Common Historical Misconceptions…CORRECTED!

Turns our you shouldn’t believe everything you hear! But not to worry, we are here (with the help of Buzzfeed) to put some common historical misconceptions to rest…

1. The Pyramids of Giza Were Built by Slaves.

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Contrary to popular belief, slaves were not forced to build the pyramids at Giza. Excavations at tombs near the pyramids support the theory that they were paid Egyptian labourers, who took both great pride in their work and the chance to serve the pharaoh. If you can’t build a pyramid for your living god then who can you build one for ay?

2. People During the Middle Ages Had a Low Life Expectancy.

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Clean water was questionable. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was riddled with some kind of disease. BUT many people actually lived well into their sixties. While life expectancy in the Middle Ages was lower than it is today, this didn’t necessarily mean that people died of old age in their thirties and forties.

3. The Vikings Wore Horns on Their Helmets.

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Our modern image of Vikings wearing horned helmets originates from an 1876 production of the opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. The costume designer, Carl Emil Doepler, created horned helmets for the Viking characters for use in the production. There is zero evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets during battles.

4. Marco Polo Introduced Pasta to Italy.

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The story goes that Marco Polo brought back pasta from his travels to China. However, most historians agree that Arabs introduced pasta to Italy in the late 7th century, during their conquest of Sicily… which was almost 600 years before Marco Polo was born!

5. Pilgrims Wore all black, and Their Hats Had a Buckle On Them.



Pilgrims did not wear all  black clothing with square white collars and cuffs. Their fashion was actually based on the late Elizabethan era, and they wore bright, solid colors (reds, greens, yellows, and purples).

They also didn’t wear buckles on their hats (called capotains), shoes, or waists. The image we associate with Pilgrims was actually created in the 19th century, when buckles became a kind of emblem of quaintness. We are a silly bunch… but then again we base Santa Claus’s outfit on a certain Coca-Cola commercial!


6. Napoleon Bonaparte Was Unusually Short.

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Napoleon’s official height was 5’7”, which was above average height for the time period. The reason for the confusion about his height stems from the difference in measuring systems between Britain and France at the time. French inches were longer than Britain’s imperial inches. His French height was recorded as 5’2”, however Britain never adjusted for the difference.

7. Marie Antoinette Said, “Let them eat cake.”

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Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” The quote is commonly attributed to her, however it was actually from philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiography, Confessions, in which he recalls a story he once heard of a great princess who when told that the peasants had no bread replied, “Let them eat brioche.”

It is unlikely that Rousseau could be writing about Marie Antoinette, as she was only 10 years old when his book was written in 1765. That said I quite like the idea of this actually happening…but don’t tell our Jenna, she is a die-hard Marie fan!

8. Van Gogh Sliced off His Ear.

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Ok, this is partially true. The infamous story goes that in 1888, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from severe depression, cut off his left ear with a razor, wrapped it in a newspaper and then handed it to a prostitute named Rachel. The reality is that he didn’t slice off his entire ear, just a portion of his left lobe.

Some historians, though, believe that Van Gogh actually lost part of his ear in a fight with his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin.

Origional source: Buzzfeed



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