Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Programme Information

Network TV BBC Week 15

Horrible historical facts

Rattus Rattus, the talking rat

Horrible Histories

Thursday 16 April on BBC ONE

Some of the country's finest comedy talent, including Meera Syal, Steve Punt and Sarah Hadland, join forces this week to introduce younger viewers to various gruesome events and ghastly characters from British and international history.

Here, Programme Information provides viewers with some horrible historical facts.

• Victorian eccentric Dr William Buckland gained notoriety for his love of eating strange things. The dishes he digested included elephant's trunks, bat's urine and the mummified heart of King Louis XIV.

• The second Baron Rothschild also shared Buckland's taste for the eccentric and had a carriage drawn by four zebras, snakes twined round the banisters and had a dinner party with 12 dressed monkeys.

• The Roman Emperor Caligula dug up Alexander the Great's grave so he could wear his armour. He made his horse, Incitatus, a consul and his oats were mixed with flakes of gold. He also had 18 servants.

• Queen Elizabeth I nicknamed Walter Raleigh "Water", as due to his West Country accent he did not pronounce the letter "R" properly. She also only had four baths a year.

• Egyptian dentists used to suggest putting half a freshly-killed hot mouse in your mouth to cure bad breath.

• William the Conqueror's stomach exploded at his funeral.

• In the Middle Ages, they believed that sitting in a sewer and shaving a live chicken's bottom and strapping it to your armpit were cures for the Black Death.

• Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, used to believe that violently shaking someone up and down cured a cough and he used to taste samples of blood, earwax, phlegm and urine. To this day, doctors still have to take the Hippocratic Oath.

• Georgian women used to put balls of cork in their mouths to make their faces look chubby.

• Egyptian pharaohs and kings had royal bottom wipers.

• Soldiers in the First World War had to urinate on their boots to soften the leather.

To top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.