History vs. Myth

You don’t need fiction when history provides you with tales as crazy as the ones we’ve collected for you. Read up while your jaw drops.

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The name is synonymous with fine chocolates and a tawdry costume. But just who was Lady Godiva? And what inspired her to disrobe and ride through town?

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Several ancient texts cite the story of Noah, a man who built a giant vessel, filled it with animals and endured a flood. Did this event play out in history?

By Cristen Conger

He'd been shot in the back, had no pulse, and yet those piercing green eyes opened wide when his murderers shook his limp body. Why wouldn't the bearded mystic die?

By Cristen Conger

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In the 17th and 18th centuries, the most fashionable Europeans gazed upon wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosity. But Peter the Great's collection didn't appeal to those with weak stomachs.

By Josh Clark

Maybe you've sung along with that well-known tune: "Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier." But have you ever wondered how he earned that royal title?

By Josh Clark

The annals of history offer many perspectives on the Cold War's victor. Some say the U.S. won; others claim there was no winner. And some assert that the former USSR brought itself down.

By Josh Clark

So much for artists being sensitive -- one Impressionist painter has been fingered as Jack the Ripper. But do the brutalized nudes on his canvases hint at actual murders?

By Josh Clark

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It's a hotly debated topic: Who found America first? One theory proposes that it was the Clovis. So will we be replacing Columbus Day with "Clovis Day" on our calendars?

By Josh Clark

As far as famous ears go, Van Gogh, Prince Charles and Ross Perot rank near the top of the list. But Robert Jenkins' ear pitted powerful European monarchies against each other in war.

By Josh Clark

During World War II, Nazis plundered gold from occupied countries, hiding it in caves and mines. Will modern treasure hunters finally locate the legendary Reichsbank treasure?

By Julia Layton

For centuries, terrorists plundered European and U.S. ships in the Mediterranean. Who were the perpetrators, and how did America put an end to their kidnapping, enslavement and extortion?

By Josh Clark

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Bram Stoker's Count Dracula was inspired by a 15th-century Romanian prince. If you thought Dracula was scary, you may not want to read any further.

By Josh Clark

The expression "remember the Alamo" is probably something you heard in school. But do you really know what this rallying war cry means?

By Josh Clark

Elizabeth Bathory was never convicted of her crimes, but testimonies say she killed and tortured 650 people. Did she really bathe in her victims' blood?

By Josh Clark

Legend has it that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the Great Chicago Fire. But is a farm animal really to blame? Find out who else lurks around this crime scene.

By Molly Edmonds

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Did you know that two other men accompanied Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride? Find out who these men were and which one actually made it to Concord.

By Molly Edmonds

Did King Tut put a hex on a group of archaeologists and dignitaries? Or is a mosquito to blame for their mysterious deaths?

By Sarah Dowdey

In less than 200 years, the Inca built an empire stretching 2,500 miles. But a Spanish conquistador and 167 other men brought them down. How did they do it?

By Josh Clark

The Mesopotamians are said to have given the world irrigation, writing, organized religion, laws and the concept of time. Why were they so advanced? What makes Mesopotamia the cradle of civilization?

By Josh Clark

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The Roman emperor Nero is said to have played his fiddle while the city burned and his people suffered. Could he really be that cruel, or is it all just a story?

By Josh Clark

The Puritans who conducted the witchcraft trials in Salem, Mass., suspected the devil was at work in their society. But could the madness have been caused by drugs?

By Josh Clark

Though the ancient Greeks get a lot of credit for building the foundation of today's civilization, many of their ideas came from the Kemites. Who were they, and what did they teach the Greeks?

By Josh Clark

A few Nazi leaders escaped justice after World War II. Who are they, and how are people trying to bring them to justice more than 50 years later?

By Josh Clark

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Genghis Khan is said to have killed 1,748,000 people in one hour. Did he really do it? And if not, what really happened?

By Josh Clark

The first recorded murder in America was committed by someone who came over on the Mayflower. Who was it, and why did he do it?

By Josh Clark