Top 7 Common Misconceptions About World History


It’s true that history is written by the victors, but sometimes those victors, or the people who wrote about them, can get crucial details dead wrong, which then can lead to centuries of ridiculous misconceptions. A lot of what you think is fact turns out to be a myth. Let’s say, for example, horned Viking helmets. We’ve seen them in every possible form of medium from cartoons to stage plays, but in reality Vikings never wore those, but shhh, I don’t want to spoil everything just yet.


Let’s look at the top 7 silliest facts about World history that are completely untrue.



1. The Vikings never wore horns on their helmets
So yeah, history has taught us that big horns on the battlefield will probably going to leave you headless. Funny thing is, that this particular misconception isn’t grounded in any historical documents, or archaeological discoveries, but instead comes from the 19th century opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, where the actors/singers were wearing those huge horned helmets.



2. Immigrants didn’t change their last names at Ellis Island
You might have seen this in quite a few older movies about immigrants going through Ellis Island, who were forced to change their original surnames to something more “American” to fit in better in the Land of the Free. In reality, however, nobody on the island kept any records about the name changes so it basically didn’t matter if anyone changed their names or not, the immigrants still need to do it properly in New York. But only if they want to.

3. Marco Polo didn’t bring pasta to Italy
Even something so boring as pasta can become a cornerstone of many speculations. Where did it come from? Was it invented in China and brought to Italy in the 13th century by Marco Polo? Well, most probably this delicious food reached Sicily back when the Arabic people were invading it 300-400 years prior to Mr. Polo even being born.

4. Life span wasn’t all that short in the Middle Ages
It’s a commonly known “fact” that in the Middle Ages people would barely live to their 30-40s. The actual, real fact is that men who would survive to be 21 (taking into account high infant death numbers, the plagues, etc.) was likely to live to at least 60.

5.  Columbus didn’t discover that the Earth was round
To be blunt, people, okay, intelligent, educated people have known and theorized that our planet is not flat since at least 300 BC by the likes of Pythagoras and Aristotle. So, when people say that Columbus discovered that we’re living on a globe, you can tell them how wrong they are.

6. Napoleon Bonaparte was not that short
The truth is Napoleon was 5 feet 2 inches tall. But, as always, devil’s in the details. That measurement was in “French feet”, and in the normal world it would translate to 5 feet 7 inches, which is quite okay for the 1800s.

7. Albert Einstein was great at mathematics
This is an outright made up fact that he did poorly at math. It never happened. Einstein himself said that he never failed in mathematics and actually had mastered differential and integral calculus when he was 15. Study hard, kids, you know you’re not Einsteins.