10 Great People You Should Know

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    10 Great People You Should Know ButDontAs a child the things that most interested me were things little known byothers. I am not sure what drew me to love all things obscure and unknown,

    but that passion remains with me to this day and can certainly beconsidered the greatest motivation for making Listverse. On this list we lookinto the lives of ten people (or groups of people) that we should know about,but dont. I dont know why there is such a plethora of historical events andpeople that we seem to universally forget, but at least that gives goodfodder for more lists like this! Aside from sources on the Internet I also used

    the excellent book Historys Forgotten Milestones (Kindleedition), by Joseph Cummins, in researching the historicalfigures for this list. It is an excellent and interesting book

    that I recommend to all who like this list, as well as hisfascinating Historys Great Untold Stories.

    10 Nicolas Steno

    Nicolas Steno (11 January 1638 25 November 1686) wasa Danish pioneer in both anatomy and geology. In 1659,he decided not to accept anything simply written in abook, instead resolving to do research himself. Theconsequences of this self-study is that he is considered

    the father of geology and stratigraphy. He wasresponsible for the the recognition of geological strata,

    and the theory that successive layers of geologicalformations (strata) contained a fossil record of lifein chronological order. He eventually became atutor to the de Medici family and, ultimately,became a Bishop and a strong leader in theCatholic Counter-Reformation. He is largelyunknown, despite his many great achievements,

    which may have been due to his religious zeal in atime that was moving away from reasoned scienceand towards observational science.

    9 Cleisthenes

    Who is the father of democracy? Not ThomasJefferson, as many people oddly seem to think. Itwas, in fact, the little known Cleisthenes. He first

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    introduced democracy to the Greek city states (undoubtedly following someof the principles previously set forth by Solon) in 508 BC, after he gainedpolitical power in Athens. From 508 to 502 BC, he began to develop a seriesof major reforms, leading to the formation of Athenian Democracy. He madeall free men living in Athens and Attica citizens, giving them the right tovote as part of a democratic society. He also established a council (boule).All citizens over the age of thirty were eligible to sit on the council,encouraging public involvement in the government. While the format maynot be the same as the many democracies around the world today, there isno doubt that this was the first step.

    8 Elisha Kane

    It is astounding that Elisha Kane is known toso few people especially considering thathis funeral was said to be the largest in US

    history, second only to that of AbrahamLincoln. Kane (28 February 1820 16February 1857) was a US Navy Officer whowas a member of two Arctic expeditions toattempt to rescue (without success) theexplorer Sir John Franklin (a British Arcticexplorer who vanished while attempting tochart and navigate the Canadian Arctic).

    Though suffering from scurvy, and at timesnear death, he resolutely pushed on and

    charted the coasts of Smith Sound and theKane Basin, penetrating farther north thanany other explorer had done up to that time.His ship was eventually icebound and so, on

    20th May 1855, he led his party on an 83 day march across the frozennorth, carrying their sick with them. They lost only one man on the journeyand were eventually rescued. However, the toll on his health was tooextreme and he died two years later in Havana, where he was trying torecuperate. His body was carried from New Orleans to Philadelphia, and

    nearly every platform on the trip was met by a memorial delegation.

    7 Rabban Sauma

    Rabban Bar Sauma (c.12201294) is theMarco Polo of the East,and yet is relativelyunknown. He was a

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    Turkic/Mongol monk, turned diplomat, of the Nestorian Christian faith. He isknown for embarking on a pilgrimage from Mongol-controlled China to

    Jerusalem with one of his students, Rabban Markos. Due to military unrestalong the way, they never reached their destination, but instead spentmany years in Mongol-controlled Baghdad. Markos was eventually chosenas Nestorian Patriarch, and later suggested his teacher, Rabban Bar Sauma,be sent on another mission, as Mongol ambassador to Europe. The elderlymonk met with many of the European monarchs, as well as the Pope, inattempts to arrange a Franco-Mongol alliance. The mission bore no fruit, butin his later years in Baghdad, Rabban Bar Sauma documented his lifetime oftravel. His written account of his journeys is of unique interest to modernhistorians, as it gives a picture of medieval Europe at the close of theCrusading period, painted by a keenly intelligent, broadminded andstatesmanlike observer. His travels occurred prior to the return of MarcoPolo to Europe, and his writings give a reverse viewpoint of the East lookingto the West.

    6 Mary Anning

    Mary Anning (21 May 1799 9 March 1847)was a British fossil collector, dealer andpalaeontologist who became known aroundthe world for a number of important finds shemade in the Jurassic age marine fossil beds atLyme Regis, where she lived. Her workcontributed to the fundamental changes in

    scientific thinking about prehistoric life and thehistory of the earth that occurred in the early19th century, and yet she is barely knowntoday, while Darwin has become a householdname. Her discoveries included the firstichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified,which she and her brother, Joseph, found whenshe was just twelve years old, the first twoplesiosaur skeletons ever found, the first

    pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany, and some important fishfossils. Because of her sex and religious rebellion, much of her work wasnever published and, in fact, she rarely even received credit for herscientific contributions.

