Created By: bulmabriefs144June 22, 2013 Last Edited By: bulmabriefs144July 5, 2013

Suppressed History

Knowledge of a particular time period has been erased

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Trope
Brian Griffin: Yeah, about your pamphlet... uh, I'm not seeing anything about German history between 1939 and 1945. There's just a big gap.
Tour guide: Everyone vas on vacation. On your left is Munich's first city hall, erected in 15...
Brian Griffin: Wait, what are you talking about? Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and...
Tour Guide: We were invited. Punch vas served. Check vit Poland.
- Family Guy, "Road to Europe"

Let's see... In the 9th century the Vikings came, and the 14th century had the Great Famine. But, what happened in the 11th century?

Asking grandparents and other elderly people yields nothing. Well, maybe they're just forgetful. But then, asking the librarian or a (dumb) historian yields nothing either. Could it be some sort of cover-up? Or is it something more scary still?

If a history is given, it usually consists of Fake Memories and a Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story or two. People remember hearing the history teacher talk about how that was a "great unrest" but no clarification of events is given. Or perhaps nothing happened in Germany during between 1939 and 1945 because everyone was on vacation.

This is usually a setup for some other plot, much like an Ontological Mystery, only instead of for the person themselves, it's concerning the past of everyone. May also involve a Platonic Cave to be explored, if enough events before this era don't add up. Is practically always part of either the Masquerade, the Ancient Conspiracy, or both.

Please note: Do not include examples where nothing much happened during a certain time period, these are for examples where history has been deliberately erased. Also, probably no examples that aren't ancient history. Modern countries have a tendency to get mad.

Compare Future Imperfect and The Greatest History Never Told. Sister trope of Alternate History.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Big O had the City of Amnesia, where nobody could remember anything before 40 years or so.
  • The anime of Blue Dragon has the Book of the Beginning, which tells of the creation of the world. But it does so, in such a cryptic way, that it leads people to think that the world was one of light, before shadows came along to be stopped by the Warriors of Light. Actually, the world's original state was darkness, and probably nonexistence, until the Warriors of Light, who were themselves shadow-users, sealed it away, creating the world people live in.
  • One Piece has the Void Century, after which the World Government took power. It's in fact a (little-known) crime for anyone to be able to read the ancient historical texts, because they might find out the history that was lost (which likely involves the World Government's methods of taking power). In the case of Nico Robin, other crimes were given to conceal this crime.
  • ''Full Metal Alchemist has the tablet of Xerxes, broken off in a key place. It tells of exactly how the empire fell, using alchemy to turn war zones into a giant Philosopher's Stone.

Video Games
  • The history of Norrath in Ever Quest is highly detailed and was recorded by numerous races over countless millennia. Shortly after Humans came about, the great Combine Empire had rose up and nearly united all the races across Norrath in peace. An assassination attempt is what caused the Empire to ultimately fall, and the remnants moved up to the invisible moon, Luclin, just to remain safe from would-be attackers. Over the course of one night, all history of the Combine Empire's existence was lost, as was the knowledge of the magical arts known as Geomancy. This time period is appropriately known as the Lost Age.
  • Final Fantasy X has a massive suppression of Spira's history by Yevon's priests. Summoners typically don't know much about the Final Summon (to the point where they are surprised when Yunalesca asks them to "choose a hero"), the war between the Al Bhed and Yevon, they don't really know why machina is forbidden (beyond false teachings that it is somehow responsible for Sin), and they certainly don't know that the Final Summon itself is what continues the cycle of Sin. Instead, the people of Yevon are fed propaganda, and the Al Bhed have a noticeable gap where there's many things they only half-understand, including their own technology.
  • The official timeline for Marathon has a 139-year gap labelled "This century intentionally left blank. Seriously, nothing really happened."
  • In the X-Universe the Argon Federation erased all records of the period prior to 0 Argon Stardate (2170 AD) and presumably created a new history to replace it, in order to keep anyone from leading the Xenon back to Earth. Earth eventually became a fairy tale kept alive by the Goners, a pacifist fringe sect, who were proved right in X Beyond The Frontier when a Terran test pilot suffered a jumpdrive malfunction and landed in the X-Universe.

