->''"If you win, you need not have to explain. If you lose, you should not be there to explain!"''
-->-- '''UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler''' [[note]]who, sure enough, wasn't there to explain at the end of the war[[/note]]

%% One quote is enough. The rest go to the Quotes tab.

When the official history of the setting is overwritten by the ones in power and their PropagandaMachine.

A prime belief of every ConspiracyTheorist.

Zig-Zagged in RealLife -- winners, losers, third parties, descendants, and people completely unrelated to the conflicts in question tend to write and rewrite and reinterpret history for any number of reasons or agendas, and contemporary authors even on the same "side" can wildly disagree on pretty much anything. That people often ''believe'' this trope to be true itself runs the gauntlet of aversion, inversion, subversion, and playing the trope dead straight all at the same time. This is also connected with GreyAndGrayMorality in that picking one side of the story over the other in this context does not necessarily make it correct.

Sub-trope of MightMakesRight. Supertrope of InternalRetcon. Contrast YouCannotKillAnIdea.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The motto of BigBad Makoto Shishio in ''Manga/RurouniKenshin''.
* In ''ScrappedPrincess'', Earth was conquered by [[spoiler:the aliens]] who then rewrote history, presenting the heroes of LaResistance and LesCollaborateurs as evil and good gods, respectively.
* In ''OnePiece'', this is more or less the case with the Lost Century, though it's less "written" and more "entirely ignored". The World Government absolutely forbids any research into the century immediately prior to their founding. They will murder anyone and raze entire islands to keep that secret. The only record of that time is found on indestructible tablets called Poneglyphs, written in a dead language that only one living person knows how to read. Others could before, and the government had them systematically killed.
** This trope is an explicit belief held by Donquixote Doflamingo, who says that whoever wins the war between the World Government and Whitebeard will be the ones to define what "Justice" means. [[spoiler:Considering that Doflamingo is one of the descendants of the "winners," this is not surprising in the least.]]
* ''SaintSeiya'' - Cancer Deathmask subscribes to this theory, but was in the wrong side of the conflict. [[spoiler:However, in the Hades arc, he could've been subscribing to this and just been smart for once.]]
* One of the tools that ''[[TwentiethCenturyBoys 20th Century Boys]]''' [[BigBad Friend]] uses to win over all of Japan [[spoiler:and, later, the rest of the world]]. It's so much easier to be a VillainWithGoodPublicity when the public at large is convinced that ''you'' saved the world [[strike:instead of]] from that RagtagBunchOfMisfits.
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'', Light tells the Task Force that if Kira wins, he's justice, if he loses, evil. [[spoiler:He loses.]]
* ''Manhua/RavagesOfTime'' so literally ''runs'' on this trope that in chapter 209, a historian employed by Prime Minister Cao Cao discusses with an old friend named Chen Gong how the historian is going to demonize the prior Prime Minister to make the current one look better.
--> '''Chen Gong''': That's what happens after a dynasty change. In order to justify the rule, the enemy would have to take all the blame. Historians are but tools for propaganda.
* The backstory of the former LaResistance in the anime of ''{{RideBack}}'', which becomes a global military, is only vaguely [[CrapsaccharineWorld discussed to the mostly-cheerful populace]], but there is clearly some betrayal that forms the antagonism between former teammates.
* In ''PandoraHearts'', it turns out that the most detailed records of [[CataclysmBackstory the Tragedy of Sablier]] were written by [[PosthumousCharacter Arthur Barma,]] [[spoiler:who was manipulated by [[EvilAllAlong Jack]] [[UnreliableExpositor Vessalius]]. ''Jack'' was the one who tried to throw the former capital into [[EldritchLocation the Abyss]], killed [[SilentScapegoat Glen Baskerville]] and put all the blame on him. As a result, the Baskervilles and their allies were treated like criminals for a century.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In an issue of PeterDavid's ''[[ComicBook/CaptainMarVell Captain Marvel]],'' Rick Jones and Genis-Vell travel to a far-flung AfterTheEnd future where the Earth is covered in desert and has been colonized by aliens. The only surviving history was written by [[BigBad Doctor Doom]]. Notably, this means that all superheroes were portrayed as evil villains who stood in the way of progress. [[HitlersTimeTravelExemptionAct Hitler]] was still a bad guy, though, because he persecuted the Roma (Doom's ethnic group).
** So, this is a literal case of history being written by the Victor (Von Doom).
* In another issue of PeterDavid's (this time ''XFactor''), {{Quicksilver}} offers his own version of the phrase: "The future is written by the winners. History is written by the survivors."

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In [[FanFic/EquestriaAHistoryRevealed Equestria: A History Revealed]], the ConspiracyTheorist LemonyNarrator seems to think that all of Equestria's history was rewritten by Celestia, [[IRejectYourReality despite clear evidence that this is not the case.]] However, Celestia does alter history a few times in [[spoiler: eliminating Discord's name before his return, sealing away the records on the Crystal Empire, and altering some aspects of the Equestrian Civil War]], which hints that the LemonyNarrator was not entirely incorrect.
* ''FanFic/NightsFavoredChild'': After [[TheBadGuyWins defeating Celestia]], Nightmare Moon spends the next thousand years not only removing all traces of her from history, but also of the ''very concept of day'', including removing words like "dusk", "dawn", "sun", and (notably) "twilight" from the lexicon.
* ''[[FanFic/TheEquestriaChronicles Legends of Equestria]]'': When Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon, her actual goal was to re-acquire equal footing with her sister, who had taken all the power in the country for herself. Luna fully intended to restore the day and go back to business as usual afterwards. Rather than give up sole power over the country, [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness Celestia disposed of Nightmare Moon]] and vilified her in the history books.
* Played with in the ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'' when Celestia reveals she erased Discord from the history books because, in her mind, he didn't deserve a legacy after all he'd done. She also explained that she [[spoiler:didn't want the memory of those like Shady who were related to Discord to be tainted by association with him.]]
** We later see [[spoiler:the Sea Ponies in the [[BadFuture Epilogue timeline]] are fed a completely rewritten version of history that's the ''complete opposite'' of what happened, right down to Discord blaming the Alicorns for the genocide ''he'' committed.]]
** The [[TheEmpire Hooviet empire]] does this via propaganda, so that they never have to admit to having ever lost a war.
* In ''Black Book of Arda'', one of the most prominent Russian Creator/JRRTolkien fanfics, ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'' is revised this way.
* FanFic/TheLastRingbearer points out that the Red Book, which is the basis of TheLordOfTheRings, is actually a history written by the winners. It's bursting full of examples. In it, the Orks and Wild Men of the south are simply people of color. The Red Book dehumanizes its enemies, makes light of Aragorn using {{Necromancy}} to defeat the Mordorians and condemns the scientific nation of Mordor as corrupters by blaming the desertification of their homeland on them. The war was started by Gandalf because the enemy technology was becoming stronger, while the magic of the eldritch elves and the wizards became only weaker as knowledge was lost. Saruman saw that the only way to stamp out science was to commit genocide and wanted nothing to do with it.
** Further, Aragorn taunts the Mordorian general after having him shot in the back during a honor duel: "The history books will say you got killed by a midget and a broad."
* ''FanFic/BadFutureCrusaders'': The official story of [[FallenHero Twilight Sparkle's]] rise to power is that Princess Luna once again became [[SuperPoweredEvilSide Nightmare Moon]] after Celestia's death, conveniently "forcing" Twilight to strike her down and assume complete control of the country for herself. Even those loyalist to her don't hesitate to call this out as BS (in private, at least).

* ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'', the opening monologue: "I shall tell you of William Wallace. Historians from England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes."
** Ironically, the film is in fact [[YouFailHistoryForever laughably historically inaccurate]] from ''any'' perspective.
* In the ''Film/{{Underworld}}'' movies, Viktor rewrote vampire history to appear as if he was the original vampire, when, in fact, it was [[spoiler:another Elder, Marcus]]. So this is a literal case of history being [[IncrediblyLamePun written by the Viktor.]]
** Not quite: Viktor is quite willing to acknowledge the ''legend'' that vampires and werewolves came from the brother Corvinus ("One bit by a bat, the other bit by a wolf"), but he makes fun of it, probably to [[FantasticRacism diminish the connection between Lycans and Vampires]]. On the other hand, he's quite willing to rewrite [[spoiler:his murder of Selene's entire family]].
** Selene [[GenreSavvy shows signs of being aware of this]]. She recognizes that Kraven is not enough of a warrior to have actually killed Lucian, but as the only survivor could claim that he did. She also initially comments that the Lycans started the war, but then admits that that is what is said anyway. By the second film, she's (accurately) assumed virtually everything Viktor has said is a lie.
* Directly addressed by former Secretary of Defense Robert S. Mc Namara in the 2003 documentary Film/TheFogOfWar who admitted that firebombing 63 Japanese cities and following it up with 2 nuclear bombs would be considered a war crime if not for the fact that he was on the winning side and then wonders why that should make any difference.
* The documentary ''Film/TheActOfKilling'' is essentially about what happens to society after [[TheBadGuyWins war criminals win]].

