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9 Reasons Why 1544 Was The Most Balls-Out Crazy Year In The History Of Ever

and yet most of this stuff isn't in the history books!

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1. The Chinese attempted the first ever manned spaceflight!

The Ming Dynasty was obsessed with trying to form a coalition with the sky gods, and so decided to send some emissaries to meet them. They built a wooden sphere about 15 feet in diameter, big enough for 3 astronauts (called Star Touchers) along with some of the most precious gifts the kingdom had to offer. They launched it SIDEWAYS, not up (thinking the stars on the horizon were closer than those above) using an enormous contraption that was part slingshot and part catapult, powered by their unrefined gunpowder. It was unclear to them if the Star Touchers made it, since they never returned, but we all know they probably slammed into the side of some mountain and blew up.

2. The Nile flooded for almost the entire year!

Cities and towns up and down the whole Nile (which was where almost everybody in Egypt lived at the time) were hit hard. The places near the delta were hit hardest, like Cairo, where 60% of the population was said to have perished. In nearby Giza, one scholar said the place looked like "the Great Sphinx had fallen into a lake, and was feverishly swimming to find refuge on the Pyramids." At least we know they had plenty of sand for the sandbags!

3. The Moroccans fought the Portuguese with an army made of wax, and WON!

The Wattasid dynasty of Morocco was in charge of repelling the ever-invading Portuguese and Spanish armies, which they did time and time again with superior military tactics. But by 1544 the Moroccans were worn down, with few men and resources left for the next attack. So they used what they had: Wax! They lined their shores and filled their fortresses with over a thousand bodies made entirely of wax (outfitted with real weapons and armor pulled from dead soldiers), which made the Portuguese army focus too much energy on killing these "straw" warriors. Meanwhile the few hundred REAL Wattasids were able to concentrate their attacks on crippling the incoming ships and bottlenecking the incoming soldiers! The Portuguese conquerors were (momentarily) vanquished! Sadly the Wattasids fell within ten years to the Saadi Dynasty, who I guess weren't as easily fooled by unmoving, melting men!

4. Nostradamus makes his first prediction — about the moon landing being a hoax!

Before his official book of Prophecies came out, Nostradamus tried his hand at foresight in a 1544 pamphlet: "The twilight of an era brings a new power / telling a tale of its envoy in the heavens / and the world of man will believe this illusion / and fail to see the heavens are in fact crashing down." The "twilight of era" could be the 20th century (end of a millennium) and the "new power" could be America, which rose in the ranks in the 20th century. "The envoy in the heavens" could easily be the man America sent to the moon, which Nostradamus calls an "illusion"! But he asserts we won't see that "the heavens are in fact crashing down"… Could that be the cold war? Or global warming? Or some other horror we haven't realized is about to happen...

5. The first pony express was established in India — just to deliver a sex manual!

It is well known that the short-lived ruler of northern India, Sher Shah Suri, established a lot of amazing new things, like the Rupee and the postal system. He even built a major highway that still exists, connecting Agra (the capital) to Sasaram (his hometown). Once it was done, the first thing he sent down the road on this horse-mounted delivery service was a package to his brother… and what was inside? The Kamaledhiplava ("Boat in the Sea of Love"), a sex manual specifically written to tell husbands that women need pleasure too, and they could keep their wives happy by lovin' em right (with lots of pictures too!). Now that's a care package!

6. A Volcano was HIT BY A METEOR!

In the Aceh region of northern Sumatra (in Indonesia) there is a giant volcano called Geureudong (almost 10,000 feet tall!). In the spring of 1544, there was thought to have been an eruption, because of an earth-shaking explosion, a cloud of dust that fogged the sky for days, and an insane amount of lava that was flowing real fast (luckily it went into a valley where few people lived). But after the dust settled, the citizens of the nearby city realized a whole SIDE of the volcano was missing! The new Sultanate in the region claimed it as a show of their military power, but scientists later determined destruction of that size could've only been caused by A SMALL METEOR SLAMMING RIGHT INTO THE VOLCANO. Now that's good aim!

7. The spork was invented!

It all began in the Kingdom of Kongo (in central southern Africa, i.e. modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and others), into which the exploratory Portuguese had started to inject themselves in 1483. The colonizers quickly established themselves as people of power (as colonizers typically do), taking slaves and converting the Kingdom to Christianity. This type of forced homogenization does have one positive side effect, the sharing of food! Cuisine of the Kongo mostly consisted of a starchy dough (made from yams, plantains, yuca) used to soak up a soup by hand. But the Portuguese brought their stew-heavy cuisine over, which they had been eating with just a simple spoon. In 1544, though, Portuguese documents say someone in the royal court of the Kongo presented "a long utensil consisting of a bowl-shaped center for which to catch broth . . . topped by two long tines for which to pierce larger and more solid portions of the meal" But there's more: it was a knife too! "In addition, the side of the tool was honed sharp enough to divide meats still too tough." Not just a spork, but a Knspork!

8. A Dutch peasant became the first Post-Modernist!

In 1544, the church in a small town outside Antwerp suffered a devastating fire. The saddest part was that the church had a magnificent church bell, which had been a gift from a king long ago, since his queen had been born in the small town. The bell had been covered in ornate carvings and dedications of love, but now was ruined, cracked from a long fall and melted by the fire. But a 65-year-old widower and former metalworker named "Dieric boven d'Geul" saw beauty in the destruction, and dragged the mangled mess of metal into the center of the town square. There he turned it upside down (possibly propped up by stones from the church) and carved his SIGNATURE into it (possibly even filling in the carving with gold paint to make it more noticeable). This is THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS before Duchamp revolutionized the art world by signing an upside down urinal!

9. Ivan the Terrible institutes a Trivia Night — with lethal consequences!

At 14 years old, Ivan the Terrible was not yet a czar, but was still a tyrant around the royal castle. He would torture animals nonstop, as well as order people to be killed, tortured, raped, and maimed (doing some of that stuff himself). Soon he got bored of this, and decided to let them play a game for their lives: Quiz Bowl! Everyone would play against Ivan, and whoever lost, would die. The thing was, Ivan was a rapacious reader (no pun intended) and had memorized every book in the castle. And only he got to ask the questions. So needless to say, he has the longest undefeated Quiz Bowl record of all time!

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