Best history TV mistakes of all time
Factual error: In this episode we see Blithe get shot in the neck and are told that he died in 1948. In reality he was shot in the shoulder and survived. He later served in Korea and was promoted to master sergeant as well as receiving the paratrooper of the year award. Blithe died in 1967 while on active duty in Germany.
Factual error: Aetius' troops don't look anything like 5th century Roman soldiers. They are carrying a large rectangular shield, a pilum (a spear which was used for throwing) and a sword (gladius) on their right. This was typical for the Roman army until about the 3rd century A.D. In Aetius' time, the soldiers would have had smaller oval shields, a hasta (a lance used for stabbing and for fending off cavalry attacks) and a sword (spatha) on their left. Also, there would be an enormous amount of "barbarian" mercenaries in the Roman army (Goths, Vandals, even Huns.), so it was hardly a Roman army anymore. And where's Aetius' cavalry?
Factual error: When Lucrezia is lying in bed suffering from swamp fever, probably malaria, she blames a mosquito for the disease. But she could not have known this; the discovery of the transmission of malaria by mosquitoes was not made until the late 19th century. The prevailing theory of disease transmission at the time was via miasma, or bad air.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where John Basilone goes looking for his friend Manny. Basilone has 3rd degree burns on his left forearm and left hand but in the shot he is walking through the jungle holding a pistol tightly in his left hand and his canteen is on his right side as he walks past a group of trees. The next shot he is continuing walking through the jungle but the gun is in his right hand (which isn't burned) and his canteen has also switched sides as he walks past the same group of trees.
Continuity mistake: During the Medici brothers vs. Marco Bello confrontation near the end of the episode Lorenzo grabs a candlestick to defend himself against Marco Bello's knife - you can even notice a candle slipping off the candlestick. As Marco Bello turns to leave the chamber, however, Lorenzo's hands are empty and the candlestick rests on the table. In the next shot he's holding it again, with the candle sitting atop of the candlestick.
Factual error: Johann Eck is dressed as a cardinal and Albrecht von Brandenburg addresses him as "Your Eminence" and kisses his ring. In reality, Eck was not a cardinal. Albrecht, however, was. It should be Eck showing deference to him, not vice versa. Albrecht was also only thirty, half the age of the actor playing him.
Factual error: The Merchant Navy rank insignia is very poorly researched. Each officer seems to have a different style of insignia, despite working for the same company and they incorrectly wear rank insignia on the shoulders of their blue uniforms as well as the cuffs. The main character, Junior Third Officer Mortimer, wears a bizarre mix of insignia, apparently consisting of a Royal Navy petty officer's sleeve badge, a Royal Navy chief petty officer's cuff buttons, and a rank badge of three inverted chevrons on his shoulder boards that doesn't seem to resemble anything from reality. In reality, he should simply wear a single cuff ring (or shoulder bar in white uniform).