History Facts

In the Ottoman Empire, condemned high government officials had the right to have a foot race for their lives.

The Ottoman Empire was one of the longest lasting empires in history. It spanned the years between 1299 to 1922 and through its duration covered much of south eastern Europe and parts of northern Africa.


If the official was high up enough in the government, he could challenge the head gardener (his executioner) to a foot race for his life. To this date, its exact origins remain unknown. When the death sentence was passed, the condemned man would be legally allowed to run as fast possible from the palace, through the gardens, and down to the Fish Market Gate on the southern side of the palace complex (the place of execution). The run was about 300 yards. If he had reached the Fish Market Gate before the gardener, he would be banished instead of executed. Interestingly, this custom lasted well into the 19th century.



The Library of Alexandria held nearly all the knowledge in the ancient world, but did you ever wonder how they got all of it?

The Library of Alexandria is, even to this day, one of the most well-known libraries in the world. It's most famous for having been burned down, resulting in the loss of nearly all the world's knowledge at the time.

How did they acquire so much of this knowledge? One way was through incoming ships. Any books that were found were copied onto scrolls. The original manuscript was then kept in the library, and the scroll given to the owner!

Just how much was lost during the fire? Historians say it's impossible to tell, since no documentation from the library has survived. However, some estimate that more than 500,000 scrolls were lost forever to history.


A strange woman showed up in a strange boat on a Japanese shore in 1803. Some believe she may have been an alien!

Folklore rarely recounts anything that really happened, but when a story is told through three different texts, it's hard to dispute some fantastical, mysterious events. Such is the case with the "Utsuro-bune" that showed up in Japan in 1803. The tale provides more questions than answers.

According to the legend, a hollow ship reached the shores in the Hitatchi province with a beautiful young woman inside, along with many texts written in an unknown language. The woman had red hair and eyebrows and was elongated by artificial white extensions, which could have been made by white fur or white-powdered textile streaks. The mentioned hairstyle could never be found in any literature.

The woman was friendly, though off, and held onto a quadratic box made of a pale material that nobody was allowed to touch. She didn't speak a lick of Japanese and couldn't communicate with the fishermen that found her. Eventually the fishermen returned her to the Utsuro-bune and sent it back into the sea, since they believed it was her predetermined destiny.

Ufologists claim that this story represents solid evidence for an alien visit to the small Japanese town. Drawings depicting the woman and Utsuro-bune even have a very saucer-like appearance.


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Why did the man who assassinated President Garfield choose a revolver with an Ivory Grip?

President James Garfield was shot in Washington DC on July 2, 1881 at 9:30 AM, less than 4 months into Garfield's term as the 20th president of the US. Although he did not die immediately, he died 11 weeks later of complications resulting from the wound. He was the second of 4 US Presidents to be assassinated, and lived the longest after the shooter, compared to the others.

The culprit was Charles J. Guiteau or Freeport, Illinois. He practiced law in Chicago and started an unsuccessful law firm. He briefly became a preacher before he turned to politics. He wrote a speech in support of candidate Garfield. The speech was delivered at most twice, but Guiteau believed he was responsible for Garfield's victory. He demanded to be made an ambassador, but his requests were rebuffed and eventually told to never return to the Secretary of State.

Angry, he bought a gun. He had the choice between a revolver with a wooden grip or one with an ivory grip. He chose the ivory grip because he wanted it to look nice when it was eventually displayed in a museum.

He then stalked President Garfield until he had a chance one day at a railroad station. Guiteau shot Garfield in the back twice before handing himself to the authorities. He was later executed by hanging.


In 1944, a German fighter plane landed in a British airfield thinking they were in Germany! It saved 100s of British lives

On the 13th of July 1944, at 04h25 at the airfield of Woodbridge in Suffolk, England, a runway controller flashed the 'clear to land signal' to a twin-engine aircraft. He was under the impression the aircraft circling the field was a Mosquito fighter.

It was, in fact, a much unexpected visitor. This was a very important moment in World War II for Britain, but one seldom remembered. Woodbridge was an emergency landing site. No one would expect anything but a British plane to land there and therefore, when a bus was sent out to the landing strip to pick up the crew, both sides were extremely surprised! All three the crew members were German!

The poor Germans thought that they were landing at a home airbase well within Europe. They had there compass the wrong way around and was flying in the exact opposite direction than what they intended. The landing of the German JU88 aircraft saved thousands of British lives. The British could now study the radar used by the German planes and develop techniques to hone in on it.

The ju88 landing casually on a British airfield was therefore a gift that fell into Britain's lap, without a fight, and gave them the opportunity to study German electronic technology and to find ways to counter it.



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