Did you give school history lessons your undivided attention? Even if you did, youre probably none the wiser as to how exactly Henry II of France came to have a two-foot splinter in his head or why Alexandra of Bavaria believed she had swallowed a piano. Or where terms like bunkum, maverick, John Bull and taking the mickey come from; or how the Tsarina of Russia once saved a life with a comma; or why Robert Pate hit Queen Victoria on the head with a walking stick. For some unknown reason the most interesting bits of history are kept out of lessons and away from syllabuses. Relegated to historys footnotes, they lie buried beneath the dense text like a few golden nuggets in a mountain of granite. Now The Interesting Bits rights this wrong; it is a veritable treasure trove of those surprising, eccentric, chaotic, baffling asides that dont fit neatly into historys official narrative. They are historys little-known treasures the gems that generations of teachers have excised from lessons on the grounds that they might make history too much like, well, fun.
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