10 Historical Figures Who Never Existed

10 historical figures that didn’t exist 10) King Arthur King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table defended the English against the Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries He married Queen Guinevere and ripped a sword from a stone with his bare hands

Only, Arthur never existed Scholars now believe he was a mythical character based on different medieval legends With no mention until Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 1136 text “History of the Kings of Britain”, most agree that he was invented to restore British pride after the Norman invasion 9) Ned Ludd Ned Ludd was the Nottingham rebel who famously broke two knitting machines to protest industry job cuts in 1779 The story appeared in an 1811 issue of The Nottingham Review, but there’s no evidence of authenticity

His courage inspired disenfranchised English textile workers into political action between 1811 and 1813 Known as the “Luddites”, members broke into factories, destroying the machinery that was replacing them in the workplace But Ludd never existed And many of those that fought in his name met grisly consequences After one riot in 1812, at least 60 Luddites were charged, with 17 executed for their activities the following year

8) Pope Joan Pope Joan was an ambitious 13th century woman who disguised herself as a man After being elected Pope, her cover was blown when she gave birth during a procession This story was widely believed for centuries But in 1601 Pope Clement VIII made a public statement denying her existence With no known reference to her until at least two centuries after her supposed death, Pope Joan was very likely created as reformation anti-Catholic propaganda

7) Homer In 1795 German historian Friedrich Wolf published “Prolegomena ad Homerum” [pro-leggom-enna ad hom-air-um], arguing Homer never existed It was a bold claim to make about the “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” author, but one that many scholars now believe to be true They argue the poems had several authors Hans van Wees famously demonstrated that Homer allegedly lived between 850 and 750 BC Yet the society in his texts is suspiciously evocative of 675-650 BC

As a result, Homer is often referred to as “p” by academics, to denote an unidentifiable author 6) Shakespeare William Shakespeare: to be or not to be? Most likely not The Bard never went to university and there’s no record of the grammar school attendance some claim he had Yet, his works show an estimated vocabulary of an impressive 29,000 words Expert technical knowledge and familiarity with the Royal court in his works point to a noble author

There are no contemporary records that refer to Shakespeare as a playwright Of the 6 signatures that remain, none are clearly legible Were they all done by different people? 5) William Tell Swiss patriot William Tell stood up to authority in the name of freedom He shot an apple off his son’s head, murdered a bullying official, and became so respected that he now has his own national day on November 18th But the story didn’t originate until 1569 – at least 250 years after he’s said to have lived

Tell’s profile increased during the Napoleonic era, when mythical heroism became a political strategy in state formation It worked 4) Robin Hood The heroic outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor, Robin Hood, is the poster boy of 12th century socialism But he never existed His first literary references don’t even appear until the 14th century

His name probably comes from the terms “Rabunhod” and “Robehod”, given to contemporary criminals It’s likely that this and the conflation of infamous outlaw “Hobbehod” and Robert Hood, who worked in the court of Edward II, helped fashion the tale 3) Betty Crocker Betty Crocker, the wholesome sweetheart of American baking, was invented by the Washburn-Crosby Flour Milling Company Actually part of their 1921 commercial strategy to “personalize responses to consumer inquiries”, Crocker’s last name was taken from a board member Her first name ‘Betty’ was considered all-American

Her famous signature was selected via a competition for female employees She proved so popular that in 1945 Fortune Magazine named her “the second most popular woman in America” 2) Sun Tzu [zoo] “The Art of War” is the 5th century BC military treatise credited with revolutionizing the management of state affairs Many now doubt the authenticity of its authorship Anomalies in the text raise alarming questions

Technology like crossbows, and also military hierarchies, did not exist during Sun Tzu’s supposed “lifetime” Despite the texts being attributed to General Sun Tzu, scholars point out that he is omitted from contemporary texts Even accounts of the Battle of Boju, which he allegedly commanded, never mention him 1) Abraham Abraham was the first of the three Jewish Patriarchs and he’s also considered a prophet in Islam and Christianity He’s a big deal in religious history, and yet there’s no hard evidence that he existed

He’s alleged to have lived in the 2nd millennium BCE But the writings around him, from names and social strata to contemporary concerns, are much more aligned with the Iron Age a thousand years later Scholars point out that, apart from belief, there’s no archaeological or literary proof that Abraham ever existed You’ve just got to have faith

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