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20 Weird and Interesting Facts about Famous Historical Figures

11. Leo Tolstoy was a fierce vegetarian. Once his aunt requested chicken for dinner and she arrived at the table to find a live chicken tied to her chair with a butcher’s knife on her placemat.

Leo Tolstoy with His Wife
Image Source: ft

Tolstoy had a way of going about things and changing his mind quite suddenly. Where most people would ponder about and consider an idea, he plunged into action. So was his desire to go fight in the war, with all his heart, but return cold and disillusioned, which was also similar to what one of his characters, Pierre, does in his novel War and Peace. Another such incident was his sudden conversion to vegetarianism after a conversation with Mr. William Frey, an admirer, who talked about the inevitability of vegetarianism and its naturalness. Tolstoy, apparently, only thought for a moment before deciding to abandon flesh-meat. Though, he believed in an individual is accountable for themselves, he was fond of teasing his family members or housemates, like when his aunt wanted chicken for dinner.(source)

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12. Marie Antoinette had a fully functioning peasant village built on the grounds of Versailles so that she could enjoy strolling in simple shepherdess garb pretending to live a simple life milking cows and sheep.

Marie Antoinette's Fantasy Hamlet
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons

The Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet) is a rustic retreat and a place of leisure built for Marie Antoinette which served as a private meeting place for her and her closest friends. Its construction was inspired by a wave of naturalism in art, architecture and garden design and it served the Queen as a refuge whenever she had enough of being constantly surrounded by courtiers. She thought of it as a living painting and acting as if she were part of a painting. She filled the picturesque village with animals, brought in milkmaids and herdsmen to act like they were residents. She would walk around in her perfect world in her shepherdess garb with her children and close friends, pretending to live a simple life.(source)

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13. Henry VIII of England had people who were called “Grooms of Stool” whose job it was to wipe his bottom. During his reign he had four such people, all of whom were knighted.

Henry VIII and Courtiers
Image Source: shafe

The Grooms of Stool were the most intimate of a king’s courtiers responsible for assisting the king in his bodily functions. The physical intimacy required for that role meant that they were thought to be very close to the king, and much confidence was placed by him as they would end up being privy to many royal secrets as a consequence. Over decades the role became more and more important, enough for them to become powerful enough to be involved in setting national financial policies. King Henry VIII had four of them and were his intimate confidants with regards to his personal life, including his thoughts about one of his queens, Anne of Cleves.(source)

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14. In his later years, the French philosopher Voltaire made a habit of living near borders so that he could escape easily if his writings angered authorities and he was pursued.

Voltaire
Image Source: bookvar

After the publication of his “Philosophic Letters”, also known as “The English Letters”, Voltaire was forced to flee Paris and take refuge in Cirey in 1734. The Letters strongly criticized the existing French institutions and greatly angered the French Parliament, which ordered Voltaire’s imprisonment. One of his friends, Marquise du Chatelet, offered him asylum at her chateau in Cirey located near the border. The chateau became an ideal refuge for him and he would cross the border if he was pursued by the authorities, though it never deterred him from visiting Paris. And after he left Cirey, he continued his habit of living near the borders.(source)

15. Napoleon wrote a romantic novella called “Clisson et Eugénie” about a soldier and his lover, which was influenced by his relationship with one-time fiancee Eugénie Désirée Clary.

Napoleon
Image Source: mrodenberg

The unpublished manuscript of the novella was in possession of a horticulturist at Chateau de Malmaison, which was the final home of Napoleon’s first wife, Empress Josephine. The novella tells about a French soldier, Clisson, who meets and falls in love with Eugenie. They both marry and have a family in an idyllic country retreat when Clisson had to return to war. When he was injured in battle, a comrade goes to his wife to reassure her, but seduces her and she stops sending him letters. Heartbroken, Clisson sends a final letter to them and engineers his own death. Some observers have claimed that Napoleon was influenced by Rousseau’s La Novella Heloise and Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. The story is also widely acknowledged to parallel his own relationship with Eugénie Désirée Clary, his ex-fiancee.(source)

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