History of the World According to the Movies: Part 55 – The Russian Revolution

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Perhaps no movie defines our perception of the Russian Revolution as David Lean’s 1965 adaptation of the Boris Pasternak novel Dr. Zhivago starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. Russia was never a pleasant place to live throughout most of history and not because of the Russian winter either. Still, this movie deals with how the Russian Revolution in many ways made way for a regime just as oppressive as the one that came before. It was just that the new overlords called themselves Bolshevik Communists. Still, Yuri Zhivago is a very tragic figure who loses almost everything he held dear that he ends up a very broken man. Lara doesn’t fare much better.

The twentieth century didn’t begin so well in Russia where life had been hard for many and not because of the Russian winter and the chances of going to Siberia either. Still, in the beginning of the 20th century, the country was a massive empire home to 165 million people of many religions, languages, and cultures. For centuries, it had been ruled by autocratic rulers known as the Czar under a militaristic and bureaucratic absolute monarchy with no legislative representative bodies, no elections, and no political parties allowed. For years, Russia had been a country where the vast majority of illiterate peasants have been dominated, exploited, and oppressed by a small landowning elite. Free expression was very limited and Imperial Secret Police frequently suppressed dissent with executions, censorship, or exile in Siberia. And it wasn’t unusual for ethnic and religious minorities to be the designated scapegoats of angry citizens. Unsurprisingly, desires for political reform and opposition to the Czarist regime among the population was rising, sometimes in extreme and violent ways. Yet, while there have been Czars who managed to stabilized the increasing unrest in Russia, but Czar Nicholas II wasn’t one of them whose reign was a complete disaster from the start not only due to his own incompetence but also because he didn’t want bow to his people’s whims if it meant giving up his power as the autocratic leader he was. These factors combined with losing a war with the Japanese led to the 1905 Revolution that consisted of a series of demonstrations ranging from peaceful protests to acts of terrorism taking Czar Nicholas by surprise and forced him to agree to political and economic reforms which established a governing body called the Duma which the Czar would later go to great lengths to get rid of. However, what really helped set off the Russian Revolutions of 1917 was Russia entering World War I, a conflict the country was dreadfully unprepared for and it was a total disaster for the country. The Russian Army suffered defeat after defeat by the Germans and experienced high casualty rates while the Russian economy suffered with rising food prices and inflation putting the country on the road to economic collapse. Both civilian and military morale was low. By 1917, most Russians were fed up with their Czar that they formed a provisional government and forced Nicholas II to abdicate that March, which marked the end of Czarist Russia. In November of that year, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks and allies would overthrow the Provisional Government and seize power through any means necessary even if it provoked a four year civil war. While Russia had attempted democratic rule in 1917, by 1918, all such attempts were over once Lenin closed down the elected Constituent Assembly after his group didn’t win. Thus, Russia’s Communistic regime had begun. Nevertheless, movies about the Russian Revolution do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list accordingly.

Pre-Revolutionary Russia:

The 1905 mutiny on the battleship Potemkin was over eating rotten meat, which led to a massacre by Russian troops. (Though immortalized in a movie and though such revolt was brought down by Russian troops that day, the massacre didn’t happen contrary to The Battleship Potemkin, which is actually full-blown Soviet propaganda. According to TTI: “The Guards fired warning shots over the heads of the crowd in front of them… and hit a few people BEHIND the crowd in front of them. However, the Czarist troops did later prevent people from leaving the port after several buildings caught fire, indirectly leading to dozens of deaths. The Black Sea Mutiny was complicated. A more straightforward example would be when the Potemkin fired on Odessa. In the movie, they destroy the Czarist headquarters, in reality someone in fire control disagreed with the mutiny and gave them the wrong coordinates causing them to level a few blocks of tenements full of innocent people instead.” As for what caused the revolt, it was about more than just rotten meat.)

Post-Soviet Cryllic was used at this time. (They wouldn’t be using that kind of writing in Czarist Russia in 1905, but it’s in Doctor Zhivago.)

The statue of Yuri Dolgoruky was erected in Moscow by this time. (The statue was placed there in 1947 as a commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the city’s founding by the man depicted in the statue. Yet, it’s there when Yuri arrives in Moscow before the First World War.)

Kropotkin Street existed in Czarist Russia at this time. (At the time it was named Prechistenka Street. Also Kropotkin was an anarchist and would’ve never had a street named after him in Czarist Russia.)

During the revolt of the Potemkin, a bunch of sailors were rounded up to be shot as well as had the tarp pulled over them. (This did happen but there wasn’t any tarp unlike what The Battleship Potemkin shows. Interestingly, one of the sailors of the group said he was under the tarp but this says more about the hypnotic quality of the film.)

