Friday, June 29, 2012

Tasty Lady

Chocolate candies are always the most reliable historical sources.
Incidentally, you have no idea how hard it is to find pictures of this that are safe for work.

Everyone knows about Lady Godiva’s famous ride. Her evil husband’s challenge that if she cared about the people of the city so much, he’d lower the taxes – if she’d ride though the city naked at high noon. Of course, never being one to turn down a dare, she did just so, and the one person who peeked during her au natural ride (Peeping Tom) was struck blind. And then her evil husband was forced to lower taxes, and Lady Godiva went on to found a great chocolate empire with Godiva Chocolates.

Ok, most people don’t actually believe that last part. But I have heard people say it. Frankly, it sounds pretty awesome.

So, what’s to not get right? Evil husband, brave woman, struck blind man, chocolate… Just how much of it is history and how much of it is mythtory?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Great Bras of Fire

Look, I’m trying to keep this rated PG here.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Bra-burning feminist.” Everyone knows that in the 1960s or possibly the 1970s, feminists were so enraged by men that they ripped off their bras and tossed them into a fire.

Or something like that, anyways. It must have, I mean, it’s referenced in passing in news columns like it’s common knowledge at least. 

There must have been tons of bra burnings, right?

Well, no, not exactly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nero’s Flaming Fiddle

Burn, baby, burn.

The politics of the Roman Empire were messy, often with multiple legitimate emperors at a time. There were around 80-85 Emperors of Rome over the history of the Roman Empire. Most people can name about four: Julius Caesar (which is incorrect – he wasn’t actually an emperor), Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (because they saw Gladiator), and flaming, fiddling, Nero.

Everyone knows two things about Nero:

1) He played the fiddle while watching the city burn.

2) He was the one who burned down Rome, so he could clear the land to build a new palace.

Why? Because he was crazy, and crazy people do unexplainable things, right?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This Pancake Earth

The Flat Earth Society gets all the cool flat-earth-in-space pictures.


(The tune is supposed to be the same as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”  but I’ve found it’s more amusing to just pick your favorite melody)

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
With three tall ships, 120 men,
Sailing on, sailing on, sailing on, on, on, on --
Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

He proved the earth was round, not flat, in 1492.
He proved the earth was round, not flat, in 1492.
With three tall ships, 120 men,
Sailing on, sailing on, sailing on, on, on, on --
He proved the earth was round, not flat in 1492.

This entry isn’t actually about Columbus (though I’m sure I’ll get to him eventually), this entry is about how everyone knows that when Columbus sailed that ocean blue, everyone thought he’d fall off the other side – because EVERYONE knew the earth was flat.

I mean, just look this totally ancient rendition of the earth:

Engraving: L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire

That’s from all the way back in the ancient days of… 1888.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Height of Napoleon

Jack of All Trades -- providing amusingly incorrect history since the year 2000

Let’s face it; everyone knows that Napoleon wasn’t exactly at towering example of height. One might even say he had a Napoleon complex because of his short stature.

I mean, just look at this contemporary 1850 image of him:

James Gillray: The Plumb-Pudding in Danger;–or–State Epicures Taking un Petit Souper, 1805
Metropolitan Museum of Art

It’s not like the British, his mortal enemy, would make stuff up about him, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Medieval Witch Hunts

Monty Python. The expert of all things witchy.

Everyone’s heard someone say something along the lines of, “If I’d lived in the Middle Ages, I’d have been burned as a witch.”

Because everyone typically knows two things:

1. The Middle Ages were one big witch hunt, until the Renaissance/Enlightenment arrived and everyone returned to sanity.

2. Witches were burned alive, traditionally at the stake.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Catherine the Great of Russia

Photo credit Wikipedia

Most people know three things about Catherine the Great:

1. She was Russian.

2. Her name was Catherine

3. How she died involved sex and a horse and possibly a toilet.

That seems pretty simple, right?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Henry VIII and his wives

I could write pretty much my whole life on the mythtories of this man and his wives.

Swiped from

Quick! Pull out a piece of paper and see if you can answer these (without consulting Google).

1. How many wives did Henry VIII have?

2. How many wives did he kill?

3. How many wives did he divorce?

4. How many wives outlived Henry VIII?

Answers after the jump...