* ''[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour 1984]]''. This was the whole purpose of [[PropagandaMachine MiniTrue (The Ministry of Truth)]], which constantly rewrites history to suit the Party's current needs and destroys and replaces "inaccurate" accounts and records with today's official version of events -- which is in turn likely to be "corrected" again tomorrow, when the Party's needs change. ("He who controls the past, controls the future; he who controls the present, controls the past.")
* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''. Interestingly, it's the humans that do this, refusing to put Jake on trial for war crimes while happily trying Visser One for the same charge.
* In ''Literature/ArciaChronicles'', TheChurch rewrote history of the War of the Deer to remove all positive mentions of those heroes who didn't comply with its official doctrine.
* The same is done in ''Literature/ReflectionsOfEterna'', particularly in the prequel ''Flame of Eterna'': Rinaldi Rakan was sentenced to death by his royal brother and left in history as a monster, while he was framed by his brother and Beatrix Borrasque. In the ''Taligoian Ballad'', his distant descendant Ramiro Alva was killed by Alan Oakdell for regicide and betraying the Cabitela City to the Maragonian Bastard. 400 years later, the last will of the "murdered" king was found and revealed that the king himself ordered Ramiro to give up the city.
* [[Literature/ArtemisFowl Artemis Fowl]] has a quote invoking this:
-->“If I win, I'm a [[ChildProdigy prodigy]]. If I lose, then I'm crazy. That's the way history is written.”
** A side story in the series has a copy of Artemis' report card. The headmaster says that Artemis proposed building a TimeMachine to get around this trope, and doesn't doubt Artemis would succeed if he tried.
* Subverted...kind of...in ''Discworld/SmallGods'':
--> Winners don't have glorious victories. That's because they're the ones who get to see what the battlefield looks like afterwards. It's only the losers who have glorious victories.
::Most people will take any excuse they can get to have had a glorious victory, but meh...this is the Discworld, after all. And the quote is from a tortoise.
** Another Discworld example, from ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'', as Susan tells a bedtime story:
--->"And then Jack chopped down what was the world's last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant's children didn't have a daddy any more. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no-one asks inconvenient questions."
* ''Literature/{{Orientalism}}'' by the Palestinian-American critic Edward W. Said is a non-fiction work that explores in detail how colonialist nations abuse their control of the media and command of universities and textbooks to spread stereotypes and {{Flanderization}} of a complex, subtle and regionally diverse culture and how this comes to define the general perception of the Middle East well into the 20th Century.
* A couple examples from Creator/LarryNiven's ''Literature/KnownSpace'' universe where victors wrote the original history of a colony world:
** In ''A Gift From Earth'', the official histories say that the social stratification of Plateau was initially agreed upon by the crew and colonists because the crew had done the work and taken the risks. [[spoiler:In fact, the original crew "convinced" the original colonists at gunpoint.]]
** In ''Fleet of Worlds'', the official histories say that the Puppeteers rescued a crippled human colony ship and settled its occupants on one of their worlds. [[spoiler:In fact, the Puppeteers themselves had attacked the ship out of panic that it had discovered one of the worlds being moved into the fleet, and then enslaved the occupants in order to breed a compliant population.]]
* This is a major theme in ''Literature/ForWantOfANail'', an AlternateHistory of the North American continent following a quelled UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution. The InUniverse persona of the author has very little sympathy for them, and is called out on it by an InUniverse peer review at the end of the book, who invokes this trope to some extent.
* ''Santa and Pete'': where young Pete asks his amateur historian grandfather, "Who was right, the Indians or the Dutch?" His grandpa laughs and answers, "Depends on who's telling the story."
* Of the latter, Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold's ''[[Literature/VorkosiganSaga The Vor Game]]''. Gregor hasn't heard ''any'' of the stories about his father except stuff he could dismiss as propaganda. Miles is able to assure him that the stories he has heard are not all true.
* In ''TheEgyptian'', Sinuhe muses that due to Horemheb's rewriting of history, no one will ever remember the three Pharaohs that preceeded him: Ay, UsefulNotes/{{Tutankhamon}} and Achenaton. Horemheb was, obviously, less than successfull.
* Addressed but averted in TimothyZahn's ''[[HandOfThrawn Vision Of The Future]]'':
-->'''Shada:''' What do you mean by "true" [history]? What does anyone mean by "true"? We all know history is WrittenByTheWinners.\\
'''Jorj Car'das:''' History is also written by the bystanders... peoples who had no park or stake in what happened. Would you accuse them ''all'' of lying?
* Creator/GeorgeRRMartin's ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' deals with this trope. In the present timeline, Robert Baratheon is loved as a glorious rebel king but hated by Targaryen loyalists for being TheUsurper. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who was regarded as TheWisePrince in his lifetime, is smeared after his death as a rapist and villain.
** The tragic and poignant consequences of this trope is explored more subtly in ''[[Literature/TalesOfDunkAndEgg The Sworn Sword]]'' in the case of Ser Eustace Osgrey who lost his entire family fighting for the defeated Blackfyres but continues to believe that their fight was just and honorable. He claims that because the Blackfyres lost the rebellion they're condemned as traitors and rebels, but had they won they'd be idealized heroes.
* ''The Sundering'' reimagines ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' with an aversion of this trope.
* In ''The Fall of the Kings'', earlier in the setting world's history, the kings and their wizards were overthrown and the ruling nobility burned all the works about magic that they could find and made it illegal even to claim that magic was real. This causes some frustration for one of the protagonists, a historian living 200 years later who has trouble finding reliable sources for his research on the wizards. Especially when he proposes a debate to prove that the wizards' magic was real, disregarding the fact that the aforementioned law is still on the books...
* Referenced in ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' by Cardinal Richelieu, as to why he isn't surprised or bothered all that much by how ''villainous'' he looks in our uptime media.
* In a ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' novel, a character counters to someone stating this that "History is written by the survivors" and that "given my track record, you should hope I remember you fondly".
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho''VirginNewAdventures novel ''Just War'', the Doctor deconstructs this mindset in a Russian Roulette confrontation with a captured Nazi, pointing out that even if you get to write the history books it doesn't make you and your cause good:
-->'''The Doctor:''' You can't create anything with a gun, Herr Wolfe, let alone Utopia, authority, or truth. You can dress up in a scary black uniform and talk about destiny. You can use the full power of the state to rewrite biology, mythology, genealogy, history, and geography. Burn all the books you disagree with, burn all the people who wrote or read them. Hold a parade in every street, attend a thousand Party rallies. Gang up on the weak, persecute the minorities. Win the war. It still won't make you right.
* Played with in ''Literature/EndersGame''. The eponymous character [[spoiler:wins the war, and then goes on to write its history from ''his defeated enemy's point of view'', leading him to be vilified as a war criminal for thousands of years.]] The winners write the history books, but that doesn't mean they have to cast themselves as the heroes.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''BlackAdder'' shows how [[TheHouseOfTudor Henry Tudor]], after winning the UsefulNotes/WarOfTheRoses, completely removed Richard IV and his family from the historical timeline and changed UsefulNotes/{{Richard III}} into a child-killing madman.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' - In an [[InvertedTrope inversion]], in the episode "Living Witness", the history was written from the perspective of the ''losers'' who were relegated to second class citizenry, and the winning faction was very annoyed at being portrayed as vicious, bloodthirsty tyrants who slaughtered innocents and made martyrs out of people that turned out to be pirates and raiders. As it turns out, both sides weren't exactly saints to begin with.
** It is very likely the history was originally written by the winners and only turned to favor the other side in the centuries of coexistence later. The story still puts almost all the blame on ''Voyager'' rather than the winners themselves. In the propaganda simulation, even the representative of the victorious species who made the deal for Voyager's involvement is horrified at their atrocities, but his objections are ignored.
** Ultimately subverted at the end of the episode [[spoiler:when we flash forward to the future to see that both sides have reconciled their differences (thanks in large part to the Doctor). The old anti-Voyager propaganda simulations are still on display, but only as an example of how past prejudices once pushed them apart.]]
* [[spoiler:Tom Zarek]] uses this theory to gloss over murdering [[spoiler:Laird and The Quorum]] on ''[[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Battlestar Galactica]]''. [[spoiler:He loses.]]
** Not that it mattered [[spoiler:since history was one of the many, many things that the Colonials decided to jettison upon reaching Earth.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''
** "Contagion": Picard says this in reference to the Iconians.
** Another episode has Picard asking for some help from his good buddy Gowron. Gowron himself was letting the press know that he did not have as much help from Picard as there really was; this trope's name was given word for word.
** "The High Ground" has Kyril Finn point out to a captive Dr. Crusher that if UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington had lost his war, he'd be remembered as a terrorist, and not a revolutionary.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' - the two-parter "The Way of the Warrior", Gowron quotes it again just before the Klingon fleet and ''Deep Space Nine'' engage in battle.
* ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise''. The MirrorUniverse episode opens with the conclusion of ''StarTrekFirstContact'', but instead of returning the Vulcan's StrangeSalute, Mirror!Zephram Cochrane pulls out a shotgun and murders him, whereupon the humans storm the spaceship brandishing firearms. Mirror!Archer is later shown proudly showing off this shotgun from his antique WallOfWeapons.
-->'''Archer:''' I wonder how history would have played out if Cochrane hadn't turned the tables on your invasion force.
* In one episode of ''Series/RedDwarf'', [[DirtyCoward Rimmer]] invokes this with regard to Robert Scott, pointing out that his diary is the only record of Laurence Oates' HeroicSacrifice, and that if Rimmer had been Scott he'd have bludgeoned Oates to death with a frozen husky and [[ImAHumanitarian eaten him]], telling everyone that he had sacrificed himself. As is immediately pointed out by Lister, however, Rimmer is an exceptionally self-centred and ignoble person.
* A variation in that they didn't really "win", but the version of the Peacekeeper battle against the Venek Horde that Aeryn relates in the Series/{{Farscape}} episode ''Different Destinations.'' Subofficer Dacon was a cook and only ended up negotiating the ceasefire because everyone else was killed. Alternatively, if this is a case of a [[StableTimeLoop Stable-ish Time Loop]], he was just following Aeryn's instructions in the first place.
* Becomes a plot point in the ''{{Series/Community}}'' episode [[Recap/CommunityS4E04AlternativeHistoryOfTheGermanInvasion "Alternative History of the German Invasion"]], which helps the study group come to a HeelRealization [[ItsAllAboutMe regarding their presence at Greendale]].
* Crops up in the ''Series/OnceUponATime'' episode "Tallahassee". Captain Hook tells the Human-Giant wars as a war against brutal giants who came down to pillage the land and kill humans. Humans drove them back up the beanstalk, and killed all but one, the most vicious of them all. The last surviving giant claims [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters humans started the war]] and slaughtered giants for no real reason, but since they won got to paint history how they wanted.[[spoiler:The giant was telling the truth. Humans started the war for the giant's gold and magic beans, and gleefully slaughtered them]].
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': After conquering the Narns a second time, the Centauri lay the blame for the conflict squarely on their shoulders, to the point of placing every member of the Narn ruling council on trial for war crimes. Then again, the two powers have been taking stabs at each other ever since the Narns overthrew the Centauri the ''first'' time (including the Narns secretly selling Centauri weapons to humans during the Earth-Minbari War). And the Centauri are still not willing to acknowledge that the first time even happened either. They keep claiming that they landed peacefully on Narn and uplifted the primitives. Given that G'Kar's father was hung in the desert by his thumbs until he died of dehydration, it's highly unlikely to have been the case.
* ''[[Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand Spartacus War of the Damned]]''. Invoked. Crassus muses that [[NotSoDifferent both he and Spartacus]] see themselves as the hero of the tale, and their opponent as the villain. Crassus then states that only history will judge who the hero was; [[ForegoneConclusion he, of course, wins]].
** Defied, however, by [[spoiler:Agron]], who swears that it is ultimately Spartacus who history will see as the hero.
-->[[spoiler:'''Agron:''']] One day, Rome will crumble and fall. ''But your name'' will be remembered forever.
* Referenced in ''Series/StargateSG1''. Woolsey initially helps [[SleazyPolitician Kinsey]] in trying to shut down the SGC. He eventually [[HeelRealization realizes]] what kind of person Kinsey is, and then gives the President evidence of Kinsey's crimes. The following conversation then takes place:
-->'''Woolsey:''' I also hope that one day history recognizes that I tried to do the right thing.
-->'''President Hayes:''' ''Whose version'' of history, Mr. Woolsey?
* ''Series/LostGirl''. Trick mentions that this is the only reason people have a favorable opinion of the ancient Blood King. Considering that the Blood King has reality warping powers when writing with his blood, he may mean this literally. [[spoiler:Also, since Trick ''is'' the Blood King, this doubles as him recognizing his own past crimes and mistakes.]]

* Music/MarilynManson's song "Irresponsible Hate Anthem".
* Music/GangOfFour's "Not Great Men".
* This trope is a recurring theme in the music of Brendan Perry of Music/DeadCanDance. It's presented most directly in "[[TearJerker Song of the Dispossessed]]" and "Amnesia" but also more subtly in some other pieces.

