Thanks to the mysterious pirate historian Captain Charles Johnson, Blackbeard became a truly legendary villain. According to the Captain, Blackbeard indulged in practically demonic behavior. The devil himself was rumored to be a crew member aboard Blackbeard's infamous flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge. However, most of the really scandalous stories about the pirate cannot be verified by independent sources. Does the Blackbeard really deserve his terrifying reputation? Tune in and find out how snivelling puppies, swimming headless bodies, and the ultimate double-cross all play a role in the story.
Blackbeard may be the most iconic pirate to ever roam the seas. His fearsome reputation and distinctive sense of personal style have made him the template upon which countless fictional pirates have been based. But how much do we really know about Blackbeard? How many of his infamous exploits really took place? Do we even know this guy's real name? Tune in and find out how gentleman pirates, punk rock poseurs, and the criminal patriots all play a role in the story.
There are few periods in history as hotly contested as the so-called "Dark Ages". Traditionally, the 5th to 10th centuries in Europe have been characterized as "bizarre and monstrous". But is this perception justified? Also, if there was a "dark age" should it be understood as a global phenomenon? Tune in and find out how Chinese paper, the biggest domed roof in the world, and Matt Damon movies all play a role in the story.
There is evidence out there that King Arthur was more than just a myth. However, that evidence often comes in the form of tiny scraps found in questionable sources. Those bits of evidence can be arranged and interpreted in a variety of different ways. As a result there are a plethora of plausible theories about the identity of the historical King Arthur. Which of these theories offers the best explanation for the legendary king's true identity? Tune in and find out how the last of the Romans, savage tongues, and some dude named the Venerable Bede all play a role in the story.
The Arthurian legend has been described by at least one scholar as a giant mythical vacuum. It has a reputation for sucking in and absorbing previously independent legends and making them part of Arthur's story. One of the most famous characters to be absorbed into the Arthurian legend was the ultra-devoted Sir. Lancelot. What can the Lancelot stories teach us about the evolution of Arthur's legend? Tune in and find out devious dwarves, a sword bridge, and guy named Bademagu all play a role in the story.
King Arthur is easily the most requested topic in the history of this podcast. This probably isn't a surprise given Arthur's stature in world of mythology. But is Arthur more than a myth? Was there a real person who lived around 500 AD who inspired the tales of Arthur? Before we can answer that question we need to dive into the weird history of the medieval scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth. Tune in and find out how Trojan refugees, Wile E. Coyote style deaths, and a giant named Gogmagog all play a role in the story.
OFH will return on April 9th after a short hiatus. Sebastian announces what topic he will be covering when the show returns!
Vodka may be the most controversial alcohol in history. The origin of the distilled liquor continues to be one of the culinary world's most bitterly contested historical debates. This is partially due to the fact Vilyam Pokhklebkin, the worlds foremost expert on vodka's history, was a known liar. The fact that Pokhklebkin was found murdered with a bottle of vodka in his system, makes the story all the more intriguing. We needed to conscript a real-life academic to get to the bottom of this one! Tune in and find out how sleeping potions, ancient distillation, and a murder mystery all play a role in the story.
Some of the most enduring historical myths have to do with food and drink. Food history can sometimes be seen as frivolous, which makes it particularly vulnerable to myth-making. As a result some of the world's most popular foods are saddled with bogus origin stories. Getting to truth of these stories can often reveal surprising things about the cultures that birthed them. Tune in and find out how 24 hour gambling marathons, pizza snobs, and champagne jams all play a role in the story.
Recounting the atrocities that took place in the Congo Free State during the reign of King Leopold II is a daunting process. It was a state where sadism was the norm and severed human hands became a grizzly form of currency. Still, a proper accounting of these horrors is essential to getting to truth of Leopold's regime. How bad did things get in the Congo Free State? What did it take to end the crimes against humanity? Tune in and find out how the first African-American historian, Bob Marley, and the greatest act of pimpery in history all play a role in the story.
The creation of the Congo Free State was one part cheap hustle and one part military occupation. King Leopold II managed to convince Europe he was a noble humanitarian while he was secretly building one of the most exploitative colonial states in Africa. With the help of the explorer Henry Morton Stanley and a well placed endorsement from the President of the United States the Congo Free State came into being. Sadly for the natives of the Congo river basin, this new regime would prove to be uniquely sadistic. Tune in and find out how red toilet paper, fake names, and the Goodyear tire guy all play a role in the story.
There are few colonial enterprises as infamous as the Belgian King Leopold II’s Congo Free State. While most people have a vague understanding of the atrocities that took place there, many don’t know the strange story of international fraud that led to the founding of the state. King Leopold successfully convinced the world that he was a great humanitarian and anti-slavery advocate, while he was secretly operating one of the planet's most brutal slave states. In this episode we look at colonialism in the late 19th century and try and set the scene for one of the era’s most audacious cover-ups. Tune in and find out how murderous cyclops explorers, infamous poetry, and a guy who hates music in general all play a role in the story.