Conspiracy theories are very popular today, but they are not a new phenomenon. There have been many significant moments in history that have produced alternative versions of events ranging from plausible to crazy to insane.
10th Jesse James rides again
The history books will tell you that the famous wild west outlaw Jesse James died in 1882 and is now resting in a cemetery in Kearney, Missouri. He was gunned down by a member of his own group, 20-year-old Robert Ford, who was also shot dead a decade later. Ford killed James for the reward money, but what if he had actually helped the outlaw fake his own death?
Rumors about the survival of Jesse James appeared almost immediately after his death. Some people believed that Ford had shot another person and deliberately aimed at the back of his head to make it harder to identify. Although historians have never given much credence to the idea, they insisted mainly in James's home state of Missouri.
The story faded for a moment, but was revived almost seven decades later. In 1948, a centenarian named John Franklin Dalton claimed to be Jesse James. He died a few years later in Granbury, Texas. Some locals did an autopsy and claimed to have seen telltale markings confirming Dalton's identity as Jesse James. This belonged old gunshot wounds and a burn injury in the neck.
Scientists today are trying to sort out DNA testing. They took samples of the body at Kearney, and although it was not a clear "yes," the results indicated that this man was Jesse James.
In 2000, there was a failed attempt to exhume Dalton and compare his DNA to James' offspring. However, people mistakenly dug up the wrong person and the order allowed only a coffin exhumation.
9. Was Shakespeare the true Shakespeare?
William Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer of the English language, but is he really the author of all these plays and sonnets? Most people would say "yes," but some have doubts. The idea that someone other than Shakespeare is responsible for his work has existed for over 150 years, and nearly a hundred candidates have been proposed.
This notion appeared at a time when the veneration of Shakespeare reached fever. The English-speaking world and the people regarded him as the greatest writer of all time. The doubters, collectively referred to as anti-Stratfordians, claimed primarily that someone with Shakespeare's working-class background had no experience, culture, or education to write his plays. They also claimed that there was a lack of official documents documenting Shakespeare's life and career as a playwright. Finally, they pointed out that the surviving signatures of Shakespeare look and are spelled differently.
People like Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud and Orson Welles were among the doubters . Shakespeare Some of the most popular candidates were Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and William Stanley, Earl of Derby.
Defenders of Shakespeare point out that the background of the Stratford Man was not unusual for a writer. Other successful contemporary playwrights, such as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, had similar education. There is also sufficient evidence that Shakespeare was recognized as a writer in his time and after his death.
8. Treasure in Rennes-le-Château
Although Rennes-le-Château is only a small French village, it is popular with both conspiracy theorists and treasure hunters. This is all due to a priest named Bérenger Saunière who allegedly found a fortune but took the place of wealth to his grave.
In the 1880s, Saunière started to renovate the Saint Mary Magdalene church there. He never told where he got the money from, and so a legend was born. The most popular version claims that the priest found a surplus from a gold treasure, the Blanche of Castile, queen of France, in the 13th century as a ransom for her son, the later Louis IX, built. Another story claims Saunières involvement in the Sion Priory
. Historians never found substantial evidence to support these claims. They conclude that the source of the wealth of Saunière was far more trivial and that it was an old corruption . The priest sold masses and stole donations. An alternative, but equally profane, hypothesis is that a local hotelier has simply invented the story to boost tourism.
7. The Origins of Gilmerton Bay
Gilmerton, a suburb of Edinburgh, was once a thriving mining town. Below the streets there is a network of chambers and passageways called Gilmerton Cove. Its purpose and origins have astounded historians and created many conspiracy theories.
It has long been claimed Gilmerton Cove was hewn between 1719 and 1724 by a blacksmith named George Paterson using one of the rooms as a pub, which once got him in trouble for selling alcohol on the Sabbath ,
This version of the events was accepted for almost 200 years until the beginning of the 20th ] century. A historian inspected the underground tunnels and concluded that parts of them were at least a hundred years older than the rest. He also calculated that Gilmerton Cove had about half a million cubic feet of displaced rock. Definitely nothing that Paterson would have done with a chisel or a pickaxe in five years alone.
Since this history of origin was debunked, there has been no shortage of new theories about how and why Gilmerton Cove came. Some claimed it was once an ancient Druid temple or had been used by the Scottish Presbyterian movement known as Covenant's. Maybe it was a secret camp used by smugglers. Whatever the version may be, they all agree that Gilmerton Cove was hidden or filled out and Paterson just found it.
6. The Lost Dauphin
King Louis XVI. From France and his wife Marie Antoinette 1793 were sent to the guillotine. Although the French Revolution resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy, there were still loyalists in the country who considered the young Dauphin from Louis-Charles France to be the rightful ruler. Therefore, the heir apparently was imprisoned when he died in 1795 at the age of 10 years at Scrofula.
Not everyone was convinced that this was indeed the case. Soon rumors grew that crown sympathizers Louis successfully broke out of prison and someone else was buried in his place. This idea became particularly popular two decades later, when the monarchy was briefly restored. Dozens of men called themselves the "lost Dauphin." Their descendants claimed for centuries that they were part of the House of Bourbon.
Modern technology invalidated these claims. Philippe-Jean Pelletan was the surgeon who performed the autopsy on the young body that was supposedly the one of Louis Charles. He smuggled and preserved the boy's heart in the hope that it would later receive a royal funeral. The relic has been in the same crystal urn for almost 200 years. DNA tests in the early 2000s showed that it really belonged to Louis, and the "Lost Dauphin" was nothing more than a legend.
