What’s My Game?

322px-BoardGamePatentMagieIn 1904, the big industrialists like Rockefeller and Carnegie were making millions. So Lizzie Magie, a former actress, invented a game meant to teach the evils of greed.

She called it the Landlord’s Game, and when Parker Brothers rejected her idea she forged ahead and produced the game herself. It quickly became a hit— but not in the way she expected. Instead of buying it, people made their own homemade versions.

It wasn’t until 1933 that an enterprising young man named Charles Darrow added some new colours and symbols and turned it into the popular board game we all know today: Monopoly.

The Smithsonian site has a great video that tells the story of Lizzie Magie’s famous invention.

Roman Gold

Sebastiano del Piombo - A Young Roman WomanIn 216 BC, Rome had a problem. They’d just finished one war and were about to plunge into another. How to replenish the government vault? Create the Oppian Laws, “whereby no woman could possess more than half an ounce of gold, or wear a dress dyed in a variety of colours, or ride in a horse-drawn carriage in a city or town or within a mile of it.”

It took twenty years but women finally revolted against the restrictions (which didn’t apply to men, by the way). Great crowds of them “poured out of their houses into the streets, and mass-picketed all the entrances to the homes of the two Brutuses,” who were determined to keep the law in place. The Roman women’s persistence paid off and they won the day.

The King’s Red Shoes

Louis XIVRed-soled Louboutins might be trendy today, but King Louis XIV had the designer beat—by about 300 years. The French king often wore high-heeled shoes with red soles and heels, “elaborately decorated with depictions of battle scenes.”

In fact, red heels were such a status symbol of noble rank that Louis issued an edict in the 1670s:  no one was allowed to wear them except members of his court.

Check out this BBC article for more on the fascinating history of high heels.