Picture a Viking in your mind. You’re probably picturing long hair, leather armor, poor hygiene, a big beard, and a horned helmet. It turns out that that last bit is actually completely inaccurate. Vikings never wore horned helmets.

According to a video by Vox explaining the history of the horned Viking, portrayals of Vikings wearing horned helmets only started in the 19th century, mostly thanks to Richard Wagner. Wagner was trying to help build a new pan-German identity and wanted an impressive German mythology to go with it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one. So, he borrowed from Norse mythology, wrote an opera, and put the horned helmets worn by some medieval German warriors in it.

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With all that said, our image of the horned Viking is probably here to stay. The Minnesota Medieval Germans doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

[Via Laughing Squid]