If someone is famous then everyone naturally assumes they must have existed. Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan - these are figures who are remembered because they made a huge contribution to human history. Yet other well-known historical figures are famous despite having never existed at all. Myth, legends and stories become so commonly told that people just assume those mentioned and venerated within them were real living beings.
Sometimes identities are deliberately invented for specific purposes - for example patriotic means and as a way to bind an entire nation - but in other circumstances these "famous people" have become historical legends merely due to miscommunication or misunderstanding.
Certain religious, political and historical figures became the stuff of myth and legend and their stories are told on such a regular basis and to such a huge volume of people that their existence is widely believed.
Robin Hood, King Arthur and William Tell - did these legendary characters ever actually exist? Or has history merely merged the lives of several people together and then combined that with the myths associated with them to create completely fictionalised characters?
Well, here are 10 examples of famous historical figures who didn't - or, in some cases, almost certainly didn't - exist.
NUFC editor for WhatCulture.com/NUFC. History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.