Literature
  • Larry Niven was a big fan of doing this to Earth history in his Known Space stories, especially in the Man-Kzin Wars period.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Secrets of the Soul", the Hyach race had a missing period in their archived history from about 1200 to 800 years ago. It turned out this was a period when they committed genocide against a cohabiting sentient race called the Hyach-do, which led to certain genetic deficiencies in the Hyach (who used to interbreed with them) leading to their present infertility crisis, which Dr. Franklin was investigating at their ambassador's request.

Western Animation
  • The citizens of the Crystal Empire in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic are initially unable to remember anything that happened before the rule of King Sombra.
  • In Family Guy Brian and Stewie visit Germany, who has apparently subverted their own history. See the quote above.

Web Original

Board Games
  • Warhammer 40000 has entire millennia of history called "The Dark Age of Technology", where some of mankind's greatest technological advances were created, like the Warp Drive, and subsequently lost. This is so significant in sight of current events, as the technology to create such ancient relics like Titans, Teleportatiums (Entire complexes that allow entire groups to teleport), and ST Cs have been all but forgotten, making the items themselves practically priceless.

Tabletop Games
  • Basic Dungeons And Dragons Known World setting. The Immortals not only destroyed the kingdom of Nithia but cast the Spell of Oblivion that erased all memory of its existence and history from the other peoples of the world.

History
  • Historiography is the study of how history is written. This includes not only the study of what histories are popular in any given year, but also biases and omissions. One of the early historians for instance, Thucydides, had the History of the Peloponnesian War, which ended with consulting an oracle. The results of the augury are not told in the history, but Thucydides was an Athenian historian (Athens lost).
  • On that note, this site claims some of archaeological records (and by extension, history) has been suppressed as it doesn't fit the framework of how life evolved on Earth. Although it is a bit sketchy (especially in areas where it discusses aliens), it points to 5 perceived omissions in history (the main one is that all history before 6000 BC is missing).
  • At least one ruler in ancient Egypt actually had their hieroglyphs erased. Akhenaten apparently had such a different style of rule from normal, that future rulers tried to deface his tomb. This treatment was also done to Hatshepsut, because she was a female pharoah, but acted too much like a man.
  • The Library of Alexandria burning took with it numerous books (likely some histories too). Depending on whether this is an accident or arson (historians aren't sure), this may or may not be an example.
  • China's First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi violently (as in, killed the scholars as well) destroyed all books written before his era, with the exception of those on war, medicine, agriculture, and divination.

Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • June 22, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • In the X-Universe the Argon Federation erased all records of the period prior to 0 Argon Stardate (2170 AD) and presumably created a new history to replace it, in order to keep anyone from leading the Xenon back to Earth. Earth eventually became a fairy tale kept alive by the Goners, a pacifist fringe sect, who were proved right in X Beyond The Frontier when a Terran test pilot suffered a jumpdrive malfunction and landed in the X-Universe.
  • June 22, 2013
    AgProv
    For the demon Crowley in the novel Good Omens, it was the fourteenth century. Nothing happened and it was so bloody boring he slept all the way through it.
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Not sure about that one. I think this trope isn't really about centuries where nothing happened (I used the 11th century, but actually stuff did happen then), but where nobody knows what happened, because knowledge is deliberately suppressed.

    So, I'm not sure sleeping through it works. Description Needs Help.
  • June 22, 2013
    lakingsif
    Maybe change it from the C11th? Because there were two plagues, a French epidemic and, erm, the Norman Invasion leading to the first "real" King. Off the top of my head. A lot happened in the 11th century, kid.

    FYI: Nazi Germany is officially from 1932 to 1945, not just WW 2.
  • June 22, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Altered the Laconic to clarify an actual definition. Also, did you know you can copy commenters' wiki markup by clicking the pencil next to the post?
  • June 22, 2013
    lakingsif
    Not much happened in the 2nd century, at all. Nothing.
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    It's the date quoted in Family Guy (they apparently started it when Germany invaded Poland).

    What's a good sample century, then? It's kind of hard to find a period where nothing much at all happened.
  • June 22, 2013
    StarSword
    Which would be the point of my changing the laconic. This isn't Truth In Television because there's always something happening.

    Compare Future Imperfect.
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    2nd century had lots of Roman history. And The Standing Buddha was made in Pakistan. And the Yellow Turban Rebellion in China. I'm thinking Star Sword is right.

    Although, there may have been times of historical suppression. Hold on...

