5 Fictional Stories You Were Taught in History Class

#2. Naked Lady Godiva Rode Her Horse Through Town

The Legend:

Lady Godiva rode her horse through the town of Coventry, naked, as a protest to her husband's exorbitant taxes on their fellow townsmen.

Above: Serious History.

The story goes that Godiva's husband Leofric kind of double-dog dared her to do it. She complained about his taxes and he said he'd lower them if she rode through the town on a horse, naked. The townspeople were ordered to stay home, close their shutters and keep their eyes closed and Lady G called his bluff and mounted up. Except for that one perv who bore a hole through his door to get a peek and was struck blind for his dirtiness, everyone won. The sick bastard of a husband got a show he never forgot, the townspeople got lowered taxes and Lady Godiva went down in history as one badass aristocrat.

And, somewhere along the line, we all got preposterously expensive chocolate.

Now if that didn't actually happen, why the hell would anyone make something that bizarre up? It's like passing down a story that in 1985 the mayor promised the local librarian a subscription to Highlights if she performed Swan Lake for the city council.

The Truth:

Lady Godiva owned the town. She didn't need permission from her husband to lower taxes.

Or to lower anything else, if you catch our drift.

Godiva, or Godgifu of Mercia was totally a real person and both her and her husband Leofric were well known for their generosity. They built monasteries and gave out money like it was candy, apparently. That's what we know about this wealthy couple from contemporary sources. It wasn't until about 100 years after her death that the legend of the nudie ride showed up in a history written by a monk named Roger of Wendover. Roger claimed he got the story from another chronicler from the abbey named John, but guess what? We don't have that copy of the story. Historians think the story of Lady Godiva riding her horse nakedly might have just been an apocryphal way of showing her unbridled generosity.

Above: unbridled "generosity."

It's most likely the event never took place and was just written as an interesting story about the town of Coventry. That or the monks just needed to sneak some naked ladies into their daily reading somehow.

"And... then... they... totally... started... lezzing... out. Amen."

#1. Anne Boleyn Was a Deformed Freak

The Legend:

Henry VIII's second wife had six fingers on her right hand.

People with extra digits are nothing but trouble.

According to a Catholic priest named Nicholas Sanders, Anne Boleyn was seven degrees of jacked up. She not only sported six fingers, but she also rocked a snaggle tooth, jaundiced skin and a big ol' cyst on her neck that was probably a third nipple. Otherwise, she must have been crazy hot, because Sanders still described her as "handsome to look at."

Standards were... different, back then.

And as if he hadn't done enough damage to Anne's image, Sanders also suggested Boleyn was Henry VIII's own daughter. So, according to Nicholas Sanders, Henry married his hot triple boobed, buck-toothed, yellow skinned kid. Well played, Sanders.

The Truth:

Anne Boleyn was totally normal looking.

Her sister, on the other hand, was smoking.

So why would Sanders lie?

Well, in 1558, Nicholas Sanders found himself in a church-related pickle. A few years earlier England had been restored to Catholicism under Mary I, but then Mary died and her Protestant sister Elizabeth became queen. After that, Sanders and other Roman Catholics were seriously persona non grata. Obviously, the only way to get back into power would be to restore a Catholic ruler to the throne, duh. But unless Sanders wanted to get Bravehearted, spreading rumors about the ruling Queen Elizabeth was not an option. What was an option was talking shit about her mom.

In 1573, Sanders published a book explaining the history of the Reformation in England, which was also the perfect place to slip in some whoppers about Boleyn. How do we know Sanders was lying? For one thing, he never actually saw Anne Boleyn. His book was published 50 years after her death. And when Anne's bones were exhumed in the late 1800s they found no evidence of any extra finger or breasts. Plus, none of her contemporaries who actually met her ever said she had six fingers or anything else horribly wrong with her body. The longest description we have of her physical appearance is from a Venetian ambassador who met Anne several times. The bitchy Italian described her as short with bad skin and droopy boobs. Ouch.

"Did you see the size of her ass? I mean, seriously."

For more things from our past that you believe but aren't true, check out 6 Things From History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly and 6 Ridiculous History Myths (You Probably Think Are True).

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