History Has Been Too Kind; Three 'Greats' who weren't.

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 3rd Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Three famous men, seen as great heros who were more destructive and whose legacy is questionable.


It has been said that 'History belongs to the Victors'. Those who write of events of their day or who reflect on the past, often betray their own bias. In many cases, this is accepted as truth.

There are many 'villians' who were really not that bad, yet, those who controlled information of their day, portray them as completely evil. There are others, who go through the ages as 'heros', when a brief study of the truth of their lives reveals otherwise.

Richard the Lion Hearted

He was the third of the English King, Henry II, legitimate sons. He was not expected to gain the throne.

Born in Oxford, England, he grew up in France. His mother gave him her duchy of Aquitaine in 1168, and of Poitiers in 1172.

He never learned English.

He grew to be very tall, and was extremely handsome.

There were many reports of his rapes, his murders, which seem to be shrugged off. He is not known to history as a man of cruelty and evil, although he was.

He took the English Throne in 1189 and almost immediately decided to join the Third Crusade, inspired by the loss of Jerusalem to the "infidels" under the command of Saladin.

To raise money for his Crusade he sold official positions, rights, and lands to those interested in them and left for the Holy Land in 1190.

He arrived in Sicily where the King had just died. Tancred I took the Crown. The people liked him.

Richard, alledgedly in defence of his sister, Joan, who had been married to the previous King attacked, captured looted and burned the city.

He remained there until March 1191 when Tancred agreed to sign a treaty under which Joan would be released from prison and receive her inheritance.

He left Sicily and reached the island of Rhodes, then to Cyprus. On May 6, 1191, Richard arrived at Lemesos and he captured the city. After a few more battles he became the new ruler of Cyprus.

Richard looted the island, massacred those who tried to resist him.

King Richard arrived at Acre in June 1191, in time to relieve the siege of the city by Saladin. Although he was able to control Acre, he had no allies. He appreciated that even if he captured Jerusalem he wouldn't be able to keep it, so left and returned to Europe in the autumn of 1192. He was captured by Duke Leopold, and handed over as a prisoner to the Emperor Henry VI.

He eventually was released, went to England, spent almost no time there, and went back to France to regain the territory he had lost.

He was King of England for Ten years, but had spent only Six Months there.

He died in 1199.

Exactly what did he do to be considered such a hero?

Peter The Great

Standard biographies will discuss his ‘modernising’ of Russia and increasing of its territory. They leave out the debauchery, the drinking, the evil.

His dinners were long drinking-bouts in which guests were forced to empty a bowl containing a full pint of wine. When they passed out, they were taken out of the house and tossed on the Ground'. Then they were awakened and forced to follow the Tsar in cutting down trees to make a new walk to the seashore.

To say power went to his head is true.

He married his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina in 1689 and ten years later forced her to become a nun and thus freed himself from the union.

Peter was extremely tall 6 ft 8 in. However he lacked proportion. His hands and feet were small, his shoulders narrow, and his head small.

That may have added to his level of cruelty.

His eldest son , Alexei, who disagreed with many of his father's reforms, was tortured to death.

Some of these reforms concerned the reorganisation of the Russian army. He dealt with opposition by brutal suppression, as his son experienced.

On top of his behaviour at home, was that abroad. He launched a number of failed campaigns against his enemies.

Thinking he would be supported by Balkan allies, he attacked the Ottoman Empire, initiating the Russo-Turkish War of 1710.

The campaign was disastrous, and in the ensuing peace treaty (Treaty of Pruth), Peter was forced to return the Black Sea ports he had seized in 1697.

His second wife had been his mistress. Born poor, she never learned to read or write.

Peter had serious urinary tract infections towards the end of his life, and died, his wife, Catherine rule two years after, until she died.

What did he do to be so ‘Great?’

Woodrow Wilson

Although historical rankings often put him in the top ten of American Presidents, his record, if carefully examined, would put him slightly above Pierce and below Fillmore.

Wilson was a racist. He grew up in a racist family, a family which moved to the South from the North to support Slavery.

When he became President of Princeton, no black person could attend. When he became President of the United States, Segregation was re-introduced and enforced, and the Ku Klux Klan had great power and prestige.

When it came to women's rights, Wilson blocked them at every corner, had women locked up and tortured, and it was only pressure from abroad, after World War I, that had him, at the end of his second term, granting sufferage.

As bad as his local record, the International one was even worse.

He invaded Mexico, Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic to enforce American policies.

In Nicaragua and Haiti, Wilson used the military to install a leader of his choosing. In Mexico, American forces spent a year fighting bandits and the Mexican army in a vain search for Pancho Villa.

During World War I, Wilson allowed the government to open mail, restricted free speech, and imprisoned dissidents.

After the war, he approved the Palmer Raids which rounded up and deported foreigners and arrested people for criticizing the government. In Wilson’s world, civil liberties applied only during peace time and for those that agreed with him.


When one examines the past of these three, it seems easier to dismiss facts than overturn fantasy.

We tend to 'remember' Richard because of Robin Hood; (who may not have existed). Some may believe he retook Jerusalemn, although he never reached that city.

Peter is called 'The Great', although that might be in brutality.

President Wilson is considered in the 'Top Ten', but that may be in the belief he 'won' WWI, certainly not in his human rights record.


America, Crusades, England, France, Peter, Richard The Lion Hearted, Russia, The Great, Torture, Womens Sufferage, Woodrow Wilson, World War I

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
3rd Jan 2015 (#)

Indeed it is true to say that history is written by the victor and that the worst of people insist on being called the best.

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author avatar kaylar
3rd Jan 2015 (#)

It is just remarkable when one actually reads history to find the facts..

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
3rd Jan 2015 (#)

You're right. History is a manipulated account of events. I know as I studied Modern History and Indian History. A nice piece. Wish you A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
4th Jan 2015 (#)

We will have lots of shocks if we were there when things unfolded - they could be far from the way they were recorded and accepted as the truth. I may include our beliefs too. Even the dropping of atomic bombs was cruel as it killed ordinary people - siva

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author avatar kaylar
4th Jan 2015 (#)

The point is, history doesn't just mention these three, it elevates them to high level, which they don't deserve.

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author avatar Retired
4th Jan 2015 (#)

The people in power seem always to abuse it by turning it against unfavored groups of the moment.

Interesting lessons from history here. Thanks.

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author avatar kaylar
5th Jan 2015 (#)

You're very welcome Lerain...I was surprised when I actually did the research on these chaps.

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author avatar Retired
12th Jan 2015 (#)

Very interesting. I suppose that Wilson's reputation is largely based on his efforts to redraw the map of Europe after World War I - his "14 points" were very influential, although they also sowed some of the seeds that led to World War II.

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author avatar kaylar
13th Jan 2015 (#)

Definately; much of what he did led to WWII

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author avatar n.c.radomes
14th Jan 2015 (#)

You did a thorough husking of these supposedly great personages to reveal their core.Splendid work!

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author avatar kaylar
16th Jan 2015 (#)

Thank you N.C. I had, over the years, come across bits and pieces of the lives of these 'Greats' and decided to tie it into an article.

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author avatar Kingwell
22nd Feb 2015 (#)

Fascinating! I remember how bias history was when I was a child in school. Of course I didn't think so at the time as 'heros' were always the good guys lol!

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author avatar kaylar
22nd Feb 2015 (#)

My study of History over the years has revealed much of it is fantasy.

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