge

Today, Saint Olga is an important figure in the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church. During the 10th century, she was the wife of Igor I, ruler of the Kievan Rus’, a federation of Slavic tribes extending over regions of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Prince Igor was killed by the Drevlians when he went to collect tribute. The Drevlians then sent word to Olga, demanding that she marry their Prince Mal.According to the Primary Chronicle (our main source of information on the Kievan Rus’), Olga embarked on a bloody journey of vengeance. She started out by burying alive the Drevlian envoy who came with the demand. Then, Olga sent word to the Drevlians that she accepted their proposal and that they should send their most distinguished men after her so that she might leave Kiev with honor. The Drevlians obliged and, when their new retinue arrived, Olga invited them to bathe in the bathhouse. She then had her men lock it up and burn them alive (shown above).Unaware of the gruesome fates of their brethren, the Drevlians prepared a feast when Olga arrived. When they were all drunk, Olga had her men slaughter everyone in attendance. The survivors offered to pay her tribute, but Olga only asked for three sparrows and three pigeons from each house. The Drevlians happily complied, but Olga took the birds and tied embers to their feet and released them. The birds returned to their homes, quickly setting the whole city on fire.

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