Biographics: History One Life at a Time

de Biographics: History One Life at a Time

For better of for worse these are the people who changed our world.


353 - Prince - Music Royalty

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Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. A multi-instrumentalist who was considered a guitar virtuoso, he was well known for his eclectic work across multiple genres, flamboyant and androgynous persona, and wide vocal range which included a far-reaching falsetto and high-pitched screams.

352 - Karl I - The Last Emperor of Austria

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Charles I or Karl I was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, the last King of Bohemia, and the last monarch belonging to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine before the dissolution of Austria-Hungary.

351 - Ludwig Wittgenstein - The 20th Century's Greatest Philosopher

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Austrian-born British philosopher, regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Wittgenstein’s two major works, Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (1921; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922) and Philosophische Untersuchungen (published posthumously in 1953; Philosophical Investigations), have inspired a vast secondary literature and have done much to shape subsequent developments in philosophy, especially within the analytic tradition. His charismatic personality has, in addition, exerted a powerful fascination upon artists, playwrights, poets, novelists, musicians, and even filmmakers, so that his fame has spread far beyond the confines of academic life.

350 - Miss Dior - Resistance Fighter, Ravensbruck Survivor

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Ginette Dior, better known as Catherine Dior, was a French Resistance fighter during World War II. Involved with the Franco-Polish intelligence unit F2 from November 1941, she was arrested in Paris in July 1944 by the Gestapo, then tortured and deported to the Ravensbrück women concentration camp.

349 - Ivan Pavlov - His Dogs and Conditioning Theory

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Russian physiologist known chiefly for his development of the concept of the conditioned reflex. In a now-classic experiment, he trained a hungry dog to salivate at the sound of a metronome or buzzer, which was previously associated with the sight of food. He developed a similar conceptual approach, emphasizing the importance of conditioning, in his pioneering studies relating human behaviour to the nervous system. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his work on digestive secretions.

348 - Soapy Smith - King of the Frontier Con Men

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Born in Georgia in 1860, Jefferson Randolph Smith went west while still a young man, finding work as a cowboy in Texas. Smith eventually tired of the hard work and low wages offered by the cowboy life, though, and discovered that he could make more money with less effort by convincing gullible westerners to part with their cash in clever confidence games.

347 - Blackbeard - Scourge of the Seven Seas

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Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain's North American colonies.

346 - Olga of Kiev - The Viking Saint of Russia

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In today’s video we are covering our first Saint worshipped both by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, revered for having first introduced Christianity amongst the Rus. These were a pagan people of Nordic descent, who ruled over a vast land in the early Middle Ages, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. But her holy title should not fool you, as she did not dedicate her life solely to prayer and converting the heathen. This Saint was a ruler, the regent of the Principality of Kiev, and one of the most powerful women of the early Middle Ages.

345 - Norman Borlaug - The Controversial Father of the Green Revolution

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Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution.

344 - Louis XIV - The Sun King

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Louis was the son of Louis XIII and his Spanish queen, Anne of Austria. He succeeded his father on May 14, 1643. At the age of four years and eight months, he was, according to the laws of the kingdom, not only the master but the owner of the bodies and property of 19 million subjects. Although he was saluted as “a visible divinity,” he was, nonetheless, a neglected child given over to the care of servants. He once narrowly escaped drowning in a pond because no one was watching him. Anne of Austria, who was to blame for this negligence, inspired him with a lasting fear of “crimes committed against God.”

343 - Douglas Adams - His Life, the Universe, and Everything

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Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. Adams was author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a video game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.

342 - Alfred Russel Wallace - The Forgotten Father of Evolution

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Alfred Russel Wallace  was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin's writings in 1858. This prompted Darwin to publish On the Origin of Species.

Like Darwin, Wallace did extensive fieldwork; first in the Amazon River basin, and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the faunal divide now termed the Wallace Line, which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia.

