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

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.

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

Napoleon was actually around 5'6 / 5'7 which was actually pretty average for his time.

2 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.

3 George Washington had wooden teeth

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

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 Vikings wore horns on their helmets

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

8 Medieval Europeans believed the Earth was flat

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

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

9 Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit the Americas

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

10 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.

The Contenders
11 Jesus Christ was born on December 25

Most theologians believe he was born in the Spring.

12 Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake."
13 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.

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.

15 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.

16 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.

17 Thomas Edison invented the light bulb
18 Spanish Influenza originated in Spain
19 The existence on Pythagoras

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

20 Gautama Buddha was obese
21 Henry Ford invented both the automobile and the assembly line
22 Jesus Christ was white
23 The moon landing was a hoax
24 Pirates said things like "Arrr" and "Shiver me timbers"
25 Edelweiss is the national anthem of Austria
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