Artillery Quartermaster Grigory Meketovich Vakulinchuk was the leader of the Potemkin revolt. (He was actually some guy who got caught up in the fighting and got killed. Also, he called for a boycott, not a full scale revolt. The real leader of the mutiny was a sailor named Afanasy Nikolayevich Matushenko who went to Romania with the ship long with the other sailors in which they handed it to the Romanian government and further on to Europe. TTI says he settled in Dublin where he opened a fish and chips shop while Wikipedia says he returned to Russia in 1907 and was executed by hanging that October.)

Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin was alive during the Romanov tercentenary of 1913. (He was assassinated in 1911 while watching Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” at the Kiev Opera House in the presence of Czar Nicholas II and his family. Also, the Romanovs 300th anniversary was in 1913, not 1916.)

Rasputin hypnotized Czarina Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting Sonia to leave Czarevitch Alexei on a bridge in order to demonstrate his healing powers. (The woman’s name in real life was Anna Vyrubova who was said to be Rasputin’s lover {some also speculated Empress Alexandra which isn’t true at all}. Still, he did have a lot of girlfriends despite looking like someone from an old-timey mental institution. However, Rasputin’s first contact with Alexei may have been when he “cured” the hemophiliac boy’s insomnia. He advised against using aspirin on Alexei, which was a common way to treat hemophilia but one of the worst things to give to one since it’s a potent blood thinner. Nevertheless, Rasputin would’ve done no such thing to Alexei since he was a staunch ally of the Romanovs.)

Rasputin was killed by a mysterious person named Ivan Keznikov. (He was actually assassinated by a group of aristocrats led a cross dressing party boy named Count Felix Yusupov who was still alive when the movie Rasputin the Mad Monk was made in 1966. Also, Yusupov sued filmmakers who tried to tell his story despite publishing his own memoirs. Still, while Rasputin is shown guzzling cyanide laced cakes with booze, it’s said he also endured being shot four times, beaten, castrated, wrapped in a linen sheet, stabbed, and thrown from a bridge into the River Neva allegedly drowning or dying of hypothermia. This would’ve been a golden opportunity for any slasher movie with the monster keep coming back to life, but Rasputin the Mad Monk just didn’t have it. Must’ve been a budget issue. Nevertheless, Yusupov would sometimes change his account on how he helped assassinate Rasputin whenever he was short on funds. Still, in reality, Rasputin died with a shot in the head which killed him instantly {according to his autopsy}. Oh, and it was by a .455 Webley revolver which at the time was issued to British intelligence officers, so there may have been British involvement in his assassination.)

Rasputin made advances toward Czar Nicholas II’s daughters. (There have never been any accusations of him having designs on the grand duchesses, let alone Empress Alexandra.)

Czar Nicholas II was a progressive who wanted a Duma while Rasputin was against it. (Nicholas II was an autocrat who distrusted any attempt to give the people more of a say in their government and basically tried to disband the Duma whenever he could. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the Russian Revolution broke out in the first place. His grandfather Alexander II was the more progressive monarch than him.)

Rasputin urged Nicholas II to enter World War I. (He actually advised Czar Nicholas II against it but the autocrat didn’t listen. Still, Rasputin’s influence in the Russian royal family tends to be exaggerated.)

Rasputin was a monk. (He was actually more of a lay preacher in the Russian Orthodox Church and was never ordained either as a cleric or a monk in that matter {and had a lot of enemies in the Church as well}. Not to mention, he was married and had at least three kids before he sought a religious occupation {there’s even photographic evidence}. He might have also been a member of some wacky para-Christian cult in Russia as well though there’s not a lot of evidence for this. Still, he did use religion to justify him being Russia’s greatest love machine, though his sex life is very much speculated upon.)

Rasputin was an old man during his association with the Romanovs. (He died at 47.)

Czarevitch Alexei was born during the winter. (He was born in August when there’s no snow in Russia even in the northern regions.)

Grand Duchess Anastasia was called “sunshine” by her father. (Czarevitch Alexei was called that.)

Grand Duchess Tatiana flashed her breasts at a guard. (Contrary to Nicholas and Alexandra, there are no reports or statements that Tatiana did such thing. Besides, if she did, we would’ve known.)

Josef Stalin was around in 1907. (Yes, he was certainly alive then but he didn’t go by that name until 1912. Still, he knew Lenin at the time and was referred to as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili. Then again, considering the name, maybe it’s better to have him go by Stalin anyway.)

St. Petersburg was known by its name during World War I. (It was called Petrograd then since St. Petersburg was considered too German. It would be called Petrograd until 1924 when it became known as Leningrad until it reverted back to St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Still, in almost every movie about the last days of the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution, it’s always referred to as St. Petersburg throughout in Anastasia when the city was referred to as Leningrad.)

The Russian Revolution:

The Russian Revolution started in 1916. (It began in 1917 on both Western and Russian calendars.)

Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov survived the Russian Revolution. (She was killed along with the rest of her family. Sorry Anastasia fans!)

The grand duchesses had long hair when they were shot by the revolutionaries. (They actually had their heads shaved while they were imprisoned due to illness. By the time they were shot in 1918, their hair had grown to the napes of their necks, which meant that they would’ve died with short hair.)

The Romanovs were shot outside a courtyard. (They were shot in a closed, dinghy cellar of the house they were imprisoned in. Besides them, their doctor and three of their servants were shot as well. Oh, and their bodies were dragged into the woods, lit on fire, doused in sulfuric acid, and buried in a mine shaft. And according to the murderers, the Czar’s family were shot, beaten, bludgeoned, and bayoneted to death.)

Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov was 7 during the Russian Revolution. (She was 15 and was 17 when she died. Yet, though she didn’t survive, her grandmother the Dowager Empress did, yet unlike the cartoon, she was a Danish princess named Dagmar {though she went byMarie Feodorovna} and actually went back to Denmark via London and the Crimea, though somehow “Together in Copenhagen” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it. Not only that but the Danish king at the time was her brother and her sister was Queen Alexandra of Great

Britain. Also, the Czar’s daughters weren’t referred to as princesses but as grand duchesses.)

The Romanovs were exiled to a log cabin during the winter of 1918 by the Bolsheviks. (Actually they were exiled to a Governor’s Mansion and were in the custody of Kerensky’s Provisional Government, which was before the Bolsheviks took over.)

Yakov Yurovski was in his sixties when he held the Romanov family in custody and participated in their execution. (He was 39.)

Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna was in England during the winter of 1918. (She didn’t go to England until 1919, the year after the Romanovs were all killed. In 1918, she was still in Russia. Also, she wasn’t the sole survivor of the Romanov family either. Not to mention, Czar Nicholas II’s children weren’t particularly close to her who saw her as someone to be respected and feared above anything else. And another thing, she never entertained Anastasia impostors. Her daughter Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna would meet one by the name of Anna Anderson in person and become her most famous detractor.)

Rasputin was an undead evil sorcerer who sold his soul for a demon powered reliquary and sparked the Russian Revolution to kill the Romanovs. (Rasputin was charismatic religious eccentric but he was a staunch ally of the Romanovs and is revered in Russia to this day. He was also summoned by the Czarist court because he was believed to be capable of alleviating the czarevitch’s severe hemophilia. Even though he wasn’t a saint, he always considered himself a Christian and never indulged in any occult practices with his only claims on magical abilities being on divination and healing which were perfectly within the Orthodox Christian paradigm. Sure he took advantage of a sick child and his desperate mother to bring himself power, riches, and affluence as well as drank and whored {possibly sexually assaulting more than one woman} but he would never have willingly plotted the Romanovs’ destruction since he depended on them. Besides, he was dead when the Russian Revolution broke out due to assassination by a few Russian aristocrats resentful of his influence toward the Imperial family. Reason for his bad reputation stems from the fact that Rasputin often took one for the team whenever Nicholas II made a bad decision for the Czar couldn’t be criticized directly.)

The White Russian Army were all united and believed in the same things. (Actually the only thing they believed in was that they didn’t like the Bolsheviks. Politically ideologically speaking, they ranged from social democrats to full blown monarchists. There were also other factions like the village communitarian {according to TTI: “They supported Russia’s centuries-long tradition of village-based communes against the Reds who were an urban-based faction that kept trying to kill their ‘oppressive kulak overlords’, and the Whites whom they associated with the Imperial Government that had always tried to interfere in their affairs and taken far too much of their money in tax and too many of their young men as conscripts.”}, the nationalist “Greens” that were local militias protecting their villages from marauders of both sides, the anarchist “Blacks,” the Mensheviks the Social Revolutionaries known as the Soviets, foreign interventionists from the Allied and Central powers, ethnic nationalists, and people just trying to fight their way out.)

The Bolsheviks had secret police that cracked down on spies and dissidents as well as censored works of literature in 1917. (In 1917, the Bolsheviks were way too busy to hunt dreamy dissidents like Dr. Yuri Zhivago so he could publish his poetry without persecution at least at first. Sure the Bolsheviks were fanatics but there was adequate freedom of the press at the time of Dr. Zhivago. Still, while Dr. Zhivago is set in the Russian Revolution, it’s actually more about the Stalinist Revolution when you could be shot, tortured, or imprisoned for having the wrong attitude. Rather it’s more about the terror author Boris Pasternak experienced {with personal phone calls by Josef Stalin himself} as well as the loss of his friends to firing squads and gulags. So while early 1917 Russia was no day at the beach, it wasn’t as bad a place as it would become later on. Still, millions of people in Russia were killed at this time so the was a shithole nonetheless.)