341 - George Stephenson - The Father of the Railways

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Without a doubt, one of the most exciting periods in history was the Industrial Revolution. At perhaps no other time was there a greater feeling that the sky was the limit. Innovations happened one after another and they all seemed destined to change the world forever.

Assuredly, one of the most important novelties of the 19th century was the railway. It marked a decisive shift in how people could travel the world. Distances that previously seemed unreachable were now just a day or two away. And we might have never enjoyed this revolution without George Stephenson, a man aptly named the “Father of the Railways.”

340 - Isaac Asimov - Foundation of a Writing Genius

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Today’s protagonist is universally recognised as one of the greatest science fiction writers in the history of literature. He won the Hugo and Nebula Awards, among many others, and is best remembered as the inventor of Robotics -- the brilliant mind that conceived the Foundation series and the concept of Psychohistory.

During his long writing career, Isaac Asimov hopped back and forth between science fiction and mystery novels, essays, non-fiction textbooks, literary commentaries and dissertations on humour. He authored or edited nearly 500 books in his lifetime, including an average of 10 or more publications every year during his most prolific production period.

339 - Mark Antony - Lover of Cleopatra, Rival for an Empire

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The year is 30 BC. In the grand Egyptian capital of Alexandria, panic is sweeping the streets. A mighty Roman fleet is bearing down on the city, bringing fire, destruction. In a half-finished mausoleum, Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony await the inevitable. Antony’s stomach has already been sliced open, and now the great general is merely waiting to die. As Roman boots pound the streets, the wounded man orders one last cup of wine. Then, as his lover looks on, he offers her a final toast before everything goes black.

338 - Karl Benz - Father of the Automobile

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Looking back on humanity’s achievements, you can pinpoint certain landmark moments that changed the world forever. One such moment was, undoubtedly, the birth of the automobile which, like rail transport before it and aviation afterwards, completely revolutionized how humans moved around.

Many people deserve credit for this achievement. As you are about to find out, the concept of the “first car in the world” is, by no means, a settled matter, but the lion’s share of the accolades goes to Karl Benz who designed and built what is regarded by many as the true first automobile.

337 - Croesus - All the Money in the World

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Can money truly bring happiness? Well, if you ask King Croesus, then the answer is a resounding “yes.” He ruled over the kingdom of Lydia at a time when it was one of the wealthiest and most powerful kingdoms on the planet. He amassed untold riches the likes of which the world had never seen. He spurred on the world economy by issuing the first gold coins.

And all came crashing down in the end. Ever fickle, fortune abandoned Croesus and he witnessed his once-mighty kingdom crumble to dust and become just a small part of an even bigger, more powerful empire. And, if oracles are to be believed, this had all been part of a prophecy over 100 years in the making as Croesus had been destined to pay for the sins of his ancestors.

336 - James Joyce - Ireland's Most Enigmatic Writer

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The works of James Joyce — particularly Ulysses and Finegans Wake — are almost universally considered classics, but they're a little different than most of the great works of literature that have been read for decades — if not centuries — in all corners of the world.

They're notorious amongst their peers: they're among the most dense and difficult books to try to read. They're full of obscure language, made-up words, and pages that just dissolve into a bizarre, stream-of-consciousness narratives.

335 - Emmy Noether - The Greatest Forgotten Mathematician in History

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Human history is littered with people who changed the world, only to have their achievements erased from popular memory. Gay men like computing pioneer Alan Turing, women like mathematician Ada Lovelace, even pure oddballs like Nikola Tesla were left out the curriculum for decades. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. On the internet, everyone from the Navajo code talkers, to NASA’s black, female number crunchers are having their stories told.

334 - Robert Louis Stevenson - Living Life Through Imagination

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Robert Louis Stevenson holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many readers. He often served as an introduction to real, grown-up books. Stories like Kidnapped and Treasure Island may be considered classics, but they're also full of adventure and intrigue — the sort of stories that make you wish you were one of his characters, sailing the high seas, looking for buried treasure, fighting to reclaim your legacy.

