#2. Medieval Catholics Had Same-sex Unions
Brown robes, bald heads. Super fundamentally religious. You probably picture them practicing self-flagellation for the slightest dirty thought.
But it turns out that when you put an all-male group together in close quarters, away from society's prying eyes, and give them a pen, it won't be long before they start writing incredibly gay love poems.
"Dearest Joshua, this hooded monk has been thinking about your's ..."
We could spend a few hundred words trying to convince you of their unfathomable gayness, but really -- all these monks did for a living was write. Like we're gonna do a better job? Here's one of their own works, from a bishop to his young male lover:
"This flesh is now so smooth, so milky, so unblemished,
So good, so handsome, so supple, so tender.
Yet the time will come when it will become ugly and rough,
When this flesh, dear boyish flesh, will become worthless.
Therefore, while you flower, take up riper practices.
While you are in demand and able, be not slow to yield to an eager lover.
For this you will be prized, not made less of.
These words of my request, most beloved,
Are sent to you alone; do not show them to many others."
Basically the medieval version of a drunk text begging for a hookup.
But this isn't about one errant holy man seducing another secular dude. Here are two actual, practicing monks writing Skinemax quality textporn to one another. This time from an abbot to a bishop:
"I think of your love and friendship with such sweet memories, reverend bishop, that I long for that lovely time when I may be able to clutch the neck of your sweetness with the fingers of my desires. Alas, if only it were granted to me, as it was to Habakkuk, to be transported to you, how would I sink into your embraces, ... how would I cover, with tightly pressed lips, not only your eyes, ears, and mouth but also your every finger and your toes, not once but many a time."
It goes on and on. But these weren't just isolated back-abbey shenanigans: According to Yale history professor John Boswell, if two dudes wanted to hook up, the Catholic Church would straight-up bless their boning.
Bartolome Esteban Murillo
"And just as you guide your love into our hearts, God, please also guide John into Anthony."
Now, to clarify, the Church has never officially performed the full-blown sacrament of marriage between people of the same sex. These Catholic homosexual unions were what the New York Times describes as "a ritual joining two men in some kind of a solemn, personal, affectionate relationship." So it's more of a civil union kind of deal -- the same in all the ways that count, just a different name.
Here's a snippet from the official ceremony: "Send down, most kind Lord, the grace of Thy Holy Spirit upon these Thy servants, whom Thou hast found worthy to be united not by nature but by faith and a holy spirit. Grant unto them Thy grace to love each other in joy without injury or hatred all the days of their lives."
"Adam and Steve, do you have the rings?"
That's actually a really beautiful and graceful passage. Gays, feel free to steal it for yourselves while you're ruining the sanctity of stuff (we're not sure what that stuff is; we'd go with a pool or Jacuzzi or something, if we had to guess).
Remember: If anybody steps to you for hardcore dude-on-dude public makeout sessions, you just go ahead and tell them you're carrying on the sacred traditions of Catholicism.
#1. Women and Blacks Voting ... in the 18th Century
Archive Photos/Getty Images
Everybody has the right to vote today only by virtue of some (relatively) recent legislation. Back in the day, pretty much anybody darker than the Sandy Tan Crayola was sentenced to trampling by wild geese if they so much as thought about the electorate.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
There's really no form of goose stepping that doesn't have its roots in racism.
Untrue! Only four of the original 13 states prohibited blacks from voting, and only five prohibited women from voting. Up until 1820, freed black men in Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine had the same voting rights as whites.
New Jersey's constitution not only did not bar women from participating in elections, in 1790 it specifically allowed women to vote. But when you increase the number of eligible voters, you sadly also increase the amount of voter fraud. And no, it wasn't the women and blacks getting carried away and ruining the esteemed process for whitey: As soon as women and black men could vote, white guys started showing up at the polls dressed in drag and black face so they could cast their vote twice.
Seeing this problem caused solely by white men dressing up in costumes, the legislature did the only logical thing: In 1807, they repealed the vote for both women and blacks. White guys nationwide chuckled at the irony, then presumably went back to their old voter fraud practice of switching mustaches and hats while doing funny accents.
McAlbin and Lamb, USA
"Hey, Charlie, you know you don't have to wear that for the elections anymore?"
"Oh, I know."
Related Reading: For more groundbreaking firsts you've been lied to about, click here. You'll learn that Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone- and that neither Russia or America was the first country in space. And would you be shocked to learn that TWO people beat Lindbergh to the first transatlantic flight? By eight years? That's just the start of what you'll read in this article. Still not impressed enough with our ancestors? Check out these badass robots invented before electricity and be awed.