The Bolsheviks overthrew Czar Nicholas II and his family. (For God’s sake, the Bolsheviks didn’t overthrow the Romanovs and actually opposed the 1905 revolts and the February Revolution of 1917 because they weren’t in charge of either. Furthermore, Vladimir Lenin wasn’t even in Russia when Czar Nicholas II stepped down. The Russian royal family was overthrown by the Provisional Government headed by moderate socialist Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky. Still, the abdication of Nicholas II was the only thing the factions of the Russian Revolution could agree upon and it was inevitable since there have been anti-czarist movements for years by this point. The Bolsheviks would take over later with overthrowing the provisional government without firing a shot in the Red October with their Left Socialist Revolutionaries and anarchist allies igniting civil war, and basically shut down anything that was democratic or opposing them. After the Socialist Revolutionaries won the most seats in the Constituent Assembly election that December, the Bolsheviks shut it down by force when the Assembly attempted to meet in Petrograd in January of 1918. However, it was the Bolsheviks who were responsible for killing the Romanovs though.)

The Bolsheviks were the most popular political faction in Russia during the Revolution. (Early on, they were a minor party with modest popularity. Yet, their clear opposition to the Provisional Government and their unambiguous support in the aims of the soldiers, workers, and peasants gave them a viable power base in which they could usurp the PG. And they were the only significant party to take such position. Not to mention, the political unity among its own members also played a factor in their success.)

The Russian revolutionaries were in agreement with each other and supported the desires of the people. (Actually there were a lot of political factions during the Russian Revolution, except when it came to forcing Czar Nicholas II to resign. Sometimes faction members couldn’t agree within their own parties. Using cinema as propaganda and going out of their way to convince the general public they were the good guys also helped considerably. As for public interests, many of them had their own ideas that may nor may not have been in the people’s best interests. But movies tend to imply this.)

The Bolsheviks were the only Socialist party during the Russian Revolution. (No, they weren’t but they were the most successful. You also had the Mensheviks, the Right Socialist Revolutionaries, and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries which were their allies yet once they won the majority of seats in the Constituent Assembly and 60% of the vote followed by the Bolsheviks’ 24%, the Bolshevik Red Guard closed down the Constituent Assembly by force when it attempted to meet in January 1918. And no, not all Russian Socialist were alike or believed in the same things.)

The Bolsheviks supported the desires of the people. (Sometimes but it wasn’t always the case. Nevertheless, what the Bolsheviks wanted was as much as opposed to the real desires of the people as had been the policies of the previous regimes. Still, when the popular movement and the Bolsheviks came into conflict, the Bolsheviks were utterly ruthless in imposing their will by force. Vladimir Lenin ensured that the Bolshevik party would resort to dictatorship rather than bow to the will of the Russian people. This is why Communist Russia was so authoritarian and repressive as it was.)

Leon Trotsky played a very miniscule role in the October 1917 Revolution. (Of course, so says Soviet propaganda films from the 1920s until the 1950s since Josef Stalin was in charge then. A good example would be in the Sergei Eisenstein film October: Ten Days that Shook the World, in which Trotsky was shown briefly in a couple of scenes since he was exiled during the filming with all his other scenes going to the cutting room floor. In reality, Trotsky was Vladimir Lenin’s right hand man who actually planned the military strategic takeover in Petrograd during the October 1917 Revolution as well as helped win the Russian Civil War for the Bolsheviks. Yet, after Trotsky was exiled, Stalin tried to expunge him from the Soviet records, even to the point of eliminating him in photographs. Nevertheless, Socialist reporter Jack Reed did include Trotsky’s involvement in his book.)

The Russian Revolution happened in the same way as the French one. (Well, they do have parallels but there are plenty of differences between the two.)

The Soviet Twenties:

The Winter Palace was almost intact in 1927. (Russian Revolutionaries had already stormed and looted the place in 1917, taking everything valuable, slashing all the paintings, and used the façade as target practice. Furthermore, by 1927, the Palace was rebuilt and served as a seat to the Hermitage museum.)

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History of the World According to the Movies: Part 33 – Cavalier European Empires

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The Scarlet Empress from 1934. Sure it does detail the story of young Catherine the Great quite accurately to the point she had many lovers as well as a husband who wouldn’t have sex with her. However, Catherine the Great didn’t just sleep her way to the top nor did she get by just on her looks as depicted in this film. Nor was she a naive princess trapped in a frightening castle in Moscow but a palace in Saint Petersburg that she’d feel more at home. Also, she didn’t look anything like Marlene Dietrich (since she had lost her looks, youth, and even her health by that point) though she was German. Nevertheless, this film less of a historical biopic and more of an excuse for Josef von Sternberg to make a film with scary S&M scenes because the Hays Code wouldn’t allow that.

