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Ghosts of the West

Everyone loves a good ghost story, the kind that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and cause you to look over your shoulder. But what attracts us to ghosts even more than their sheer creepiness are the stories that come with them. Most of the time, ghost stories are rooted in a darker side of human nature. A side of ourselves and our histories are exposed to use through the supernatural. In this blog, we explore the darker side of the West through the souls that were left behind.

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The Sporcle Monarchy

Here’s another entry in our series of blog posts highlighting the many subcategories on Sporcle. Today, we’re talking about Monarchy.

As the world entered the modern age, many nations started to leave behind notions of a powerful, governing monarchy. Some nations abolished their monarchies completely,  evolving into entirely new forms of government. Nations in the Western world who ended up maintaining their monarchies usually placed them in the position of figureheads of the state, little more. In this age of dwindling successions, it’s easy to forget that during most of the past two-thousand years the world was governed by those born into leadership, not those elected by the people. A few ruling families set the agenda for at least a millennium. No wonder they went crazy.

Exacerbating the problem was the constant intermarriage and shallow gene pool among those with noble blood. Consequently, every family had its fair share ‘interesting’ characters. Of the French royals alone, some were schizophrenic, some sadists, and some just severely handicapped from all that inbreeding. Carlos II of the Spanish royal family attributed his unfortunate condition to being bewitched. He was born with a deformed body and a face so long and curved that he could not actually close his mouth to eat. His ancestor Juana the Mad of Castile took her husband Phillipe the Handsome with her on a tour of Spain long after he had died, and refused to part with his body. (One wonders where she got her name…)

It would be difficult as a royal of Europe to find a noble to marry to whom you were not related. Just in the past 200 years, the Danish royal family married into royalty or ascended the throne in five separate European nations. The English royals are also a great example of this: having married into almost every house in Europe. The long and fascinating history of the British royals includes war, conquest, treaties,  strange baby names, multiple marriages, and religious tensions. While Shakespeare wrote about many of the English kings, but as a Tudor monarch was still on the throne when he was writing it was necessary to speak with caution. (One doesn’t survive through the reign of a queen nicknamed “Bloody” and not learn a thing or two about keeping your mouth shut.)

With such a long and strange history, we’ve just scraped the surface of amazing Monarchy trivia. If you noticed any great Monarchy quizzes we haven’t featured on Sporcle, please be sure to let us know in the comments.

Don’t Forget Chester A. Arthur

Are you interested in a powerful group in our society largely dominated by similar upper-class, white men? Well, we have the Sporcle category for you! To be fair, the U.S. Presidents were pretty interesting guys. They fought wars, had troubled childhoods and difficult marriages, and had to deal with politics in America. While the majority of them were from Eastern states with upper-middle class upbringings, there are some remarkable exceptions. At Sporcle, we have an entire section of the website devoted the men in our highest office who made the United States what it is today.

Most people can’t name the presidents of the United States in order, or even out of order given hints. How many do you think can name them in reverse?  How about by presidential term? Did you know we had a president who shared the name of Rainn Wilson’s character on The Office? We’ve actually had quite a few peculiar presidential names. Could you name them all? 27% of all Sporclers who have taken the quiz could. Maybe Americans just trust certain names, considering 22 of our 44 presidents have shared names with at least one other president.

It’s easy to know the most popular presidents. Movies and jokes are made about them long after their term in office, and sometimes (if they lived sufficiently long enough ago and were well enough liked) have high schools and government projects named after them. But can you name who we commemorate the most in film? or identify inaugural quotes from some of our best remembered presidents?

Over the course of history, some states have been far more highly presidential than others. Incidentally, the state that has produced the greatest number of presidents actually seceded from the Union during the Civil War. Can you name the state? And we all know that the Iowa presidential primary is important, but can you name the one president who came from there? Do you know the political party they were a part of?

Far from being arcane history, the presidents of the United States have had an incredible effect on the world in which we currently live. And hey, knowing presidential trivia can only help you in history class!