    (Dunno whether this goes under Real Life or something else)
    • This site claims some of archaeology has been suppressed as it doesn't fit the framework of how life evolved on Earth. Although it is a bit sketchy (especially in areas where it discusses aliens), it points out 5 perceived omissions in history:
    1. there is no mystery about who built the Great Pyramid or what the methods of construction were, and the Sphinx shows no signs of water damage.
    2. there were no humans in the Americas before 20,000 BC.
    3. the first civilisation dates back no further than 6000 BC.
    4. there are no documented anomalous, unexplained or enigmatic data to take into account.
    5. there are no lost or unaccounted-for civilisations.
  • June 22, 2013
    lakingsif
    Barely anything influential happened in the 2nd century, as I said. 100-199 AD was apparently a pretty boring time to be around. The only thing that happened was a mass-murder of Jews, but there's been a load more of those more recently.
  • June 22, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Probably Web Original. Looks like conspiracy theorist BS to me.
  • June 22, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^^^archaeological evidence proves most of that's codswallop.

    Oh, this might be related to Alternate History in some way. And maybe not much happened in the C12th?
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    I'm putting the article in Real Life, unless I have a strong reason to move it to Web Original. I reason that even if it is not true, we still do not have the records before that time (which means an absence of knowledge before 6000BC). That in turn, makes this a real life version, even if the article is bunk.
  • June 22, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I think we should cut the real life examples from this one. There isn't a time in human history when absolutely nothing big happened, it's simply that people remember only certain wars and certain catastrophies and the sort.
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Hmmmm, no.

    I looked up Ica Stones of Peru, the author of the article is correct, it is too complicated for a farmer to have faked it. The Mysterious Origins of Man is a film that can be watched on Netflix. Ancient Celtic New Zealand can be checked out on Amazon. Same for Waipoua Forest having stuff predating Maori, some other site mentioned it. So far the titles mentioned in this account check out, so I'm keeping it. Whether it's true or not, I was careful to use words like "claims" and "perceived."

    Although, yes, there are always periods where stuff happened. So that's the only one I keep.
  • June 22, 2013
    Alvin
    I think this is getting somewhat confused with The Greatest History Never Told , maybe?
  • June 22, 2013
    Randomwaffle23
    Western Animation:
  • June 22, 2013
    LordGro
    That crackpot website in the real life section doesn't fit. According to the definition, this is about eras in history of where nobody knows what happened. But the conspirationist website claims that Earth has a different history than the one generally accepted, not that nobody knows Earth's true history. Because apparently they know what happened.

    That aside, there are thousands of bullshit websites promoting conspiracy theories. I find such stuff tedious, obnoxious and insulting to intelligence and I think we shouldn't give publicity to kook websites.

    If we must have a RL section, it should rather mention the existence of so-called "dark ages" (= eras with little or no sources or finds) in history and archeology. For example, the 5th and 6th century in Britain has been considered (and to a degree, still is) a "dark age" because there are few historical sources about the period and accordingly we have only a rough understanding of what happened at the time.
  • June 22, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Tv Tropes doesn't have anywhere near the same degree of notability standards as wikipedia. I can include any crackpot I want, so long as it's a valid example (it has been posted somewhere online/hard).

    It's an example that pertaining to Real Life rather than a story (making it not a Web Original), therefore it's a statement that belongs in Real Life. Whether it's true or not is not in question, because it's not an example of something that happened (read the example carefully) it's something that someone in real life claimed happened in real life. For that matter, the opposite is not 100% true either. We certainly cannot believe that every single piece of archaeological evidence met with complete acceptance. 1. Some archaeological evidence is suppressed, this is true (possibly because it's made by crackpots like this guy), 2. we do have little evidence of what happened before 6000BC. 3. Anything people think is too weird is probably thrown out (What? You think respected archaeologists are gonna find Indiana Jones style craziness, and not even raise an eyebrow?) These claims aren't exactly shocking...

    So long as they are not in some way slandering a country, person, or thing, an example is an example. You may not like it, but that's tough.

    Anyway... moving on.

    Needs more examples.
  • June 22, 2013
    KTera
    • The official timeline for Marathon has a 139-year gap labelled "This century intentionally left blank. Seriously, nothing really happened."
  • June 22, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • The history of Norrath in Ever Quest is highly detailed and was recorded by numerous races over countless millennia. Shortly after Humans came about, the great Combine Empire had rose up and nearly united all the races across Norrath in peace. An assassination attempt is what caused the Empire to ultimately fall, and the remnants moved up to the invisible moon, Luclin, just to remain safe from would-be attackers. Over the course of one night, all history of the Combine Empire's existence was lost, as was the knowledge of the magical arts known as Geomancy. This time period is appropriately known as the Lost Age.
  • June 22, 2013
    LordGro
    ^^^ It's not actually pertaining to Real Life, it's pertaining to a figment of the mind of a handful of weirdos (maybe just one) who believe it's real. Belief doesn't make it real.