While most movies of the Cavalier Era in Europe are set in Great Britain and France, they weren’t the only countries in which things were happening. It was also an age of European Empires in which three European entities were scrambling to take over places on their own continent (like splitting Poland three ways). These countries are Russia, Austria, and Prussia who at one time were homes of a few of the most famous enlightened absolute monarchs of all time. You have Russia, which was involved in a power struggle after the death of Ivan the Terrible (with a short rule of Boris Godunov), the rise of the Romanov Czars, an undertaking of modernization under Peter the Great (who was willing to cut guys’ beards off), as well as the rule of Catherine the Great. You have Austria, home of the Hapsburg royal family that had produced Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Joseph II as well as Mozart and one of the most infamous female serial killers of all time. Then you have Prussia a new country in Europe home to one of the most formidable militaries in Europe as with its best monarch being a Pan-European and anti-statist King Frederick the Great (but you wouldn’t know it from the films made by his embarrassing fans, the Nazis who make him out as some kind of proto-Hitler). Nevertheless, movies about this era in these countries tend to get a lot of stuff wrong, which I shall show you.

Czarist Russia:

During the troubled year of 1612, Polish troops were thrown back from Moscow. (They held the city for two years only to be expelled by Kuzma Minin and Dmitrty Pozharsky.)

Eighteenth century Russia’s capital was Moscow which was a primitive place as shown by the monstrosity décor of the palace. (Actually, the capital in eighteenth century Russia was St. Petersburg and would remain so until the Russian Revolution. Also, the Winter Palace was built in the classical style of architecture.)

Catherine the Great was a gorgeous vixen who relied on her beauty and wiles to win influence and become Empress of Russia. (Catherine the Great looked nothing like Marlene Dietrich and didn’t sleep her way to the top either even though she did have lovers but this could be explained by the fact she was married to a total idiot who wouldn’t sleep with her and was under tremendous pressure to produce an heir, at least in her early years. In other words, her initial reason for taking lovers was to save her own ass. But many of these guys filled other roles in her life besides boy toys and lasted for quite some time {or power but many of her lovers did help Russia and remained loyal to her at least as her subjects}. Three of them fathered her children; one helped her develop rapport with key military regiments which would help stage a coup that made her empress. Another served as a political confidante. However, Catherine the Great wasn’t an attractive woman and she made her way to the top not by her looks and sexuality, but by her brains, courage, character and magnificence {since she lost her looks, youth, and health by the time she became Empress. Still, it was her brains that impressed the likes of men such as King Frederick the Great of Prussia and she was pen pals with Voltaire.)

Catherine the Great was a girly girl who aspired to be a toe-dancer. (She was a tomboy with an avid personality and love of deep thoughts who at fourteen said, “I am a philosopher,” and wrote a long treatise to prove it. Also, she was large, boisterous, and slightly walleyed. Not to mention, she really liked to read as a way to escape her misery from court life during her marriage developing her political skills to counteract with the vicious intrigues threatening to ensnare her.)

Empress Elizabeth was a tyrannical bitch as well as frumpy and old. (She wasn’t a nice lady but she was able to seize her throne in a military coup in 1641. Yet, she was considered very attractive and tall despite her malice, spite, vengefulness, vanity, and a deep and pervasive fearfulness. However, this woman was one of Catherine the Great’s role models as well as principal mentor who taught her everything that she needed to know about being the Empress of Russia. Like Catherine, she also had many lovers.)

Empress Elizabeth’s reign was filled with mass fetish torture. (Her reign was quite merciful despite being kind of tyrannical bitch. Seems Sternberg has a thing for S&M torture and probably used young Catherine the Great as an excuse.)

Count Alexei Razumovsky was a moody pretty boy with wild hair and eye makeup who fell in love with the future Catherine the Great at first sight. (He was actually Empress Elizabeth’s lover {or secret husband} and looked more like you’d imagine a typical Republican Congressman {interestingly the guy who played this man in The Scarlet Empress was future Republican Congressman John Lodge}, especially after a long lunch. Well, maybe Empress Elizabeth liked him for his personality.)

Grigori Orlov killed Czar Peter III. (His brother Alexei is the most likely suspect {you could also said he was the original “Scarface” since it was his nickname}. Also, she plotted her takeover with lots of supporters and the coup to overthrow Peter III was planned months in advance.)

Nikolai Ilyich was Catherine the Great’s chancellor in 1763. (It was actually Nikita Ivanovich Panin.)

Alexei Chernoff was a fiance to one of Catherine the Great’s ladies in waiting as well as her lover in 1763 who slept his way to be commander of the palace guard. (Her lover at the time was Grigori Orlov. Chernoff is fictional.)

Catherine the Great exiled people to the Crimea in the 1760s. (She didn’t have Crimea annexed until 1783. However, she did exile people to Siberia.)

