Recently, I've been spending my lunch hour doing research for a historical novel, and am discovering quite a lot of things I find surprising. Below are a few items.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Olden Times. Most people simply imagine times as they are now, but older. First of all, in the Olden Times, the average person would kill you as soon as look at you, if they'd not been properly introduced to you beforehand. Yes, manners were of paramount importance in the Olden Times. Second, most people had syphillis, so, in effect, everyone pretty much knew each other intimately. Third, there weren't that many people living in the Olden Times. I can not stress this enough. It is simple math, just multiply a small number by two over and over and see how quickly the number gets large, then do the reverse, keep dividing by two and you will arrive at the number of people in the Olden Times. There are more people alive now on earth than have ever died in the history of the world. In the Olden Times, therefore, very bright people--horticulturalists, Thomas Jefferson, etc.,--made up a much larger percentage of the population. For in the Olden Times, again, there were very few people. In Colonial America, Virginia was the most populous state, and Philadelphia, the largest city. In New York City, there were less people than are now in my apartment building. In the Olden Times, everyone had perfect pitch and could play the fiddle. Olden-Times people slathered molasses on everything. Giants were five feet six inches tall, but stronger than ten men today, and babies played with hatchets instead of rattles, and were carried around in their parents's hats, which were required by law to be worn at all times, as it was commonly believed that syphillis jumped from head to head. In the Olden Times, people knew how to talk to birds, and could tell North, South, East, and West from the electromagnetic pull the polar caps created in their eardrums.