Europe Origin Stories

Forks: An Ancient Faux Pas

“Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. . . . this woman’s vanity was hateful to Almighty God; and so, unmistakably, did He take his revenge. For He raised over her the sword of His divine justice, so that her whole body did putrefy and all her limbs began to wither.”


Saint Patrick: Kidnapped by Pirates

Eventually, an angel came to him in a dream and urged him to return home. “You have fasted well,” it said, “very soon you will return to your native country.” Thankfully, this helpful spirit also let Saint Patrick in on the latest ship departures and he was soon in pursuit of one that would take him back home. He trekked over 200 miles of forests, bogs, and brambles until at last, he reached a port that may have been Wexford.


Pedro e Inês: A Tale of Doomed Devotion

When they couldn’t be parted, Alfonso got desperate. Pedro and Inês had been happily in love for around ten years, living at Santa Clara Palace, in Coimbra, when the king reached his breaking point. He ordered three assassins — Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves, and Diogo Lopes Pacheco — to murder his son’s beloved.


Calling All Time Ladies: Make A Pit Stop In Sparta

They exuded unparalleled toughness. Despite our romanticizing it, the ancient world was a hard, cruel place to live. Spartan mothers had to give up an infant to desertion if the state deemed it was too weak, and when she did have a strong son, she no longer lived with him once he turned seven and moved into the agoge. When she sent him off to war, it’s said that she did so with a warning: “return with your shield or on it.”