William Shakespeare seems to have hated hedgehogs. We don’t quite know why, but it could have something to do with how the tiny animal is depicted by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. Special Thanks to Jamie Jeffers of The British History Podcast and Miles Stokes of Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men for providing voicework for this episode.
Before Valentine’s Day, ancient Romans celebrated a festival of fertility in the shadow of the Palatine Hill. Lupercalia was a popular holiday that featured blood, goat sacrifice, and getting whipped by naked guys.
During the Dust Bowl city officials in Los Angeles, fueled by anti-communist paranoia and xenophobia, were determined to keep migrants out of California. To that end, they dispatched the LAPD to remote border crossing points far outside the city in order to keep out anyone who looked like they were fleeing blight or didn’t have work. Author Bill Lascher spoke with us about his new book The Golden Fortress, which outlines how in 1936 LA law enforcement went to the far reaches of the Golden State to keep California closed.
Eric Tagliacozzo is a professor of history at Cornell University, and his new book In Asian Waters: Oceanic Worlds From Yemen to Yokohama outlines five centuries of maritime history in the Asian world. In this wide-ranging interview, we discussed how China created trade routes that stretched all the way to Africa’s Swahili coast, the ocean-going history of Vietnam, and the role of consumer goods, piracy, slavery, and religion in the Indian Ocean, South China Sea, Pacific, and beyond.
Archaeology has changed considerably over the past century. In this episode, we spoke with Ann R. Williams of National Geographic about the new book Lost Cities Ancient Tombs, significant discoveries from the past century, and what it means to dig up the past.
After his death in 1945, Mussolini’s corpse was autopsied and thrown into a pauper’s grave. But, that was just the beginning of the cadaver’s posthumous career. Eventually the body was stolen by neofascists, hidden away for over a decade, and used as a political bargaining chip in postwar Italy.
Saint Nicholas is not Santa Claus, but he’s now inescapably bound up with Santa’s story and identity. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra, a town in what we no call Turkey, and we don’t have any surviving sources about him from his lifetime. The first major biography we have of Nicholas dates from 800s, centuries after his death, and stories about him are likely fictional or exaggerated. Those stories tell of a man who expelled demons, stayed executions, slapped the Christian heretic Arius (pictured below) and showed great generosity to his fellow citizens of Myra.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I couldn’t do this without you.
Find out why I’m taking September (mostly) off.
There’s no new episode this week. instead, we’re re-running episode 75 which debunks the persistent myth that Mussolini made trains run on time.
Hello all! My schedule has changed dramatically. The podcast will now update every Monday. Talk to you then!
I’m sick. The harrowing tale of Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI will have to wait until next week.
We’re still on break, but we’ll be back with an interview episode on January 5th, and the start of a long-form series on January 12th.
It was bound to happen eventually. There’s no new episode this week.