Don’t believe everything you learned at school, or for that matter anywhere else. History is written by victors, so more often than not, a superficial study of history is almost always inaccurate. Here are few glaring examples.
5. Napoleon Bonaparte was short
The reason for this myth is twofold. Firstly, Napoleon is listed as 5 feet 2 inches tall, but not many know that this is French units. In modern international units, he will be 5 feet 7 inches. That, of course, is not super giant tall but definitely, around average height and during the time of Napoleon the average height was 5 feet 5 inches, so he was 2 inches taller than the average. Secondly, he was always surrounded by Elite Guards. These guards had strict height requirements, a 6 feet 5 inches minimum.
4. Vikings wore horned helmets
Yes, the disputatious Scandinavians did wear a helmet, and it was definitely not what we imagine a Viking helmet to be like. The one embellished with horns. Till date, only one helmet was discovered which can be surely deemed to be from the Viking age and that was in 1943 in Gjermundbu, Norway. So, why did this get so popular? The short answer is it totally looked bad ass. Initially, unusually helmet served two purposes. Firstly, to help high-ranking warriors stand out in the chaos and secondly, to look intimidating. But, as it became more elaborate it became clear that it was just a full blown artistic moment happening because of the attire and emphasis on surrealism. The real helmet looked something like this.
Many historians are of the opinion that this was the invention of Opera costuming.
3. The eternal notion of Nation state.
The entire concept of Nation state was started by 19th century Europe, imposing its very own political realities on everyone else, catalyzed by the treaties following the end of the world wars. The idea that this is some eternal notion, deeply rooted in the socio-lingual-cultural framework is entirely false. Europe is the only place that really took hold naturally, and this is because of the geographic makeup of Europe itself. When we see divisions and borders, it does help our brain organize and imagine better. But, this doesn’t portray the reality of the people or their culture. When we see “Nigeria” or “Niger” or “Morocco” or “Sudan” these help us to generalize information, but they were mainly put there as a mere convenience of European Colonial administrators. This is how the map of Africa actually looked like before the division.
The reason why some people just happen to be governing a nation post-independence was only because they were most approximate to what the Europeans decided to be the most convenient for their own benefit. This is one fact which I hoped people appreciate more., generally for the World and particularly for Africa.
2. Christopher Columbus discovered that the earth was round
No, he didn’t. The ancient Greeks had proved it years and years before, even the idea of his sperm was conceived. Not just that they also had a decent estimation of the circumference of the earth. Columbus was an idiot to think that the estimates were wrong and earth was much smaller. He was ridiculously lucky that he found a continent or two in the way.
1. Samurais didn’t know how to fight.
Sorry if that broke your heart. But the truth is they were mostly spiritual individuals dedicated to honor and martial arts. Bushido, for example, is an invention of the 20th century and applied to a caste of tax collectors and government officials whose swords was nothing more than a symbolic weapon used only as a ceremonial gesture. It boils my blood when I sometimes talk with Anime addicts who for some weird reason assume Japan to be some super amazing nation with great culture, and that somehow gives them an excuse of their dark past, especially in the WWII.