After unifying the "Warring States" the first emperor of China turned his attention to an even more lofty goal: becoming an immortal. When describing the first emperor the ancient sources paint a picture of man consumed by narcissism and paranoia. We're told that in his quest to defy death the first emperor put his trust in shady magicians and smooth talking charlatans. Did the hunt for eternal life actually kill China's first emperor? Tune in and find out how the strongest man in China, a sea monster, and a conspicuously good lute player all play a roll in the story.
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In Chinese folklore the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, is never presented as a hero. Instead he is always presented as villain who is undone by his own arrogance and impiety. He is often introduced in folk tales as the "Wicked Emperor Qin Shi Huang". However, historians believe that many of the most salacious stories about China's first emperor may have been exaggerated or invented by later writers who did not care for his preferred philosophy. Has one of China's most significant figures been the victim of fake history? Tune in and find out how ghost tablets, huge dongs, and a philosophy more Machiavellian than Machiavelli all play a role in the story.
If you were going to make a list of the most historically influential people to have have ever lived, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, should probably be in the top 10. In the mid 2nd century BC, the ruler of the State of Qin embarked on series of conquests that would unite China after centuries of discord. But despite this impressive achievement, the first emperor has been saddled with a particularly nasty historical reputation. Even the ancient Chinese historians did not remember him fondly. Does he really deserve this vicious reputation, or has he been the victim of fake history? Tune-in and find out how a scheming merchant, a castrated historian, and 8000 clay soldiers all play a role in the story.
The rebellion led by Boudica, the Iceni warrior woman, nearly dislodged the Roman empire from the island of Britain. She had the numbers, the momentum, and a righteous cause. So why was she ultimately not successful? Tune in and find out how Druids casting spells, a mythical train platform, and a badass post-hardcore band name all play a role in the story.
The ancient rebel leader Boudica has become an icon in her native Britain. She is celebrated as a symbol of resistance and female power. However, getting a sense of her true character is nearly impossible when examining the historical sources. Roman historians wrote elaborate speeches that they claimed she delivered to rapt audiences. But perhaps these speeches tell us more about the Roman authors than they do about the Celtic war leader. Tune in and find out how ancient Eminem verses, Heart of Darkness, and superhero origin stories all play a role in the story.
They say that history is written by the winners. While it's a trite cliché, there might be some truth in it. It's especially true when examining a figure like the Celtic-British freedom fighter Boudica. In 60 AD Boudica led her people in a violent revolt against the Roman Empire. Unfortunately everything we know about her was written by Romans. What should we believe? Tune in and find out how Winston Churchill, the end of the earth, and tiny bean sized meals all play a roll in the story!
When did the Renaissance begin? When did it end? Do these questions even have proper answers? In this episode Sebastian frets over the so-called "Renaissance Myth" and tries to draw some conclusions. Should the idea of a "Renaissance" be ditched, or does the period just need some clever re-branding. Tune in and find out how good people in hell, the fall of Rome, and all the Ninja Turtles play a role in the story.
The Renaissance has been touted as one of the most important moments in European history. 19th century historians like Jules Michelet and Jakob Burckhardt made the case that a "rebirth" starting in the 1300's laid the ground work for the modern world. This idea has been massively influential, but its not without its critics. Why do some claim that Renaissance is actually a historical myth? Tune in and find out how weird lawn aeration jobs, snobbish ideas about Italy, and lost cities all play a role in the story.
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In the 1890's a team of physicians and scientists discovered the cause of bubonic plague, a bacteria they named Yersinia Pestis. It was assumed for most of the 20th century that Yersinia Pestis also caused the infamous Black death of the 14th century. But starting in the 1980's a number of experts started to question this assumption. Does this theory still stand up to scrutiny? Tune in and find out how ebola, basilisk potions, and the top speed of a rat all play a roll in the story.
When studying the plague of the 14th century it can be easy to focus on the death, but on Our Fake History we are so much more interested in life. The people who lived through the plague dealt with the horror of the disease in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. Some people turned to religion, others to hedonism. Some felt like the only option was to whip themselves in public. Tune in and find out how plague parties, the alignment of Mars and Jupiter, and a plague hag named "Pesta" all play role in the story.
The epidemic known as the Black Death struck Europe in 1347 and completely upended medieval society. It's been estimated that roughly half of the European population was killed by this gruesome disease. Despite huge advances in our understanding of this epidemic debate still remains about the true cause of the plague. The so-called "Great Mortality" also remains the source of a number of tenacious historical myths. Tune in and find out how biological warfare, pockets full of posies, and rattus rattus all play a role in the story.