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Famous People

In this section, we shed light on some of the most famous and infamous people known throughout history, from powerful pharaohs, to emperors and empresses, acclaimed military leaders, or just regular civilians who’ve been thrown into the spotlight for great crimes or for heroic actions, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

Diogenes, depicted here by the French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, was a philosopher of the cynic school of Greek philosophy and many thought he was crazy, but he was super popular with the people of Athens. Source: Jean-Léon Gérôme / Public domain

Diogenes: The Crazy Greek Philosopher Plato Called ‘Socrates Gone Mad’!

Diogenes (412 BC- 323 BC) was a Greek philosopher like no other. One of the founders of the cynic philosophy, Diogenes believed that people should live simple lives that reject all natural desires...
Section of X-ray image of Vincent van Gogh self-portrait discovered at the back of another van Gogh painting housed in Edinburgh. Source: National Galleries of Scotland

Hidden Faces: Vincent van Gogh's Secret Self-Portrait

Vincent van Gogh, one of the most famous figures in 19th-century Western art history, is still surprising us. According to the National Galleries of Scotland, a previously hidden self-portrait of van...
French manuscript from 1512/1514, showing Pythagoras turning his face away from fava beans in revulsion. Source: Public Domain

Did Pythagoras’ Bizarre Fear of Fava Beans Contribute to his Death?

The ancient Ionian Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c.570-495 BC) is widely credited with many foundational mathematic and scientific discoveries. An ardent ascetic vegetarian, several myths emerged...
The Hashshashins were a military group of trained fedayeen fighters, also known as the Order of Assassins. Source: warmtail / Adobe Stock

The Notorious Hashshashins, the Original Assassins of Persia

When it comes to legends, none is quite as moviesque as that of the Hashshashins, who in the Middle Ages inspired fear in the hearts of leaders in the Middle East. Hassan-i Sabbah, dubbed the Old Man...
The landing of Columbus at the Island of Guanahaní, West Indies by John Vanderlyn, which was a success because the fake captain’s log kept the crew’s confidence up and prevented a mutiny. Source: John Vanderlyn / Public domain

The Deception of Christopher Columbus and his Secret Captain’s Log

Christopher Columbus may be among the most important (if controversial) historical figures to ever live. The legacy of his voyage had resounding impacts that reverberated all the way around the globe...
Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo – Christ with Joseph of Arimathea Source: Public Domain

Did Joseph of Arimathea Bring the Holy Grail to Britain?

According to the Biblical Gospels , Joseph of Arimathea played a key role in the days following Jesus’ death and leading up to his resurrection . It is claimed that he removed Jesus’ body from the...
Tiresias, the blind seer of Greek mythology. Source: matiasdelcarmine / Adobe Stock

Tiresias: The Blind Seer of Greek Mythology

Movies, video games, and comic books have made mythological figures like Zeus, Hercules, and Hades household names across the globe. These gods and heroes of ancient Grecian myth have carved out a...
Female pirate close up looking through trees. Representative of Anne Bonny. Source: stivog / Adobe Stock

Pirate Queens of the High Seas: Anne Bonny and Mary Read

When it comes to pirates, most people think of iconic names like Blackbeard , Calico Jack, or William Kidd . But what about female pirates? Although female pirates are less well-known, they did exist...
The Nymphaeum of Illyria at the ancient city of Apollonia, Albania fed by underground water sources, built in the middle of the 3rd century BC. It is the biggest and best-preserved Apollonia monument covering an area of 1,500 square meters or 16,146 square feet. Source: Carole Raddato / CC BY 2.0

Illustrious Post-Macedon Illyria and the Roman Illyrian Wars

The legendary and illustrious tribal kingdoms of Illyria were located in current-day Albania and Montenegro, just across the Adriatic from Italy. The Illyrian world was also an important strategic...
Charles II had a deathbed obsession with King’s Drops, which were made using powdered human skulls. Source: papi8888 / Adobe Stock

The King’s Drops: Charles II, Powdered Skulls and a Deathbed Obsession

For all of Europe’s pretentions of progress with civil democracies and human rights, the archives are filled with anything but. From the blood of Roman gladiators being sold as a remedy for epilepsy...
A group of Thuggees strangling a traveler on a highway in India in the early 19th century. Source: Public domain

Thuggees – The Cult Assassins of India

Thuggees, from the Sanskrit word meaning “concealment”, were an organized gang of professional assassins – sometimes described as the world's first mafia – who operated from the 13th to the 19th...
The medieval peasant off to work in the fields. Source: Demian / Adobe Stock

