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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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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Light cavalry in medieval western Europe?

What sorts of light cavalry were there in high (1300s) medieval western Europe (England and France)? I mean more like non ranged troops. I know that all soldiers likely owned a horse for transport, ...
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The Needham Question: What stunted China's technological and proto-scientific advancement?

According to Joseph Needham Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at ...
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Why was spice trade so profitable in the 15th century?

During the 16th century, Portuguese captured Melaka to dominate the lucrative spice trade; other city states such as Aceh, Banten, Brunei and Pegu also sprung up by exporting and trading spices. ...
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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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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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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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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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Did a forged seal ever seriously compromise a political or military operation?

Wax and clay seals have always struck me as a rather imperfect security mechanism. Better than nothing, of course, but imperfect. So I was interested to learn that Los Alamos National Laboratory's ...
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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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Medieval farmer's metal tools

What metal woodworking tools should I expect to find in the household of a 14th century well-off peasant farmer from Hampshire? (Answering more broadly is acceptable, but it might help to give this ...
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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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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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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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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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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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Why was there a tradition attached to Crossbowmen?

Medieval literature makes several references to Gascon, Flemish and especially Genoese to denote elite troops wielding Crossbows. However, it isn't exactly hard to shoot a Crossbow accurately and ...
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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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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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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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What caused the imposition of strict celibacy for Catholic priests during the 11th century?

At the Second Lateran Council in 1139, the Catholic Church implemented a rule requiring all priests to remain celibate. Although the Church has already talked about being celibate for the previous ...
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What was the average size of French families during the Middle Ages?

My question takes place in at the beginning of the middle-ages in France. Let's focus on small villages and ordinary people (peasants, craftsmen, etc.). I would like to know how many people used to ...
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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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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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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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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 were the requirements in order for a man to become a burgher (or citizen) in German cities in the middle ages?

I really need some help answering this question. Could a man who lived in another town or part of Germany, for example East Frisia, about 1500 AD, go to Bremen for example and become a burgher there? ...
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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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Did any English duke ever grant away an earldom he held?

The standard idea said of feudalism is that nobles have vassals, which could have vassals of their own. So that noble might have an extra title lying around and grant it to someone in exchange for ...
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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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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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How would prospective members join a medieval European guild?

On related lines, 1) How would a young person (young man) have selected a master with whom to apprentice? How did the matching up process work? 2) What motivated a master/practitioner to take on an ...
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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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When did chairs with arms and backs develop in Europe? [closed]

There are numerous depictions of early / high medieval Popes, Kings and Bishops sat on thrones, with arms and a back, and the saddles of the high medieval period had a padded back, but every depiction ...
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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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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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Could a ruler demand a homage from an independent prince?

The Polish Wikipedia about the battle of Kowal (1327) says (translation mine, maybe in some places duke and prince are not used correctly): In 1327 Władysław I Łokietek [the Polish king] begun the ...
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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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Diaries or writings of Cathar Perfecti in 12th Century France

The Cathars were a Gnostic sect of southern (Languedoc) France in the 12th Century. "Perfecti" were individuals in the sect who followed the most extremely austere lives, renouncing worldly pleasures ...
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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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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 ...