Catherine the Great ordered her husband’s murder. (There’s no evidence she ordered her husband Peter III’s assassination, though she may have been complicit. Yet, she did order Ivan VI’s yet he was trying to stage a coup against her and was mentally unstable anyway due to his solitary confinement since he was a baby {but he would’ve been a bad Czar anyway, even as a figurehead}.)

It was through discovering her own sexuality in which Catherine the Great became a political sophisticate. (No, she was already a very intelligent political sophisticate before she lost her virginity and it wasn’t to some random guardsman.)

Catherine the Great had one son by 1763. (She had given birth to three by this time while only her two sons by then {her daughter died at two}. She may have had a daughter by Orlov who may have married a guy named Klinger but historians aren’t so sure. Then again, her son by Orlov was never publicly acknowledged until after her death {though everyone knew already}.)

Grigory Orlov had a mustache. (His portrait depicts him clean shaven.)

Catherine the Great didn’t care for the peasants and serfs. (She tried to institute some reforms for the serfs and peasants but whatever she did wasn’t going to make them happy or win favor with the nobles who supported her. Also, she owed her throne to the support of the nobility so doing anything to benefit the serfs wasn’t going to help her.)

Elizaveta Alexeievna (a. k. a. Princess Tarakanoff or Princess Cockroach) was a real princess as well as a threat to Catherine the Great. (She claimed to be an illegitimate daughter of Empress Elizabeth but we’re not sure where she really came from or that she was anything other than a pretender. Yet, at one time she did travel Western Europe and was a mistress to an Austrian count. She was also known by other names.)

Alexei Orlov betrayed Catherine the Great for Princess Tarakanoff. (He never betrayed Catherine and it’s actually said that he actually seduced and lured the pretender, arrested her, and brought her to Russia where she was imprisoned until her death from tuberculosis. Still, it’s said Empress Catherine the Great had to deal with about 26 pretenders to the throne.)

Catherine the Great had blond hair. (She had dark hair but in movies, she’s depicted as blond.)

Catherine the Great and Peter III had an initially happy marriage. (If this was the case, Catherine would never have to take lovers. Her marriage to then Grand Duke Peter was actually doomed from the start more or less because she was still a virgin by her tenth wedding anniversary. Also, they loathed each other and their 17 year marriage was never consummated.)

Catherine the Great first met her husband shortly before she married him. (She first met him when she was ten years old and instantly detested him though she married him six years later after arriving in Russia the year before.)

Catherine the Great was reluctant to overthrow her husband. (She was all for it for she had nothing but contempt for him since had been humiliated and exploited by him for years and he became increasingly hostile to her. Also, he threatened to expel her to a convent after Empress Elizabeth died, which made Catherine all the more fearful of him. Still, her life as Peter III’s wife was perhaps one of the darkest episodes of her life.)

Catherine the Great overthrew her husband by having him killed. (She actually had him arrested and forced him to abdicate. It’s highly unlikely she had ordered him killed, but she was certainly the mastermind in overthrowing him along with the nobility, Orthodox Church, and the military who’ve all been alienated by his policies. Besides, she staged bloodless coup when he was out of town at the time.)

Peter III was highly abusive or downright insane. (He actually was more of an Germanophile willing to end a war against his idol Frederick the Great without consulting anyone as well as highly immature and had crazy manchild tendencies {as far as Catherine’s memoirs were concerned}. Nevertheless, he had no common sense a whole different kind of idiocy. Still, he was a complete asshole nevertheless and had no affinity for Russian culture.)

Catherine the Great was faithful to her husband until the very end. (She had been faithful to him during the first ten years but she had taken three lovers in the last seven years mostly out of necessity. Yet, it’s present in The Rise of Catherine the Great.)

Hapsburg Austria-Hungary:

Antonio Salieri was Mozart’s sworn enemy who was jealous of his talent and had him poisoned. (Actually though Salieri wasn’t the kind of composer Mozart was, he was considered a fantastic composer sort of like Evegeni Malkin to Sidney Crosby in the classical music world. Also, Mozart probably died from a long term illness, not poison and was probably not buried in a mass grave at least at first. As with Mozart and Salieri’s relationship, well, they were friends and collaborators as well as respected each other for their talents and attended each other’s performances {Salieri even attended Mozart’s funeral and gave his son free music lessons}. The perception of the two as rivals was created to show the competing musical giants of Germany and Italy who were the most dominant classical music nations of the nineteenth century {and maybe Russian writer Alexander Pushkin}. Actually Amadeus gets a lot of things wrong on Mozart’s life such as his relationship with his mother-in-law, who commissioned the Requiem Mass and who finished it, and how he was buried.)

