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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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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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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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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When was King Alfred first called 'Alfred the Great'?

In his book on Alfred the Great, historian Justin Pollard notes that it was in the 16th century that King Alfred was first called 'Alfred the Great' - no reference, no note, no bibliographical text ...
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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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Did books from classical times delay scientific progress in the middle ages?

When seeing some documentary about the history of medical science in the middle ages, I got the impression that many doctors were happy to merely study the works of Galen, rather than do their own ...
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446 views

Symbolism of lion with forked tail

The John de la Pole tomb in Wingfield church has his feet resting on a lion with a forked tail. Does the forked tail symbolize anything please?
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363 views

Is there historical evidence linking medieval forest clearences in Europe with the Medieval Warm Period?

The Medieval Warm Period was marked by a significant increase in average temperatures throughout Europe from around the mid-10th century to around the mid-13th century. This allowed an expansion of ...
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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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93 views

First Royalty in Scotland?

The standard answer is Kenneth Macalpine as far as I can see with lesser kings before him, I assume between Scotland and England this where out modern/current Royals come from, I was trying to ...
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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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183 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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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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Roughly, what percentage of arrows can be reused after a battle?

The English Longbowman according to some sources can shoot at/above 10 arrows per minute. Some of the medieval battles would last for many hours. Back-of-the-envelope math says the number of shots ...
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What difference is between “seigneurie” and “manor”?

In the Spanish/Austrian Low Countries a change in the ancient coat of arms of a seigneurie could not be made except by authorization of sovereign. The coat of arms of a noble family could be ...
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What was the fighting style & equipment of troops in Eastern Europe & the Baltics in the 13th Century?

I want to know about fighting styles and equipment of fighting men roughly around 13th century in the Baltic/Slavic area of Europe. I'd particularly like to find out about cultures that were prominent ...
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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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Why was language not used to establish dominance throughout England 1066 AD–1360s CE?

Why didn’t the Normans enforce the use of their native tongue throughout the whole of England after William the Conqueror (of Normandy) became king of England? During William’s reign as king he ...
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357 views

Why anthropocentrism disappears during the Dark Ages

The human being ceases to be central part of Art in Europe with the arrival of the Dark Ages, only to return with the Renaissance. What are some factors that explain that?
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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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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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956 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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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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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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261 views

How did families parent in the Middle Ages? [closed]

The question is probably a subject for a book, but I am really curious: how did parenting look in the middle ages? How did the common folk bring up children? How were the children clothed, what was ...
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1answer
307 views

What sort of architecture existed in Catholic Eastern Europe around the late 1100's and very early 1200's?

What I'm really interested in most is building materials, but I'm pretty open to answers. Essentially, it sounds like the late 1100's in Eastern Europe were still pretty solidly Romanesque, with ...
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791 views

Medieval Scottish clan society and legal structure

What was the basic structure of a Scottish clan in the medieval times? What was the role of the clan chief? What was the role of the elders? Were there any other prominent roles in the society such ...
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How did a besieged city/castle defend itself vs. catapulting diseased dead bodies into it?

I was a bit shocked to read that diseased dead bodies/animals where catapulted into besieged castles/towns. Biological warfare in the middle ages. But this "method" of warfare had probably a lot of ...
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727 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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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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1answer
290 views

In the History Channel series the Vikings, who is Ragnar? [closed]

I've been watching the Vikings series on Amazon and I am curious who Ragnar, the main protagonist is supposed to be based on? I think he is supposed to be the "first" viking leader to raid England. I ...
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247 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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391 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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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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Good online sources for historical maps

I am looking for good online sources for historical maps, specifically the late medieval period (but other periods would be interesting as well). While there are many historical maps out there, few ...
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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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1answer
205 views

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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419 views

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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Who believed the earth was flat?

Christians are sometimes mocked for having once believed the earth was flat. However, the only references I can find are Lactantius in the beginning of the 4th century, and Copernicus, who says ...
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1answer
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Why were Catholic priests prohibited from participating in ordeals but allowed to participate in inquisitions?

Pope Innocent III prohibited priests from participating in ordeals during the Fourth Lateran Council, but Pope Innocent IV later allowed torture in inquisitions. What is the ideological difference?
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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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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 would a Norseman in the early 11th century have worn as daily clothing?

Most of the Norse clothing we know about seems to come from burials. However, in many cultures, bodies dressed for burial are wearing either "good" clothes, or special clothes for the dead. Is there ...
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1answer
268 views

Wales and Ireland in medieval times [closed]

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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When did the Knights Templar dissolve and why?

The Knights Templar were a medieval chivalric organization within the Roman Catholic Church. When did they dissolve, and what ultimately led to the dissolution of the Templars?
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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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1answer
197 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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Was there any connection between the Ottonians and Benedictines?

The Ottonians and Benedictines were expanding across Europe around the same time. However, other than in Rome they didn't have much overlap. I've heard references in some history and medieval ...
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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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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 ...