What is the dumbest thing people actually thought is real?

Late medieval/pre-modern exploration is often misunderstood.

One common point is that a key goal for the Portuguese in the 15th century was to creep down the coast of Africa for gold.

At the time, a nearly universal belief in Europe was that from the waters beyond Cape Bojador no ship could return. To Europeans, this was the end of the world. Mutinies, treason, theft, entire expeditions we’re lost to the to cowardice in the confrontation with. The water would boil, see monsters would rise, and the winds would throw your ship to the mercy of the waves. There’s a significant record of true disappearances there at the time and contemporary folks just tried to deal with it.

This feeds into the modern legend of contemporary people thinking Columbus would fall off the world; there was an example, but it was in Africa, not the Caribbean.

The strong south-western wind and the collision of the Canary Current and the Equatorial Current represented a strong unknown to European navigators, but those same winds and currents were necessary and fundamental to further exploration in Africa and the Americas. It only took a few decades after the Portuguese passed Cape Bojador and they’d firmly established themselves in the local gold and pepper trade

/r/AskReddit Thread