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Part III in a continuing series: Part I, Part II, Part IV

  • that medieval crops were saved
    on more than one occasion by the mysterious appearance of harmonia axyridis? Medieval farmers saw the beetle as a heaven sent cure for ridding crops of insect pests and thanked the Blessed Lady, Christ's mother, for its appearance. The insect has been associated with the Virgin Mary ever since. In Scandinavia, the ladybug is called the Lady’s Key-maid. In France, it’s known as the Animal of the Virgin. In Germany, it’s the Maiden’s Beetle...
  • …that the popular garden rose fell out of favor throughout Europe for almost a thousand years? The flower was closely associated with the Romans and their pagan gods, and so the early church forbade its use for any purpose other than the medicinal. It was monks who kept rose culture alive using the flower to make rose oil and teas. The flower only later regained its fame after crusading knights returned from the Mideast where the rose enjoyed unwavering veneration. By the 12th century, stylized rosette windows became familiar on French cathedrals. The flower thereafter became associated with the cult of the Virgin Mary, practically ensuring its return to the top of the list as the world's most popular flower…
  • that the local natives probably prevented fierce Vikings from settling America? One scenario places the first meeting of Old and New World inhabitants in Labrador, where Thorvald Ericsson (Leif’s brother) engaged the local Indian tribe in a short skirmish. The mortally wounded Ericsson, drawing an arrow from his stomach, was said to have breathed his last with "…we have won a fine and fruitful country, but will hardly be allowed to enjoy it!" These and similar incidents may help to explain the haphazardness of their settlements, and why the Vikings left America only after a few decades, never to return…
  • …that the English word that best describes ‘faraway place’ was a medieval stopover on the pilgrimage to Mecca? Timbuktu, (tim-buck-TOO) in Mali, was little more than a sleepy frontier town when the country’s ruler, Sultan Mansa Musa, built a magnificent mosque on the spot in 1324. Timbuktu flourished as an Islamic center for learning and eventually boasted hundreds of schools for religious thought and teaching. From the West, many adventurers risked their lives to reach Timbuktu believing in tales of gold and jewel-bedecked palaces and rosewater-spewing fountains. What they found was a cosmopolitan melting pot. Today, the original mosque still dominates the town at the edges of the Sahara, and tourists often fly in and out in a single afternoon to boast that they have been 'from here to Timbuktu'...


Did You Know?... Part I
Did You Know?... Part II
Did You Know?... Part IV

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