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7 famous historical figures who became famous for what they never did
7 famous historical figures who became famous for what they never did

History knows quite a few examples when the truth was distorted beyond recognition. This is especially noticeable when it comes to outstanding historical figures. The personalities of famous people are often overgrown with various myths and legends. Find out the unexpected truth about seven people who will always associate with what they have never really done in their life.

1. Abner Doubleday - the inventor of baseball

Abner Doubleday

Abner Doubleday was a Civil War general and abolitionist. This general ordered the first Union shots to be fired in defense of Fort Sumter. But despite having a distinguished military career, he is most often remembered as the inventor of baseball. Which he didn't really do.

The story dates back to 1905, when former National League president A.G. Mills chaired a commission to investigate the origins of America's favorite sporting pastime. Based on a letter from a man named Abner Graves, the commission wrongly concluded that Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. In truth, Doubleday did visit West Point in 1839, but he never claimed to be involved with baseball. Nevertheless, this myth persisted for very many years. In 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame was even founded in Cooperstown.

2. Lady Godiva - rode naked on horseback

The very famous horseback ride

Lady Godiva is best known for showingly rode naked through the streets of medieval Coventry. She did this in protest against the humiliating taxes that her husband levied on the townspeople. According to legend, at some point in the 11th century, Godiva tried to put pressure on her powerful husband, Leofric, to reduce taxes to the people. The lord mockingly replied that he would only do this when she rode naked on horseback through the city. As a result, Godiva's bluff has forever inscribed the lady's name in history.

Despite the prevalence of this myth, scientists argue that it never happened. Godiva certainly existed, but in most stories she is referred to simply as the wife of a powerful nobleman. In fact, the legend of Godiva did not appear until the 13th century, two centuries after it supposedly happened. This story was later taken up by famous writers such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose 1842 poem Godiva helped to cement the tale as a historical fact.

3. Nero burned Rome

Emperor Nero

One of the most famous stories of Roman decline concerns Nero. This emperor recklessly “played while Rome burned” during the great conflagration in 64 AD. According to some ancient historians, the emperor ordered his people to light a fire to clear space for his new palace. But although Nero was definitely not a saint. He is known to have ordered the assassination of his mother during his rise to power. Yet history has overly demonized him.

While some ancient chroniclers described the music-loving emperor watching the city burn in flames, the historian Tacitus dismissed these claims as perverse rumors. According to him, Nero was in Antium at the initial stages of the fire, and on his return to Rome helped to conduct rescue and recovery work.He even opened his palace gardens to those who had lost their homes. Another blow to the legend is that the violin was not even invented at that time. If Nero had played any instrument during the fire in Rome, which remains the subject of controversy, then most likely it would have been a cithara, a type of lyre.

4. Marie Antoinette and cakes

Marie Antoinette

When the Queen was informed that her people were starving due to lack of bread, Marie Antoinette allegedly joked: "Then let them eat the cakes." This famous phrase traditionally emphasized the monarch's ignorance of the plight of his subjects. However, there is no reliable historical evidence that Marie Antoinette ever uttered these words.

This phrase first appeared in relation to the "great princess" in the book of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau "Confessions". It was written in early 1766. If Rousseau really meant Marie Antoinette, then she was then only ten years old. She was not yet queen, she was a little girl when she said that. Scientists believe that this expression was either invented by Rousseau himself, or it was a common insult used to criticize various aristocratic figures of the 18th century. So if “let them eat the cakes” was ever attributed to Marie Antoinette during her lifetime, it was most likely part of a deliberate attempt by her political opponents to discredit the queen.

5. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin invented the guillotine

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

Contrary to popular belief, French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin did not invent this fearsome decapitation machine that bears his name. Ironically, Guillotin was a notorious opponent of the death penalty. Desperate to end the brutal beheading and hanging, in 1789, he proposed to the French National Assembly to develop a more humane and painless method.

When Guillotin was in a managerial role, the plans for what would become the guillotine were drawn up by a surgeon named Antoine Louis. He modeled the device on similar machines found in Scotland and Italy. After a German named Tobias Schmidt built the first prototype, it was used regularly by the French government. Although Guillotin did not design or build the device, it eventually became known - much to his disgust - as the guillotine. Another popular claim is that Guillotin was later beheaded by a guillotine during the French Revolution, but this is also a myth.

Scary guillotine machine

6. George Washington Carver invented peanut butter

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was an American scientist and inventor. In narrow circles, he is known for the creation of alternative food and agricultural methods. But while many of Carver's innovations have brought him comparisons to Leonardo da Vinci, the mistaken belief that he invented peanut butter is firmly rooted in the popular imagination.

Carver was indeed the pioneer peanut butter maker. During his career, he found over three hundred uses for legumes, but he was not the first person to create peanut butter. In truth, evidence of peanut-based pastes can be found in South America as early as 950 BC. Meanwhile, modern peanut butter was first patented in 1884 by Marcellus Edson. He called it "peanut candy." Later, in 1895, John Harvey Kellogg introduced the process of making peanut butter. Although Carver eventually became his most famous advocate, he didn't start his own peanut experiments until 1903.

7. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag

Betsy Ross flag

One of the most enduring legends in American history relates to Betsy Ross, the Philadelphia seamstress who allegedly sewed the first American flag. As the story goes, Ross was commissioned to sew a flag in 1776. It then had a circle of thirteen stars.The order was from a small committee that included George Washington. Ross allegedly made her famous flag a few days later and even changed the design, making the stars five-pointed rather than six-pointed.

Although versions of this story continue to be taught in American schools, most historians dismiss it as a fairy tale. The newspapers of the time do not mention Ross or her meeting with Washington. And he never mentioned her participation in the creation of the flag. In fact, it wasn't until 1870 that the legend of Ross first surfaced when her grandson, William Canby, told the story of her to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. But aside from showing affidavits from family members, Canby never presented convincing evidence to support his claim. It is true that Betsy Ross made American flags in the late 1770s, but the story of her very first flag is most likely untrue.

If you are interested in history, read our article 5 of the most desperate female pirates in history, whose life has been more exciting than any novel.

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