    5 Fighting Women of Dahomey

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    The DahomeyAmazons, orMino, were aFon (a majorWest Africanethnic andlinguistic groupin the country ofBenin, andsouthwestNigeria) all-female militaryregiment of theKingdom ofDahomey (nowBenin), which

    lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Westernobservers and historians due to their similarity to the semi-mythicalAmazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea. The Mino were recruitedfrom among the ahosi (kings wives), of which there were often hundreds.

    They trained with intense physical exercise. Discipline was emphasized. Inthe latter period, they were armed with Winchester rifles, clubs and knives.Units were under female command. Captives who fell into the hands of theAmazons were often decapitated. The French army lost several battles tothem due to the female warriors skill in battle that was the equal of every

    contemporary body of male elite soldiers from among the colonial powers.The last surviving Amazon of Dahomey died in 1979.

    4 Jan Wn k

    Since reading about Jan Wn k a year ago, I have desperately sought an opportunity toinclude him on a list. I am very glad that todaythat opportunity has arisen, for Wn k truly wasa remarkable man who is little known outside

    of his native Poland. Wn k was an illiterate carpenter, born in 1828, who went on tobecome a prolific sculptor, artist and aviationpioneer. All of this with only natural talent. Hestudied the wings of ducks to try to learn howto fly, and ultimately built a glider that allowedhim to make a number of short flights. Hisfame was great in the towns around where helived because of his flying ability. He died at

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    the age of 41, when one of his flights went wrong. He left no written recordsor drawings of his work in aviation. Above is one of the incredible sculptureshe created. You can see many more here.

    3 Pope Leo the Great

    Most of us knowPope SaintGregory theGreat theinventor of ourcalendar, but farfewer haveheard of Pope StLeo the Great(400 November 10,461) who singlehandedly didwhat no armycould do: stop

    Attila the Hun. In 452, when the King of the Huns, Attila, invaded Italy and

    threatened Rome, Pope Leo went to meet him personally to beg him towithdraw. Attila, so impressed by Leo, simply turned around and left.Unfortunately, Leos intercession could notprevent the sack of the city by the Vandals in455, but murder and arson were repressed byhis influence. In addition to this greatachievement, St Leo is remembered for hiswritings on equality of all men, and the call forall to live in dignity. His feast day is April 11.

    Pictured above is the famed meeting between StLeo and Attila.

    2 Empress Myeongseong

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    Empress Myeongseong (19 October 1851 8 October 1895), also known asQueen Min, was the first official wife of King Gojong, the twenty-sixth king ofthe Joseon dynasty of Korea. At the age of 16 she was married to the then15 year old King. But, instead of being the demure queen expected of her,she was assertive and ambitious. She gave up many of the royal functionssuch as hosting tea parties for the aristocracy, and, instead, read booksreserved for men only, teaching herself philosophy, history, science, politicsand religion. When her husband took full power (at 22), Queen Min took avery active role in politics, and placed her own family members into highpositions, solidifying her power. It was during her so-called rule that Koreabegan to open to modernization first with the help of the much despised

    Japanese (due to forced treaties and threats of war) and later from theWest. The Queen reorganized government to deal with the influence ofWesternization, and allowed freedom of religion which had previous beensuppressed. This caused great upset amongst her own political leaders. The

    Japanese, seeing her power, decided to assassinate her which they did, in

    1895, by stabbing her multiple times. The King, despairing from the loss ofhis wife, began to sign treaty after treaty with the Japanese, whicheventually led to their colonial rule from 1910-1945. Pictured above is apurported photograph of the Queen.

    1 Baldwin IV

    Baldwin IV of Jerusalem(116116 March 1185)was the King of

    Jerusalem, from 1174 to1185. In his youth itwas discovered that hehad contracted leprosyand, due to his youngage, most peoplethought he would notreign long. He wascrowned at the age of

    13, and so Jerusalemwas ruled by tworegents, one of whomsigned a treaty of peace with Saladin. When Baldwin came of age he did notrenew the treaty, and, instead, began a series of wars against him fightingon horseback despite suffering from leprosy. He had numerous successes inhis battles, which led the Muslim population to refer to him as the pig.Baldwin was courageous in battle and wise in politics organizing marriagesthat would fortify the kingdom and his power. He ended up reigning for

  • 7/31/2019 10 Great People You Should Know


    eleven years the last two years of which he co-reigned with his five yearold nephew, King Baldwin V. Oh and unlike the movie Kingdom of Heaven,Baldwin IV did not wear a mask.