We might not be living in the year 2022.. In fact, human civilization itself might not be nearly as old as you think, at least according to one modern conspiracy theory that cast out on just about everything in our history. After around 614 ce known as the phantom time hypothesis, this wild theory came about in the 1990s thanks to a man named herbert ilig. According to illeg holy roman emperor, otto iii and pope sylvester ii got together and added around 300 years to the calendar to place them in power in the year 1000.
apparently ruling during a nice round number like that was something of a conversation starter and the duo Wanted in on it, after deciding to manipulate time on a whim, they then concocted a vast conspiracy involving countless monks throughout the western world who helped fill in the missing centuries, with all sorts of tall tales about an emperor named charlemagne and something called the middle ages. Most of which illegal argues is basically ancient fanfiction. As for his evidence, illeg points to perceived inconsistencies in the gregorian calendar as an explanation for how 300 years could have been plucked from thin air. It is true that early history often stretched the truth or created it entirely out of whole cloth, but we’d have to discount a heck of a lot of primary sources and artifacts to even begin considering. Elix’S theory, plausible hi, i’m erin, mccarthy, editor-in-chief of mental floss and welcome to the list show okay, so you’re, probably not convinced that we’re really living in the year 1722, but that’s only the beginning of the strange historical conspiracy theories, we’re bringing you today.
Let’S get started, history is full of stories of entire cities burning or nearly burning to the ground. After a simple fire grew out of control. It happened in chicago in 1871, london in 1666, and perhaps most famously it happened in rome. You probably know part of the story in 64 ce a fire spread from circus, maximus stadium and wound up damaging or completely destroying 10 of the capital’s 14 districts. Hundreds died, thousands lost their homes, rumors spread about the origin of the inferno.
Soon after it was extinguished. Many people at the time and in the centuries since put the blame squarely on emperor nero, there are two main theories proposed as to why the emperor would purposely burn his own capital city. One nero just didn’t like the way rome looked and the senate wouldn’t permit him to make the changes he wanted. So he chose to redecorate things in his image by burning most of it to the ground. First, not exactly an hgtv approved strategy, but a strategy.
Nonetheless. Others thought nero orchestrated the fire, so he could blame the christians for starting it, believing it would curb their increasing influence in rome. The thing is much of the information about the fire comes to us from second-hand sources like tacitus, who was just a child when the fire started and was certainly no big fan of nero to begin with, tacitus and others relied on a number of unconfirmed accounts of The fire that may have been misunderstood or embellished along the way you know that famous image of nero fiddling as rome burned, not true, as we covered in our episode of misconceptions about ancient rome, one of the things that possibly helps a theory like this survive is The fact that nero was recognized as one of the most heinous of the roman emperors and that’s a pretty competitive field he’s been blamed with varying degrees of evidence for killing his mother, wife and stepbrother, and in the wake of the fire he put countless christians to Death, so even if most modern historians believe the fire was simply an accident, it’s not that outlandish to blame. The guy who was feeding christians to animals nero started the fire to run down the list of great works by william shakespeare would be a waste of everyone’s time. You know them have probably read a bunch of them and maybe even understood one or two without cliff’s notes, but not everyone is convinced that he really penned the works that bear his name according to vox the conspiracy theory that shakespeare wasn’t a real author gained prominence Around the mid-19th century, when two books were published on the matter, one was by delia bacon, an american playwright and the other by an englishman, named william h smith.
Both argued that sir, francis bacon, no relation to delia was actually the quill behind masterpieces like hamlet or that shakespeare was actually a whole gaggle of writers using one pseudonym. The evidence in these books was well a lack of evidence. The authors claimed that there was no written documentation that shakespeare was well educated which, to their minds, cast out on his ability to write such memorable works or that he ever penned a play. Smith wrote no plays bearing shakespeare’s name were published between 1609 and 1622, but in the year 1623, seven years after shakespeare’s death, a folio of 36 plays, was brought out as the works of william shakespeare. Since then, the conspiracy theories have only proliferated with figures such as the earl of oxford and christopher marlowe, being suggested as the real bard to this day.
Books, documentaries and organizations like the shakespeare, oxford fellowship exist solely to circulate these theories. Public figures like mark twain, helen keller and even supreme court justice, john paul stevens, bought into them. But the thing is, we do have evidence that shakespeare was the real deal, there’s written evidence that he was an actor and playwright and his work is mentioned in multiple contemporary sources, including a 1598 book called pilatus tamia by a man named francis mears. Where plays like a midsummer night’s stream and titus andronicus are mentioned specifically, if you want to take shakespeare down a peg, you don’t have to claim. He never existed.
Just admit that macbeth is boring. Abraham lincoln was no stranger to conspiracy theories throughout his presidency. For years. Southern politicians and members of the press claimed that northerners were secretly encouraging revolts of enslaved people throughout the region. Another said lincoln’s first term vp, hannibal hamlin was actually part black and involved in a northern plot to destroy the southern way of life.
One of the most unlikely scenarios comes to us from an austrian chemist named otto eisenschemmel, who published the 1937 book. Why was lincoln murdered in it? Eisenshimmel proposed that the president was done in by his secretary of war. Edwin stanton eisenshimmel suggests that stanton wasn’t particularly happy with lincoln’s plan for reconstruction, which stanton felt was too soft to get his more hardline approach underway. Stanton supposedly put the assassination plot in motion.
What proof did otto have the holy trinity of conspiracy theories, hearsay, conjecture and circumstantial evidence according to eisen, schimel stanton did a number of questionable things in the days leading up to ford’s theater. He allegedly ordered ulysses s grant away from the theater on the night of the assassination. He also turned down abe’s request to have major thomas t eckhart there for protection and closed all of the bridges into the city other than the one john wilkes booth used to escape in eisenschimel’s version booth still pulled the trigger, but he was under the watchful eye Of the vengeful secretary of war, of course, scholars haven’t, found any real evidence to back up these claims, but that didn’t stop igen shimmel’s book from winding up as part of civil war curricula at universities. For years after it was published, circling back to booth for a minute. There are a bunch of theories that he actually survived his supposed death days after the assassination and lived out the rest of his days.
