Popular misconceptions about pre-modern History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by ray243, May 14, 2018.

  1. Artaxerxes A terrible pain in my diodes

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    Boucicauts training regime is amazing

     
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  2. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    You're making me cry, you know.

    If someone at the department spouted off like that at my university, he's face complaints within a week, and a fact-finding hearing about the matter the week after that. (Not, incidentally, because of some overbearing policy regarding content of the curriculum, but primarily because quality of education is taken seriously. Professors making wild claims that could be refuted by a moderately well-informed high schooler is frowned upon.)
     
  3. VictorLaszlo Well-Known Member

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    That would likely be Deepeeka, they produce a lot of armour and weapons replicas for the reenactment scene at entry level prices, and some of their newer stuff, especially after being counseled by serious reenactment societies like the Ermine Street Guard, is even quite decent, I have to admit that my type Mainz helmet and type Newstead segmentata are of their production, after all not everyone can afford to pay through his nose for an admittedly more accurate piece made by one of the renowned armourers in the scene, so that by now a good amount of decent replicas is available for pretty much every era, sadly the costuming departments of both TV and motion picture productions tend to ignore their history consultants and use whatever props they like, one of the worst offenders in this regard being Gladiator, where the eponimous gladiators wear pretty much every type of helmet, from the Sutton Hoo type, a type worn by the Paris fire department in the mid 19th century to some futuristic design from rap music videos, except for those that were really worn by any of the many types of roman gladiators. At which point we get to another set of misconceptions.

    Misconceptions about Gladiators

    - Most gladiatorial games ended with at least one gladiator dead - That was only true in the case of the munera sine missione, but that type was pretty rare since it cost the organiser at least 20 times more than an ordinary fight where both gladiators left the arena alive, and was even prohibited during the reign of some emperors. According to Suetonius, during Nero's reign there were even games where not a single gladiator was killed (did this make Nero look humane in the eyes of the audience or a cheapskate?).

    - There were no rules in the arena - Quite the contrary is true, trained gladiators were expected to observe a whole set of professional rules of combat. Most matches employed a senior referee (summa rudis) and an assistant, shown in mosaics with long staffs (rudes) to caution or separate opponents at some crucial point in the match. Referees were usually retired gladiators, whose decisions, judgement and discretion were generally respected; they could stop bouts entirely, or pause them to allow the combatants rest, refreshment and a rub-down. Also, usually only one pair of gladiators would fight at any time. And the pairings were not random, but followed certain rules, balacing the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of gladiators, e.g. the better protection of the secutor versus the greater mobility and range of the retiarius, as well as possible, thus ensuring an interesting fight.

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    - Upon entering the arena gladiators would greet the emperor with "Ave Caesar, morituri (te) salutant" - This phrase was heard only once in ancient Rome and not from gladiators, but from convicts sentenced to die ad gladium in the naumachia organised by emperor Claudius in 52 CE. To which, according to Suetonius,the emperor replied "Aut non" (or not), which the convicts erronously interpreted as an imperial pardon and refused to fight, and had to be coerced by threats and promises to begin the naval battle reenactment.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  4. VictorLaszlo Well-Known Member

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    The explenation is rather simple, unlike 20th century steel helmets they didn't need to stop high velocity rounds, just sword thrusts and arrows.
     
  5. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    And you were in SHWI under which name? SUrely not "Anarch....." ;)
     
  6. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

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    I would do, but fortunately this guy has already done so.

    "Byzantine" was originally a reference to the politics of Byzantium and all the complex plots and intrigues that supposedly went on there. The use of it to refer to other complex things is a secondary development.
     
  7. Clandango Disestablishmentarianist

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    That reminds me of another misconception, though it was mostly pushed at the grade school level, with decades of propogdana about colonial America. It involved the idiocy of the British marching their troops in formation while wearing bright red clothing. Turns out some farmers taking potshots don't actually defeat armies, and that in battle you are are not going to be able to see ten feet infringe of you due to smoke. Also less bad for moral when your compatriots die because you were shot at by the enemy, rather than each other.

    On a more recent note, the concerns about taxation where very real, and in Britain they were sometimes ruinous, like having Cornish fishermen who salted their catches needing to pay salt taxes something like twenty times the cost of the salt itself.and then of course there was the desire to not end up like Ireland, while the issue of the tea tax came not only because the British were using it so they could say the colonials accepted their authority to tax them without representatives in parliament, but because the East Indies Cmpany was exempt from the tax and were trying to offload the stuff the English wouldn't buy onto the colonies. And of course the Royal Governor refused to let the shipowners sail back to England without the tea being taxed and paid for, even though they never offloaded it.
     
  8. ray243 Well-Known Member

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    He's distinguishing college from University. College in the UK can refer to six-form colleges, which are essentially high-schools. So his teacher at his college can simply be someone that graduated with a Bachelor from Oxford. So I don't think the teacher in particular is well exposed to Eastern philosophy and simply making a claim based on his/her own ignorance.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  9. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    -People did not drop dead in their 30s. That was an average weighed down by high child mortality. If you made it to 18, you could live into your 60s.
    -There was nothing particularly "dark" about the dark ages. There was very little progress in any period before the industrial revolution. That's why historians now prefer the term "medieval".
    -Vikings did not have horns
     
  10. Halcyon Dayz Hobbesian Anarchist™

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    Have you read this thread?

    Neither did their helmets.
     
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  11. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a misconception so pervasive that even my 4th grade teacher, who was otherwise very smart, believed it to be true: that people in the Medieval era thought the earth was flat. The Ancient Greeks were able to figure out the earth was round.
     
  12. TRH Timeline Right Here

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    I remember reading that Flat Earthers weren't really a thing at all until the 19th Century. Sounds legit.
     
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  13. cmakk1012 Well-Known Member

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    Didn’t the Egyptians believe that Ra (the sun) died every sunset and was reborn in the morning? That implies a belief in a flat earth...
     
  14. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

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    Theology =/ Cosmology.
     
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  15. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    Didn't Ancient Egypt come before Ancient Greece?
     
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  16. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    The aforementioned teacher said that it was Magellen's voyage around the earth that disproved the flat earth theory.
     
  17. ray243 Well-Known Member

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    Proving it is different from believing in it. Think about it as theoretical physics vs proven theorem. For example Steven Hawking's theories are mathematically valid, and have sufficient grounds to believe this is likely to be true. This does not mean it's proven by a scientific experiment. Even Einstein's theory of relatively required experimental proof, which was done by researchers after observing an eclipse.

    People knew and believe the earth was round for a long time. The only additional thing they need is someone able to sail around the world and actually proof this was possible.
     
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  18. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

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    That was proof the world could be sailed around, not that it was round. Anyone with a pair of eyes that lived in a port had proof the Earth was not flat.
     
  19. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    Without denying that this may have been the case, the supposed practicality of 18th century uniforms has given rise to a counter misconception. The uniforms, and indeed the regiments themselves, grew more out of a display of conspicuous consumption by the colonels who essentially owned them as a personal fiefdom. Gunpowder was in widespread use for a long time before uniforms; indeed, the uniforms that proliferated throughout the eighteenth century were decried by no less a general than De Saxe for prioritizing appearances over protecting the health and wellbeing of the soldier.
     
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  20. Monter Well-Known Member

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    The Chinese and some Ancient Middle Eastern societies though it was flat.