    Also, the "academically established" version of history hardly denies that there are periods of history we know little about, as e.g. the time before 6,000 BC or even considerably younger eras for many if not most parts of the world. Only a fraction of the total world history is halfway mapped out by history and archaeology. But that's neither new, surprising, or taboo. As I said, I don't see how this website is relevant for this trope.

    Also note the hypocrisy typical for conspirationists. They accuse the "Academia" of ignoring or rejecting any evidence that does not support their preconceived "establishment" views; all the while ignoring or rejecting all evidence that does not support their preconceived conspirationist views.

    And the website is slanderous. They throw around accusations that "Academia" is corrupt and "suppresses evidence", that "Darwinists" persecute "heretics", are driven by ideology, are no real scientists, behave as a "Darwinist police" and engage in "witch-hunts" of dissenters...

    There was a time when conspiracy theories could pass as entertaining for their novelty value. But that time is gone now for, I don't know, 15 years or so.
  • June 22, 2013
    MorganWick
    There's supposedly a "dark age" during which next to nothing is known about the civilizations of the Mediterranean, before the rise of classical Greece and its contemporaries.

    The Legion Of Super Heroes, depending on the continuity, has a period of history in its past about which little is known, I believe due to World War III (or some later war).

    Does this have to be deliberate suppression, or can it be history just being lost for whatever reason? If the former, I prefer Blacked Out Century but would exclude both of these examples.
  • June 22, 2013
    MrRuano
    • Warhammer 40000 has entire millennia of history called "The Dark Age of Technology", where some of mankind's greatest technological advances were created, like the Warp Drive, and subsequently lost. This is so significant in sight of current events, as the technology to create such ancient relics like Titans, Teleportatiums (Entire complexes that allow entire groups to teleport), and STCs have been all but forgotten, making the items themselves practically priceless.
  • June 22, 2013
    aurora369
    Archeology has nothing to do with the question of how life evolved. That's what paleontology is for.
  • June 23, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    • In the Babylon 5 episode "Secrets of the Soul", the Hyach race had a missing period in their archived history from about 1200 to 800 years ago. It turned out this was a period when they committed genocide against a cohabiting sentient race called the Hyach-do, which led to certain genetic deficiencies in the Hyach (who used to interbreed with them) leading to their present infertility crisis, which Dr. Franklin was investigating at their ambassador's request.
  • June 23, 2013
    lakingsif
    The 'Dark Age' isn't something they teach in Britain - honestly we only hear about it referenced by Americans. Never knew when it was meant to be but another name for the Middle Ages.

    In Britain the Middle Ages/ Medieval Period is immediately preceded and partially overlapped by what we know the Dark Ages as - the Viking Period and a little bit more.

    It is called the 'Dark Ages' because there aren't written records, but in the C5th, 6th there were because the Vikings were around. Though they effectively made the country worse off than it was before, putting development back a few centuries, we do know what happened. The Vikings stayed around until 1066, too.

    That's just in Northern Europe, but there were plenty of records from the rest of the world, especially the Mediterranean countries, so I don't know what @Morgan Wick meant when he said "There's supposedly a "dark age" during which next to nothing is known about the civilizations of the Mediterranean". Greece is a Med civilisation. Straight up: the Roman Empire started to crumble and ultimately fell, and Attila the Hun just... was.

    Not really a valid example. (Dude, remove it. European history scholar.)
  • June 23, 2013
    LordGro
    @lakingsif: Not sure if I get your post. The Vikings weren't around in Britain in the 5th and 6th century. Maybe you mean the Anglo-Saxons? Also, the Vikings left no written records and neither did the Anglo-Saxons before c. 700 AD. -- There are many legendary sources about the "British Dark Ages" and also retrospective chronicles about the era, but contemporary sources from this era are indeed rare.

    Also, it's obvious that historical sources are not distributed evenly over the world. For a period where there are few sources for one region, there may be many sources from another, and vice versa.

