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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

3
votes
1answer
67 views

Sieges: Average Attacker to Defender Ratio in Middle Ages

I have read that attackers should outnumber defenders, 20 to 1 or better 50-100 to 1 in sieges in a book about conquest of ─░stanbul, though I can not find its reference right now. I remember that this ...
11
votes
2answers
178 views

How long would the average sword last in the middle ages?

Assuming normal wear and tear, how long before a knight had to replace his sword?
5
votes
0answers
67 views

Are Russian birch bark manuscripts fake?

There are more than a 1000 birch bark manuscripts found in Novgorod and other Russian cities in last 50 years. Many of them stayed in the soil for more than 700 years. In the same time, no special ...
5
votes
2answers
164 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?
30
votes
11answers
7k views

Were the Medieval Britons aware of the existence of the Roman Empire?

I would like to know if the medieval people in Britain, by around 800 AD, knew that there was an empire that ruled Britain several hundreds of years before. Otherwise, were there any myths, legends, ...
20
votes
7answers
5k views

How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
2
votes
1answer
103 views

What were the Jurchen tribes/confederations in the 11th-12th centuries?

I couldn't find anything about them other than vague geographical localization. Basically, I'm looking for the highest tribal organizations (no need to cite every single clan), akin to the five Mongol ...
6
votes
1answer
309 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
753 views

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. ...
8
votes
4answers
274 views

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 ...
8
votes
7answers
545 views

How close were the living standards of India compared to England during the medieval period?

India, China and the African continent today are mostly associated with poverty in Europe, the US and so on. Looking at India specifically, did it during the medieval era share a similar standard of ...
11
votes
3answers
339 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
143 views

What was the average percentage of taxes in Europe during the Middle Ages? [closed]

I've found a lot about what kinds of taxes existed in the Middle Ages, but couldn't find a source pointing to specific percentages (apart from the tithe, but I don't know how thoroughly it was ...
49
votes
6answers
10k views

Why was Poland spared from the Black Death?

The featured image of the Wikipedia page for the Black Death is a gif showing the spread of the bubonic plague throughout Europe. There are a few places where the plague never spread to, including the ...
34
votes
3answers
1k views

What was the typical peasant's diet like in Europe during the High Middle Ages?

I know that wheat, barley, rye, onions, lettuce-like plants and turnips were common but how common were other things like meat or cheese? I've heard the "plowman's lunch" was a concoction of the dairy ...
20
votes
2answers
599 views

Classical battle sizes vs medieval battle sizes

Why did classical battles did tend to be larger than medieval ages? One particular example I am thinking of was the battle of Stamford bridge, which had around 30,000 participants, compared to the ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that the Catholic Church slowed innovation during the Middle Ages?

I often hear that the rate of innovation was very high during ancient times in Greece and the Roman empire. I've also heard that the rate of innovation was reduced once the Catholic Church gained ...
1
vote
0answers
92 views

Was any Medieval state ever “partially” Roman Catholic? [closed]

It is my understanding that in most of (if not all) the states in western medieval Europe the Roman Catholic church was the only recognized religious body. I'm looking for an example of a state with ...
4
votes
2answers
292 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
235 views

How were the borders of the Holy Roman Empire established?

We all know that the Holy Roman Empire was a collection of minor Germanic states in the Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Wikipedia stated that: The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

Why don't people without access to clean water drink beer anymore?

In the medieval ages, peasants used to drink beer instead of water because the plain water wasn't safe to drink. Why do people in countries where the water sources are polluted not do this today? Why ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views
11
votes
3answers
1k views

How were fortification doors protected against fire?

Ancient and medieval fortifications are often shown to have wooden gate doors in the midst of their stone walls. Now granted, these doors are often massive and incredibly thick, but it still seems ...
6
votes
1answer
191 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
152 views

What is the ancestry of the Robertians, progenitors of the Bourbon dynasty?

The countries Spain and Luxembourg are currently ruled by kings from the House of Bourbon, so I thought I'd try to trace back their (patrilineal) ancestry as far as possible. Well, the Bourbons are ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

What was the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Carolingian emperors?

