Blue’s Dumb History Tales #2

Earlier last year I found myself with a surprise
gap in my upload schedule, so I did what any self-respecting online content creator would
do: I panicked, hastily cobbled together a glorified meme-dump, and then watched in shock
as it became one of my most popular videos of the year. I’d say the internet is a confounding mistress
but I know damn well that you’re all here for the memes, and I’m honestly an idiot
for not realizing it sooner. SO, I’ve scoured far and wide but mostly
the Mediterranean to bring you 4 more of the finest historical sh*tposts. I’d apologize for how safe I’m playing
it by sticking to my usual historical stomping grounds, but I’ve been sick all week and
I’m way too hopped up on cold medicine to have any capacity for new research, self-awareness,
or remorse. Now let’s do some memes. #4
History can be weird about people’s bones — You’d think that people sit still once
they die, but sometimes corpses and bones become prolific travelers. Machiavelli is buried somewhere in this church
but we have no idea where, the body of Alexander the Great fully disappeared a couple centuries
after he died, and Hernan Cortes was buried and exhumed 9 times, ferried across the Atlantic
ocean, and casually misplaced for a century. But one instance of bone-shuffling that always
amuses me is the story of Dante Alighieri. Dante had a complicated relationship with
his hometown, he really liked it, he just wished it wasn’t full of assholes who exiled
him. So after Dante died in the city of Ravenna,
Florence realized that he was actually a pretty popular poet. So they asked for his body back in 1396 and
again 1429, but Ravenna said “buzz off, you exiled him, he’s ours.” Eventually, a Florentine from the Medici family
became pope, and organized (read: demanded) for Dante to be returned to Florence so Michelangelo
could build a mausoleum for him. Ravenna’s hands were tied, so they agreed,
and gave Florence the casket. Now, it’s not exactly polite to go throwing
open the sealed sarcophagus of your beloved native poet, but some Florentines in the delegation
to Ravenna were a little suspish. So they yanked open the tomb to find… nothing. WHOOPS. The Franciscan monks pulled a sneaky on them
by stealthing Dante’s bones out of the sarcophagus and into a hiding spot in their monastery. But Florence was in the awkward position where
they couldn’t call out Ravenna for hoodwinking them without admitting to opening a sealed
sarcophagus… Soooooo Florence just called it a day, pretended
like nothing happened, and went home. And so lay the greatest poet in Italian history… packed up in a box and hidden behind a wall
like a secret stash of Christmas presents. Eventually he did get moved into a shiny new
mausoleum, but only some 300 years later. In the end, safe to say that Dante would have
been all for Ravenna’s reverse skeleton heist. It sure embarrassed the hell out of Florence,
so I say mission accomplished. #3
Alexander the Rad was, by most accounts, pretty good at stabbing people with spears. After thoroughly beating the pants off of
the Persian empire and becoming the most powerful man in history at the age of 26, Alexander
saw absolutely zero reasons to stop. So he kept on pushing east and east and east
and founded over 20 cities named Alexandria across the former Persian empire. Part of me thinks this is empty vanity, but
the other part of me that’s a complete slave to aesthetics recognizes that this is some
A-tier branding. Eventually Alexander the Alexander ran into
the Indus river valley and thought “well this will make a fine addition to my collection”,
so he fought the battle of the Hydaspes river in 326 BC (and won, come on, this is Alexander
the Plot-Armor after all). If you’re Alexander the Cool King, this
is all great news, but if you’re one of the 40,000 soldiers in his army, you might
be rightly feeling a little worn out after 5 straight years of war. So when the Macedonians approached the Hyphasis
river, his soldiers had enough, and I can see why. They had basically journeyed 3,000 miles,
off the end of all of their maps, so they told Alexander “Like hell are we going to
cross that river, we’ll fall off.” — “Excuse me? Fall off what?” — “Did we stutter, Alex? The World. If we cross that river we will fall off The
World.” So Alexander the Not-Yet-Aware-Of-How-Globes-Work
read the room and called off the campaign, marking the first and last time that he showed
as much as an ounce of restraint in his entire life. #2
This next story is a tale as old as imperialism, where names are made up and the cultural significance
doesn’t matter. So, Greece, right? Smart old guys with beards, lots of pretty
islands, endless stereotypes about national debt? Yeah, Greece, you get it. But if you ask someone from there what their
