Top Ten Historical Misconceptions

We all grew up learning the same stories in school and hearing the same tales of explorers, pilgrims, colonization, and expansion. Many of those stories are not historically accurate though. Some were taken from authors who intentionally used creative license to sell their works while others were due to mistranslations and misunderstandings.

Below are some of the biggest historical misconceptions with the descriptions being the more accurate account of what happened. Let's try to keep history accurate and historical instead of the propaganda it has become.

The Top Ten

1 Napoleon Bonaparte was short

This could be a result of there being so many tall men being use in the military, so that he appeared short in comparison.

In fact, Napolean was slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time. The problem comes from the difference between French inches and English Inches. He was actually about 5 foot 7 inches tall.

2 George Washington had wooden teeth

His dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, animal teeth, and probably human teeth from slaves.

3 Ancient Romans regularly vomited during meals

This came from use of the word "Vomitorium" which people assume meant a room for vomiting. In fact, it just means an entryway like those used at modern day stadiums. You walk through a vomitorium every time you enter or exit a large stadium.

4 The average life-expectancy during the Middle Ages was about half what it is now

While people did typically live shorter lives back then than we do now, the average age of 30 comes mainly due to infant mortality rates. Once a person survived childhood, their life expectancy was usually around 64 years total.

5 Iron Maidens were used as torture devices in the Middle Ages

There is no evidence that Iron Maidens ever existed in the Middle Ages or that they were used for torture. Instead they were pieced together in the 18th century from several artifacts found in museums in order to create spectacular objects intended for (commercial) exhibition.

6 Albert Einstein failed Math

In fact, Einstein said, "I never failed in mathematics... Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus." He did fail the entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School his first time but then again he was 2 years younger than his peers and scored exceptionally well in math and science.

7 G. Marconi as the founder of the radio

Another invention taken from Tesla. Tesla sued him for that and won the battle and the rulling said he is the true inventor of the radio. - Bruno2202

8 Medieval Europeans believed the Earth was flat

Its just the people before Columbus era and the Flat Earth Society nowadays.

Knowledge of a round Earth dates back to ancient Greek philosophers and was common knowledge by most intellectual Europeans.

9 The Chastity Belt was used to keep women chaste in Medieval Times

Most existing chastity belts are now thought to be deliberate fakes or anti-masturbatory devices from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

10 The "witches" of the Salem trials were burned at the stake

There are no records of people being burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials. The Accused were either hanged or died while in prison.

More died in prison than were hanged.

The Contenders

11 Vikings wore horns on their helmets

If they actually did that in real life, it would be dangerous!

12 Jesus Christ was born on December 25

Most theologians believe he was born in the Spring.

13 Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit the Americas

Besides the Vikings, it was a probably true that Phoenicians and Polynesians made it.

14 Coca-Cola invented the modern image of Santa Claus

By the time Coca-Cola began using Santa Claus's image in the 1930s, Santa Claus had already taken his modern form in popular culture and had been used extensively by other companies in their advertising.

Santa Claus from Dutch Sinter Kals. thanks to the Hollanders for this.

15 W.C. Roentgen being credited as the founder of the x-ray

It was actually discovered by Nikola Tesla. Rontgen stole it from him. - Bruno2202

16 Dinosaurs and humans coexisted

You have just offended all the silly creationists with this fact.

17 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was 5 years old
18 Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake."
19 The existence on Pythagoras

He Actually never existed, he's a fictional character that was created by the founders of "his" school. - Bruno2202

20 Gautama Buddha was obese
21 Abner Doubleday invented baseball
22 The word Golf originated as an acronym of "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden"
23 Xmas originated as a secular plan to "take the Christ out of Christmas"

Actually Jesus was born in the Spring. Xmas marks the time of 'Pagen" rites.

24 The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred on July 4, 1776
25 Ronald Reagan was considered for the role of Rick Blaine in Casablanca
26 Edelweiss is the national anthem of Austria
27 George Washington Carver invented peanut butter
28 Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet
29 Thomas Edison invented the light bulb
30 Henry Ford invented both the automobile and the assembly line
31 James Watt invented the steam engine

He improved an earlier invention and made it more useful.

33 Mammals evolved from reptiles

This is actually true. Mammals evolved from early reptiles just like the later reptiles.

34 Humans evolved from chimpanzees

We had a common ancestor but the Chimps are our closest biological relatives.

35 The Great Chicago Fire was caused by Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over a lantern
36 Jesus Christ was white
37 The Rolling Stones performed Sympathy for the Devil at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert when Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by a member of the local Hells Angels chapter that was serving as security
38 Jewish slaves built the pyramids

Professional laborers built the pyramids.

39 The Pilgrims hosted the first Thanksgiving
40 Spanish Influenza originated in Spain
41 Wall Streeters jumped to their deaths following the market crash of 1929
42 The existence of the Brontosaurus
43 Democrats won the Civil War and Republicans Lost
44 The Civil War was fought in order to abolish slavery

Let's be real here, Lincoln didn't care whether or not slaves were freed as long as the Union held together. The war was really about the Northern and Southern elites fighting over which economic system would prosper. On the contrast, Robert E. Lee was a far bigger opponent of slavery who only sided with the Confederates because it was too painful to betray his homeland.

45 The moon landing was a hoax
46 The cowboy hat was the most commonly worn hat in the Old West
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