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The problem with history is we never get to see how any of it turns out until long after the fact. Who was right? Who was wrong? Was 2020 the worst year of the current century? We'll never live long enough to know the answers to these questions (except that last one, because, come on, this past year was horrendous) but the following entries have people already breaking down some well-known historical lies.


Reddit user, u/sad-talking_head, wanted to hear about:

What are some historical lies that people generally believe?

Probably Should Drop This Stereotype Soon

That France surrenders at everything. France has the highest count of victories tho.

sly_vixen

Hell, just under Napoleon alone, the rest of Europe had to ban together to fight France off 5 times, and they were close affairs at that.

For most of its history, France was pretty darn good at winning.

badcgi

He Was My Idol...

Salieri and Mozart actually got along quite well. If they did have a rivalry, it was merely professional.

Salieri didn't promise his chastity to god, or if he did he didn't follow through because he got married and had kids.

Salieri didn't have to manipulate the emperor to earn favour with him. He was a well respected composer, and one of the richest men in the country at the time.

Amadeus is a great film, but it's a good thing that it doesn't start with "based on a true story". At least it's honest... I'm looking at you Braveheart!

epsonabcdefg

This One Comes Up Quite A Bit

That Napoleon was short, he was of average height by those times.

French just used the different scale of measurement.

Tallandstrong170

Selling Your Own BS

Hitler didn't become a monster because he was kicked out of art school.

He was a neckbeard bouncing around Vienna filling his head with all sorts of bullsh-t "philosophy" and well on his way to becoming a monster when someone suggested that he look into an art and architecture program at some school. He made a half-a--ed application which was denied and he continued to sell little paintings to get by while he read all his crazy books. He trumped up the kicked out of art school story in Mein Kampf.

Thirty_Helens_Agree

A Classic Naming Mixaround

That Iceland was named Iceland by the vikings to try to try to trick colonists into not colonizing when in fact the reason is that when the first people landed on iceland it was winter and the viking that named it saw a lot of ice and promptly named it as such

PickyIcky1234

Are you sure you aren't confusing this? The story I have heard is that Greenland was named that way to trick colonists into sailing there and wasting time and resources.

Kitlun

Greenland was named to attract settlers but Iceland wasnt named with any simalar intent. Fun fact about Greenland, it was actually named by someone who was exiled from Iceland.

PickyIcky1234

The Transition Of Ages Is Not So Cut And Dry

That the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD and then it was the dark ages.

In reality, a peasant living through 476 probably wouldn't have realized they were living through the end of one age and the start of another. The beginnings of feudalism had already started back during Diocletian's reign, barbarians warbands and barbarian roman troops had been a fact of life for generations. The barbarian king who deposed Augustulus still considered himself a rightful representative of the Empire, etc. In some ways, the fall of Rome was sudden and traumatic (the population of Rome itself absolutely cratered in the 400's, after all), but it was really more of a gradual, centuries long transition than a fall.

bigblindmax

Simple Solution To Simple Problems. All You Have To Do Is Look.

"NASA spent millions on developing a pen for space. The Russians used a pencil." [suggesting NASA isn't very intelligent]

They were perfectly correct to make a pen for space. A pencil would have released loads of tiny graphite particles during use, which would float around and interfere with electronics.

wombey12

Maybe Not The "Hottie" In The Way Modern Society Would View

That Cleopatra was some sort of otherworldly beauty who mesmerized every man she met. Ancient historians were more impressed/scandalized by her intelligence and ability to manipulate as easily as she breathed, and it wasn't until centuries later than she began to develop this reputation as a sexy seductress.

Cleopatra's ancestors were big fans of incest (the sixteen roles of her great-great-grandparents were filled by just six individuals), and members of the Ptolemaic dynasty had a reputation for being...odd-looking. Cleopatra, reportedly, was above-average-looking compared to others in her family, but according to historians like Plutarch, the general consensus was that "her beauty… was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her."

Dahhhkness

Sounds Like The "Nikola Tesla" Of Ancient Libraries

Almost anything involving the Library of Alexandria.

No, the Library of Alexandria was not the sole repository of knowledge in the ancient world. There were many other great libraries such as the one in Pergamum as well as many, many other collections.

No, we did not lose countless important works that could only be found there. The Library worked on copying works, and any important writings could easily be found in other libraries around the world.

No, we wouldn't be living in a utopia if it didn't burn because it was the centre of learning. The Library was in serious decline for almost a century before it burned. When Ptolemy VIII banned all foreign scholars from Alexandria, they moved to other libraries, and as Ptolemaic rule became less stable and the position of head librarian became a political position the prestige of the Library faded.

No, Julius Caesar did not burn it down on purpose. While he was besieged in Alexandria his troops set fire to some ships on the docks and the fire accidentally spread. However, it is unsure of how much of the Library was truly destroyed, as we know the Mouseion survived, and at any rate we know much was rebuilt later, with Mark Antony supposedly gifting some 200,000 scrolls to the Library, and Claudius built an additional to it during his reign.

No, the Christian Crusaders did not burn down the Library because they hated knowledge. First of all they didn't even attack Alexandria during the major Crusades (they would during a later minor one) besides they would be almost a 1000 years too late, as the last recorded evidence of the Library dates back to the middle of the 3rd Century, and any vestiges of the Library, which would have been a minor shell of its hight as Roman and Greek scholarship had long moved to other centres. At any rate what remained would have been destroyed during either Aurilian's attack of the city in 272 CE or Diocletian's in 297 CE.

badcgi

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