The Middle Ages is a periodisation of European history, encompassing the period from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century.

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How long was a journey “from the Varangians to the Greeks?”

Textbooks about Russian history often discuss the importance of trade routes "from the Varangians to the Greeks," which allowed ships to pass from the Baltic to the Black Sea using a network of ...
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Republican thought in the Middle Ages

I wonder if there were any books written in the Middle Ages that argued the case for a republic versus a monarchy. On the opposite side we can find Dante's De Monarchia (and probably many others) who ...
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Animal “blood lust”

I remember reading in some older books about ancient combat that animals would sometimes get "into the fight" so to speak. For lack of a better term, this was evidenced by horses actually attacking ...
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346 views

What was the cultural background of Burgundians?

In the Middle Ages there was a big country in Europe between France and German kingdoms, Burgundy. What language did they speak there? Were they more German or French in origin?
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What right/legitimacy did Normans have to a kingdom in Southern Italy?

In the eleventh century the Northmen conquered England and created a Norman state in Southern Italy. Why did Normans travel so far afield and what right/legitimacy did they have to a kingdom in ...
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Why is such big density of churches in medieval towns?

If we look at Old Towns of European cities, we can see that there are many churches in them. Of course, it is reasonable as religion was very important in lives of the medieval people. However, ...
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Where did the term “Middle Ages” come from?

Where did the term "Middle Ages" come from? Who was the first known person to use that term?
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397 views

How were medieval guilds formed?

How did one go about starting a guild? Were guilds usually formed by a group of individuals or just a single person? What restrictions existed on starting a guild? What I'm mainly interested in is ...
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Language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages

I would like to know which was the spoken and literary language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages. Is it possible to differentiate between social groups in the cloister (monks, laymen, ...
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How would Chess have been played in England in 1450-1600?

I'm trying to reconstruct how Chess would have been played at various points in history in England, specifically at three points: around 1450, 1530, and 1610. What rules would have been used at these ...
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284 views

Was Frederick II of Hohenstaufen really a medieval Dr. Mengele?

According to legend, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who was intelligent (spoke six languages) and influential, also purportedly used cold-blooded methods to further his "scientific" inquiries. ...
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Captured nobles in medieval times, were they always ransomed?

Was watching the directors cut of Kingdom of Heaven, and one of the scenes had an actor playing what seemed to be a nobelman stating that he is according the privilege of ransom. While I remember that ...
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What particularly watershed events led to the War of the Roses?

What were the key events that led to the War of the Roses occurring in England during the 15th century. Was there any particular event that was the tipping point?
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How educated were the clergy during the Medieval period?

I understand that Latin was common language of clergy in Medieval times. I presume that bishops could read and write. There were also some monks responsible of copying books. What about "normal" ...
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Life in the middle ages for ordinary people?

From studying medieval history and reading related literature, I know enough about day to day life in the sense of life expectancy, work, pleasure, etc. My question is, given that human nature is ...
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123 views

How were heavier objects weighed in antiquity/middle ages?

How were heavier objects weighed in antiquity or the middle ages? Were balances simply scaled up in size with appropriately larger weights? Did people know how much an elephant or even an ox actually ...
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96 views

Who was Asselin FitzArthur?

I stumbled in wikipedia upon a lovely story about a man called Asselin FitzArthur who stopped the burial proceedings of William the Conqueror in Caen, claiming that the church stood on land that had ...
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What sorts of games of chance/skill and other events would a Middle-ages/renaissance festival have?

I am a DM/GM for a role playing game, and I want to plan a large festival for the game. I want to have it as authentic as possible, but don't know where to start. From the various fiction sources ...
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Muslim population in Islamic Iberia

Is there a record or estimate of the Muslim population count in Iberia (Spain/Portugal) during the peak of Islamic rule? Probably 10th or 11th century? And how big was this in percent of all Iberian ...
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What percentage of Jews were in “finance” (money-lenders) throughout Middle Ages?

The stereotypical image of a Jew in Middle Ages (and the portrayal of them) was of course "the money-lender". From Ivanhoe's Isaac of York, to Shakespeare's Shylock, to "Проклятый жид, почтенный ...
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What Was “Courtly Love” (Amour Courtois?)

My understanding was that it was a form of "extramarital" romance for knights and nobles in Europe during the Middle Ages. Was it ever an "institution" anywhere, and what (if any) impact did it have ...
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What forces/incentives drove the Mongols to conquer a much larger land territory than they could comfortably settle or rule?

Internet resources on the Mongol Empire usually dwell on the Mongol conquests of a huge mass of territory. Unfortunately, seldom are the reasons behind the conquests explained. One gets the impression ...
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Could a nobleman's land be enclosed within another noble's land?

In medieval (in the broadest sense, I'm not thinking of a specific decade) Europe, lands were split up amongst noblemen, and these noblemen had a hierarchy. Barons are lesser than earls which are ...
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What was the life expectancy in Medieval Britain?

I'm working on doing background research for one of my novels and I'm looking for roughly how old a male in the peasant class would've lived around 5th or 6th century Britain.
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How did Magnus IV of Sweden come of age at 15?

According to the Wikipedia article Magnus IV of Sweden Magnus was declared to have come of age at 15 in 1331. This caused resistance in Norway, where a statute from 1302 made clear that kings came ...
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Who were the “tyrants” that Charles Martel “crushed”?