Antonio Salieri tried to sabotage Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s career. (Salieri did not such thing and actually respected Mozart as a musician and a composer. They may have been competing for jobs but they also encouraged each other. Their rival was mostly professional. Mozart even wrote that Salieri even enjoyed of The Magic Flute and this opera was his choice to be performed in Vienna when could’ve easily selected his own music.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a arrogant and eccentric filthy-minded manchild. (Yes, he was known for crass scatological humor and pranks as well as would’ve given the fluffiest wig to write the score of South Park: the Musical in the 18th century. However, he was probably as much of a manchild as you’d expect any guy in his twenties {who only told his toilet jokes around close friends and family}. Still, he was a serious composer who knew how to behave himself in public since he had been performing from a very young age. He was also a loving and faithful husband to Constanze as well as there for her when she suffered from a near-fatal illness. Also, he wasn’t an alcoholic by 18th century standards. Still, Amadeus does get right how annoying he was since Joseph Haydn once saw him making 100 enemies at a single party.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in court service throughout the 1780s. (He wasn’t offered an official position in Vienna until 1787.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart collapsed at the premiere of The Magic Flute. (He had been sick for some time but no, he didn’t collapse because he conducted several performances afterward until he was unable to get out of bed.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was buried in a pauper’s grave. (Yes, he died in debt but by the time of his death, he was making 10,000 florins a year putting him in the top 5% of the population in Vienna. Also, his operas were huge successes. Of course, this myth results from a mistranslation since the German words for “communal” and “common” were similar. Still, he was buried in a common grave, which is more to say “not a fancy one” as middle class people of his day. Nevertheless, it was quite common for many people in the 18th century to be buried in plots they didn’t own {especially middle class people in Vienna like Mozart}, from which they were eventually dug up to make space for others. This explains why Mozart’s remains were never found. So he wasn’t buried in a ditch, more like he was put in a regular grave, dug up ten years later, and moved but the guys doing the moving forgot where they put them. Uh, maybe it would’ve been better off if he was buried in a ditch.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was buried in torrential rain. (He was buried in fair weather.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his wife Constanze had a troubled marriage. (Sure Mozart wasn’t the best husband and had an annoying personality. However, he and Constanze had a happy marriage with two sons who survived into adulthood {though their folks weren’t initially thrilled of the match}. Yet, their courtship didn’t go smoothly nor was it love at first sight when they met at least on his part {he was 21 and she was 15}. Interestingly, Mozart was initially in love with her sister Aloysia who rejected him and married another man. Still, Constanze was actually a trained musician from a musical family who played a role in her husband’s career and financially savvy enough to make herself financially secure or even well-off after Mozart’s death.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Constanze had only one son. (They actually had six kids but only two sons survived infancy.)

As an adult, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart begged his dad for money and was unable to impress him. (Actually Leopold Mozart bragged about his son in letters on how much money his son was making so he wasn’t an under appreciated artist who suffered all his life. Cracked.com says he was more like a Michael Bolton of the 1700s who was a popular artist with some huge hits but not seen as a huge deal.)

Antonio Salieri commissioned the Requiem Mass as well as dressed up as Mozart’s dead father to freak him out and helped Mozart finish it. (Actually it was Count Walsegg-Stuppach who commissioned the Requiem Mass because he wanted to commemorate his dead wife and secretly wanted to claim the music as his own {though we’re not sure Mozart knew his identity}. And it was Franz Xaver Süssmayr who helped Mozart finished it.)

Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro were flops. (Contrary to what Amadeus says, they were both sensational hits audiences just couldn’t get enough of. In fact, Emperor Joseph II had to restrict encores for The Marriage of Figaro just after its first three performances.)

Antonio Salieri was a celibate bachelor all his life. (He had a wife and eight kids as well as at least one mistress. So he probably didn’t make a pact with God to give his chastity.)

Constanze Mozart left for a spa with her son once her husband became seriously ill. (Despite suffering from poor health herself and having two young children, Constanze would never have left her sick husband for a spa. She and her sister were actually with Mozart on his deathbed the whole time. However, she didn’t go to his funeral since she was said to be too grief-stricken to attend.)

Constanze Mozart didn’t have a love of music. (She was a trained musician from a musical family like Mozart himself. Also, one of Mozart’s letters say that she actually loved his music and wanted him to write some of it down. Still, she fell in love with him through his music, not his fart jokes.)

Vienna high society was familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach’s music during the 1780s. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did know about Bach since he was friends with the composer’s son. However, no one else in Vienna or anywhere would’ve known about Bach’s music until Felix Mendelssohn rediscovered him which was 40 years after Mozart’s death. Heck, Bach wasn’t known as a composer during his lifetime, just simple church organist who was very good at his job. Not to mention, composing came with his job as it was.)