[[folder: Professional Wrestling]]
* Since {{WCW}} was bought out, {{Wrestling/WWE}} mostly only provides its own account of the Monday Night Wars, and spends a lot of time mocking WCW for its silly gimmicks (while the WWF had plenty of its own) and the mismanagement that led to its downfall. You'll seldom hear much about ''why'' Nitro beat Raw in their ratings war for so long, just that it happened. ECW, on the other hand, gets treated like a WorthyOpponent and gets much more respect (perhaps because it's more marketable, perhaps because they were writing checks to ECW during its run).

* Some SatanIsGood beliefs held this about Literature/TheBible.
* Averted in GreekMythology, where it is established that Chronos ruled over a Golden Age, so the Olympians didn't bother to hide that.
* Virtually every religious text will describe the founder of their religion as a impossibly perfect and good human being. They're all basically hagiographies in which you're never able to check how much of it is true or how many less heroic stuff has been left out.


[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''{{Eberron}}'', there was the War of the Mark, the first half of which was basically genocide preformed by the dragon mark houses against those with aberrant dragon marks, and the second half was a war because the victimized party got organized and put up a valiant effort; anyways, [[DownerEnding it didn't end well.]] Most people don't like and fear aberrant dragon mark wielders, although the extent of the prejudice is up to the DM. The dragon marked houses, however, are quite accepted, and while many people know of the War of the Mark (despite it happening almost 2,500 years ago), almost none know what actually happened.
* This helps explain the [[ContinuitySnarl untidiness]] affecting a lot of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'''s backstory. The Space Wolves ''know'' that the Thousand Sons were traitorous sorcerers that their forebearers rightfully punished for using forbidden magics, while the Thousand Sons ''know'' they suffered an unjust and unprovoked attack ordered by the Emperor they up until then had loyally served. The HorusHeresy novels reveal that while the Thousand Sons were using sorcery, they were trying to ''warn'' the Emperor about the imminent rebellion, but then the true traitor, Warmaster Horus, changed the Space Wolves' orders from "bring in for questioning" to "kill them all," and the psyker-hating Space Wolves were happy to oblige. Nowadays the idea that the Space Wolves were played or that the Emperor should have believed the Thousand Sons' warning are treated as heresy.
** Another example is the history of the Dark Angels. Outsiders know the chapter to be one of the original First Founding legions and exemplars of loyalty. The chapter itself is wracked with guilt over how fully half their members turned traitor during the Horus Heresy, a secret they jealously guard and which drives them to obsessively hunt these Fallen Angels. Meanwhile, there's hints that the Dark Angels' primarch may have been sitting out the civil war altogether, and the "Fallen" were merely defending themselves against their possibly traitorous kin...
*** This Trope and the Lion's ultimate allegiance are dealt with in the Age of Darkness anthology story Savage Weapons, [[spoiler:Lion'el is absolutely loyal to the Emperor, but his campaign against the Night Lords, and the Chaos Gods' intervention in the Warp will prevent him from ever reaching Terra to aid in the defence. Night Haunter himself directly taunts Jonson stating that the Lion's character will always be questioned because he not was at Terra.]]
* ''{{TabletopGame/Paranoia}}'': It's the year 214. It's ''always'' the year 214. We are at war with the Communists, always were, and always will be. TheComputerIsYourFriend, and this is the history the Computer tells you. Questioning the Computer's history of the world is treason. Treason is punishable by death.
* The history of the Realm in ''{{Exalted}}'' proclaims there was a time when the world was ruled over by demonic "Anathema" who harrowed and tormented mankind, and it was only through the overwhelming force of the Dragon-Blooded that they were driven back into the shadows. While this isn't entirely inaccurate from [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity what sometimes happened under the rule of the Solars]], it sure does obscure a lot of the nuances.
** Some of it ''is'' flat out wrong -- namely, they say that the Anathema are humans possessed by demons (or demons in human form) rather than humans given power by gods [[ComesGreatInsanity that steadily drives them mad]].

