April 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Ezra Klein linked to this blog post on 5 historical misconceptions. That’s right, Vikings did not actually wear pointy helmets. Would’ve been a bad idea:
What would a Viking be without his trusty battle helmet and its impressive horns? The answer is: a more historically accurate viking.
Think, for a moment about wearing headgear like that into battle: the horns are just easy targets for your opponent to hit and knock off your helmet.
Or, if you strap on your helmet, now your opponent has a convenient lever with which to drag you to the ground and something to hold onto while slitting your throat.
Horned helmets are a terrible idea, which is why archeologists have never found them at viking battle sites and there’s no evidence that they were ever used.
Given that my son David and I just had an extended conversation about the inherent difficulties of countries using different measurement systems, my favorite was the explanation of Napoleon’s presumed small stature:
Famously this tiny, tiny general – perhaps to compensate for his short stature – took control of France greatly expanded its influence and dubbed himself emperor.
Napoleon’s official height was indeed 5 foot 2 inches but at the time French inches were longer than English inches, so doing the unit conversion, Napoleon’s height should have been reported as 5’7 in England’s imperial units – which is short by today’s standard but was average or slightly above average in the early 1800s.