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Kate’s Historical Fun Facts [Vol. 3]

Welcome to the 3 edition of Kate’s Historical Fun Facts, a monthly blog post where I compile all the fun facts I can think of or learn in the course of the month. It’s a way for me to save my family from me saying, “So, fun fact …” It’s also a way for me to avoid feeling like I’m going to explode with holding in my fun facts.

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In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, there was a lot of antipathy towards the Russian Imperial Family because the Tsarina kept herself isolated and kept having girls. This was on top of how the Tsars had been ruling the country. Basically, the Romanovs had been autocrats, and then the public’s love for them – or any love they had – decreased because Tsarina Alexandra isolated herself and kept having daughters. Alexandra rarely showed herself to the public, so the public didn’t think great of her. And then she kept having daughters! The horror! My understanding is that the Imperial Throne could only be inherited by boys, so more and more daughters meant that there would be a difficult succession. Perhaps even a bloody one. (Source)

Tsarina Alexandra was chronically ill. Given the years that she was alive and ill, most people thought she was making it up, or hysterical. (To be fair, lots of people thought I was making up my ankle pain, and that was in the 2000s). But she was actually, really sick from some sort of chronic condition that was not diagnosed. And because diagnosing a patient from a century ago isn’t really a good idea – if you can’t talk to the patient about their symptoms, you can’t diagnose them – we’ll never know exactly what she had. (Source)

Mary, Queen of Scots, almost definitely did not have a Scottish accent. Not only did accents as we know them today not exist then, but Mary also spent most of her childhood in France. She was born in 1542, moved to France in 1548, and moved back to Scotland in 1561. Those years that she spent in France were among her most formative; she left Scotland originally when she was 5. 5! She spent most of her childhood and basically all of her teen years in France. There is no way that she had a Scottish accent.

The Illegals program mentioned in The Americans was real. I’ve been watching The Americans, which is a show about Russian spies who were placed in America to have normal lives and be normal people, but also do spy things like get classified information, kill people, and more. And it turns out that the program they are a part of in the show – Illegals, or Directorate S – is real thing. In fact, many spies from the Illegals program (name from the US) were arrested in 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was probably the inspiration for The Americans. (Source)

What historical information or event would you like to know about?

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