* The majority of Creator/WilliamShakespeare's Histories (That is: ''Theatre/KingJohn'', ''Theatre/RichardII'', ''Theatre/HenryIV'', ''Theatre/HenryV'', ''Theatre/HenryVI'', ''Theatre/RichardIII'' and ''Theatre/HenryVIII'') feature this to a greater or lesser degree, seeing as how Shakespeare wrote histories for the winners, his 'sponsors'. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespearean_history other wiki's]] article is a brief introduction to this.
* The Wizard's song [="Wonderful"=] in ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'' is all about this. ("A man's called a traitor -- or a liberator. A rich man's a thief -- or philanthropist. Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader? It's all in which label is able to persist.") Of course, he's used this to his advantage by wielding the PropagandaMachine against his political opponents.
* ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'', the musical, has the VillainSong called "A Story Told", referring to how "history is a story told by the men who make the laws". The three conspirators convene and choose to frame Edmond Dantés for crimes to further their own cause with the understanding that because he can't disprove the accusation, he will be remembered as guilty by everyone, and that's more real to the rest of the world than what actually happened.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'': [[spoiler:The known history has The Valkyria as demigods who arrived from the north and saved the land from the Darcsen race, who were fighting devastating wars with Ragnite weapons. The Valkyria are still worshiped as gods and saviors, and the Darcsen are prosecuted and marginalized. In truth, the Darcsen were peaceful, and the Valkyria were invaders who enslaved them - as well as causing enormous destruction with their ragnite weapons. They rewrote history to suit themselves, and hid the truth from all but their own descendants.]]
* ''Franchise/StarTrek: Birth of the Federation'' - When you choose to play the Cardassians, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhV43JiGiSE their opening]] claims this as one of their motivating principles.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius'' reminds you that Chaos Is Evil. Uh, then you uncover the millenium-long cover-up setup by the one survivor of the Law vs Chaos War. And he's the King of Dragons!
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'' has a variant of this. The common myth is that the Demon King was defeated by the "Five Heroes" led by Grado. [[spoiler:It turns out that the "Five Heroes" were led by Morva, the leader of the dragonkin. Together, they defeat the Demon King; Morva is even the one to land the killing blow. However, as centuries pass, the human nations which the heroes founded eventually forgot about Morva. The people of Caer Pelyn are rather unhappy about this, believing the other nations are being ungrateful to the Great Dragon who saved mankind, but Morva himself [[HumbleHero doesn't really mind]].]]
* ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword]] has a rather half-hearted version of this. The prologue states that the Scouring, a brutal war between dragons and humans, began when humans broke the peace for no explained reason. Yet it doesn't go on to question the fact that the human "heroes" of that war are held in religious reverence [[spoiler:and the one who joins your party is something of TheObiWan]].
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', [[spoiler:quite a bit of the legend of Mithos the Hero is false, created by Mithos himself.]]
* In ''VideoGame/LastScenario'', [[spoiler:pretty much all of the standard history is a load of crap.]] This is used as part of the game's subversion of VideoGameTropes of all kinds, as it means [[spoiler:''the opening InfoDump [[PlayingThePlayer lies to you]]''.]]
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain''
** ''Legacy Of Kain: Defiance'' This is what Raziel says upon finding out [[spoiler:what the Hylden have to say about their war with the Ancients]].
** In ''Blood Omen 2'', Kain combines this with InTheirOwnImage;
-->'''Kain:''' "Oh, Sebastian. Our destiny could have been glorious. The land was ours for the taking. History would have been rewritten in our image."
* This point is made by [[spoiler:Captain Price]] [[MeaningfulEcho and]] General Shepherd in ''[[VideoGame/ModernWarfare Modern Warfare 2]].'' One of them is very much counting on it.
---> History is written by the victor. ''History is filled with liars''.
* ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' posits that all of history is deliberately distorted by TheKnightsTemplar to strengthen their position, cover up their existence, and vilify the Assassins. This HandWave permits the dev team to stuff the series with exquisite research while still taking creative license with history when necessary for the sake of the story.
* Invoked in the ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' series, as the [[AncientTradition Keepers]]' motto is "[[PropagandaMachine Propaganda]] is written by the winners. History is written by the observer."
* In ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'', after the final mission, [[spoiler:no matter how high or low you go on the KarmaMeter, Edgar Ross sees to it that John Marston is remembered by most as a vile monster.]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' is full of this trope. [[spoiler:Saint Ajora, the leading messiah of the Church, was not a saint, but in fact a human possessed by a demon at best, and a ''actual'' demon at worst. The official history of Ramza has him as a heretic and usurper, while the truth is that he was just as influential, if not more so, in the kingdom's history that the eventual peasant king Delita. The Church, however, refused to acknowledge his role as his actions would have exposed massive corruption and generally unethical behavior, and suppressed everything that tried to tell the truth, including burning the author of the Durai Reports at the stake as a heretic.]] Possibly subverted by the Durai Reports though, causing Ramza to be VindicatedByHistory.
* In ''VideoGame/GuildWars'', White Mantle history records Saul D'Alessio's final battle against the Charr as a defeat. In fact, D'Alessio won the battle, but his gods murdered most of his followers and abducted him, never to be seen again. Ironically, this would lead to D'Alessio being villified by the people who overthrew the White Mantle when he would have likely sympathized with their cause.
** Charr history of the Searing and the following war against Adelbern has been written largely to reflect the glory of their victories, excising all mention of how it was Shamans who gave them their greatest victories and the important role of the Ebon Vanguard in killing their "gods".
** Likewise, Ascalonian history tends to focus on the Charr attempting to invade from the north many times before the Searing while conveniently glossing over the fact that Ascalon ''used'' to be Charr territory before the humans invaded, drove them north, and built a wall to keep them out.
* Mentioned by developers of ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' as the reason why Demacia is perceived as "good", while Noxus is "evil".
** The Journal of Justice is written by the League (neutral organization) and averts this trope (see also Morgana vs Kayle).
* Mentioned in the Russian campaign of ''VideoGame/EmpireEarth''.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' expansion ''Operation: Anchorage'' has this as part of its backstory -- a General Chase commissioned an elaborate virtual reality simulation of the Alaska campaign of the Sino-American War, in which he played a key role. But instead of serving as an adviser, he kept tweaking and changing the script, even as the world shuddered towards nuclear war, until the events depicted in the simulation bore little resemblance to what actually happened (including entirely fictional Chinese secret weapons). The technicians developing the program privately worried that the man had gone insane. [[ShootTheShaggyDog Then they all died in a nuclear apocalypse]].
* The [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin aptly named]] ''{{VideoGame/Borderlands 2}}'' mini-mission "Written By The Victors" has you take a quick tour of the history of Hyperion and Handsome Jack. Naturally, every word of it is [[BlatantLies utter bull]].
** Hyperion hasn't "won" anything yet, but they're winning, and they own the news media on Pandora. Hyperion spreads its version of events through [[TheMinistryOfTruth Hyperion Truth Broadcasting]], where DJ Hunter Hellquist is always spinning reality to make Handsome Jack look like the hero and the Crimson Raiders look like the most vile villains imaginable. Luckily, you get to shoot him in the face.
* In [[FakeUltimateHero Captain Qwark]]'s log in ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankUpYourArsenal'', he claims to have defeated [[VideoGame/RatchetAndClankGoingCommando the previous game]]'s final boss, which ate him before Ratchet defeated it.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', the Morning War was really a civil war between the quarian minority who protested the extermination of the geth and the rest of the quarians. The quarian dissenters were quickly wiped out, and the surviving quarians pinned the blame on the [[TheScapegoat geth]] who only took up arms in a futile attempt to protect their friends. Tali is naturally very disturbed when she discovers the truth.
* ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos'' is centered around the aftereffects of an ancient mythical battle between the god of evil and the gods of good. The prequel reveals that this essentially has the morality of the parties backwards - it's just that the good guys (who were a group, not an individual as history recorded) had made a DealWithTheDevil with an unrelated and forgotten third party.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonBallOnline'', it is revealed in the guide ''[[AllThereInTheManual Dragon Ball Online Chronicles]]'' that the majority of humans in the future have forgotten the protagonists' existence in favor of [[FakeUltimateHero Mr. Satan]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Singularity}}'' has a variation:
--> Demichev: History is rewritten by the victors. YOU LOST-
--> *Renko shoots the pistol out of Demichev's hand*
* In ''VideoGame/{{Robopon}}'', Dr. Zero calls out Prince Tail for this; the King was defeated by Zero and only 'won' due to nearly killing him, but told everyone that he defeated Zero to begin with.

* Webcomic/{{Blindsprings}}’ winners are [[FunctionalMagic the Academists]] and the losers are [[NatureHero Orphics.]] Cue 300 years of FantasticRacism, UnEqualRites style.
* Discussed by the messenger of the [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness Conclave]] in ''{{Webcomic/Roommates}}'', when he declared the winner of the ''Kings War'' arc and said winner protested the [[CouldHaveAvoidedThisPlot late intervention]]:
-->'''Ariel''': History is written by the winners, ''not'' in the middle.
** And as the spin-off ''Webcomic/GirlsNextDoor'' parodied it, when the Sarah (the winner) got confronted with the distorted account of her adventure:
-->'''Jareth''': History is written by he who rules despotically over the goblin scribes.

* One of the SCPFoundation's more bizarre entries is [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-1000 Bigfoot]]. According to the general clearance section, just seeing it causes you to have a percentile chance of instantly dying that increases the longer you spend looking at it. Except that's complete bull. The truth is [[spoiler:that BigfootSasquatchAndYeti were a nocturnal sentient race far more advanced than humans, being masters of OrganicTechnology, while humans were basically their own wild men of the forest. Man went from hunted to hunter, destroying 70% of their population in a single day and using their newly-acquired technology to rewrite the Sasquatch and their own memories to what we know today. They can communicate, and this is what they have to say]]:
-->[[spoiler:we forgive you;\\
given choice for now, not forever;\\
let us back in]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' episode "The Headband", Aang (in disguise) attends a Fire Nation school for a day. During the class's history lesson, the teacher quizzes the students on how Fire Lord Sozin defeated the "Air Nation Army". Of course, Aang (and the viewers) know full well that the Air Nomads were a mostly peaceful population of monks, who didn't even have an established ''government'', much less an army, and that Sozin's attack against them wasn't so much a battle as it was ''outright genocide''. When Aang tries to point this out, the teacher snaps that, [[DramaticIrony unless he was actually around 100 years ago]], he shouldn't be questioning the Fire Nation's history books.
** Aang's quest to topple the Fire Lord would ultimately fix this.
* In the ChristmasEpisode of ''WesternAnimation/TheRealGhostbusters,'' the quartet gets taken back to the time of ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'' and accidentally [[NiceJobBreakingItHero catch the spirits of Christmas past, present, and yet to come]]. Now with nothing existing to make him undergo his HeelFaceTurn, a vengeful Ebeneezer Scrooge proceeds to write a bestseller making him look like the big hero and the holiday to look like one huge joke, which in turn causes everyone to hate Christmas.