333 - Michael Faraday - The Father of Electricity

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What is the first name that comes to mind with the mention of electricity? Thomas Edison? Nikola Tesla? Perhaps even Benjamin Franklin. Yet Michael Faraday has every right to belong on that list, too, as it's impossible to imagine a world without his contributions to science.

From chemistry to electricity, from theoretical science to practical experiments that revolutionized the world, Faraday's contributions can't be overstated. And there's more to the story than just success; it's also a poignant tale of how anyone — regardless of their background, their education, or their upbringing — can make a real impact.

332 - Jakob Fugger - The Richest Man Who Ever Lived

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For as long as mankind has had currency, a system of trading, and a market economy, the world has been split into the "haves" and the "have-nots," … and for much of that time, there's been a huge gap between the two. The idea of the 1 percent isn't a new concept by any means, and in order to talk about one of the richest men in history, we'll have to go all the way back to the 15th century.

The man who would become known as Jakob Fugger the Rich was born in 1459, and he had an advantage that few people get, then or now -- he was born into a well-to-do family. But through a series of investments made with incredible foresight and a willingness to risk it all, Fugger guided his family to become one of the richest and most influential in history.

331 - Richard the Lionheart - The Crusader King

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“He was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier.” That was the description that historian Sir Steven Runciman thought best fitted Richard I. This was in line with the criticism brought against Richard by Victorian scholar William Stubbs who considered him a “mere warrior” who had no care for his kingdom or sympathy for its people.

Indeed, Richard I was an absentee ruler, spending only a combined six months out of his ten-year reign in England. The rest of the time, the king was either involved in wars or in captivity or simply preferring to reside in his French territories such as Anjou and Aquitaine. Today, scholars debate whether the king even knew how to speak English or not as he preferred his mother’s language of Occitan.

330 - The Wright Brothers First in Flight and Family

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History is a delicate endeavor. It tends to remember those who make a lasting impact as larger-than-life figures, defined by their contributions, as well as the the effects the ripple and unfold after the fact. It's easy to forget that many of the people who shaped our world started out just like everyone else. They had to obey their parents, for better or worse. They played — and argued — with their siblings. They got into trouble in school. They struggled to find a direction in life.

329 - Musa I of Mali - The Real Life King Midas

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Picture the richest person you can possibly imagine. Is it Jeff Bezos, the super-wealthy Amazon founder? Or maybe Microsoft head Bill Gates? No matter who you chose, their wealth will still be peanuts next to the subject of today’s video. Musa I was a man so wealthy that the true extent of his riches are almost indescribable. The ruler of the Malian Empire from 1312 AD to around 1337, Musa was a man whose life was built on gold. As king he personally owned over half the Old World’s known gold reserves. On a single trip through Cairo he once spent so much that he caused the price of gold to crash, pushing Egypt into an economic slump. Imagine if Auric Goldfinger somehow mated with Scrooge McDuck to produce the wealthiest, bling-iest figure in history. That was Musa I.

328 - The 47 Ronin - Japans Greatest Tale of Vengeance

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This tremendous tale of samurai loyalty and honor goes by several names. It is usually referred to as the Akō jiken in Japan, translated as the Akō incident, or sometimes the Akō vendetta. It has been featured so prominently in Japanese literature and kabuki theater that it spawned its own genre - Chūshingura, or The Treasure of Loyal Retainers, that only includes fictional stories based on this historical event.

327 - Olive Oatman - Life among the Mohave

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Even those who aren't familiar with the name "Olive Oatman" are undoubtedly familiar with her photo. The young, dark-haired girl with the solemn expression and distinctive chin tattoo has become synonymous with the hardships faced by the pioneers who set out as a part of America's Westward Expansion, a mass migration that helped shape the middle of the 19th century.