Charlemagne was crowned by the pope in the year 800. But was it Charlemagne's choice, or was he compelled to do so? Having conquered his lands, couldn't he just crown himself emperor? Moreover, did ...
57
votes
9answers
13k views

Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

Even if we account for the argument that it is much more tedious to train a man to use a bow than a musket, why then did the arbalest not make a comeback? Its effective range - reportedly at 300m, is ...
2
votes
0answers
51 views

What were the advantages of sheepfolds? [closed]

In the British Isles (and other regions of the world) drywall pens were built for sheep. In England they were called sheepfolds. What the the advantages of this format over others in common use at ...
4
votes
1answer
145 views

Baldwin IV, the Leper King

Baldwin IV was crowned King of Jerusalem, from 1174 until his death in 1186 at the ripe old age of 24. As a child, his tutor, William of Tyre, discovered he had leprosy. Understanding that he was the ...
1
vote
0answers
74 views

What is the origin of Dragons? [closed]

I kinda expect that it should be in the medieval era (I could be wrong). However, the more interesting question is why did people makes stories of strong powerful creatures which were harmful to them ...
0
votes
3answers
155 views

Besides Crecy and Poitiers, in what battle was the Longbow the decisive weapon?

I am looking for the Longbow itself being the decisive weapon, not the Longbow men, as was the case in Agincourt. This could mean some significant disadvantages to the enemy, including things like: ...
1
vote
0answers
71 views

How did people from pre-industrialization era perceive “success in life”? [closed]

My assumption is that the industrial revolution had contributed to the current generally-held understanding of "success in life": go to prestigious university, get a good job, make good money. Now, ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

Where did Medieval Europe's gold come from?

Medieval Europe processed copious amounts of gold into religious artifacts, jewelry and of course gold coins, as evidenced by the large number of those that survive to this day. Given that today, no ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

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?
26
votes
1answer
760 views

What were the acceptance criteria in universities of medieval Europe?

Did they have entrance tests? Were certain groups officially banned from entering? How much did one have to pay? Did they have scholarships for talented studends? How these criteria differed between ...
17
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
828 views

How did cities operate in medieval times?

Modern fiction is often filled with fantasy versions of the Middle Ages, from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, and everything in between, but how did the reality of this trope operate? There ...
5
votes
3answers
256 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
65 views

Eohric of East Anglia and the usage of lion heads on banners

I was reading a historical novel by Bernard Cornwell (The Pagan Lord), when I came to this: Eohric, who had been King of East Anglia before we killed him, had a lion on his banner and his animal ...
31
votes
8answers
5k views

What were the reasons for the Renaissance / scientific revolution in Europe?

One of the common reasons given for the Renaissance and the subsequent scientific revolution is the rediscovery of classical works by scholars in Europe and the social change that the study of those ...
2
votes
3answers
475 views

Why was spice trade so profitable in the 15th century? [closed]

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. ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of samurai crest / symbol

I would like to ask you all to explain the meaning of the 8-th symbol in this picture*: I would like to also know what are those symbols? Thank you very much. * Source: ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

What are the highest and biggest half-timbered buildings built during medieval era?

In any part of present Europe, let's say before the fall of Constantinople (1453 AD). Also if you can show me a drawing or a picture (if these buildings are still there), I would appreciate it. Also, ...
9
votes
3answers
215 views

Whose colors/coat-of-arms did men-of-arms wear in a feudal army, 14th century?

During the feudal age in Europe there were some kind of hierarchy among nobles, for example, a small lord provided military service to a larger lord, which did the same to a yet larger lord, etc. ...
1
vote
2answers
151 views

Could a nobleman / lord join the clergy in the middle ages? [closed]

First of all, perhaps my terminology is dodgy here, but by nobleman I mean A member of a noble family, of noble birth and by lord I mean a ruler -- that is, the Duke of Somewhere would be a lord; his ...
5
votes
2answers
243 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
238 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
341 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
101 views

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 ...
16
votes
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 ...