[[folder:Real Life]]
!!!To minimize the danger of [[FlameWar history politicizing discussion]], [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment please refrain from adding examples that are less than 200 years in the past]].
* Pretty much [[HistoricalHeroUpgrade anything you were taught]] about UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus or the story of Thanksgiving in Elementary School, if you're American. Though this is slowly changing.
** YMMV on whether the change feels more like going to the opposite extreme than a move towards objectivity.
** Similarly in American textbooks: The American Revolution. America won, so the war is written as downtrodden citizens rising up against an oppressive ruler. If America lost, it would have gone down as a minor footnote in the ''long'' history of the Anglo-French wars and the ''longer'' list of insurrections against Britain (of which the American Revolution would not even be the biggest or the costliest).
* The only contemporary account of the Battle of Thermopylae to survive is by Herodotus, who came from a Greek town belonging to the Persian Empire but settled in Athens and wrote primarily for an Athenian audience. Other, later accounts from antiquity were also written by Greeks and are based either on Herodotus or other Greek historians, whose works have been lost. The Persian view of the battle, either in some form of historiography or in official documents, has not been handed down to us after the wars of Alexander the Great and the fall of the Achaemenid Empire. Later historians could note that the numbers given by Herodotus, especially for Xerxes' army, are too fantastic to be true, but are left to speculate as to what the actual ones may have been according to what they think is probably. This often can depend on where they come from.
* UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution. Of course, even at the time people knew it involved a lot of GrayAndGreyMorality because of extremists on both sides, but nowadays we know that UsefulNotes/LouisXVI and UsefulNotes/MarieAntoinette were not nearly as bad of people as their contemporaries made them out to be. At best, they were victims of a corruption within the system that made a revolution almost inevitable regardless of their actions taken, and at worst they were just naive and incompetent.
** UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre is the biggest casualty of this. He was a popular leader, beloved by the French public up to and during the ReignOfTerror. He campaigned for minority rights, extending the right to vote to Protestants, Jews and French Blacks, supported education for women. He also abolished slavery in 1794 and planned schemes for wealth redistribution. He was by no means the sole dictator of the Reign of Terror with very of the executions being directly signed by him, nevertheless once he started to speak out against the corruption of the Committee they went against him, had him guillotined and tarnished his reputation for all time. To this day, there is no street in Paris with his name on it, or any major monument except in working class areas such as Marseilles.
** The Jacobin party as a whole are vilified as extremists by the Girondins and Royalists who succeeded to power after Thermidor and had prime positions under Bonaparte. The Jacobins were not innocent but their actions were far from un-justified. The Girondins were engaged in high level corruption and behind the scenes dealing with Austria and England, they later declared a war against Austria, which Robespierre denounced as a BreadAndCircuses move to divert away from the reforms they had consistently failed to uphold, and when the early phase of the war had started going against France leading to Austria coming in hair's breadth of occupying Paris, the Jacobins supported by the Paris crowd went in open insurrection to protect the Revolution and the French people. It was the Jacobin party that led France to victory in the early stages of the Revolutionary Wars thanks to their open meritocracy, their culling of aristocratic nobles and royals from army positions and introduction of {{Conscription}}.
*** Likewise the execution of King Louis was not a mindless act of cruelty but sparked by the King and Queen's attempt to go to the enemy side, where troops of 10,000 royalists were ready, primed to attack the King's own subjects. This action and the discovery of documents showing the King had planned to shift the revolution back to the Ancien Regime status quo turned public opinion completely against him and Marie Antoinette(who WAS complicit in this scheme).
* UsefulNotes/VladTheImpaler benefited from this. Sure, he was incredibly brutal, but it was that brutality that kept at bay the Ottomans who were trying to conquer Wallachia at every turn, at least for a time (Vlad ultimately failed to keep Wallachia free and ended his days in a Hungarian prison). As a result, modern Romanians consider him a national hero, who was "harsh but fair". Pretty good deal for a guy who spent decades putting people's heads on pikes. Of course, since those heads generally didn't belong to his own citizens, he did better than some of his contemporaries.
* Nearly all of our information about the Roman Empire comes from Roman sources; these are often unreliable, as rewriting history to suit the present generation (or people in power) was a long-established Roman tradition. The only reason we are at all aware of the Romans ever doing anything bad is because of ValuesDissonance (they wrote about something that seemed ''good'' to them, like efficiently exterminating a particularly troublesome tribe). And then, our information about the Roman Empire has been mostly processed through Christianity, which means we need to keep in mind the possibility of HistoricalHeroUpgrade and HistoricalVillainUpgrade, particularly with regards to Christian and Pagan emperors.
** There is little evidence outside a few passages in Suetonius to suggest that Tiberius had a [[MoralEventHorizon rape palace]] built on Capri. It is also worth remembering that Suetonius was commissioned to write his history by the Flavian dynasty which succeeded Tiberius's own Julio-Claudians. The Flavians were akin to modern "family values" politicians who espoused a return to the piety of Augustus and the Republic, in deliberate contrast to the supposed excesses of the later Julio-Claudians.
** Domitian and UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} seem to have gotten the shaft from Christian scholars, for example, while Constantine is very well thought of. Of course, Domitian and Nero also had contemporary detractors who made sure their names were vilified, possibly with cause, at least partially. UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}} wasn't nearly as batty as he's portrayed by Suetonius, and Nero wasn't anywhere near Rome when it burned; when he returned, he organised massive aid for the city, despite the rumors he contributed to the damage. Also, he played the lyre, not the fiddle (which did not exist then), so [[WhileRomeBurns the fiddling thing]] is wrong anyway.
*** To "fiddle" means to waste your time doing idle things; its' not just the name of an instrument. That people thinks that's what it means to say "Nero fiddled" probably counts as an example in itself (or maybe an inversion). Also, the fiddle may have been derived from the lyre.
*** It doesn't help that the contemporary historians who wrote badly of Nero were tied to the senate, which Nero was actively trying to weaken in order to keep all the power from being held by one small group. That's not to say it wasn't for somewhat selfish reasons (Seneca implied he was very paranoid), but at the end of the day he was popular with the people, but unpopular with statesmen, and of course the statesmen influenced the history books.
** While the {{Flanderization}} of UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}} is surreal enough, it's nothing compared to what his daughter and sister got (measured in surrealness rather then evilness). The [[UnreliableNarrator official history]] on the emperor Caligula teaches us that the conspiracy that had him murdered was very brave, wise, and benevolent. Not only was Caligula so evil and mad that he totally deserved to die, his two-year-old daughter who was murdered at the same time (because she was his only heir and thus a threat to the usurper) was '''also''' so evil that she totally deserved to die. The same history writing tell us not only that all political decisions he ever made were evil, crazy, and stupid, but also that many of them were very popular... but that's only because the population is stupid. The later theory was also used to HandWave why empress Drusilla was considered a popular politician... while using unsubstantiated slander to {{Retcon}} her into a mere SexSlave of her brother.
** The objective historical truth about Drusilla is that the imperial oath was aimed at her as well as her brother, that the coins of the empire depicted her like they would depict any emperor, that she had an imperial cult around her just like the other emperors had, and that there was a national mourning when she died. Also, that she was married to another man and that her brother was married to another woman. Two of the funny quirks about the rumors about BrotherSisterIncest is that 1) they seem to have started after Caligula's death, and thus long after Drusilla's death. 2) that the story was simplified by pretending that Drusilla's husband and Caligula's wife didn't exist, rather than commenting on how ''they'' reacted to the stories.
** A more direct Roman example is their own writings about their enemies, especially the Celtic and Germanic tribes. The Romans were happy to malign them, and since they had little in the way of a written culture, historians pretty much took the Romans' word for it until the second half of the twentieth century. For example, all the evidence we have of druidic human sacrifice derives from Roman sources. However, there is archeological evidence (ritually killed corpses) to back up ''some'' human sacrifice at least, though it may well have been exaggerated.
* [[UsefulNotes/RichardIII Richard III of England]] is a good example. While he wasn't the nicest guy around, he was also not the monster that the dynasty that succeeded him portrayed him as, either, as the modern research shows. It doesn't help that Creator/WilliamShakespeare was [[Theatre/RichardIII with the Tudors on this issue]]. The discovery of his remains in early 2013 and evidence of his death in battle served to reignite the debate over his HistoricalVillainUpgrade.
