History is crawling with myths, tall tales, and musings of what might have happened to important historical figures. While Hollywood likes to gloss over the unsavory bits, often replacing them with tales of happy endings, the real story is what we’re interested in — the tales of tragic accidents that turned into a newfound passion, the forgotten and heartbreaking tales of late monarchs. Myths are only interesting until you discover the truth.
Frida Kahlo is one of the most important Mexican icons in history, far surpassing her husband Diego Rivera in both popularity and historical significance. Kahlo initially had her sights set on becoming a doctor until a tragic bus accident changed her course. After suffering life threatening injuries, Kahlo began to paint, which eventually lead her down the path to artistic greatness.
Napoleon Bonaparte is probably best known for his height, but contrary to popular belief Bonaparte was actually of normal stature for his time period. Clocking in at 5’6”, the misconception of his height actually stemmed from his battle strategy. Surrounding himself with bodyguards that were much taller than himself during times of war, Bonaparte looked quite short in comparison, and thus the myth was born.
The execution of the Romanov family, the last Imperial rulers of Russia, is one of the most tragic tales in history. After being taken to an isolated palace and forced to live under house arrest, they were executed in the wee hours of the morning on July 17, 1918. Under the impression that they were being moved to a different location due to safety reasons from the advancing revolution, the family was taken to the basement to await transportation. A firing squad descended, and announced their execution. While their parents died within the first round of shooting, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia all survived seemingly unscathed. Unbeknownst to their captors, their mother, Alexandra, had sewn diamonds into their clothing, which caused the bullets to ricochet and acted as a sort of armor. Sadly, contrary to myth, none of the Romanovs escaped that basement, a second and third round were fired shortly after killing the rest of the family.
It’s the one thing she’s most well known for, the phrase heard round the world, transcending the ages — “Let them eat cake.” Just about everyone knows the infamous unpopularity of France’s queen Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, better known as Marie Antoinette, but there’s no record of her ever actually uttering those infamous words. Many scholars believe that the myth was started as a way to express just how out of touch the French royal family was to the rest of the country’s suffering.
History is fascinating. Whether it be music, art, or monarchies there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Sadly, there is no proof that two people named Jack and Rose ever fell in love on Titanic’s only voyage, but what history lacks in dramatic love encounters, every Leonardo Dicaprio movie more than makes up for.