5. How did Zachary Taylor die?
The 12th President Zachary Taylor, died on July 9, 1850 after only 16 months in office. Cause of death at that time was cholera, or what we call gastroenteritis. However, conspiracy theories suggest that Taylor may have been the victim of an assassination, most likely in the interests of slavery.
Taylor was at a time of increasing tensions President, so that there were many people who kept him out of the picture. He suddenly became ill and died a few days later, so it would not be completely unreasonable to suspect poisoning. The idea became so widespread that one of his offspring in 1991 gave permission to exhume Taylor's body and extract a tissue sample. A panel of doctors examined it, but found no signs of poisoning . Nevertheless, the idea persists with people who describe the process as flawed.
If anything, Taylor might have been done through a combination of incompetence and nausea for his doctors. They proceeded with a shotgun approach regarding their treatment and gave the president generous amounts of ipecac, opium, calomel, and quinine, as well as bleeding and blisters. It is possible that Taylor might have recovered if they left him alone.
4. The Ultimate Fate of Butch Cassidy
Like his contemporary Jesse James, it was also whispered that Butch Cassidy survived his Bolivian army shootout and returned to the United States, where he lived peacefully for decades.
Officially, Cassidy fled with the Sundance Kid to South America when the rest of the Wild Bunch was either dead or imprisoned. In 1908, the criminals apparently returned to their old ways and deprived a courier who bore the payroll of a mine. Bolivian soldiers stormed their hiding place and there was a firefight. But unlike the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid did not look glamorous. After Sundance was fatally injured, Cassidy shot him and turned the gun on him.
The bodies were recognized as the two Americans who robbed the courier, and that was good enough for the Bolivian authorities. Her identities as Cassidy and Sundance have never been clearly established. No pictures were taken and they were buried in an unmarked grave. Not surprisingly, some people believed the outlaws brought it to life.
Cassidy's sister Lula Parker Betenson claimed that her brother had survived and even returned to the family at some point. He died in 1937 and his true resting place is known only to the family.
Even stranger was the situation in which William T. Phillips was involved. Decades after Cassidy's death, he wrote a biography entitled The Bandit Invincible . Phillips claimed to have known the shooter since his youth, but there was no evidence of her alleged friendship. Since his book contained many personal anecdotes, some people believed that Phillips was actually Butch Cassidy. It was not until 2012 that a historian who was a passionate advocate of this theory provisionally identified William T. Phillips as William T. Wilcox, an inmate who spent time with Cassidy in the Wyoming Territorial Prison.
3. The Fall of the Lusitania
The sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 was one of the most important and controversial moments of the First World War. A German submarine sank the British ocean liner off the coast of Ireland. Over 1,100 people were killed and 128 of them were Americans. This worsened the American-German relations and entered the war against the United States in 1917.
Decades later, there was a debate over whether the Lusitania was a legitimate military target or not. Germany has always claimed that the ship had invaded a declared war zone and carried huge amounts of undeclared ammunition, including explosives that quickly sank the ship and worsened the loss of life. The official position of the British was that the Lusitania only had rifle ammunition and artillery shells without detonators or propellants. Just a few years ago papers from the State Department published that the ship actually had explosives on board.
Conspiracy theorists go one step further and claim that the British government wanted to attack Germans and sink the Lusitania to bring the US on their side. They argue that British intelligence agencies were aware of the dangers in this area. In the past, they had taken precautions with other ships, but not with the Lusitania, which operated at reduced speed and in a straight line, making it an easy target. They also ask why the ship was not equipped with a destroyer escort, though several were available.
2. What happened to Amelia Earhart?
The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is perhaps the biggest secret of aviation. It is not surprising that there are many theories and ideas about their fate after their accidental circumnavigation of the world in 1937.
Typically, the most accepted view is that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, died after they had crashed their Lockheed model 10 Electra. Whether this happened somewhere over the Pacific Ocean or on an island is not known.
Some believe Amelia Earhart was killed by the Japanese because she was actually an American spy hired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Japanese military either killed them when they crashed their plane or captured Earhart and held them captive on the island of Saipan for the rest of their days. There was even an idea that the Aviatrix was forced to become Tokyo Rose – an English-speaking woman who spread Japanese propaganda to the Allies during World War II. Her husband George Putnam investigated this claim. He listened to numerous such recordings but never recognized his wife's voice.
There were also several assumptions that Earhart survived the crash and lived under a new identity. One book claimed that she was Irene Bolam from New Jersey. Bolam sued the publisher, settled out of court, and withdrew the book.
1. The Phantom-Time Hypothesis
Without doubt, one of the strangest historical conspiracy theories is the phantom-time hypothesis. It is alleged that a part of the Middle Ages never really took place and was made to advance the time by a few centuries and the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. Set in the year 1000.
According to this hypothesis the period between AD 614 and 911 never took place. Charlemagne never existed nor did the Carolingian dynasty. The year is actually 1722.
In terms of motivation, it is usually portrayed as a plot of conspiracy by King Otto III. And Pope Sylvester II is ruled. However, some believers claim that these could have been added over centuries by a mistake or by misinterpretation of documents. If all this was a coincidence, it was probably during the Gregorian Reform when Pope Gregory XIII. The change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar made possible.
There are many ways to expose this idea, but astronomy seems to work well. We have historical observations of cosmic events such as solar eclipses and the passing of Halley's comet. Astronomers can be sure of when they took place, and would notice if they were out of service for several centuries.
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