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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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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2answers
733 views

How did Muslim traders raise investments given Islam's prohibition of usury?

During early caliphate era (7th-13th century), Muslim traders dominated trade in Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (see here and here for example). I think Islam's prohibition of interest or usury ...
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584 views

How was Abd al-Rahman I recognized when he arrived in Islamic Spain?

Abd al-Rahman I was the founder of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain, and he was one of the last Umayyad survivors when the Abbasid overthrew the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus. According to what I read, he ...
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677 views

Was there any mention in historical articles regarding Joan of Arc's physical appearance?

Modern media seems to portray Joan of Arc as a very attractive girl. I don't quite buy this interpretation of her as it would also suggest plenty of suitors and could be counter productive in a camp ...
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157 views

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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149 views

Where can I find detailed accounts of cash-less payment in medevial and ancient times?

In his book "Debt: The first 5000 Years" David Graeber writes that during most of the middle ages and antiquity coins were seldom used in day-to-day dealings, at least of the more rural population. He ...
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2answers
519 views

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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4k views

How effective were longbow archers against plate-armored infantry?

It is quite common knowledge that longbows most likely did not penetrate the plate armor worn by the French chevaliers at Poitiers and Agincourt. However, how effective were these longbows in ...
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466 views

Medieval wall and garment patterns

To my mind Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen (1924) is a work of absolute genius, perhaps surpassing even Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) in movie history. It is very rich, beautiful, yes tragic, and ...
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1answer
506 views

What English company founded in the 1200s filed for bankruptcy in the 2000s?

I heard a news story about an English company that had been successful since about 1200 and filed for bankruptcy in the last ten years. I heard it reported on NPR's Morning Edition, in early spring of ...
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211 views

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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1answer
96 views

What would be used to write things in 15c in Europe

What sort of pens/quills would be used? Would paper, cover and bindings be readily available?
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223 views

Wales and Ireland in medieval times

There is a very interesting article on wikipedia on Welsh Law. Though it defines the structure of the Court in Wales in the late medieval period, it says nothing of the status of other nobles and ...
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1answer
860 views

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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1answer
425 views

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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1answer
479 views

Where was the furthest extent of Arabian trade explorations?

Traders from Arabia travelled to and traded with Roman and Asian empires and this Nabataean Sea Merchants article. How far did Arabian traders travel - where was the furthest extent of their ...
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374 views

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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1answer
242 views

When and why was Seleucia ultimately abandoned?

The ancient Seleucia was founded along the Tigris river around the year 305 BC, and abandoned in 165 AD, due to the river mutating its course (Wikipedia). However in 780 AD the Catholicos ...
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2answers
293 views

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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1answer
209 views

Were women banned from entering the castle of Trakai?

According to legend, Vytautas the Great banned women from entering the Trakai Island Castle under penalty of death. I read it in Russian, it is called "The Horse of knyaz Vytautas". The plot is ...
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1answer
297 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
658 views

Did the pope try to suppress the number zero?

What evidence exists to indicate that the Pope attempted to suppress the number zero? In an editorial review, Rob Lightner claims that "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea", by Charles Seife, ...
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2answers
788 views

Time it takes to build siege engines

How long did it take to build various siege engines? I understand this can vary widely based on the size of the engine etc., but I'd be interested in somehow average values. Let's say a stationary ...
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210 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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2answers
601 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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1answer
545 views

What was it like for a coastal village to experience a Viking raid in around the tenth century?

Were fishing villages really completely at the mercy of these Vikings, or could they defend them selves? Did villagers have their own weapons? Could they expect any support from a Lord or Land Baron? ...
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131 views

Is there a commonly-accepted book or a site that explains the history-of-everything? [closed]

I don't know if i am allowed to post such question however i want a e-book or a site where i can start to understand the civilization and how it started. i mean i know a lot of ancient historic ...
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1answer
420 views

Why didn't Japan expand into Ezo?

Throughout the first millenium of Japanese history (and before that even) the Japanese rather steadily expanded up Honshu. Once they had taken the whole of Honshu however they seemed largely to stop. ...
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2answers
141 views

Subjects of sermons in the Middle Ages

Were they more often devoted to New Testament subjects or to Old Testament subjects?
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8answers
2k views

Did archers synchronize fire? Why?

I noticed that in medieval movies and TV shows, when there is a big battle happening, groups of archers always synchronize their firing. I was wondering if this is something that writes made up and it ...
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2answers
445 views

Medieval Saharan Caravan Navigation

During the medieval times, trade caravans using camels criss crossed the Sahara and Meghreb. For example, salt caravans from the Empire of Mali to the near east. I've wondered for a long time how ...
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3answers
892 views

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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2answers
744 views

How did commoners in late medieval to early modern Europe learn to read?

Literacy in the early Middle Ages was very low, but as I recall, by the time of Reformation quite a lot of commoners could read. Even if they were not very good in reading and writing, by the 17th ...
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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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1answer
862 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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234 views

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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1answer
158 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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4answers
915 views

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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1answer
114 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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1answer
95 views

Linen doublets around 1380-1410, middle and eastern Europe

Most people agree that doublets and hose were made with wool on the outside and linen on the inside. Are there any evidence that confirm such belief? Any guild documents, findings, etc? Do we have ...
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1answer
116 views

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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2answers
5k views

What did squires do in the middle of a medieval battle?

According to wikipedia, a normal squire daily job included: Carrying the knight's armour, shield, sword, Holding any prisoners the knight takes, Rescuing the knight should the knight be ...
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2answers
565 views

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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2answers
147 views

'Sub rosa' council meetings

Wiktionary's etymology of the term sub rosa reads: The rose's connotation for secrecy dates back to Greek mythology. Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, the god of love; he, in turn, gave it to ...
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1answer
69 views

Where can I find the text of “Ecerinis”?

This is a play from the 14th century (reportedly "the first secular tragedy written since Roman times") relating the tale of Ezzelino da Romano and written by one Albertino Mussato. Is there an online ...
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2answers
300 views

Can the University of Bologna be considered the first university in the world?

There are usually two different opinions: the first group considers the University of Bolgona to be officially the first one, some others instead claim that there might have been other groups of ...
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2answers
540 views

Early medieval urban development

Does anybody know of research papers or academic resources that study the full development and growth of medieval cities? I mean, from village stage to city stage. Or maybe cities did not develop that ...
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2k views

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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7answers
1k views

Is it true that medieval villages didn't have names?

Recently I've read a certain book about the Middle Ages that has been quite popular with laymen but is held in utter contempt by professional medievists. In fact, I hadn't known the book's reception ...
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1answer
884 views

Did “droit du seigneur” actually exist in medieval Europe?

Droit du seigneur, also known as "jus primae noctis" (right of the first night), was the supposed right of a feudal lord to sleep with his serfs' brides on their wedding night. Was it actually ...