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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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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158 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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163 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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125 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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269 views

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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560 views

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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Who should be the king/queen of England? [closed]

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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325 views

How did people have access to ice in warm areas before the industrial revolution?

In some cases, before the industrial revolution, nobles and other elites had access to ice in regions where it wasn't naturally available. How could they get it? Was it simply transported in big ...
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313 views

How was the current month and day disseminated to the townspeople of Medieval Europe?

How was the current month and day disseminated to the townspeople of the Medieval Europe? I'm quite sure that personal calendars weren't a thing back then... but I could be wrong... If they had a ...
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201 views

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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218 views

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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158 views

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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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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137 views

What were the traveling practices of merchants, roughly between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance?

How did salespersons of the aforementioned period(s), whether affluent merchants or peddlers, tend to travel? I'm familiar with caravansaries/caravanserais, but how did this concept translate to ...
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187 views

Why are most late medieval fencing manuals German?

Not only is the German school dominating modern European martial arts, but almost everyone who talks about late medieval fencing refers to German fencing manuals as the primary source. Why are German ...
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779 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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350 views

How prominent were taverns in medieval Europe?

Taverns as defined as a 'commercial establishment in the business of selling alcohol'. I'm aware that taverns existed in some parts of Europe during the late medieval period, but I don't know quite ...
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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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560 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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404 views

Jean III de Grailly, captal de Buch's strange title

The title of Jean III de Grailly, captal de Buch, seems odd to me. It was acquired by his father Jean II de Grailly (so it was passed down from father to son like other titles of nobility): Jean ...
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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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443 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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206 views

What buildings could be found in the inner ward of a castle?

I'm familiar with some different layouts of castles (motte and bailey, concentric,...) and the main parts or areas they have or need (Keep, moat, barbican, ward, cistern, great hall, etc.) While ...
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677 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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921 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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305 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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111 views

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 ...
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355 views

Did barracks exist in the middle ages?

In many medieval RTS games soldiers come out of a building named 'Barracks'. Where did medieval soldiers actually train ? Did such specialised buildings exist ? Most peasants probably got no training ...
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312 views

Why were even royals in medieval europe living without running water and sewerage?

History books say that after the fall of Rome, 'we' lost our understanding of their technology. But aqueducts, lots of Rome's buildings etc were still standing, monasteries had washing and toilet ...
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318 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 ...
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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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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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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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218 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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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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How were shields fastened to soldiers' backs?

I'm researching armor (from all time periods, though most of my reference is from the medieval era) and I found there's little reference for how soldiers traveled with shields. Some shields have a ...
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362 views

Was either side legally in the right in the Hundred Years War?

Legalistically speaking which side was right in the Hundred Years War. My view is that the Salic law combined with the principle that nobody can transmit a right greater than he himself can possess ...
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291 views

Was it not possible to exploit the gaps between each pre-modern melee formation?

Soldiers seem to be split into their respective companies or battalions but on the battlefield instead of presenting a complete front line they split up and leave gaps in the line between each ...
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452 views

How did cadet branches start?

Apologies if the History Stackexchange is the wrong place for this question but: In what ways could a cadet branch come into life? Why would a younger sibling in a royal or noble house start his own ...
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367 views

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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221 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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891 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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Why was there a tradition attached to Crossbowmen?

Medieval literature makes several references to Gascons, Flemish and especially Genoans to denote elite troops wielding Crossbows. However, it isn't exactly hard to shoot a Crossbow accurately and ...
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Use of lead sheets in reconstruction of late medieval tower?

I guess it's more of an archaeology question, but this is the closest forum I could find. So, we stopped at Gardiki Castle, Corfu, Greece, built in the late Byzantine era in the 13th century, and ...
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299 views

Why did serfdom disappear gradually in England?

Why did serfdom gradually die out in England? Why was its abolition not the locus of explosive and acute social conflict, like in Russia or France?
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240 views

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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Were there prominent secular philosophers in the European middle ages? If so, who?

I've only done a small amount of reading on the middle ages, and on the history of Western philosophy, but from what I can glean education and religion were tightly coupled during the period, so most ...
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'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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Did the Moors and Arabs, “Muslims,” who invaded Europe, ie “Spain,” help the evolution of civilizations of Europe?

Were the Muslims viewed as barbarians similar to the Mongols, and as a people who only specialized in war? Or, were Muslims advanced enough to teach Europe scientific advancements? Did they invent any ...