The Hard and Dirty Life of a Medieval Peasant

The daily life of a medieval peasant in England and elsewhere was extremely difficult, long, and busy. They faced endless days of manual labor working on farmland starting as early as three in the...
A statue of Alfred the Great in Winchester. Descended from a long line of kings of the Kingdom of Wessex, Alfred the Great was the son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex. Source: Tony Baggett / Adobe Stock

The Kingdom of Wessex and the Birth of England

The early history of England was characterized by instability, disorder and uncertainty. The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex was the first formation of the modern idea of England, and in its early...
Karnak temple in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Source: Calin Stan / Adobe Stock

The Ten Essential Ancient Egyptian Cities: Relics of Egypt’s Storied Past

The various civilizations which developed within ancient Egypt were some of the most technologically advanced and beautiful of their time, giving birth to some of the greatest cities the world has...
An imaginary depiction of Cerdic of Wessex from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy." Source: John Speed / Public domain

The Question of Ancient Kings: Cerdic of Wessex, First Saxon King of England?

Historians of the ancient world face a myriad of challenges when studying the past. Centuries of legends and myths become intertwined with recorded facts, leaving behind a complex web of mystery...
Segment of 18th-century illustration of Brian Boru. Source: Public domain

The Legendary Brian Boru: Ireland’s Greatest King

Brian Boru was Ireland’s greatest conqueror and the first man to unite the Emerald Isle into one realm, rising above the divisions of the squabbling Irish elite and their 150 kings. As well as...
Left, Image of the church at Wiejkowo, the proposed site of the Harold Bluetooth burial. Right; Harald Bluetooth sketch representation. Source: Left; Marek Kryda, Right; Public Domain / The First News

Harald Bluetooth’s “Probable” Burial Mound Scanned By Satellites

The lost tomb of the 10th century Viking King, Harald Bluetooth, has “probably” been identified “again.” When Old King Gorm died around 935 AD, the new Viking ruler of Denmark and Norway became...
Marble busts of Didius Julianus who bought the Roman Empire at the end of the 2nd century AD in a facial reconstruction artwork created by Daniel Voshart. Source: Daniel Voshart / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Didius Julianus, the Man Who Bought the Roman Empire

In the year 193 AD an auction took place that sent shockwaves throughout the ancient world, as buyers competed for the greatest prize of a generation, the Roman Empire. Following the murder of...
Greek hoplite in armor and with weapons and shield. Source: anibal / Adobe Stock

Soldiers of Bronze: The Greek Hoplite, the Phalanx, and the Battle that Defined Them

Hoplite comes from the Greek word “ ta hopla ,” which means “tool” or “equipment,” and was the name given to legions of citizen soldiers who were tasked with protecting their territories from outside...
Aethelred II or Aethelred the Unready sitting on his throne unaware that history would judge him to be unready for what lay ahead as the Anglo-Saxons battled the Danish Vikings. From the illuminated manuscript, The Chronicle of Abindon, circa 1220 AD. Source: The British Library / Public domain

Aethelred II: Aethelred the Unready, or Was He Just Unlucky?

Immortalized forever as an incompetent, ill-advised monarch by his epitaph, King Aethelred II has been viewed unfavorably by history. Over the last decade, historians have made moves to reinterpret...
The Urdubegis were female warriors tasked with protecting the Mughal emperor and his harem. Representational image. Source: Public domain

Urdubegis: The Forgotten Female Fighters of the Mughal Empire

When we think of the empowerment of women, we usually think about Western culture. Nevertheless, the East has had its fair share of female role models. While Islam has historically given men the role...
The Corpses of the De Witt Brothers by Jan de Baen. (Public domain)

Johan de Witt: The Failed Politician who was Cannibalized by his Opponents

Even after a successful political career, Johan de Witt has gone down in history for having suffered one of the most bizarre assassinations in history and one of the few recorded cases of cannibalism...
Robert the Bruce’s heart was found in 1921 and lost again until 1996. Now this King of Scots (Bust of Robert the Bruce at the National Wallace Monument) rests in peace, knowing his final wishes were granted. Source: Left: tussik / Adobe Stock; Right: Otter / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Long Road Taken By Robert the Bruce’s Heart

Robert the Bruce is one of the most, if not the most famous Scotsmen to have ever lived. Infamous for the 14th-century reign that saw him taking on England’s much bigger and better-equipped army and...
Queen Elizabeth II. Source: Open Government License

Queen Elizabeth II Becomes Second Longest-Reigning Monarch in History

As the United Kingdom recovers from the jubilee celebrations which took place from the 2nd to the 5th June 2022, commemorating seventy years since Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, the queen has...

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