Who Invented the Cat Flap and Other Useless Historical Facts

In 1739 the first segregated toilets for men and women were recorded at a ball in central Paris. In that same country and in that same year, a cow was brought to court on charges of murder, was convicted and executed. This being the last animal trial on record that we know of….

King Louis the 15th – the lascivious 17th century King of France – took Madame Montespan as his mistress. Her husband was so outraged he threatened to visit the worst brothels in Paris have himself infected with the nastiest of poxes and pass these on to the King via the most obvious route. Louis quickly had the silly man arrested and exiled.

In 1652 a scholar named Sir Thomas Urquhart claimed to have been able to trace his ancestry back via Noah of the Ark to the lump of clay from which God formed Adam. Not everyone believed him…

In 1683 a French explorer claimed the area around the Mississippi as belonging to France’s King Louis – the area known today as Louisiana. Quite ungratefully King Louis wrote “I am convinced that this discovery is very useless, and that such enterprises ought to be discouraged in the future…”

Sir Isaac Newton (of the apple and gravity fame) was said to have much more importantly invented the Cat Flap because his bloody cat kept pestering him to open the door whilst he was studying light and prisms.

In 1795 the Prince of Wales, later King George of England, married Caroline of Brunswick having never met her before. She was purportedly fat, homely and, having an aversion to personal hygiene; stank. Needless to say, the couple soon separated.

Napoléon Bonaparte by Andrea Appiani (1754&nda...

On the other hand, when the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo he was rather appalled to find amongst Napoleon’s personal effects, a hastily scrawled note addressed to his wife Josephine in Paris. It said simply “Back in three days. Don’t wash.”

Josephine was renowned for her black and rotten teeth (too much sucking sugar cane as a child in Martinique)

Piccadilly Circus in London is named after an area where merchants sold Piccadills– a stylish new starched collar or ruff imported from France in the early 1600’s. The dyes in them were not colour-fast and nor was the starch used so these two factors contributed to the building of covered malls for shopping. Business could then be conducted indoors out of the rain.

Up until this time vendors of all types plied their trade indoors in places like St Paul’s cathedral which was a hubbub of humanity. People lit fires to keep warm whilst loudly advertising their wares, drunks shouted and peed in corners, lawyers offered legal advice, and carpenters hammered amidst the smoky cacophony.

Sodomy was far more widely accepted in Shakespeare’s London than female heterosexual promiscuity.  The latter produced illegitimate births which over-burdened the poor rolls. Sodomy did not.

During the 1600’s in Shakespeare’s time, some 12,000 new words entered the English language. Expressions such as “breathing one’s last”, “backing a horse”, “the most unkindest cut of all” , “in one fell swoop”, “vanish into thin air”, “play fast and loose”, “be in the pickle”, “budge an inch”, “the milk of human kindness”,“more sinned against than sinning”, “flesh and blood”, “blinking idiot”, “with bated breath”, “foregone conclusion” were all coined by Shakespeare.  He introduced over 2,000 new words still in use today.  Obscenity and profanities were subject to huge fines so they largely disappeared from public in this era. The occasional “a pox on’t” was about as rude as Shakespeare could get.

In 1749 the great French poet Voltaire offered his opinion on Shakespeare’s Hamlet calling it “vulgar, vile and the work of a drunken savage.”

In 1110 the Byzantine Emperor presented King Henry the 1st of England with a gift of the prepuce or foreskin of Christ.

In 1649 King Charles II of England ordered Oliver Cromwell’s head to be cut off, boiled,  and stuck on a pole on top of Westminster Hall where it remained for 30 years!

In 1825 in London the first mermaid was exhibited live at a fair. It turned out to consist of the dried head and body of a monkey… and the tail of a fish sewn together.

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