326 - Porfirio Diaz Mexicos Gentleman Dictator

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In November 1910, Mexico exploded. Triggered by a rigged election, the Mexican Revolution shook the nation. You’ve probably heard of its most-famous sons: Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. You probably even know its biggest set-pieces, such as the 1914 US occupation of Veracruz. But how much do most of us know about the guy who started it all? About the guy whose rule convinced hundreds of thousands of Mexicans to take up arms and fight to overthrow him?

325 - Elvis Presley - Life and Death of the King

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He was the undisputed king of rock n’ roll. In the mid-1950s, 20-year old Elvis Presley exploded onto the airwaves. With a rockabilly blend of country music and blues, his curled lip, and his trademark wiggling hips, the southern boy caused a sensation. Coming just as youth culture was taking off, Elvis was everything these new teenagers wanted: dangerous, rebellious, and anathema to their parents. Across the nation, preachers denounced him from their pulpits. Judges issued writs against him for corrupting morals. The National Guard was even called to his concerts. If you were alive in 1956, then you likely thought Elvis either the sexiest or most-dangerous man alive.

324 - Tutankhamun - The Boy King of Egypt

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On November 26, 1922, egyptologist Howard Carter entered the tomb he discovered just a few weeks prior. After decades of fruitless searching, he found something more amazing than he could have ever hoped for. When asked if he saw anything inside, he simply replied “Yes, wonderful things.”

Carter had located the tomb of a pharaoh from the 18th dynasty who ruled over ancient Egypt during the 14th century BC. More importantly, though, it was a tomb that had been mostly undisturbed for over 3,000 years.

323 - Isambard Kingdom Brunel - The Genius of the Industrial Revolution

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He’s likely the most famous engineer in history. In 2002, a BBC poll named Isambard Kingdom Brunel the second greatest Briton of all time, second only to Winston Churchill. A key player in the Industrial Revolution, Brunel helped turn Britain into a global powerhouse. Under his guidance, railway tracks were laid across England and Wales at a phenomenal rate; gravity defying bridges were built; and the first modern ships were engineered. With his trademark top hat and cigar, Brunel became an icon of Britain’s early Victorian age - a self-made man propelling his nation forward through sheer talent and entrepreneurial spirit alone.

322 - Melita Norwood - The Soviet Unions Longest-Serving British Spy

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Imagine the scenario: you have an adorable grandmother, beloved by friends and family. She tends to her roses, bakes pies, and grows her own vegetables. You know she works for some sort of government outfit, something to do with science and metals. You know that now and then, she takes long trips to the other side of town. You don’t know exactly where she is going, or who she is meeting, but she always looks excited.

321 - Jimi Hendrix - Life and Death of an Electric Alchemist

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Even if you never cared for his songs, you surely heard of him. He was a musical prodigy, the first real electric guitar hero. He grew from humble beginnings and a fractured family to establish himself as one of the most influential guitarists of all time, a major force in 20th century music. Get ready to jam out on your air-guitar with today’s protagonist: Jimi Hendrix.

320 - Carl Linnaeus - The Father of Taxonomy

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Carl Linnaeus was born on May 23, 1707, in Råshult, a tiny village in the province of Småland in southern Sweden. He was the eldest of five children to Nils Ingemarsson Linnaeus and Christina Brodersonia. His father was a church minister and an amateur botanist who believed in the importance of a good education. Ever since Carl was a little boy, he and his father would take trips through the garden where Nils taught him everything he knew about plants.

319 - Cornelius Vanderbilt - Americas First Tycoon

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Cornelius Vanderbilt wasn’t exactly what you would expect out of one of the richest men in the world. He was brutish, ill-mannered, barely literate, and swore like a sailor. But, perhaps, it was these same traits that made him the definition of the American Dream with all the good and the bad that that entailed. He rose up from nothing; from less than nothing, in fact. His Dutch ancestors came to the New World as indentured servants. But through hard work and a keen eye towards the future he amassed a fortune seldom seen before that time.