Five Misconceptions From History You Should Stop Believing

Historical myths debunked

Jacob Wilkins
Lessons from History


A depiction of the thirteen conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot by Crispijn van de Passe, c. 1605 (Wikimedia Commons)

History can be a messy subject.

Modern arrogance, political biases, and the influence of popular culture all have an impact on the way we see and discuss the past.

(Even historians get things wrong sometimes.)

This has led to a flood of historical falsehoods, including the five misconceptions you’re about to encounter in this article.

Misconception #1: All Roman Gladiators Were Men

Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872 (Wikimedia Commons)

If you were asked to draw a Roman gladiator, you would probably draw a man. But though most gladiators were indeed male, there were some female ones too.

Historians don’t know exactly when female gladiators were allowed to fight in the arena. But they were definitely around by the time Emperor Nero came to power in 54 AD. (Emperor Domitian once staged a night performance where female gladiators fought dwarves by torchlight!)

Typically, the female gladiators were either slaves or from the lower classes. But there were some from the senatorial class as…