6 strange historical rumours: true or false?

  1. Napoleon and the rabbit attack
    1. It’s said that one of the world’s most powerful men was nearly defeated by a horde of fluffy bunnies. The story goes that in 1807 Napoleon wanted to celebrate the signing of the treaty of Tilsit by organising a large rabbit hunt. So his chief officer Alexandre Berthier brought 3,000 rabbits to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, these rabbits were tame farm animals and instead of seeing Napoleon as a threat they saw him as a source of food. All 3,000 rabbits then descended on Napoleon, who ran away and locked himself inside his carriage. Sound plausible?
  2. Tutankhamun's curse 
    1. Two months after opening famous Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1923, the sponsor of the expedition, Lord Carnarvon, died suddenly in his hotel room. The media went nuts - his death was obviously because of King Tut’s curse! What else could it have been? This curse was said to bring death to anyone who violated Tutankhamun’s tomb. Guess it’s not a good idea to mess with mummies. His actual cause of death turned out to be a mosquito bite which became infected - but the media didn’t want to let facts get in the way of a good story. So this tale has hung around for quite a long time and a surprising number of people think the curse could be real. Do you?
  3.  The three breasts of Anne Boleyn
    1. Did you know that Anne Boleyn reportedly had three boobs? And six fingers on one of her hands? It was also said that she had moles that were the kiss of the devil! On the one hand, it’s unlikely that Henry VIII would have married a woman with any kind of body abnormality - in those days they were very superstitious about things like that. But on the other (possibly six-fingered) hand, she was accused of a lot of dodgy things - including incest and making pacts with the devil. And some of the people who made those accusations were very close to her in the court - and wouldn’t they have known the truth? Either way, Anne did get her head cut off - so history should probably cut her some slack. 
  4. George Washington's wooden teeth 
    1. This is one of the most famous rumours about George Washington’s personal life. He definitely suffered from pains in his teeth for most of his adult life, and actually started losing them completely when he was 22 - in fact, by the time he was president he had only one tooth left! Strangely, this was probably the fault of his doctors - in those days Mercury Oxide was often used in medicine because they hadn’t yet realised it could have poisonous side effects. It also destroys your teeth. But what’s still unknown is how Washington solved his dental problems - some dentures in this era were made from wood, but others were made from materials like gold, ivory, or even the teeth of dead soldiers. Which do you think he used?
  5. Plagues and pacts with the devil 
    1. We now think that the Black Death was a bacterial disease spread by rats and fleas, but in the mid-1300s all they knew was that a mysterious illness was killing thousands of people across Europe - and no one could figure out why. This caused them to think up some strange and frightening reasons for the pestilence, including blaming the Jewish community! Because Jewish people were so often persecuted they were forced into more isolated communities - plus they were generally cleaner than their Christian neighbours. So less of them were affected by the plague. This made people very suspicious and they started accusing Jewish people of poisoning their wells, and also making a secret pact with the devil so he would protect them from the plague! Because of this rumour, thousands of Jewish people were attacked, driven from their homes and even killed. What things might we believe today that could later turn out to be wrong?