As a drifter of note, one theory even claims that he wound up in egypt, where he buddied up with a sultan and owned more than a hundred camels. Now that’s the movie spielberg should have made daniel day-lewis would kill it as camel number five queen elizabeth, the first was undoubtedly a woman. You know it, i know it. The problem is that dracula, author, bram stoker and plenty of others weren’t so convinced in 1910, stoker published a book called famous imposters, in which the author shed light on a number of historical hoaxes in it he helped thrust the absurd theory that queen elizabeth was a Man of disguise further into the mainstream. This theory suggests that when elizabeth was still a child, she was sent to the english village of bisley.
For a time some say it was to avoid a plague. Others say it was just for a season of outing, regardless a young elizabeth got sick soon, after just as her father, king henry viii was coming to visit her the child allegedly died, but rather than face the king’s wrath, the governess in charge hatched a very 80s Sitcom plot and decided to replace her with a look alike from the neighborhood. Unfortunately, no girls fit the bill, so she was forced to go with a local boy. The idea was that king henry didn’t take much of an interest in young elizabeth, so he wouldn’t notice a difference. The ruse was somehow then maintained until elizabeth died at the age of 69.
For conspiracy, believers, it was a convenient reason why the virgin queen never married. This was a story that had been bouncing around the locals for centuries and according to stoker, was further emboldened when a coffin was unearthed in bisley during the early 1800s, which contained the body of a child dressed in fine clothes that were well beyond the reach of A commoner that they said was airtight proof of baby elizabeth’s fate. Ever since the jack the ripper murders started making headlines, there have been more theories around the case than corpses. The list of supposed suspects has ranged, from average blokes to writer lewis carroll to some of the most powerful people in england. Take lord randolph churchill, father of winston during his political career randolph, was secretary of state for india and leader of the house of commons and according to one theory, he also headed up a secret group of masons that had a mission to kill five sex workers who Had dirt on the royal family, the dirt in question was that prince albert victor, queen victoria’s grandson, had secretly married and had a child with a catholic woman.
At the time this would have been a scandal of the highest order. The problem is that there’s no record of the wedding or the child and there seems to be evidence that churchill was in scotland for some of the murders. There’S another theory that involves the prince. But this one suggests that albert victor himself was the one knocking off the white chapel woman, supposedly in revenge for contracting syphilis from a sex worker. This story came courtesy of a man named dr thomas stowell, who was friendly with the family of the royal family.
Physician stowell said the physician had claimed he once treated a young gay man with syphilis who he had suspected of being jack the ripper, since the man happened to be in the white chapel district of london on the nights of the murders, while stowe wouldn’t explicitly name Names when he came forward with his story in 1970, it was heavily implied that the man the physician was working on was prince albert rumors about albert’s sexuality had swirled for years. After all and the royal family’s involvement just made the whole thing irresistible for conspiracy, theorists albert, however, wasn’t in the city at the time of all the murders, and it doesn’t seem he died of syphilis, but hey. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story and albert the ripper story is so good that parts of these theories were adapted as the comic book from hell by writer, alan moore and artist, eddie campbell in 1898 warhawks were waiting impatiently for the United states to declare war against spain at the time spain was in a war with insurgents in cuba over the island’s independence, but the u.s had up until that point stopped short of getting involved. Then, on february 15 1898 the pro-war sect got its wish in a way the uss maine sank after an explosion, while it was stationed in havana harbor, eventually propelling the us into the conflict, which ultimately ended with cuban independence.
At first, it was concluded that the main was brought down by a submerged mine. A different theory said that a fire ignited the onboard ammunition leading to the disaster, but some have always believed that it was a deliberate act of self-sabotage meant to get the US public behind the war, while some say the american government acted alone in bringing down the maine, others believe media mogul and war lover, william randolph hearst, who had been advocating for the united states to enter the conflict for more than a year orchestrated. The whole thing in order to push the nation into the conflict and theorists had plenty of anecdotal evidence to glom onto on february 11th, a few days before the main tragedy hirsch yacht the buccaneer was seized in havana, harbor, prompting her new york journal to dub. This.
The spanish journal war, the publication, also asked why the maine had allowed this to happen to a u.s ship, clearly showing frustration with the country’s unwillingness to engage the spanish. The fact that the main itself was destroyed a few days later immediately caught the attention of some who believed it was the culmination of hurst’s plan to bring the country to war and sell a boatload more newspapers in the process. He definitely sold those papers immediately. After the main was destroyed, hearthstone publications printed flashy sensationalist headlines, putting blame for the main squarely on spain with no evidence to speak of within a few months.
Hearst papers were beating out its closest competition by more than 200 000 readers and by the end of 1898. His combined readership was said to total 1.25 million people a day, but as american professor w joseph campbell, told history.com, no serious historian of the spanish-american war period embraces the notion that the yellow press of william randolph hearst and joseph pulitzer fomented or brought on the war With spain in 1898, For what it’s worth, the idea that the mains explosion was the work of the us government is the official view of the cuban government on a memorial plaque for the maine and havana. An inscription reads to the victims of the maine, who were sacrificed to imperialist greed.
In its fervor to seize control of the island of cuba, we’ve got an upcoming episode on explorers who disappeared without a trace. If you know of a cool story from history about well, you know drop it in the comments below for a chance to be featured in that episode and don’t forget to subscribe to mental floss. If you haven’t already thanks for watching