These 13 weird historical facts you wouldn’t believe actually happened

History is full of curious facts which never cease to amaze us but some events leave you in disbelief.

Here are 13 weird yet amusing facts you need to know.

1) The first proposal for space travel in English history was made by Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law

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Theologian and natural philosopher John Wilkins (1614–72), who married Cromwell’s youngest sister Robina, was a polymath of great learning and curiosity, and would be one of the founders of the Royal Society. In two books he explored the possibility of “flying chariots” to carry men to the moon.

He believed, as did many others, that the moon and planets were inhabited, and that we should meet these people and trade with them. People were anchored to the earth by a type of magnetism, and if it were possible to reach an altitude of just 20 miles, travellers would be free to fly, or rather sail, though space. Breathing wouldn’t be a problem as the astronauts would soon grow accustomed to the purer air breathed by angels.

Wilkins appears to have experimented in building flying machines with Robert Hooke, in the gardens of Wadham College, Oxford, in the 1650s. Some years later, however, with growing understanding of the nature of vacuums, he realised that space travel was much more complicated than expected.

While his Cromwellian connections reduced him to poverty after the return of the monarchy, Wilkins’s fortunes were gradually restored and he ended his life as Bishop of Chester.

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