** In much the same manner of Richard III, [[Theatre/{{Macbeth}} Macbeth]], King of Scotland, was rather unsurprisingly vilified by some rather biased English scholars after his death. In truth, none of the contemporary sources of the time dubbed him a tyrant. In reality, Macbeth's rule was by many accounts very successful, not to mention lengthy. In a period where monarchs were being killed and overthrown in short accord, his reign lasted 17 years. In fact, his reign was so secure he was even able to safely make a pilgrimage to Rome, a journey few rulers of the time would have undertaken for fear of being usurped in their lengthy absence.
* A rare subversion can be seen in the Mongol conquests of everything from China to Hungary. In addition to more conventional tools of war, among their most effective weapon was their reputation. They deliberately committed horrific atrocities, and actively encouraged the spread and exaggeration of the stories (which were pretty bad to begin with by any standard). The primary purpose of this was to make their enemies shake in their boots when the Mongols came knocking, breaking the enemy morale, and leading many adversaries to outright surrender without a fight (it was that or be butchered down to the last man, woman, child, and dog).\\
The sheer amount of those who chose to surrender due to hearing such gruesome tales may have even saved lives in the long run, at the cost of absolutely brutalizing those that did die. This is a subversion as both winners and losers agree on their version of events -- the losers because they were powerless to stop the flow of rumors counter-productive to the war effort, and the winners because it suits them to have a reputation as bloodthirsty warmongers that only give you one chance to surrender before they take everything you own, slaughter your children, rape your wife, burn down your house, use you as a human shield against your own soldiers (often by filling a spiked trench with corpses so that they could ride over it) and then have a good laugh about it, not necessarily in that order.
* Peter I of Castile is Peter ''the Lawful'' in chronicles written by his supporters and Peter ''the Cruel'' in those written by his enemies. Since he lost the civil war that dethroned him, the second version is the one that has stuck to the modern day.
** In Sweden, the Danish King Christian II is remembered as "Christian the Tyrant" because of his mass execution of Swedish nobility and ultimately failed attempts to re-take control of the rebellious Swedes. This name largely stuck because of the efforts of King Gustaf I Vasa, the revolutionary leader who deposed him from the Swedish throne, who was an absolute master of propaganda and slander against his opponents. There is a common belief among Swedes that King Christian II is called "Christian the Good" or "Christian the Peasant-Friend" in Denmark. This is not actually true, but the UrbanLegend has survived because it is such a great illustration of this trope.
* Subverted a few times where the events in question were much more important and significant to the losing side than to the winning one.
** The popular image of the UsefulNotes/HundredYearsWar is very much shaped by the English narrative (partly helped by William Shakespeare) and what people remember are the three great victories of Crecy, Poitiers (Maupertuis), and Agincourt, while even the French hardly remember their resounding victories at Patay, Formigny, and Castillon, preferring to focus on tragic heroine Joan of Arc -- and even in her case more on the comparatively minor achievement in the relief of Orléans instead of her involvement at Patay, and her death.
*** Pretty much confirmed by the fact that the most famed French medieval victory in the country is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bouvines Bouvines]], where Philippe II Auguste's army and militia was alone against England, the HolyRomanEmpire, Brabant, Holland, Lorraine, and several rebellious vassals (Counts of Flanders and Boulogne).
*** For that matter, UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc herself -- the French considered her a prophet, while the English considered her insane and/or a witch, with historical records shifting their tone after her capture.
** Similarly, the popular image of the English-Scottish wars from the middle ages to the last "1745" Jacobite rebellion seem largely dominated by Scottish narratives, probably because these wars are important in defining the Scottish identity, while they [[ButForMeItWasTuesday were of relatively minor importance]] to the English, who had bigger fish to fry in wars against e.g. the French and Spanish or among themselves. Thus while Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn are well-remembered, not a lot of Englishmen care to remember Culloden with pride and even battles where the English forces achieved brilliant and resounding victories despite being outnumbered, like Flodden Field and Dunbar (1650), are almost unknown.
** For patriotic Serbians, the lost Battle of Kosovo (1389) is perhaps ''the'' defining moment of their country's history. For the Turks it [[ButForMeItWasTuesday is one hard-fought Ottoman victory among many]].
*** Kind of hard to say the Turks could write it off so easily, since A) they lost the entirety of that particular part of their army and B) it resulted in the death of their Sultan Murad.
*** The battle ended up in a ''draw'', with both army commanders being killed and both armies being crippled and unable to continue the fight. Family ties (the Serbian prince Lazar's daughter married Murad's son) and shifting of allegiances (some Serbians lords, including Lazar's son, were allies of the Ottoman empire) muddle the issue even more.
** Similar to the Scottish example but even more extreme, ''every battle'' in which the Irish faced the English is almost completely forgotten about in England while being seen as watershed moments in Irish history. This includes not only the rare occasions when the Irish actually won, such as Yellow Ford (1598) but also occasions like the Battle of Kinsale (1601) when English commanders pulled off spectacular victories. The one partial exception seems to be the Battle of the Boyne (1690) -- and even there it is only recalled in England because Ulster Unionists are so vocal about it.
** The same thing happened to the defeat of the various Native American nations in North America. Whereas the predominate view was of "civilized" European people bring civilization to the frontier by defeating the "savages," now the popular view is the tragedy of the Native Peoples fighting a HopelessWar against the rapacious European conquerors. The Battle of the Little Big Horn, for instance, was originally depicted as Custer tragically dying in a heroic last stand against overwhelming numbers, whereas now it's more of an idiot general charging heedlessly into battle against the advice of his scouts, getting all his men killed along with himself in the process, and rightly so, as they had attacked the natives simply defending their land.
* In a strange ''inversion'', ''Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms'' ([[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory very loosely]] [[{{novelization}} novelized]] as ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'') was officially commissioned by a supporter of the losing side (Shu) after the fact, and as a result many historical characters from Wu and Shu (who lost) are [[HistoricalHeroUpgrade lionized]], while Wei, the victor, is [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade demonized]]. Cao Cao, in particular: he was historically rather a good ruler.
* [[{{Pirate}} Privateers]] get this naturally... some of the biggest and most well known? UsefulNotes/SirFrancisDrake and Capt. Morgan (the one who... you know... has a certain drink named after him). Celebrated heroes in England... demons of history to Spain.
* From a class perspective as opposed to a national one: Most of history (at least until modern times) focused on ruling and upper class males because ruling and upper class males dominated society, were generally the ones who knew how to write history, and were only interested in the affairs of their peers (i.e. other ruling and upper class males). There were remarkably few historical works that focus exclusively on women, members of the peasant classes, or the bourgeoisie.