Catarina Cavalieri slept with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in order to get the lead singing role in the premiere of the The Abduction from the Seraglio. (Mozart did give her the part of the lead in The Abduction from the Seraglio in July of 1782 but she didn’t have to seduce him to get the role since he had written the previous year to his dad that he “never had relations of that sort with any woman.” Also, he had a girlfriend at the time who he’d later marry {and remain faithful to for the rest of his life, especially in a period when promiscuity was open and more widely accepted}. Still, it’s more likely Cavalieri actually slept with Salieri to get the role if she had to at all {though it’s more likely she got the part because she was just a good opera singer though she was Salieri’s student}. This is because she was generally known to be Salieri’s mistress who was with him as his date during the premiere of The Magic Flute {and Mozart wrote of picking them up on the way to the performance}.)

Antonio Salieri used his influence to prevent Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from getting a job to teach the Princess of Württemberg. (Mozart did apply for the position but Salieri got the gig instead mostly because of his reputation as a singing teacher. However, there were other Italian composers in Emperor Joseph II’s court scheming to prevent Mozart from advancing his career because he was their competition. Still, Salieri’s music was more in a tradition of German composers at that time.)

Mozart wrote most of his compositions in the first draft. (He revised his music like most composers did. This was a 19th century theory.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was right handed. (He was left handed.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory was innocent of any murders she allegedly committed and was really a kind and loving mother and ruler who was in the wrong place at the wrong time as well as a victim of the malicious slanders of greedy noblemen. (This woman was nicknamed “The Blood Countess” and was the most prolific female serial killer in history. She’s believed to be responsible for torturing hundreds of young women to death {about 650 to be exact}, though there was only enough evidence to convict 80 of them {still putting many of her male counterparts to shame}. Over 300 witnesses testified that young women would regularly enter her castle and only their corpses would come out, which was backed up by physical evidence and the presence of horribly, mutilated dead, dying, and imprisoned girls found at her arrest. As for being a ruler, she didn’t have any land, power, or direct power after her husband died since her son had inherited the family’s estate while their oldest daughter acted as regent while he was a minor. Thus, Bathory was technically powerless and this was the reason why the Hapsburg Empire waited about a decade between the crimes being first reported and launching an investigation. Still, her family’s influence kept her from being put on trial and they put her on house arrest for the rest of her life {her accomplices were}.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory was spied on by monks. (She was a member of the Lutheran church and her crimes were reported there. Saying that she was a victim by some Catholic Church conspiracy is completely bogus. Still, the Bathorys weren’t on good terms with the Hapsburgs, though they were a powerful family.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory killed several young women in order to stay young and beautiful while she was in power. (For God’s sake, she wasn’t in power at the time. Also, killing people in order to remain young and beautiful is a lame motive. Nevertheless, she’s said to have suffered from some mental illness as well as been exposed to incredible violence which her family condoned. Her husband might’ve taught her new torture methods or may not have known anything about her crimes since they were done in his absence {though he wasn’t a nice guy either}.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory had an affair with Caravaggio. (She didn’t.)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory Bathory bathed in blood. (Bathing in blood isn’t easily achievable since it clots within 5 to 8 minutes. No witness accounts of Bathory bloodbaths exist.)

Baron von Munchausen had a mustache and/or beard. (He was a real person though he sometimes stretched the truth but his portrait doesn’t reveal any facial hair on him though. Nevertheless, 18th century gentlemen were usually clean shaven, Baron von Munchausen included.)

Prussia:

Prussian officers wore mustaches in the 18th century. (Only Hussar light cavalry officers did at the time. Facial hair had fallen out of fashion for gentlemen from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.)

Frederick the Great wasn’t above using conscription to supply his armies once he ran out of men. (Most rulers used conscription at this time. It wasn’t unusual among most European nations at the time.)

Frederick the Great said, “L’audace, l’audace. Toujours l’audace!” (Historians mostly attribute this quote to French Revolutionary Danton.)

Frederick the Great was a proto-Hitler. (Really? Uh, someone must’ve seen too many Nazi propaganda films {where Frederick the Great would most likely appear in film wise}. However, when it comes to famous figures, he’s probably has one of the most embarrassing fandoms ever {Nazis and German imperialists that love to invoke his name in order to justify their ruthless realpolitik}. Sure he was ruthless absolutist monarch of a militarist kingdom, but to consider him a proto-Hitler is absolutely absurd. In fact, he would’ve personally loathed Nazis. He was devout Francophile {and disdained German culture, nationalism, and tradition} who imposed religious toleration and social welfare policies for veterans. He helped weed out many of the archaic and unjust practices that oppressed his people. He was very interested in the arts, sciences and philosophy. And even when he invaded certain entities, it was mostly for resources and he knew when to quit. Also, he might’ve been gay since he didn’t show any interest in women despite being married {there were gay rumors about him during his own lifetime}.)

Frederick the Great spoke German. (He most often spoke French because he was a Francophile and abhorred German culture.)