Historical things that blow your mind

(104 Posts)
TunipTheVegemal Thu 20-Sep-12 11:07:26

Here's mine (nicked from Cynthia Harnett in The Wool Pack)
Before the spinning wheel became widespread every single thread in every single item of clothing would have been spun by hand by a woman with a drop spindle. We'd have all been walking around with a drop spindle stuck in our girdle so we could spin with one hand at odd moments.

What minor or major facts about the past make your head spin?

fancynancypants Sun 30-Sep-12 09:06:31

That there are more people alive at this moment than have ever previously lived. Amazing.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 13:14:30

talking of outside loos - Frank Skinner said that he remembered when the council were bringing loos inside and his dad went "the toilet?! inside?! that's unhygienic!" (he said "like he thought that they were just going to put the toilet in the middle of the house or something")
and of course, in most cases, the toilet did go into a separate room.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 13:16:24

Bike - like that woman in Call the Midwife, who'd had 4 stillbirths because she had CPD and they'd all died in labour because she couldn't afford a c-section, and then she became pregnant after the NHS was founded, and was able to give birth to a live baby because she didn't have to pay for it.
that people were allowed to suffer and die because of poverty, and then an act of parliament saved all of those lives just by taking away the burden of paying at point of use.

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 13:26:34

How few generations you have to go back to get to what I would class as 'history' - blows my mind a bit that my great great grandparents were born in the 19c. I also struggle thinking that the people I've know as elderly all my life (grandparents) were once babies and children. Like most people on this thread I'm most fascinated by the common touch - how people lived and were.

TunipTheVegemal Mon 01-Oct-12 13:47:04

Infinity - yes, and my grandmother's grandparents died in the workhouse.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Mon 01-Oct-12 13:58:31

The poverty in living memory (specifically that of the 20s and 30s) and the attitudes of the wealthy towards the impoverished. Reading a history of mining at the moment and filled with rage.

The age that wealthy women were married off for dynastic reasons. Henry VII's mother Margaret Beaufort was married at 12 and had Henry when she was 13 (she never had another child).

The concept of those beautiful cathedrals being painted. They were all painted reds and greens and the statuary gilded. Can you imagine - they would have been the largest buildings for many miles and visible to so many - what an awe inspiring sight they must have been.

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 14:50:10

How people must have found out about stuff so slowly. A big story such as king dying must have taken n age to spread through the country. Now we know instantly when a prince or princess takes their kit off.

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 14:50:46

How people must have found out about stuff so slowly. A big story such as king dying must have taken n age to spread through the country. Now we know instantly when a prince or princess takes their kit off.

SorrelForbes Mon 01-Oct-12 14:55:19

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Now I feel old! My grandparents were born in the late 1800s! I find it incredible (why, I'm not sure) that my Great Grandfather's death certificate has the cause of death given as 'Exhaustion'. He was 36.

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 15:33:52

grin In fairness I was thinking that did make my family quite young. My eldest grandparent was born in 26, so I think it's a fair assumption that her parents were probably born around the turn of the century. So it may be that my grandparents parents were born in the 19C too.
But shock at dying at 36! Just shows, now having your first child at 36 is of no comment.

Trills Mon 01-Oct-12 15:50:38

<mind blown>

Weren't all the lovely white classy Greek statues actually painted in gaudy colours too?

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Mon 01-Oct-12 15:51:39

I read a book recently and the author dedicated it to her mother who was born in the 1890s, which I thought was amazing. The author herself was born in 1933. Imagine having a mother who was a Victorian!

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 15:56:51

my grandad was born in 1910.

nickeldaisical Mon 01-Oct-12 15:58:15

DH's mum was born in 1921.

now that's a scary thought! (she's 91, DH is 51, and DD is 9 months - so only three generations in 91 years!)

Trills - yes, they were typically brightly coloured. They became the white they are today due to some paints becoming bleached out by the sun and Victorians sensibilities (make them all white and cover or blot out the bits). We can still get a bit of an idea from those buried or otherwise protected and images on Grecian urns. A lot of Egyptian stuff has been white washed as well (a lot of the busts got a wash on them to 'protect' them, but also made them a lot lighter appearing).

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 16:51:33

I worked for the NHS when it had its 60 year birthday. It was only then that I realised my MIL was only a year or so younger than the NHS! Ironically it is looking as though many people who were adults when the institution came into being, will actually outlive it.

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 16:52:56

ever looked at your drivers' licence? Mine 'expires' or whatever in 2049. I will have children in their 40s and I can't imagine what the world will be like!

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 16:53:28

just for the record,, I know they dont expire as such but need renewing etc

InfinityWelcomesCarefulDrivers Mon 01-Oct-12 16:55:31

and that even in my lifetime things have chnged so much. DH and I were watching a film we first saw what I considered fairly recently. They had a videotape, and I was laughing and sayng surely the technology had moved on. DH pointed out that we first saw the film in 2003, when, yes we had a DVD player, because DH was gadget boy and had to have the latest technology. It cost us £300 (!) and I didn't see the point of it.

Some of my grandparents were born in the 1890s. One grandfather was 14 when the Titanic sailed and he later fought in the First World War.

Why wives 3,4,5,and 6 thought it would be a good idea to marry Henry V111...

Why upper class women were essentially chattels to be traded in the marriage market, with no remorse whatsoever for marrying off a teenager to an old man and vice versa.

Why intelligent people abided by the jurisdiction of the Pope when, if you were rich and important you could have your marriage anulled by Rome on dubious grounds. If you were poor, tough titty.

Those are the kind of things I often wonder about.

monsterchild Mon 01-Oct-12 17:26:48

I find it amazing that the people who built Chaco canyon had the fortitude to watch and wait over 18 years to record the moons progress through the sky and then accurately build buildings that reflect that movement!
Of course it shouldn't be so surprising as they didn't have much to distract them, like TV our computers! Sometimes thus information makes me feel likeI'm not realizing my full potential!

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Mon 01-Oct-12 17:55:36

I remember reading that in the days of le bon ton (so 1770s 1780s) due to high gambling stakes someone ended up owing so much money to someone he agreed that his daughter could marry the man's son so the debts could be written off. Women were really commodities.

R2PeePoo Mon 01-Oct-12 18:46:23

That women couldn't own anything/control their own affairs and had no right to see their children in the case of marriage breakdown and separation until things began to change in the 19th century. For example when Millicent Fawcett had her purse stolen in the 1870's the charge against the thief was : '"stealing from the person of Millicent Fawcett a purse containing £1, 18s. 6d., the property of Henry Fawcett." The Married Women's Property Act wasn't passed until 1882/1893. After 1839 you could have custody of children under seven if you were of good character, but before that any access to your children would be controlled by your husband who could deny you access completely if he wished.

That some midwives could have astonishingly low mortality rates. Martha Ballard was a midwife in early america (died 1812) and she delivered hundreds of babies in her career (815 of which are recorded in her diary) but lost only 20 or so babies and five mothers.

alemci Mon 01-Oct-12 19:05:07

How everyone would know your business and how you couldn't just go to another town to live in the way we would today. probably fine if you were rich. The way you would have no rights and anyone could accuse you of say being a witch and then you could be dragged off to prison etc

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