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Daily Smart Fact #21: The Brothers Grimm fairy tales included rape, cutting of limbs, and death by shoes

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Key Takeaway: The Brothers Grimm original versions of now-famous fairy tales were much darker and freaky than their current Disney counterparts. Exhibit A: Sleeping Beauty was actually raped and had a pair of twins while still in her coma.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German brothers in the early 1800s who published various books of fairy tales that were dark and violent.  The only reason I even started digging into this was because a friend of ours, at a recent barbecue, mentioned that the original Sleeping Beauty was raped multiple times while she was “asleep” and only woke up because she gave birth to twins and one of them sucked out the poisonous thorn!  After some digging around, lo and behold, this indeed was true.  Here’s some other interesting tidbits I found about the Grimm fairy tales:

  • Cinderella – The step-sisters, in desperation to fool the prince that their humongo feet are tiny and dainty like Cinderella’s, cut off parts of their feet. Straight up lops them off. What alerts the prince to their trickery?  Pigeons. Pigeons and the sisters’ bloody feet.  Oh yeah, and if that weren’t enough punishment, the pigeons peck out the sisters’ eyes. They end up spending the rest of their lives as blind beggars. Revenge is a bitch. (from National Geographic)
  • Snow White – In the original tale, the Queen actually asks for Snow White’s liver, heart, lungs, and (in some versions, intestines) because she wants to EAT them for dinner.  Probably with a side of fava beans and Chianti (tongue/mouth making noise Hannibal style).  Also, Snow White is supposed to be super young, like 10 years old.  So unless the prince was also 10 years old…he was one six-pack short of meeting Chris Hansen.  Also in the original, Snow White wakes up when she is jostled by the prince’s horse as he carries her back to his castle – not from a magical kiss. And in the Grimm version, the tale ends with the Queen being forced to dance to death in red hot iron shoes!
  • Rumpelstiltskin – In the version we’re familiar with, the queen guesses his name and he’s angry but honors his word and gives back the baby.  Turns out in the original version, he’s not just angry but freaking pissed to the point he stamps his feet to the ground, gets stuck, and then RIPS HIMSELF IN HALF.  Fun times.
To end on a happy note, here’s a cute sloth flying to R. Kelly’s “I believe I can fly”:

Written by Bea

June 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Posted in History

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Daily Smart Fact #20: Kim Jong Il is a crazy man, in case you didn’t know

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Key Takeaway:  Kim Jong Il is one crazy mofo and has known to do some wild and outrageous things, including claims that he is the world’s greatest golfer and that on the day of his birth, thunderstorms broke out and a brilliant double rainbow displayed across the sky.

Kim Jong Il is a crazy guy, which I’m sure is not a big surprise to you.  However, did you know how crazy?

  • He is said to wear nearly 5-inch platform shoes to increase his height, which is normally about 5′ 3″.
  • He has told his people that he invented the hamburger
  • According to “state-sponsored statements,” Kim’s birth on Mount Paektu was accompanied by “flashes of light and thunder, the iceberg in the pond of Mount Paektu emitted a mysterious sound as it broke, and bright double rainbows rose up.”
  • He is known to have recruited “young girls of junior high school age to take part in ‘Joy Brigades'” to help him and his officials relax.
  • Kim is the greatest golfer in the history of existence. He routinely finishes 38 under par, and he averages four or five holes-in-ones per game.
  • According to a book written by one of Kim Jong Il’s ex-staff members, he was once injured by falling off his horse when it slipped on loose rocks. He was afraid of becoming addicted to the painkillers that his doctors prescribed him, so he had members of his administrative staff injected daily with the same dosages he had to take.
  • In preparation for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989, Kim Jong Il had disabled residents removed from Pyongyang. The government also distributed pamphlets advertising a wonder drug that would increase the height of short people. Those who responded to the pamphlets were sent away to different uninhabited islands along with the disabled in an attempt to rid the next generation of their supposedly substandard genes.
Whew! Puts my bouts of craziness into context. 🙂

Sources: Time, listverse, World Tribune

Written by Bea

June 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Posted in History

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Daily Smart Fact #13: Just because you’re a feudal lord doesn’t mean you can have sex with brides on their wedding night

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Key Takeaway: There is very little evidence that Prima Nocta, the ancient privilege of the lord of the manor to share the wedding bed with his peasants’ brides, was ever instituted during the medieval era.

