Difference Between History and Legend

Main Difference – History vs. Legend

History and Legend are related to the past events and happenings. But there is one main difference between history and legend; history can be proved by evidence and is considered to be true whereas legends are perceived to be true though they are not supported by any historical evidence.

What is History

History is the study of past events, particularly how they relate to human lives. History is basically concerned with the overall achievements, events, occurrences and happenings of the entire human population. Since these events and occurrences have taken place hundreds of years ago, we have no way of knowing the first-hand experience or direct knowledge of those who lived during that era. This is where the texts or records written in the past come to our help. These records can be in the form of form of printed material, rare manuscripts written on paper and leaves, dried animal skins.

By using these writings and other evidence, we can get to know a lot of information about the past way of life. However, these writings might contain biased information as writing was used mainly to eulogize the achievements of emperors, kings, and other nobles. Nevertheless, these records remain the primary source to gain information on history. The events that had occurred prior to written records are considered to be prehistory.

It is important to remember that only the events or occurrences that can be proved to be true by various sources or evidence are accepted to be history. Stories, tales that describe events, but cannot be supported by evidence are usually classified as legends.Main Difference - History vs Legend

What is Legend

A legend is a popular narrative that is usually perceived to be true, but not validated by evidence. Many legends function within the area of uncertainty, never being entirely believed by the listeners, but also never being resolutely doubted. Legends tend to be plausible because of their historical event or location. However, in spite of this tie, there is no evidence to prove that these events actually took place.

Legends can be also be transformed over time to remain fresh and realistic. This is how legends remain alive for hundreds and hundreds of years. Legends, along with folk tales and myths play a vital role in culture. A legend can be formed around a character (King Arthur, Robin Hood, Helen of Troy, etc.) an object (philosopher’s stone, holy grail, etc.) or a place (Atlantis, Shangri-La, etc.)Difference Between History and Legend

Difference Between History and Legend


History is the study of past happenings that particularly relate to human lives.

Legends are popular narratives which are perceived to be true, but not validated by evidence.


History is the events that actually happened in the past.

Legends are fictional narratives that are not entirely true.


History is based on actual information.

Legends are based on folk tales or narratives that have been passed down for generations.Difference Between history and legend - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Battle of Olustee” by Florida Memory. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons 

“Boys King Arthur – N. C. Wyeth – p16” by N.C. Wyeth – The Boy’s King Arthur: Sir Thomas Malory’s History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, Edited for Boys by Sidney Lanier (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922). Scanned by Dave Pape. (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons 

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