Historical Facts We Learned in School that Aren’t Even True

History isn’t always correct. Sometimes, the things we all know are actually not true. Here are some historical facts we learned in school that, according to the Internet, might not be facts at all. 

History’s Greatest Authors

an open book and quill in an aged looking library surrounded by old books.
Photo Credit: Triff via Shutterstock.com.

Homer wrote the Greek epics The Odyssey and the Illiad, while Sun Tzu authored The Art of War

But is that true?

Reddit users claim there’s no historical record of either author outside these books, and most were compiled centuries after they supposedly lived. The works are likely compilations from various authors accredited to a single source. 

The Lost Library at Alexandria

An old shelf filled with old and antique looking books.
Photo Credit: Reinhold Leitner via Shutterstock.com.

We were taught that the fire at the Library in Alexandria destroyed hordes of human knowledge and history. The fire wiped out sacred texts key to our continued growth. 

That’s not entirely true. Although the fire was a devastating loss, many of the texts were copied and sent to other regions, meaning we didn’t lose as much as our teachers made it seem. 

Prima Nocta

Black and white photo depicting a bride and groom at the altar but neither looks happy.
Photo Credit: Everett Collection via Shutterstock.com.

Prima nocta refers to a practice where the ruling party would claim first rights to a bride on her wedding night, hoping to impregnate her with their child rather than her husband’s. 

The feature film Braveheart thrust the idea into our collective brains, making thousands of people believe this practice regularly took place. However, there’s no solid evidence that prima nocta was used as anything other than propaganda. 

Caesar’s Last Words

Statue of Roman Emporer Julius Caesar.
Photo Credit: Shaun Jeffers via Shutterstock.com.

The infamous “Et tu, Brute” was written by Shakespeare. No one really knows Caesar’s true last words. 

Napoleon’s Complex

Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Photo Credit: Matthew Leigh via Shutterstock.com.

Short men are said to have a Napoleon complex, after the French ruler known for his short stature. Common knowledge states that Napoleon’s obsession with conquering France (and even the world!) stemmed from his insecurity over his height. 

However, Napoleon was of average height for his time. He’s only a little short by today’s standards. 

The Fall of Rome

The ruins of the Roman Colosseum at sunrise.
Photo Credit: Catarina Belova via Shutterstock.com.

Rome fell in 476 AD…or did it? There wasn’t just one fateful day that ended an empire. It slowly decayed for decades. 

The final sack by the Turks in the 1400s is simply something modern historians can look back to and pinpoint. 

Let Them Eat Cake

Marie Antoinette wax figure in Madame Tussauds
Photo Credit: Yuri Turkov via Shutterstock.com.

Marie Antoinette’s famous last words were likely never uttered by the unfortunate queen. The French writer Rousseau penned these words in the 1780s when she was just a child, but the unfortunate attribution became a rallying cry against the royal family, leading to her ultimate demise. 

Viking Helmets

Darkscale image of a viking helmet in a nightime forest.
Photo Credit: Fernando Cortes via Shutterstock.com.

The common perception of a Viking helm bearing long, terrifying horns probably isn’t accurate. Vikings likely wore more utilitarian and practical helmets, but these artistic displays look great in film. 

Salem Witch Trials

Home of one of the judges in the Salem Witch Trials as part of the tour in Salem, MA.
Photo Credit: Ale Volpi via Shutterstock.com.

Most witch trials were seldom about witchcraft, and Salem is no exception. Witch burning typically had a political and patriarchal agenda. Men, threatened by wealthy, powerful, and intelligent women, accused them of witchcraft to get them out of the way and to keep other women in line. 

Artistic Genius

Image of the Statue of David in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. In the image, only the torso and head of Michelangelo's David are shown, and you can see the backdrop of the gallery.
Photo Credit: Ariana Ibarbo via Shutterstock.com.

We often believe that great artists throughout history had some extraordinary genius inaccessible to others. While it’s true they had something most people don’t, that thing wasn’t talent but privilege. 

Most famous artists had the time and money to pursue their crafts. They came from wealthy artisan families who supported the arts. They had free time to develop their skills without worrying about how to feed themselves. 

It makes you wonder how many artistic geniuses, past and present, society missed because they had to work menial jobs to survive. 

History Abounds with Nuance

Vintage clock or pocketwatch hanging from a pile of old books.
Photo Credit: Triff via Shutterstock.com.

Have you ever heard the saying that there are three sides to every story, his side, her side, and the truth?

The same is true for everything in history. Nobody knows with any certainty exactly how things went down. We must trust the written records of those who lived it. Unfortunately, many “writers of history” have hidden agendas, unconscious biases, or limited perspectives, but stories from the opposition get lost in the sands of time. 

That’s the fun thing about history, though. There are always new viewpoints to consider and new things to learn about our favorite historical figures. 

What new fun fact about history will you learn today?

Source: Reddit

Want more from Partners in Fire? Keep Clicking!

Time Flies – Savor Every Moment

sand running through an hourglass to represent quotes about time.
Photo Credit: Min C. Chiu via Shutterstock.com.

They often say time flies, and that’s true. We’re often so busy we don’t even notice the days and years slip away. 

Yes Time Flies – But Here’s How To Savor Every Moment

What’s an Empath?

Woman with her hand on her chin with a thinking look on her face.
Photo Credit: Cast Of Thousands via Shutterstock.com.

Empaths can read other people’s emotions. Find out how it works and whether you may have some empathic abilities! 

Learn More: Experts Reveal Top Signs of an Empath

Achieve Financial Independence with Stress Free Part Time Work

Happy attractive barista serving a coffee drink to represent Barista Fire
Photo Credit: tsyhun via Shutterstock.com.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could work part time at an easy, stress free job you love? Barista Fire is the path to financial independence that lets you do just that!

What’s Chaotic Neutral?

Close up of a woman with a serious face holding a piece of popcorn in her hand like she's about to eat it. It looks like she's immersed in the drama of whatever she's watching.
Photo Credit: Stokketev via Shutterstock.com.

Our favorite charactors in film and shows tend to lean toward the chaotic. Find out why we love this character archetype so much!

Bored? Try Drawing!

person drawing flowers with pastels
Photo Credit: MartaPo via Shutterstock.com.

Drawing is a great way to pass some time. You don’t have to be good at it either! Here are 101 fun things to draw when you’re bored