Monday, May 14, 2012

Something I Didn't Know

This is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of posts on things that I didn't know.  Now and then as I am looking for homeschool information, or reading the news, or just following rabbit trails on the web, I will come across something that I find fascinating that I did not know.  Usually I think, "How could I not know this??"  I'm a fairly well read person, and it's not common that I have absolutely zero knowledge of some bit of historical, scientific, or cultural weirdness.  When it happens, I like to share it.  I will say to husband, "Did you know...?"  So with this series I will share some of those tidbits.  Sometimes you will think, "How could she not know that?  Is she living in a cave?  Illiterate?  Completely absorbed with American Idol?"  No, none of the above, just sporadically ignorant.  Without further ado, I give you the first installment of "Something I Didn't Know".

The Potsdam Giants:

I stumbled across this information while looking into acromegaly (a syndrome often associated with gigantism).  So in the span of about two minutes I went from relaxing on a site designed to induce laughter, to hunched over my keyboard, reading with fascination of the Potsdam Giants.

The Potsdam Giants were a Prussian infantry regiment.  It was founded in 1675 by King Frederick William I, and was composed of taller than average men.  Such was the King's desire for tall men to fill these positions, that kidnapping and enslavement were used when voluntary compliance failed.  Tall men from noble families were purchased, those from lower levels of society were taken.  The King let it be known that his preferred gift from foreign rulers was tall soldiers.  He paid these soldiers far more than the average wage, in hopes of attracting more tall men to this service.

As the King's fondness for tall soldiers became known, teachers "turned in" students who were exceptionally tall.  Parents often attempted to hide tall sons, but other members of a village or community would pass along news of the tall boy's existence in an attempt to curry favor with the king.

Much of what I read leads me to believe that Frederick William I's interest in tall men went beyond the desire for a formidable army.  I won't go further here, but this was certainly one of those historical tidbits that caused me to think, "How could I not know this???"

So share with me in the comments, were you familiar with the Potsdam Giants?  If so, how did you encounter this knowledge?.

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