* The early 19th century Merina conquest of Madagascar. The official account, taught in schools, is told from the Merina perspective: a tiny highlander kingdom that manages to unite and modernize the whole island through diplomacy and brilliant military strategies. For many non-Merina, though, the story goes differently: the conquest was a series of bloody wars led by the megalomaniac Merina monarchy with help by foreigners (mainly the English). To this day, the whole thing still causes friction, mainly in that Merina politicians are often distrusted by the other ethnicities and (actively or not) are often prevented from reaching leadership positions.
* In many cases, it was also a case of history being written by those who could write, period. Or the chance of which accounts survived into posterity.
** The battle of Kadesh (1274 B.C.) is a well-known example. It is practically only documented from the Egyptian side, which should have something to do with the fact that the Hittite Empire was overthrown, never to return, about a century later while the Egyptian Empire survived in one form or another until Roman times and so was much more effective in preserving Ramasses II's ebullient accounts and monuments. Historians are still debating on whether, once you subtract Pharaonic propaganda, the battle should in truth be regarded as an Egyptian victory, a Hittite one, or a draw.
** The Peloponnesian War was won by Sparta and its allies over Athenes and its allies, but since Spartans did not write histories (or indeed much literature of any kind), it is essentially handed down to us in the writings of two Athenians, Thucydides and Xenophon.
* In European history it is quite common for histories of a large war to come from everyone concerned. That is because despite all of Europe's wars it is rare that a major state is actually eliminated. Usually they just hold a PeaceConference, exchange provinces, and then get back to planning what to do next.
* Invoked by UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill, who is also the TropeNamer
--> "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."
* All accounts of the Battle of Hastings, the most famous being the Bayeux Tapestry, were created by the Norman conquerors. No Saxon account of the battle survives.
** The Bayeux Tapestry was commissioned by Normans, but actually made by Saxon needle workers. Some historians think they could have smuggled the implication that Harold swore allegiance to William only under duress onto the Tapestry under the noses of the Normans.
** It's worth noting that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which started under UsefulNotes/AlfredTheGreat, continued to be written under William. After his death, an obituary states that William was "a loyal servant of God and ruthless to those who opposed his will". God's will or William's? Nicely ambiguous.
* That Christians were executed in the Colosseum is true enough, but it's not often told that after the Edict of Milan, Roman pagans were executed in the exact same way, except that the executions only stopped when the last non-Christian was dead.
** Seeing that UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} persecuted Christians and Rome became Christian only a few centuries later it's not difficult to see that his legacy has made him a lot more evil than he might have been in real life.
** Not to mention that, although Christians were persecuted, the extent has been somewhat exaggerated, with it going in waves at different periods of the late Roman Empire. Martyrdom in fact was very popular among some Christians, to the extent that some in fact ''sought it out'' by provoking others (the Circumcellions). Stories of martyrs were very popular, the more gruesome the better, to the point that it became something akin to torture porn. After the Christians gained power, the persecutions became reversed as mentioned above -- pagans were killed, pagan temples destroyed, and eventually paganism banned entirely, along with the Greek philosophy schools.
* Common practice in Imperial China was that when one dynasty got overthrown and another took over, the new dynasty would write off the last Emperor of the former dynasty as a weak ruler. This was accepted as the way things naturally worked. There was even a "standard excuse" for this, namely writing the former Emperor off as a drunken sod who was occupied by women all day and had a corrupt eunuch as chancellor. However, each dynasty also kept a record of its own rule, so most of the times they were protected somewhat from this trope.
** The way people would decide when it was time to overthrow the old Emperor was when he had lost the Mandate of Heaven, which was Heaven no longer accepting him as a ruler because he was bad at it. In response to this, all sorts of disaster struck the land the Emperor ruled over, like droughts, floods, severely corrupted tax collectors and eunuchs... Considering that this land always included the Yangtze river, which tends to flood a lot, some people now believe that it was not Heaven which had decided the old Emperor should go, but that the last Emperor of a dynasty just had the bad luck that all those disasters happened during his reign, making the populace unruly, which a noble could then take advantage of in order to become Emperor himself (or herself, on one occasion).
* Knights, albeit they both won and lost various wars, so this is more on them as a social/political class. Much like how we found out more recently with the samurai, the knights in most cases weren't the nicest of people. Sure, the KnightInShiningArmor existed, but they were in no way the majority. Most knights were essentially mercenaries who just happened to be much more heavily armed than the average one. Most nobles didn't trust them as far as they could throw them, King Philip IV of France had [[TheKnightsTemplar the original Knights Templar]] almost completely wiped out (primarily because he didn't want to pay off France's monetary debt to them), with his son having the pope finish the job. From the 10th to 16th centuries, most knights were pretty infamous for being particularly brutal and (ironically) honorless. Some of this did exist in writing from the time, like when Creator/GeoffreyChaucer sneaked in a comment about the sacking of Alexandria in the Knight's Prolouge, which was historically known for a battle where the knights raped and pillaged everything they saw. Most of this part of knight history went away when the knights jazzed up their stories for the nobility. When not at war, knights commonly started waging private wars against each other. They were more like rival gangs at times than anything to do with "chivalry".
* American popular history, and a wealth of historical documents written by the Founding Fathers, portrays the American Revolution as a glorious crusade for republicanism against the cruel tyranny of monarchism. In truth, the powers of the English monarch had been steadily eroding since the civil war over a hundred years prior, in particular by the Bill of Rights of 1689, which was influenced, as was the United States, by the ideas of John Locke. By the late 1700s, George III was a convenient scapegoat for the Founding Fathers to avoid slandering Parliament, who the nascent US would eventually have to negotiate with. Similarly, the effect of ''Somerset v Stewart'', which held that chattel slavery was unlawful in the British Isles, on American sentiment (they weren't happy) is usually glossed right over.
* The Spanish nobleman the Duke of Alva enjoys a good reputation in Spain, but in Belgium and the Netherlands he is remembered as an evil man who came to their country in the 16th century to persecute everyone who resisted the Spanish occupation and burn them on the stake. Since the Dutch won the Eighty Years' War against Spain he and king Philippe II of Spain are naturally seen as villains who were justifiably defeated.
* Seeing that most of Western history has been written by Christians naturally you're going to get a very Christian centered view of history:
** All the Roman emperors who persecuted Christianity? Why, naturally they were all perverted, decadent and cruel leaders. Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the state religion in the Roman Empire? Well, naturally he was a good and noble man whom we shall remember as ''Constantine the Great''.
** Charlemagne, who is credited with christianizing Europe in the 6th and 7th century. In Western history books he is hailed as a hero, the Catholic Church praises him too, but the fact of the matter is that his troops invaded several European regions to forcibly convert pagans to Christianity. Thousands of people have been massacred in order to obtain this goal and those kept alive were naturally very willing to accept him as their new king and Christianity as their new faith.
** All the explorers and missionaries in European colonies who converted the local African, Latin American, Asian and Australian tribes to Christianity are also remembered as good, well intentioned people. In reality they all invaded civilizations that had existed centuries before them and had the audacity to tell the locals that they were primitive people who needed to be guided by European colonials and change to their faith, because theirs was just ridiculous.
*** Even funnier is that the British will always scold Spanish, French and Belgian colonials for having been brutal against their own people, while UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire on the whole wasn't really that much more respectful towards the natives in their colonies. In fact, seeing that the British Empire was the hugest colonial empire on the planet: the scale of their atrocities may have been far worse in scope, compared to those of other European nations.