15 Myths About History You Probably Believe

  • April 18, 2015
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It turns out that a lot of what you were reading in history textbooks was wrong, and some of the things you believe are either skewed by false information passed down through the generations, or were just flat out made up.

History teachers try hard to educate, and really it’s not their fault that throughout time people have been prone to hyperbole, lies, and a total lack of fact checking. Half of what we learn seems to be based on rumors and gossip, which brings with it the horrifying implications that in a thousand years the history books may be based on things reported by TMZ.

1. Marie Antoinette Never Said "Let Them Eat Cake"

Despite the popular opinion, Marie Antoinette’s famous line was actually written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in a book when Antoinette was only 10 years old.

2. Vikings Never Wore Horned Helmets

The Vikings are pretty much synonymous with horned helmets, but there’s never been a shred of evidence they ever wore them, and it was an artistic embellishment over the years.

3. American Independence Was Actually Declared on July 2

The American colonies declared independence on July 2, and not July 4 - it just took them a couple of days for Thomas Jefferson to edit the documents and make it official.

4. Slaves Didn't Build the Pyramids of Egypt

Paid builders, and not slaves, built the pyramids - and further, the myth that they were Jewish slaves has been debunked by no less than the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since Jews didn’t even exist then.

5. Witches Were Never Burned at the Stake in Salem

The common myth is that the Salem witches were burned at the stake, but not a single one was executed that way, with hangings being the actual method used.

6. Thomas Edison Did Not Invent Electric Light

Sorry, Mr. Edison, but you were an out and out thief here, stealing your idea from a guy named Sir Humphry Davy, who invented the first electric light bulb in 1809.

7. Captain Cook Did Not Discover Australia

Captain James Cook is thought of as the guy who discovered Australia, but in reality he wasn’t even the first European, as it had been visited nearly 200 years before he got there.

8. Betsy Ross Did Not Design the American Flag

Betsy Ross is remembered as the creator of the original American flag, but there’s absolutely no evidence to support it, and the legend was invented by her grandson and the lie endured.