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History isn't all boring, you know. Schools need to change the way they teach history, for starters. And if you look deeper, beyond all the memorization, you'll find historical figures who were larger than life. In fact, some people lived lives so eventful they strain credibility.

Check yourself though, and think again. After Redditor Primary_Half asked the online community, "What historical figure sounds made up?" people shared facts about some of their favorites.

"He gained such notoriety..."

Joshua Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

He was just a crazy homeless dude in San Francisco who used to walk around in full uniform and ordered people around. Eventually the whole city started humoring him, saluting when he passed, and local businesses began accepting currency he created. He gained such notoriety that his decrees actually gained some traction with the community. When he died, over 10,000 people lined the streets for his processional.


"Probably the wildest story..."

Juan Pujol García. Aka the random Spanish dude who wanted to spy on Nazis so badly that, after being turned down by the British, he decided to go to the Nazis, turn himself into a double agent using newsreels and a tourist's guide to England, be so good at that that he was wanted by the British government, and eventually going from "random guy giving fake information to Nazis" to an actual spy for the British. He was so effective that, among other things, he was literally handed the strongest German encryption codes, which he promptly turned over to Bletchley Park.

Probably the wildest story was his involvement with Operation Fortitude, aka the misinformation campaign around D-Day. After telling the Germans that the real invasion would be on a different beach (this is the part with the inflatable tanks, btw), he sent a message with minimal info on the actual D-Day plans at 3am the night before it was going down. The Germans didn't respond until 8am, which then allowed him to lay out pretty much the entire thing - which, at this point, was entirely useless. He then proceeded to chew out the Nazis for their incompetence, the quote being "I cannot accept excuses or negligence. Were it not for my ideals I would abandon the work." And then the Nazis apologized.

He was so trusted by the Germans that he got the Iron Cross - which required Hitler's personal authorization. He was also awarded the MBE, making him one of the few non-Brits to receive that honor. After the war, he feared reprisal from surviving Nazis, so he faked his death from malaria and disappeared. After 35 years, he was found to be living in Brazil and running a bookstore and gift shop.


"After her death..."

Chang Chih Hsin.

She was a member of the Chinese communist party who complained that democracy and freedom of speech were fundamental rights in communism.

In response she was sent to an all male prison, male prisoners were told if tortured her they would get their sentece reduced.

Despite being beaten multiple times a day she continued to campaign against the party and wrote notes on the crimes of the party on toilet paper until the guards removed her pen.

She died from execution 6 years after entering the prison.

After her death she was considered a hero in China. However the reasons why she was sent to prison and what happened to her in prison were not mentioned. Instead her life story was rewritten to say she fought for the party and not against them.


"Imagine learning about..."

Imagine learning about Vlad the Impaler for the first time. A guy who killed dozens if not hundred of members of his own family to consolidate power, would impale people butt first on huge wooden spikes which took hours if not days to kill, was the inspiration for Dracula, his family name meant "Dragon", and he dipped his bread in the blood of his enemies while their corpses decorated his table.


"I think his life..."

Tarrare also sounds crazy to the point, I think his life almost has to be exaggerated. He's this French guy from the late 1700s who constantly craved eating, described as having an abnormally large jaw, an abdomen that would inflate like a balloon and leave a bunch of sagging skin when empty, and able to hold 12 apples in his mouth. Along with that he was described as constantly hot to the touch and producing a visible vapor from his body.

He also ate an entire cat (committing up the skin and bones) and is suspected to have eaten a 14 month old child.


"He was found by colonial forces..."

Samuel Whittemore

On April 19, 1775, British forces were returning to Boston from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the opening engagements of the war. On their march they were continually shot at by American militiamen.

Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols, killed a second grenadier and mortally wounded a third. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment had reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked.[7] He was subsequently shot in the face, bayoneted numerous times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found by colonial forces, trying to load his musket to resume the fight. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore recovered and lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 96.


"I think it was either one of his daughters..."

King Leopold the Second of Belgium. Overall a scumbag who only cared about personal wealth.

One or the first to successfully utilise and manipulate the media to frame him positively, even though he was a horrible person.

As the "owner" of Congo during the late 1800's, his methods cost roughly 10 million Africans their life.

I think it was either one of his daughters or someone who worked closely with him that once said that the only thing he cared about more than his wealth, was making sure none of his daughters would get any of it after his death.


Audie Murphy.

He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off a company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.


"Lost his arm..."

Götz von Berlichingen

Lost his arm during a siege and had two prostheses made - one of which was nimble enough to let him hold a quill.

Raided Nuremburg merchants until Emperor Maximillian placed a ban on him - Berlichingen paid 15,000 guilder to have it lifted.

Also is the first person to have used the phrase "lick my @ss" in prose.


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The Association for Psychological Science published a paper that reviewed some of the research:

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