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# 5. Vikings What would a Viking be without his trusty
battle helmet and its impressive horns? The answer is: a more historically accurate viking. Think, for a moment about wearing headgear
like that into battle: the horns are just easy targets for your opponent to hit and
knock off your helmet. Or, if you strap on your helmet, now your
opponent has a convenient lever with which to drag you to the ground and something to
hold onto while slitting your throat. Horned helmets are a terrible idea, which
is why archeologists have never found them at viking battle sites and there’s no evidence
that they were ever used. It was poets and artists — people not known
for caring about facts and reality — who gave the Vikings their silly hats during the
late 1800s, long after the vikings could ‘correct’ their misconceptions. 4. Lady Godiva The story of this 11th century English noblewoman
is that her mean husband the Earl raised taxes on the townspeople of Coventry which Lady
Godiva — and not surprising the locals — thought were too high. She badgered her husband and he conceded in
exasperation to lower the taxes if she rode through town naked — assuming that she never
would, but she did. Because people don’t likes taxes — even though
they’re how civilization is purchased — Lady Godiva’s story lives on notably in the Godiva
logo and in popular songs. But while Lady Godiva was a real person and
Coventry is a real town there is no record of her nude ride from the time when it happened
— so we can assume the story is false. Just as with the Vikings, again poets and artists
are to blame, who made up the tale long after Lady Godiva’s death. 3. Napoleon Famously this tiny, tiny general — perhaps
to compensate for his short stature — took control of France greatly expanded its influence
and dubbed himself emperor. Napoleon’s official height was indeed 5 foot
2 inches but at the time French inches were longer than English inches, so doing the unit
conversion, Napoleon’s height should have been reported as 5’7 in England’s imperial
units — which is short by today’s standard but was average or slightly above average
in the early 1800s. However England, with it’s eternal love for
all things French, didn’t care and went the Napoleon-is-so-short-LOL version of the story
in newspapers and cartoons. Meanwhile, Napoleon was busy introducing the
Metric System to France and the wider world to standardize measurements so this sort of
confusion would never happen again — and thankfully the whole world now uses metric.
Mostly. Sort of. 2. Roman Vomit Ah, the Roman empire, so great and powerful,
but corrupted by decadence from within. And what could be a better symbol of that decadence
than the Vometorum: where Romans, after stuffing themselves with delicious foods, could vomit
them all up to make room to feast anew. Vometoria are real but this idea of them is
not, though confusion is understandable because their name — Vomit-orium — seems to make
their purpose so clear. Even if for some reason you know latin — perhaps
because you live in a country that insists you waste hundreds of hours of your life learning
a dead, useless language — this knowledge still won’t help you because the root word
‘vomitum’ means ‘to spew forth’. So what is it really? If you’ve ever been
to a big stadium, like say, the ones made by the romans, you have already used a vometorium.
This is what the vometoria are — the passageways that lets lots of people enter or exit at
once. The people are what spews forth in the vometoria, not the contents of the people. 1. Columbus There is so very much wrong with the common
retelling of the story of Christopher Columbus that it’s hard to know where to begin, but
the biggest misconception is that everyone else thought the world was flat, but Columbus
was the only guy smart enough to know that it’s round. It makes a daring story, but knowledge of
a spherical earth goes back to at least 5,000 BC that’s six and a half thousand years before
Columbus set sail — and that knowledge was never lost to western civilization. In 200
BC Eratosthenes calculated Earth’s circumference and his estimate was still well know and being
used in Columbus’s time. The argument Columbus had with queen Isabella
was not over the shape of the earth, but of its size. Columbus estimated the Earth was
much smaller than Queen Isabella and her scientific advisors did which was way he thought he could
make it across the empty Atlantic to India. But Columbus’s size estimate was wrong — again,
just like Napoleon’s height — because of mixed up units. However, his error did send him West to become
the first European to discover America — as long as you ignore the hornless vikings who
beat him by 500 years.

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