The story of the war between the Aztec (Mexica) empire and the Spanish conquistadors is one of the most dramatic in world history. The accounts of the conquest are diverse and, at times, contradictory. Some sources claim King Montezuma truly believed the conquistador Hernan Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl. But can these sources be trusted? Tune in and find out how psychedelic flute concerts, the Wizard of OZ, Scrooge McDuck, and novelist Vladimir Nabokov all play a role in the story!
Before the Spanish arrived in the early 1500's, the Aztec, or Mexica, people had built an impressive civilization. Their empire was composed of bustling cities that were larger, cleaner, and more architecturally sophisticated than most cities in Europe at that time. The arrival of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés would prove so disastrous for Aztec society that supernatural explanations did not seem out of the question. Did the Aztecs believe that Cortés was in fact the god Quetzalcoatl? Did the myth of a bearded god colour how the Mexica dealt with this gold-hungry pirate? Tune in and find out how hungover deities, a boat built from snakes, and a stick used to support a man's giant gut all play a role in the story.
When Marco Polo returned from his travels in Asia he brought back with him tales of lands previously unimagined by Europeans. One of his strangest stories was that of the so-called “old man of the mountain” and his band of devoted assassins. The story of a mysterious mystic who used visions of paradise and mind altering drugs to manipulate his followers fascinated westerners for generations. But was there really an “old man of the mountain”? Did the leaders of the Islamic world actually sleep wearing armour for fear of the “old man’s” deadly assassins? Tune in and find out how secret gardens, rivers of wine, the Great Khan of the Mongols, and severed head who can speak, all play a role in the story.
After seizing power in 1799 Napoleon’s legend would only continue grow. In the years after the coup d’etat that brought him to power Napoleon would redraw the map of Europe and refashion himself as an emperor. Myths lurk around every corner of the great general’s career, exaggerating and distorting an already unbelievable life. Even Napoleon’s death is rife with legend and conspiracy theories! Tune in and find out how rigged votes, surprised Popes, poisonous wallpaper, and butt-leeches all play a role in the story!
Napoleon is simultaneously one of the most well-known and most misunderstood figures in Western history. He has been portrayed as both the ultimate romantic hero and the most despicable war-mongering dictator. Napoleon’s life is riddled with legends, exaggerations, lies, and many unbelievable-but-true events! Has Napoleon become more of a myth than a man? Tune in and find out how the Sphinx’s nose, Charles Dickens’ favourite historian, little cabbages, and Steve Jobs all play a role in the story!
William Shakespeare is easily the most well-known playwright in the English language. His works are praised as some of the greatest feats of writing and are still required reading throughout the English speaking world. But what if the man from Stratford-upon- Avon was not the true author of the plays? What if the “Bard” was actually an illiterate who bumbled into fame and fortune? There are still hundreds of educated people who believe William Shakespeare was the biggest fraud in literary history. Listen and find out how aristocratic conspiracies, faked deaths, secret ciphers, Morse code, and Mark Twain all play a role in this story!
Ninjas, Japan’s shadow warriors, have been a pop-culture staple for generations. The legend of the ninjas has become so overblown, that some have gone so far to suggest that they never truly existed. But that is just what the ninjas want us to believe! The ninjas were very real, and they played a pivotal role in Japan’s “warring states period”. Nevertheless, separating ninja-fact from ninja-fiction continues to be a tall order. Listen and find out how medieval water noodles, puppet emperors, toilet warriors, and Seb’s horrific pronunciation of Japanese names all fit into the story!
Is the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur just a bedtime story for morbid children or does it contain the kernels of real history? This week we dive into this classic myth and discover how it might hold clues about a real conflict between ancient bronze-age civilizations. Tune in to discover how bull jumpers, volcanic eruptions, boys with double-daddys, and the real life Indiana Jones all play a role in the story!
The “Great Fire” of 64 AD was the 9/11 of the ancient world, complete with it’s own “truther” conspiracy. Could Emperor Nero actually have been behind the great fire? Did he play the fiddle as Rome burned? Listen and find out how murderous oarsmen, zombie emperors, human street lamps, the number of the beast, and something called “pseudo-neros” all fit into the story!
Queen Elizabeth I is easily one of England’s most celebrated monarchs. The so-called “virgin queen” has been credited with leading England through a golden age. However, she is also the subject of countless historical myths and conspiracy theories. This week we unpack the scandalous tale that Queen Elizabeth was actually an impostor in drag. Listen and find out how King Henry VIII, Dracula, Catherine the Great’s horse, and an unlucky kid named Neville all figure in the story!