I love the movie Braveheart – when Mel Gibson cries out “Freeeeeedom” at the very end, it makes me tear up every single time.  There’s a scene in Braveheart in which English lords crash a Scottish peasant wedding and the feudal lord declares his right to exercise Prima Nocta, essentially to have sex with the bride on her wedding night.  In fact, that is the main reason why Mel Gibson’s character (William Wallace) marries his childhood sweetheart in secret – so he wouldn’t have to share her with an English lord.

Anywho, two of our friends are getting married this weekend and my husband will be playing the role of emcee.  He’s been joking and threatening that he’ll begin with the Prima Nocta speech from Braveheart…”I declare my right to exercise Prima Nocta” (in a loud, drawn out, nasally voice).  Anyway, this got me curious on the subject.  To my surprise, it turns out Prima Nocta is probably a myth.

From Suite101 (a review detailing the inaccuracies of the movie Braveheart):

Prima Nocte (First Night) is a myth that during the Middle Ages, local lords could force a new bride to have sex with them on her wedding night. Quite aside from the potential for justifiable revolt every time a lord did this, it was flagrantly adulterous in the eyes of the Church and a good way to die in a state of mortal sin with your angry wife’s knife in your back. In other words, it never happened. While rape, murder and all sorts of pillaging certainly occurred during the English invasion of Scotland, Prima Nocte did not.

According to Straight Dope:

Yet detailed examinations of the available records by reputable historians have found “no evidence of its existence in law books, charters, decretals, trials, or glossaries,” one scholar notes. No woman ever commented on the practice, unfavorably or otherwise, and no account ever identifies any female victim by name.

So sorry husband, looks like you can’t bring up Prima Nocta this weekend…oh yeah, and its probably inappropriate just in general.

Written by Bea

May 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Daily Smart Fact #3: Only 2 of King Henry’s 6 Wives were Executed

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Key Takeaway: King Henry the VIII had 6 wives and he only executed 2 of them (Anne Boleyn & Kathryn Howard).  3 of them were named Katherine (with different spellings) and 2 of them were named Anne.

I was very close to becoming a history major in college because I enjoy all types of history – ancient Greek history, Tudor history, early American history.  I’ve continued my interest with my current read of Alison Weir’s book “The Six Wives of Henry VIII.”  Its common knowledge that Henry the VIII had 6 wives and that he founded the Church of England just so he could divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  But did you know that he only had TWO of his 6 wives executed?  Maybe its just me, but I had always thought he had like 4 or 5 of his wives beheaded, not only 2.  Here’s the rundown:

  1. Catherine of Aragon – Divorced/Annulled; she lived to the ripe old age of 51 (for more of her life history, I highly recommend reading Alison Weirs’ book – her life story is quite sad).  Originally betrothed and married to Henry’s older brother, she became Henry’s wife after his brother died.
  2. Anne Boleyn – Beheaded and famously played by the Black Swan herself, Natalie Portman in “The Other Boleyn Girl.”  Anne was married to Henry for about 3.5 years before her execution in 1536.
  3. Jane Seymour – “Natural Death” (she shortly died after giving birth to Henry’s heir – Edward).  Considered by Henry as his first “true wife”, Jane Seymour died 2 weeks after giving birth and having been married for a little over a year.
  4. Anne of Cleves – Divorced after 7 months of marriage (man, that Henry was fickle)
  5. Kathryn Howard – Executed for her accused adultery (she was only 21) and Anne Boleyn’s cousin.  She was 19 when she married Henry, who was a fat 49 year old at this point.
  6. Katherine Parr – Widowed; secretly married Thomas Seymour only months after Henry’s death. Take that, you womanizing fat king!
To learn more, visit tudorhistory.org.

Written by Bea

May 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Posted in History

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