Weird History The Biggest Historical Myths That People Think Are Fact  

Devon Ashby
20k votes 4.1k voters 747k views 21 items

List Rules Vote for the mythbuster that surprised you the most

Did Edison really invent the lightbulb? Did Catherine the Great really die in a compromising position with a horse? Did Vikings really wear those silly hats? These questions, and others like them, have haunted all of us from time to time. Fueled by artistic licenses taken by historical TV shows or just often repeated public misconceptions, there's a surprising amount about history everyone seems to get dead wrong.  History is a vast, complicated, and confusing subject, composed of lots of really weird stories and characters. Some of these stories are true, some are exaggerated, and some are just blatant, shameless lies. Which silly historical myths have you been buying into all this time? Prepare for your preconceptions to be brutally shattered below.

1 1,031 VOTES

What Medieval Torture Devices Were

What Medieval Torture Devices ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Biggest Historical Myths That People Think Are Fact
Photo: via Twitter
Torture wasn't exactly unheard of during the Middle Ages, but a lot of the specific torture devices that were supposedly used during that period have been made up by future generations wanting to cash in on their titillation factor. The most common of these is the Iron Maiden, which was originally pieced together for display in a British museum during the 18th century. (Museums were weird and fascinating things back then, existing more for "entertainment" than for actual education, and often contained an equal mix of natural and historical artifacts, and blatant frauds or "curiosities.") Iron Maidens do exist... they just probably weren't ever used to actually torture anyone.
673 358
Is this surprising?
2 1,279 VOTES

Walt Disney Invented Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney Invented Mickey Mo... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Biggest Historical Myths That People Think Are Fact
Photo: via Reddit
Actually, it was Ub Iwerks, one of Disney's most prolific and talented animators, who invented Mickey. There's an apocryphal story about Disney doodling an original sketch of proto-Mickey character Oswald Rabbit on an envelope while riding on a train (supposedly, this is also how Lincoln came up with the Gettysburg Address – we're skeptical about that one, too) but this hasn't been verified.
796 483
Is this surprising?
3 1,306 VOTES

Napoleon Bonaparte Was Inordinately Short

Napoleon Bonaparte Was Inordin... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Biggest Historical Myths That People Think Are Fact
Photo: via Imgur
Napoleon Bonaparte was known during his life as "The Little Corporal." While many people erroneously assume this was a reference to his physical height, it actually began early in his career as a mocking reference to his lack of military accolades and low rank. Napoleon Bonaparte was 5'7" – not a towering giant, but certainly not a dwarf.
747 559
Is this surprising?
4 1,134 VOTES

Witches Were Burned At the Stake In Salem

Witches Were Burned At the Sta... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Biggest Historical Myths That People Think Are Fact
Photo: via Pinterest

There's some evidence suggesting that people accused of Witchcraft in Europe during the Middle Ages were occasionally burned to death as punishment, but this was never the case in America during the late 17th century. The Salem Village Witch panic was definitely real, but although accused witches were killed in a number of creative ways (including being tied up and thrown in the river, and being crushed to death by rocks), none of the techniques used involved fire.

The most common method of executing people convicted of Witchcraft in Puritan New England was hanging.
652 482
Is this surprising?