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6 Fun, Wild, And Totally Random Facts About History I Need To Impart To You This Month

I am a huge lover of history, to the point that my friends and family find me actively annoying. (Don't ask me about the Napoleon movie.) Of course, I love the big battles, key events, yadda yadda yadda... but what I really love are the weird, juicy, funky facts that really make things messy, dramatic, and fun. I'm always compiling them; so, without further ado, here are six history facts I found that I needed to share with you in November.

1.Starting off with one of my favorite facts ever: the reason we have the Renaissance. You guys know Cicero, right? Roman statesman, philosopher, writer... the original multi-hyphenate. Well, the reason we have so many of his writings — some of the most famous Latin writings ever — is because of a guy named Petrarch, a 14th-century Italian scholar and poet. In 1345, Petrarch rediscovered copies of Cicero's lost writings.

Bust of Cicero

Petrarch's discovery led to a total reigniting of interest in Europe for the history of the classical world, which contemporary Europeans had come to view as...well, ancient history. (You know, those dark ages, before Christianity!) In the academic circles Florence, Cicero (and other Roman and Greek writers) totally took off, and thus was born the beginning of what we now call the Renaissance.

Image of Petrarch
mikroman6 / Getty Images

2.You probably remember the events of the Apollo 13 mission from somewhere in the recesses of your fourth-grade memory (or from your memory of watching the movie). If you don't know about it, here are the facts: In 1970, the Apollo 13 mission was launched from Florida with the intention of landing on the moon. But on day three of the mission, the spacecraft's oxygen tanks exploded, leaving the three astronauts on the craft with only the oxygen in the lunar module for the four days it took them to get back to earth. The fun fact comes in with one of the engineers who helped save the astronauts: Judith Love Cohen.

A rocket set for launch
Stocktrek Images / Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

Cohen was an aerospace engineer who helped create the Abort-Guidance System, which brought the astronauts home safely. When in labor with her fourth child, Judith stopped by work before going to the hospital and grabbed a printout of the problem she was working on. Later that day, she called her boss, and according to USC, "told him that she had solved the problem. And...oh, yes, the baby was born, too." That baby, you ask? Is none other than Jack Black.

Closeup of Jack Black
Samir Hussein / Samir Hussein / WireImage

3.Speaking of astronauts — or cosmonauts, as it were — I recently learned about Soviet cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who became stranded aboard the Mir space station during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Sergei Krikalev

Also, side fact: Krikalev flew on the first joint US/Russian space shuttle mission! In later years, he periodically returned from Russia to Houston to work with NASA on supporting further joint ventures.

Sergei Krikalev
Nasa / Getty Images

4.In a 2019 excavation in London, British archaeologists at the Museum of London Archaeology uncovered a Roman stylus. Now, those are common; but this one has an inscription, which translates, colloquially, to "I went to Rome and all I got you was this pen!"

Styluses

5.One of the most fraudulent elections of all time was in Liberia in 1927, when presidential candidate Charles D. B. King (great name) received 240,000 votes. The number of Liberians who could vote in 1927, you ask? ... 15,000. He's kind of a king for that, NGL (no pun intended). Just a very admirable level of delusion.

Charles D.B. King sitting for a photography portrait in a sharp linen suit and round glasses
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / ullstein bild via Getty Images

6.And, finally: Japan has Vikings, but they're not what you think.

viking ships coming up a river

If there's any dramatic/interesting/cool stuff from history that you think I would love, please, please, please drop stories in the comments! I love to learn about this stuff, and I'm sure other people do, too.