The second chapter of Einhard says: It was this Charles that crushed the tyrants who claimed to rule the whole Frank land as their own, and that utterly routed the Saracens, when they ...
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Who are the modern descendants of the Khazar people?

The Khazars where a people who built an empire centred North of the Caucasus Range, between the 7th and 11th centuries. They are not at all mainstream (at least in Europe), even though, defeating the ...
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Who kept noble prisoners captured in battle?

During the Hundred Years War era, noblemen captured in a battle were normally held for ransom. In such a case, who got to keep the prisoner, provide him lodgings, and receive the ransom? Was it the ...
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What factors contributed to the rise of national monarchies in the high middle ages? [closed]

I'd be the first to admit that I don't exactly know much about this topic and the initial research I've done on it has simply led to greater confusion. My current understanding (which I'm pretty sure ...
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Who should be the king/queen of England?

If you start from 1066, the last direct line legitimate monarch was Richard III. Then you have the Tudors with a fairly weak claim, then they handed it on to the Stuarts with an even weaker claim. ...
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What was the reason for inflation in Britain after the Black Death?

According to the Wikipedia article Ordinance of Labourers 1349 During this outbreak [of Black Death], an estimated 30-40% of the population died. The decline in population left surviving workers ...
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What were the advantages and disadvantages of Mongolian cavalry (compared to European cavalry)?

My understanding is that Mongolian cavalry fought mainly with bows and arrows, that is, missile weapons, in "hit and run" style, while European cavalry fought mainly with "contact" weapons such as ...
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Which texts/works were lost due to the Mongol invasions of Baghdad?

Which texts/works were lost due to the Mongol invasions of Baghdad? Baghdad was a center for learning and there seems to be an immense literature loss during the sack of that city, just like the ...
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Were the problems Fibonacci solved in his work “Flos” posed specifically for him?

According to Wikipedia, Fibonacci wrote "Flos", a work which contained solutions to problems posed by Johannes of Palermo. Did Johannes pose a challenge to all European mathematicians of the time, or ...
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What motivated Germanic tribes to accept Christianity?

I have read histories that tell of St. Boniface and other Anglo-Saxon and Irish monks working in the Rhine valley among Germanic tribes converting them to Christianity. I understand that this work ...
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How “religious” was the average person in the Middle Ages?

During Europe in the Middle Ages, how religious was the "average Joe"? Looking at the large scale politics of the time it seems religion was a major part of the elites' lives, with treaties with the ...
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Who gave Charles the Bold his nickname and why?

I am talking about the Duke of Burgundy here. Wikipedia has a tantalizing footnote (n. 1): Charles le Téméraire is more accurately translated in English as "the Rash", but the English speaking ...
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Status of merchants in feudal Europe

What was the status of merchants during the feudal age in Europe? Did they, like peasants, serve/have allegiance to certain land owning lord? If yes, do they have different status or privileges from ...
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Changing troops in first line during battle

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
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How widespread were major dynasties which did not follow agnatic succession or male primogeniture?

Agnatic succession - as far as monarchic rule - is a way of determining the rules for the next monarch by declaring the eldest surviving child of the current monarch as the heir (typically, male child ...
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Organisation of mercenaries

In the War of the roses how were mercenary units organised and administrated? Were they paid per lance, archer, knight etc? Would there be a King's representative who would go the mercenary ...
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what was the size of surface of a cereal crop needed per man per year during the Dark Ages in western europe?

If I'm a peasant during the dark ages, what surface (in meters (<- I am in advance on my time)) I need to farm to get enough cereal (for bread and brew) ? how many cereals (in kg (<- again, I'm ...
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Which arm was the shield held in?

I'm asking a question elsewhere and I'm sure I've heard some historical text to back this up as well as sound reasoning: you want your strongest arm to stop yourself from getting killed by using a ...
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Were natural resources a primary reason for invading Romania during the middle ages-present?

When I was in school in Romania I remember my history teacher saying that historically Romania has seen a lot of invaders (referring mainly from the middle ages-present) because it used to have a lot ...
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Did anyone ever win a kingdom through single combat without a backing army or blood tie to the throne?

I've read of instances where historians suggest that single combat of champions has been used to preempt wholesale slaughter on the battlefield; and I think I've read instances where blood relatives ...
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162 views

Until 1600, was it legal to counterfeit money?

Forging money or currency is more often called counterfeiting and, as is well known, the counterfeiting of money is usually attacked aggressively by today's governments. But, generally speaking, was ...
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279 views

Eastern and Southern Europe in the medieval time period?

What were Eastern and Southern Europe like in the medieval period? Did Southern and Eastern Europe have knights and castles like Western Europe? I've never heard for example of Italian knights in the ...
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439 views

Could medieval European merchants travel through the Islamic world?

I've heard that the Islamic world was closed to European merchants in the Middle Ages. Is this true? If so, when did it close and when did it open again?
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When the term “president” was used the first time?

Wikipedia mentions that the term was used in Oxford and Cambridge universities at least in 1464. But I wonder whether the title was used somewhere before. Was is used under Ancient Rome?
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Who besieged Karl IV at Siena?

According to Wikipedia article about the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV: His second journey to Italy took place in 1368, when he had a meeting with Pope Urban VI at Viterbo, was besieged in his ...