25 Times People Were Convinced Of False Historical Facts

Published 7 months ago

When we narrate a story we witnessed, we embellish certain details and omit others to make the story more scintillating. So we can imagine that any historical stories that have come down through the years may have gone through similar edits over time.

One Reddit thread attempts to clarify such misinterpretations of historical events that we all accept as fact, but that may have more to the story than is popularly known. Scroll below for a collection of tales shared by folks that may somewhat surprise you despite because though many people accept it as fact, it may not be as accurate as we think. 

More info: Reddit

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#1 There has never been a viking helmet found that had a horn attached to it.

Image source: cylindricalam, kalhh

#2 Marilyn Monroe never said “…if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” There is literally no documented proof she ever said that.

Image source: prex10, Rajah Siwale

#3 Catherine the Great did not do that with a horse.

Image source: ZachMatthews, Richard Mortel


Image source: Mackheath1, wiki commons

[Note, I am a Christian, however] The Nativity Story: there was no census, and even ancient texts don’t mention it until it gets a nod in two of the gospels written decades after His death. Also a census of that scale back then would take *years and years* if there was one, due to the distances and logistics. The reason cited in the oldest texts was that Jesus needed to be born in David’s City to be really the King of Kings, so a story was refined over centuries to get him to Bethlehem. Virgin Mary wasn’t even “virgin” until about the 6th Century CE (Constantinople). Obviously the bible has a *slew* of historical issues, but it’s Christmas time. Merry Christmas y’all!


Image source: marilern1987, Leah Kelley

No so much a single historical fact, but people tend to fall for fallacies of nature, and imply that we should go back to the way we did things “naturally”

But often times, this idea is extremely historically inaccurate. Many times, the way we did things “naturally” resulted in a lot of, you know. Death.

For example, “giving birth naturally.” Some people seem to think that before modern obstetrics, that we were all just a bunch of natural goddesses giving birth in the forest. But the reality was a lot more grotesque than that. If everyone gave birth the way we did in 1900, we would be seeing a lot more childbirth related death. We would also see a lot more women dealing with fistulas, and being ostracized

Same with vaccines. Letting “nature” take its course, killed us, sometimes at alarming rates (like with smallpox). Oh sure, they had natural immunity to a lot of things, just like we develop natural immunity to a lot of things – except some immunities are a lot safer to get naturally. You don’t just develop natural immunity to polio, you have to get polio and suffer the permanent *natural* consequences. But people have this idea that everyone used to walk around with better immune systems and they would drink elderberry


Image source: Mobabyhomeslice, wiki commons

Young Earth Creationism is NOT the historically believed position of the Early Christian Church or the Ancient Church. It’s a fairly recent theological position initially proported by 7th Day Adventist, but quickly became popular with Fundamentalists due to backlash over evolution becoming mainstream.

Before that, most people saw the Creation narrative in Genesis as a narrative myth and was not meant to be read as scientific fact.

#7 That there was massive fraud in the 2020 election. When you lose 60 times in a row in federal court and fail to produce any evidence, it’s time to hang it up.

Image source: LincHayes, cottonbro studio

#8 Einstein being a low-level student (his grades were average to top tier of the class, and he was pretty damn good academically)

Image source: Only-Negotiation-340, wiki commons

#9 That ancient humans were dumb

Image source: Suffocatingstardust, Gratisography

#10 That every women in the Middle ages married at 12 or 13 and started having babies immediately. And they did not love and mourn their children as much as we do. That people in the Middle ages thought the earth was flat

Image source: Available-Bell-9394, wiki commons

#11 That ancient people thought the Earth was flat. We have records from around 430BC where Greek philosophers spoke of the Earth being a sphere. In 240BC the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth and was only about 2% out.

Image source: Apprehensive_Bug_826, Pixabay

#12 Calling the American Civil War “the war of Northern Aggression”. B***h you literally shot first. Edit: “I’m from the south and I’ve never heard this” the f**k you haven’t!

