ElMehdi El Azhary

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this monarch sired the highest number of progeny ever recorded in history

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Sultan Ismail of Morocco’s harem—Pinterest

Moulay Ismail was born in Sijilmassa, Morocco, around 1645. He was the second ruler of the Alaouite Dynasty, the royal house still ruling Morocco to date. Seventh of fifteen sons, he was governor of the Kingdom of Fez and the north of Morocco from 1667 up until his half-brother’s death in 1672.

He was infamously ruthless, his reign supposedly began with the display of 400 rebel heads on the walls of Fez, as he was contending to the throne against his nephew before being proclaimed Sultan at Fez in 1687 to begin a rule that would last 55 years, the longest of any Sultan in Morocco. …


The one about French writer Victor Hugo is the best tidbit of knowledge I know

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Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

History is filled with weird, unexplainable, and even unbelievable stories. Not all historical events make it to the headlines, some are swept under the rug to make room for the bigger ones. Yet, it is important to know not just the big names and events of history but also the little details that give much more context about a specific era or period.

These tidbits of history can be anything: shocking facts to make us rethink conventional wisdom, funny anecdotes that could have made history class a bit more interesting, or even gruesome happenings that have shocked the world yet have somehow been forgotten. By the end of it, we will find out that our generation is perhaps not the weirdest (nor the scariest) in history. …


The transformation of sex from the ancient world to the current era

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Fresco panel depicting Dionysos and Ariadne—Poet’s Life

Human anatomy has not changed since the cavemen ancestors walked the surface of the earth. Sex has always been the same, our bodies haven’t changed a bit.

What changed is our knowledge about sex. Orientation, sexual freedom, sexual power, the institution of marriage, contraception, etc.

All these newfound notions and concepts gave us a new understanding of sex. One that is entirely different from the one seen throughout history.

Ancient Societies

1000 B.C. Ancient Greece was a patriarchal world, truly. Men owned all property and mean of production. They dominated women sexually and personally. …


If you think the Egyptian pyramids are the biggest mystery of the ancient world, read this.

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The bog bodies of Northern Europe—The Atlantic

Whenever I engage in a conversation about history, I always make a point to explain that the information I give is never the full truth, no matter how shiny the sources I bring up are.

That is because there are so many things that we aren’t yet able to fully comprehend, and perhaps never will, throughout our shared human history.

Ancient scrolls containing devilish secrets, tombs filled with treasures, bizarre signs drawn in remote areas. All of these things make for a fertile land where to plant the seeds of multiple conspiracy theories.

The fact is, we don’t understand most of these things and have absolutely no idea about their history and reason to be. Let’s take a look at some of the eeriest unsolved mysteries from around the globe. …


One of the longest and most brutal fights for human decency

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Anti-Apartheid protest—BBC

The Apartheid government was established in 1948. At its crux, it was very simple, a minority of Dutch descendants subjugated the black majority of the country through legalizing and enforcing a specific racial ideology.

Following this ideology, South-Africans were segregated into four distinct categories: white, African, colored (multiracial), and Indian.

It took decades of activism inside and outside the country and international economic pressure to free the country from the Apartheid regime.

It was hard-won, a long fight for freedom and justice. In 1994, the old regime was completely dismantled. …


The story of a country that lasted 25 days

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Mexican-American War—History

It was at the dawn of the 14th of June 1846 that the story of the Republic of California started.

On the outskirts of Sonoma, a small town in what was then the Mexican territory of Alta California, a disheveled and diverse group of thirty gun-toting Americans were preparing to take the town by force.

Col. Mariano Vallejo of the Mexican army ended up surrendering, making California an independent country until the United States decided it wanted in.

Known as the Bear Flag report, in reference to the republic’s flag, it would last for only 25 days and would see very minimal fighting. …


And how they could have socially and economically saved the world

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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

I’ll start off by asking a few questions to reflect upon: what does it truly mean to develop leadership qualities? And could we ever define with confidence the role of a leader?

The 2020 global pandemic has taught us all a powerful lesson: a critical skill for any leader is the ability to determine which kind of thinking is required for a given situation. Otherwise, they will be analyzing scientific data when what’s really needed is a values-informed judgment, and vice-versa.

These mistakes are actually quite common and stem from the simple fact that different human efforts require different kinds of knowledge. These are not novel discoveries, nor are they my claims. …


And a much-sophisticated one at that

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Locusta of Gaul—Ancient Origins

Since the dawn of time, and long before the happenings of ancient societies started being recorded, crime was prevalent. The first recorded wave of crime dates back to 331 B.C. Rome, involving a group of 170 women who used the plague as a cover to poison Roman men.

Surprisingly, or not, the first serial killer in history is also a woman by the name of Locusta. So, who was Locusta of Gaul and how did she become the first serial killer of history?

Beginnings of a plant aficionado

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Locusta was born in the first century A.D. in one of the outer provinces of Rome called Gaul, in what is now current France. Her early years in the countryside gave her the chance to learn quite a lot about herbal lore and all the plants around her. …


The one about vending machines blew my mind

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Brewminate

Some of history’s most famous firsts actually occurred way before we thought. Perhaps it is because the first itself is so ahead of its time that the collective memory refuses to admit it happened so long ago, or because history books prefer to promote the most attractive story regardless of its accuracy.

Out of all the ones I came across, here are the most shocking firsts I know about and when they happened:

The first photograph — 1826

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First photophraph taken by Niépce—Metro

The oldest permanent photograph in existence was taken by French photography pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a panoramic view of his Burgundy estate. …


Do not look behind you!

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Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

As a history buff, I already find normal history brutal and barbaric enough with all its wars, plagues, exterminations, and the other million terrible things that have happened in the past.

Yet, there are some stories that find a way to be even more terrifying and awful, taking a shape of their own, and growing with time. Some of these events can only be compared to the plots of horror TV shows and Halloween movies, but they’re very real.

The Winchester house

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The Winchester Mystery House—CNN

Mansions always make the perfect setting for a good horror movie; old motel rooms and three-room shacks are just too mainstream. …

About

ElMehdi El Azhary

Storyteller. Mental health activist. History buff. This is your daily dose of unconventional writing. elmehdielazhary4@gmail.com

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