History Stories

This week, we are taking a closer look at three specials from our weekly HISTORY Vault Editor’s Picks.

Today, the sorcerer’s stone is seen as fiction off the pages of Harry Potter. But in the Middle Ages, the quest for the sorcerer’s stone—or philosopher’s stone—was second only to the Holy Grail. The stone was made from a compound of secret ingredients, said to have the power to transform base metals into gold and grant long life, even immortality. What were these magical ingredients? Who were the alchemists who recorded this secret compound? Follow the adventures of men like Nicholas Flamel, not only a fictional character in The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter, but a real man rumored to have found the secret of the stone. Unearth the intrigues behind The Real Sorcer’s Stone. Check out other stories like this in the Myths and Legends collection.

On July 3, 1863, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade stood in the kitchen of her sister’s home making biscuits for Union troops. Caught between the crossfire of the two armies, the 20-year-old seamstress had neither fled nor taken shelter in the cellar. Suddenly, an errant Confederate bullet struck her in the back just below the left shoulder blade, killing her instantly. At least 7,600 soldiers died during the battle, but, remarkably, she was the only civilian to suffer that fate. Explore her story in Jennie Wade of Gettysburg. Explore other heroic tales like this in the Women of History collection.

The man we know as “King Herod the Great” is mentioned only briefly in the Bible. Compiled nearly a century after Herod’s death, the writings of the first century historian Josephus, describe a king who murdered most of his family and “stole the throne like a fox, ruled like a tiger and died like a dog.” Perhaps the key to understanding Herod lies in the buildings he left behind. Who was King Herod the Great? Was he the greatest builder in Jewish History? What is his legacy? Find out in Herod the Great. You can find videos like this in the collection Bible 101.

Make sure to check out these specials in the Editor’s Picks collection.
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MORE IN THE VAULT

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Next week enter the realm of Ancient Egypt’s incredible monuments as we get ready to celebrate Mummies Day.

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