Image source: Lyn1987, wiki commons

#13 The claim Mormons make that the Book of Mormon is a historical record of a group of ancient white Hebrew people who lived on the pre-Colombian American continent and were cursed with brown skin for disobeying God and those are the people who became the Native Americans. Yeah right…

Image source: Labans_Severed_Head

#14 China does not own the South China Sea, no matter how badly it wants to believe it with its nine dash line.

Image source: Sergiomach5


Image source: Plug_5, Pixabay

That knowledge and science in Western Europe were wiped out during the Dark Ages because of the Church. In fact, the Medieval church was one of the only places in Europe keeping knowledge alive, as monks transcribed and copied ancient sources. For example, everything the ancient Greeks knew about the science of sound and acoustics was transmitted down via church sources.

Not saying the Church hasn’t done awful things. But the usual narrative about its function in the Middle Ages is completely opposite from reality.

Heck, while we’re at it, the so-called Dark Ages didn’t really exist at all.

#16 Never did Marie Antoinette say, “Let them eat cake” To be honest, history has demonized that poor child. She was married to a moron, she was in a foreign country, and she had no idea what she was doing.

Image source: HaroldAGriffin, wiki commons


Image source: TartReceptor, Heidi De Vries

Corsets were not typically tight laced. They were only tight laced by the highly fashionable women, and usually only for particular events or portraits. Corsets were designed to be comfortable. Women wore a cotton layer underneath the corset, so it didn’t rub against the skin. The corset was more like a bra, bit instead of using the shoulders to support it used the whole torso. Some people claim they are much more comfortable than modern bras. The intense proportions of the past were achieved with Corsets AND padding. Tight lacing was uncommon, but layers of petticoats or hoops or bum rolls or whatever else at the time was very common to give women the trendy body shape at the time.

#18 That the American Civil War wasn’t about slavery and was started by the Union. Both of these are wildly wrong, but various groups hold to them like an emotional support blanket so they can rationalize their chosen side lost.

Image source: MandoFett117, Internet Archive Book Images

#19 Well, for starters, the claim that Napoleon was short is just not backed by historical facts. The guy was average height for his time. It’s like saying your 5’8″ friend is a giant because he hangs out with a bunch of kindergartners.

Image source: EmmieNunley, Hugh Llewelyn

#20 That binary numbers were first used by Leibniz. Most computer histories make this claim. But there’s an existing manuscript page by the English mathematician Thomas Harriot that includes binary numbers and binary multiplication that was written around 1605, forty years before Leibniz was born.

Image source: RunDNA, cottonbro studio

#21 I’m sick of curriculum materials teaching my fourth graders that the Spanish discovered Florida when they were looking for the Fountain of Youth. That lie was developed in the 1920s as a tourist gimmick. There’s literally nothing in the historical record that supports it.

Image source: fastfood12, Max Fischer

#22 That the Pyramids were built by Jewish slaves. The Egyptians were good at record keeping and none of their records say anything about slaves being used for the construction of the Pyramids.

Image source: Opeewan, David McEachan

#23 The idea that medieval/early modern people (especially peasants) were filthy/had poor hygiene and never left their villages. Medieval people cleaned themselves and their clothes fairly regularly. They even cleaned their teeth by chewing split twigs. Also, it was fairly common even for peasants to travel to pilgrimage sites on holy days/periods.

Image source: BungadinRidesAgain, wiki commons

#24 Vomitoria were passages designed to accommodate large crowds, not rooms for actual vomiting (“vomit” comes from Latin for “spew forth”).

Image source: ItsGotThatBang, wiki commns

#25 Executioners/hangman didn’t wear hoods. People knew who they were. There are even several instances where the job gets passed from father to son like a family business. They were paid okay but also made side money from selling stuff used for the execution like bits of rope and fabric and stuff.

Image source: LuxValentino, Warner Bros

Edit: There’s a book called Lord High Executioner by Howard Engel that goes into the history of it and it’s fascinating.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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facts, factual inaccuracies, false facts, historical inaccuracies, history, inaccuracies
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