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Leonardo Da Vinci

Mutiny on the Bounty: Captain Bligh

MMDE: Captain Bligh was crueller than most other sea captains of his day

Current: Captain Bligh was kinder than most other sea captains of his day

When you think of The Mutiny on the Bounty, it's usually the idea of a crew of sailors being treated so badly by their evil captain that they had no choice but rebel against him. This turns out to be wrong, because records today show that Captain Bligh was actually regarded as kinder than most of his fellow captains, and the mutiny was instead caused by the sailors wishing to return to the desert island paradise they had just spent 5 months in.

Captain Bligh never keelhauled anyone, and the scene from the famous movie seems to have been fabricated in order to sell the story of him being cruel. 

Fletcher Christian

It's even been suggested that Fletcher Christian wasn't the swashbuckling hero Hollywood portrays either. Anything for a good yarn - now where have we heard that before? 

The mutiny happened on April 28th, 1789 when the HMS Bounty was in the South Pacific. Christian and his mutineers took control of the ship and set Bligh adrift in a smaller boat with 18 crewmen who stayed loyal to their captain. Bligh then sailed 4,000 miles before reaching land, and the mutineers returned to the Polynesian islands.

A ship was dispatched from England which reached Tahiti and captured 14 of the mutineers, but not Christian. That ship then ran aground killing 31 crews and 4 from The Bounty. Eventually 10 of the mutineers were returned to England in 1792, but of those only 3 were found guilty and hanged. Christian's group actually stayed on Piticairn until 1808 when only one was left alive. All the others had been killed by either each other or the local Polynesians. The descendants of the mutineers remain on the islands to this day.

Sometimes, artistic licence is taken in order to exaggerate a story for effect. When that becomes a myth, it can also become a Mandela Effect.