country is, they’ll say Hellas, named after Helen, since the Trojan War was the first
time that Greece acted as a semi-unified thing. Now you may be wondering, How did we get from
Hellas to Greece? Those two words are as far apart from each
other as possible, Blue, you sociopath, every single letter is different except for E! Well, to solve this great linguistic conundrum,
we’ve got to bust out some maps. So there’s this super ancient city here
called Graia, right, cool, and in the 8th Century BC they founded the colony of Cumae,
on the west coast of Italy. Some 500 years later the Roman Republic started
sauntering their way down the coast and ran into these people who spoke a different language,
had very strong opinions about philosophy, and worshipped a unique pantheon of gods. The Romans saw these people in Cumae and said
“Neat”, marked them down as originally coming from Graia, dabbled in some divine
IP theft to beef up their own pantheon, and moved right along. As they went south, they ran into even more
cities where the people spoke this same weird language, dished about platonic allegories
for enlightenment, and worshipped the same lovable disasters we call “the Olympians”. Immediately, those big-brain Romans knew what
was up, for this, clearly, was another colony from Graia. Cumae? Graia. Thurii? Graia. Syracuse? Graia. This entire landmass to the east full of unique
and independent city states? Whaddya know it’s gotta be Graia! Now, contrary to Roman assertions, every Hellenic
city in the world was not, in fact, a colony from Graia, but whenever a city tried to politely
tell the Romans that they were originally from, say, Athens or Corinth instead, the
Romans said “Hmmmmm, no, we’re pretty sure you’re actually from Graia”. Eventually the Romans figured out that maybe
all of these people aren’t the same, but Rome didn’t have a habit of admitting their
mistakes and they weren’t about to start now, so they compromised and said “ooookay
fine, maybe you’re not ALL colonies from Graia, but you’re close enough, so we’ll
add a letter and call you Graeci. Awesome, problem solved”. And that, dear viewers, is why Hellas is called
Greece. Imperialism in a nutshell. #1
We talk a lot on this channel about conflict and wars and junk like that because spectacles
and drama put butts in seats, but in some rare cases, no humans were harmed in the making
of this history meme. So we now turn to the tiny European Principality
of Liechtenstein. Little Liechtenstein was originally one of
about 80 billion microstates within the Holy Roman Empire, but managed to tuck and roll
through Napoleon’s Pan-European Zerg-Rush and become an independent state in 1806. In the decades after, it was part of the German
Confederation, which was dominated by Prussia, and weirdly included half of Austria, even
though Prussia and Austria were rivals? It’s less confusing than the HRE, I’ll
give it that, but OH MAN, only just. So in 1866 a war broke out between the two,
and Liechtenstein took the opportunity to declare independence from the Confederation
and total neutrality. The extremely modest 80-man army took up their
post guarding a pass along the border between themselves and Austria, and proceeded to see
exactly 0 combat encounters, because their only threat was Austria, who didn’t care
enough to even consider invading them. So the army stood guard over a stunning view
of the alps for a quiet month and a half. This sounds less like a military deployment
and more like summer-camp. But just when it seemed like this story couldn’t
get any more Switzerlandy than it already was for our 80 Liechtensteiner pals, they
returned home with 81 men, because they made a friend. Apparently an Italian ran into the soldiers
while they were out in the mountains, and joined them on their way back because he wanted
to come live in Liechtenstein. So with one new best friend and a meme for
the ages, Liechtenstein said “alrighty, I think we’re done here” and disbanded
the army, proceeding to out-Switzerland even the Swiss through both world wars. Well played, Liechtenstein, well played. So, what have we learned here today? I’d say it’s that 1) Dante can never catch
a break, 2) flat-earthers will ruin all of your plans to conquer ancient India, 3) The
Greece Is A Lie, and 4) The real history meme is, quite literally, the friends we made along
the way. Thank you so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed this jaunt through the
sillier side of history. Next time I’ll be jumping out of my comfy
Mediterranean bubble to pick up on our History of India! Part 2 of that series is coming up next. I’ll see you then.
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnBxZaRMWXM

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