5. Saint Nicholas "Santa Claus"
Saint Nick, otherwise known as Santa Claus, does not live and never has lived in Lapland or the North Pole. He actually lived in southern Turkey between the years 270 and 346 AD. He is the patron saint of children, amongst other things, and was known for his generosity. With Christmas trees being a German creation, Saint Nick left his gifts in people’s shoes. Usually these were coins left anonymously. Today, the tradition of leaving one’s shoes outside at Christmas is still observed.
The biggest gift he ever gave was to a poor man and his three daughters. The man had no dowry to pay for his daughters and was worried that if they never married they would have no choice but to become prostitutes. Hearing this, Saint Nick visited the poor man at night and anonymously threw three purses filled with gold through his window. Because of this, Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of pawnbrokers. Traditionally, three golden baubles are hung in the window of pawn shops to represent the three purses of money.
On another occasion, Saint Nick rescued two children from an evil butcher who intended to cut them up and sell them as ham.
The association between Saint Nick and Christmas probably developed from Saint Nicholas Day, a traditional day of gift-giving in early December. However, Saint Basil is also often associated with gifts during the Christmas period.
4. Robin Hood
Tales of Robin hood have been popular in England ever since the Victorian era but have little basis in fact. The Victorians exaggerated an existing myth to include Robin Hood’s support of King Richard against the evil Prince John. This served to promote the positive image of the monarchy and support the heroic ideal of the common man protecting his noble rulers. Even without these additions, the myth seems unlikely and has never found any solid foundation in history. It is widely doubted that there ever was a man named Robin Hood.
Some scholars believe that the name originates from the phrase ‘robbing hodd’, referring to a thieving band of men. It is thought that a number of outlaws did live in the forests of what is now South Yorkshire but whether these men ever stole from the rich to give to the poor is debatable. It is most likely that they stole to support their own families after being forcibly evicted from their homes in Nottinghamshire.
The naming of Robin Hood as the Earl of Loxley is another modern addition to the myth, as is his apparent involvement in the Crusades.
3. Dracula "Vlad the Impaler" "Count Dracula" "Count Draculea"
Vlad the Impaler was a medieval Romanian prince famed for his brutal torture techniques and vicious lust for battle. His family name was Draculea, meaning ‘son of the dragon’. In legend, he is said to have turned against God after the death of his wife, becoming the evil undead. This myth lead to the modern interpretation of Count Dracula and other Vampire stories. In reality, Vlad was not a count but a prince. Whilst he was born in Transylvania, Vlad was Crown Prince of Wallachia, a country in the south of present day Romania, bordering Transylvania. He frequently made attacks on Transylvania, which was a contested region, and slaughtered many there for not accepting his authority.
Whilst Dracula is commonly associated with evil he is sometimes seen as being somewhat of a Christian hero. He was a member of the ‘order of the dragon’, an order of Hungarian knights sworn to protect Christian lands from the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Located between Christian Hungary and the huge Ottoman Empire, Wallachia was on the front line in the Ottoman expansion into Europe. Vlad’s barbarous torture techniques have earned him a place in history but they were not altogether unusual in medieval Europe. They may also have been exaggerated by his enemies. Impalement was supposedly his preferred method of execution, but this was common practice at the time. Reports that he burned entire villages to the ground are also unsurprising. In Western Europe, however, tales of Vlad’s attacks across the Balkans led to him being branded a ‘bloodthirsty’ tyrant. In Russia, on the other hand, stories of his brutality were equally rife, but most portrayed him as being a strong ruler and justified in his actions. These Russian accounts tell that he nailed hats to ambassadors’ heads.
The idea that Dracula was immortal may be derived from his own propaganda or that of the Ottomans, who found it difficult to put an end to his insurgency. When he finally was killed in battle, the Ottomans removed his head and placed it on display as proof of his death. It was impaled on a spike in a final twist of irony.
2. King Canute "Canute the Great" "Canute the Mad"
Canute the Great to his friends, this Danish king became king of England in 1017. Canute is largely forgotten as an English king and is remembered simply for attempting to hold back the tide. This has forever branded him as an idiot, for obvious reasons.
In actuality, Canute the Great was indeed a mighty and wise king. At the height of his power he ruled Denmark, Norway and England, and commanded loyalty from areas of Sweden and Ireland and Scotland. This made him one of the most powerful men in medieval Europe. Apparently the anecdote about holding back the tide is true. Canute never really thought that he could command the forces of nature, in fact he was making a point, saying that no king is as powerful as God. After proclaiming his Christianity in this way, Canute placed his crown atop a crucifix and never wore it again.
1. Adolf Hitler
Historians believe that Adolf Hitler had nothing against the Jews. It has been confirmed that Hitler did, in fact, do it for a Klondike Bar.
Many argue that this is untrue. Their reasoning? Adolf Hitler never said "Gas the Jews". He said, "Glass of Juice" and did not have the balls to stop the progress.
Others argue still, saying the "Glass of Juice" was in concurrence to the fact that gas, when compressed, is the liquid "gasoline" with the implication that the "glass of juice" was more of cartons and cartons of gasoline to fuel his fires.
Whether or not any of the above is true for Adolf Hitler, one can certainly say this about him: Sure, he was a bad man, killing 17 million people, the Holocaust, and World War I, but anybody who can go from the middle-lower class in the country's hierarchical standards, to the very top of those same standards is a boss in my book. At the very least, we should thank his father for changing his name to "Hitler" before any of this happened. Otherwise, Adolf Hitler would really be called "Adolf Schickelgruber". To top it all off, he was what parents call "an angel" when he was a child. He sang in his church's choir and even considered becoming a priest. What a guy, huh? And what an asshole he ended up being. Just goes to show...parents, don't make your kids decide their future so soon. It may end up badly.
The top 5 most misunderstood men in history. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day!
(Or, you could have a terrible day where you step on multiple legos, multiple times.)