WTF Fun Fact 12692 – The Monarchy Takes A Hostage

The word “hostage” seems a bit harsh, but that’s precisely what a British tradition was meant to imply.

The British monarchy began to share power with a legislative branch of government way back in 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta. But over the centuries, the royals have become less “heads of state” and more “figureheads.”

Even though relations between the monarchy and the British government are good, Buckingham Palace maintains a centuries-old tradition (going back to 1600) of taking a member of British Parliament “hostage” to ensure the monarch’s safe return when they make a speech at Parliament. Most recently, MP James Morris was taken “hostage” in May 2022 when Prince Charles delivered a speech on behalf of the Queen.

However, that wasn’t the case in the 1600s, when King Charles I argued back and forth with parliament about how much power they should have. The people wanted a constitutional monarchy and the royals…well, they didn’t for obvious reasons.

There’s lots of detail we’re leaving out here (like an entire English Civil War, and a Second English Civil War), but the important part is that, in the end, Charles I was delivered to Parliament, where they proceeded to try him for treason, convict him, and execute him. Then for good measure, they abolished the monarchy.

So, as you might imagine, the monarchy is a little sensitive about the whole thing and while it looks like a nice joke to the rest of the world now, it’s rooted in something much more serious. Still, all the “hostage”-taking is agreed upon in advance and no one is in danger these days.

But the whole reason we’re here is that this tradition came to light on May 2, 2022, when Prince Charles gave a speech at the opening of Parliament on behalf of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is suffering from intermittent mobility issues, so much of the royal family went in her place. And they did, indeed, take a ceremonial “hostage.” Conservative MP James Morris said he was the designated hostage this time around. Below, you can find him giving an explanation of the whole tradition. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Buckingham Palace has a centuries-old tradition of taking an MP hostage when the Queen or one of her representatives enter Parliament” — Yahoo News

WTF Fun Fact 12583 – How California Got Its Name

California is named after a 16th-century Black Queen of an island of women. The only catch is that she’s fictional.

Real or not, she’s still the inspiration behind the state’s name.

Queen Calafia was a character in Castillian author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo’s Las Sergas de Esplandián, an early 16th-century adventure-romance novel. A Black warrior queen, Calafia ruled a mythical island called California inhabited only by Black women.

Calafia was also a fierce queen with quite an arsenal – armor made of fish bones, weapons made of gold, and an army of griffins (because, hey, why not?).

Needless to say, many people are surprised by this origin story. At the very least, it was rare for a man during the Renaissance to write in such a triumphant way about a woman, much less a Black woman. There is no sense of racial inferiority (which was a common trope) in her story.

So how did an American state come to be named after a mythical character?

Well, the novel was so famous in Spain that when conquistadors arrived on the tip of what is now the Baja Peninsula, they thought they had found the mythical island of California. So that’s what they called the whole area.

And while the name stuck, Calafia has been largely forgotten until recently.

An excerpt from the book reads:

Now I wish you to know about the strangest thing ever found anywhere in written texts or in human memory. […] I tell you that on the right-hand side of the Indies there was an island called California, which was very close to the region of the Earthly Paradise. This island was inhabited by black women, and there were no males among them at all, for their life style was similar to that of the Amazons. The island was made up of the wildest cliffs and the sharpest precipices found anywhere in the world. These women had energetic bodies and courageous, ardent hearts, and they were very strong. Their armor was made entirely out of gold—which was the only metal found on the island—as were the trappings on the fierce beasts that they rode once they were tamed. They lived in very well-designed caves. They had many ships they used to sail forth on their raiding expeditions and in which they carried away the men they seized and whom they killed in a way about which you will soon hear. On occasion, they kept the peace with their male opponents, and the females and the males mixed with each other with complete safety, and they had carnal relations, from which unions it follows that many of the women became pregnant. If they bore a female, they kept her, but if they bore a male, he was immediately killed. The reason for this, inasmuch as it is known, is that, according to their thinking, they were set on reducing the number of males to so small a group that the Amazons could easily rule over them and all their lands; therefore, they kept only those few men whom they realized they needed for their race not to die out.

– WTF fun facts

Source: “Our Origin Story’: Queen Calafia Returns to California in New Theatre Production” — KQED

WTF Fun Fact – Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick

WTF Fun Fact - Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick

From 1513 to 1972, the Danish Kings were named Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick (it ended with the current monarch Margrethe, a Queen). – WTF Fun Facts


WTF Fun Fact – Termites Food & Medicine

Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, living up to 50 years. Termites are also a delicacy in the diet of some human cultures and are often used in traditional medicines. WTF Fun Facts