How do historians deal with information that has no other sources than gossip?
I mean facts (or "facts") that are not covered by primary sources, but are widely known from gossip. Usually this information is related to human sexuality as it was somewhat hidden in sources, but are "known". Some may be related to other imperfections like kleptomania and so on. Some of course are trivia or anecdotes, but may say much about specific persons and explain some decisions, if they were true.
Examples of such gossip, legends etc. are
- Alexander the Great, Emperor Hadrian, Leonardo da Vinci and many others were homosexual
- Elizabeth I Tudor was a virgin
- Elizabeth Bathory drunk virgins' blood
- There was a woman pope (Joan)
- There was a man in Iron Mask held in prison
- all what Marquis de Sade did
- Circumstances of Felix Faure's death
Please note I don't say that any is true. Some probably are backed with sources (I've found them in my memory), but they are to show what I mean.
I understand that historians should be sceptic, but if gossip is related for 2000 years?... And it is important to have good overview of person's acts?