    And Morgan Wick spoke of the (so-called) 'dark age' before the rise of Classical Greek civilization, i.e. the centuries after the Mycenic/Minoic era and before the time of Homer, Hesiod and "Archaic" Greece. This has been called the "Greek Dark Ages".

    That said, historians have largely abandoned the term "dark age" for "obscure era", because a) the term is constantly confused with the other meaning of "dark ages", as coined by Renaissance poets, where "dark ages" is a derogatory synonym for "Middle Ages"; and b) because the rise of archaeology has gone a long way to fill in the white spots in history. Certainly there are eras about which we know less than about others, but there aren't really any "black holes" left in European history, at least not within the last two millennia.

    However, the term "dark age" in that sense (i.e. of "historically obscure era") is neutral and non-derogatory, and has long been in use, so I don't think it is problematic to mention it here.
  • June 23, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ European History scholar. I know what I'm on about. Also, I'm from Berkshire originally. Celts->Romans->Saxons->Vikings->Normans (then on).

    I just found this by The BBC to prove it.

    Thank you. Remove the 'Dark Ages' example - I agree with 'dark ages' as an archaic term for a period without many records, but not as the C5th and 6th in Britain.
  • June 23, 2013
    LordGro
    ^ Still feel we are talking past each other. Nobody said that we have no clue what happened between 400 and 600 in Britain. But looking at the interactive timeline you linked, you'll notice that if you don't count the dates concerning Irish and Scottish history, there are only three dates in the entire almost-two-centuries after 410 and before 597, two of which are legendary and the third only a rough estimate. So I would interpret that timeline as demonstrating, not refuting the existence of Britain's "dark age".
  • June 23, 2013
    Alvin
    Real Life ? I just remembered I read once in a 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not!' that a Chinese emperor supposedly burned down all libraries so later generations would think nothing important existed before his reign.
  • June 23, 2013
    henke37
    Can be the result of an event that Hit So Hard The Calendar Felt It.
  • June 25, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    We're calling this Suppressed History, because it's history that's actively blacked out, instead of, periods that have slow news.

    I also moved the Real Life stuff to History. I figured it's part of some sort of history (revision or not), not Real Life. On that matter, any Real Life examples would involve current events and specific nations, which well modern countries (*cough*Chinatiananmensquare*cough*cough*) wouldn't like the accusation that certain events are suppressed in their histories.

    No longer taking examples with not many records, we need an actual event (or a claim) that records were actively destroyed.

    Here it is. The Chinese emperor thingy.

  • June 25, 2013
    MorganWick
    The burning of Alexandria seems to me to be the sort of example that could easily lead to misuse.
  • June 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    re the pothole in the opening quote: Linking To An Article Within The Article is frowned upon.
  • June 25, 2013
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: The aptly named Time Slip was a period where the The Order of Mata Nui relocated Av-Matoran from Karda-Nui to other places in the Matoran Universe. To keep this a secret, they wiped the memory of all inhabitants in the universe.
  • June 26, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Basic Dungeons And Dragons Known World setting. The Immortals not only destroyed the kingdom of Nithia but cast the Spell of Oblivion that erased all memory of its existence and history from the other peoples of the world.
  • July 5, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    "re the pothole in the opening quote: Linking To An Article Within The Article is frowned upon."

    First I heard of that. I'll edit it out.
  • July 5, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Possibly in need of a "No recent RL examples"

    The Chinese government deliberately surpresses events like the Tian’anmen Square massacre in 1989 to the point of no user behind the Great Firewall of China having access to any kind of information regarding said event, or even it being mentioned anywhere on the web or elsewhere.
  • July 5, 2013
    superkeijikun
    I think there is a possibility of overlap with Un Person (history of a specific person being suppressed, like in Ancient Rome or the Soviet Union under Stalin).
  • July 5, 2013
    kjnoren
    The library of Alexandria is hardly an example. First, I think the library was burnt or pillaged several times, and second that it often happened as part of a general sack of the entire city. The examples of the Chinese emperor and the Egyptian pharaoh are mighty fine real life examples, however.

    That said, the trope should probably decide on how to relate to the existing concept of Secret History. There are plenty of good examples listed there. Ie, should works that are themselves cases of alleged secret history be distinct from works which include in-work secret histories?

    Some examples where the in-world history is suppressed for some reason:

    • In the Chung Kuo series, most of world history from the late Roman empire is suppressed and replaced with a history where China conquered the world. In-world, they did, but not until the 21st century.

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