Sigurd the Mighty, Earl of Orkney, died in 892 CE when he was bitten by the severed head of his foe, Máelbrigte the Bucktoothed.
The Epic of Sundiata, describing the rise of the first ruler of the Mali Empire, was passed down by griots – West African bards – for over six hundred years before it was written down.
Sudden bouts of contagious dancing plagued pre-modern Europe – afflicting up to a thousand people at a time.
King Charles II of Navarre died when, wrapped in alcohol-soaked linen, he caught on fire.
In 1245 CE a letter from Pope Innocent IV travelled 7000km to Güyük Khan (Genghis’ grandson) demanding peace. The letter back from the Great Khan was… not friendly.
The 40,000km-long Incan road system connected 12 million people, but it also supplied the Incan army with food from thousands of storage depots spread across the whole network.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 the economic value of forests is not measured in the amount of wood they could provide, but in the amount of pigs they could feed.
In Norse mythology Fimbulwinter is the great winter immediately preceding Ragnarök. It may have been inspired by the horrifying real-life events of 536 CE.
The historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that in Medieval Europe, and in many places prior to the Industrial Revolution, people would habitually wake up for an hour in the middle of the night.
In 1946 Simeon II, the last person to bear the title “tsar,” was deposed and exiled from Bulgaria. Fifty years later, he returned and was elected prime minister.
The 1960 Oakeshott typology is a military historian’s attempt to classify the full range of European medieval swords.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
The Darb-e Imam shrine in Iran contains an early and exciting example of non-periodic tiling that was only mathematically appreciated five hundred years later.
In 13th century northern Europe, groups of women formed their own autonomous religious communities. Neither nuns nor wives, the Beguines forged their own route through the strictures of Medieval life.
Within the witch panic of Medieval Europe was a strange subset of trials that accused people of being both witches and werewolves.