Cracked has compiled a list of six ‘facts’ about historic figures that their enemies made up. I still hear a few of these often, such as Napoleon being extremely short, and J. Edgar Hoover being a transvestite.
The truth is like Silly Putty: you can stretch it, mold it and use it to destroy someone’s life. Just ask anyone who’s ever run a nasty smear campaign; a good, juicy lie or half-truth about someone can not only follow them to the grave, but can echo down through history long after.
Just look at how the following “historical facts”–all complete bullshit–have continued to show up in print for centuries after the subject has passed away.