For questions related to: acts of organized violence between groups of people where the violence often has a political purpose; the impact of such violence on peoples/nations; and any other related questions.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
4answers
1k views

Why was the the sack of cities acceptable?

When reading history, it seems that the sacking of cities (rape and/or killing of the inhabitants and pillaging) after a successful siege was a common and accepted practice... Why was it ...
8
votes
1answer
766 views

How did Aztec armor and weaponry match up to the Spaniards?

If you discount the germs and the gunpowder, how did the average Aztec warrior match up against the average Spaniard facing him? As I understand it European metallurgy was considerably more advanced, ...
10
votes
4answers
660 views

Did any armies systemically favor axes/hammers over swords?

In fantasy literature there are plenty of examples of cultures (such as the Dwarves of Lord of the Rings) who favor axes or hammers above swords in combat. Did any historical army follow that ...
1
vote
1answer
173 views

Was the 18th century Russian peasant braver; or simply more afraid of Cossacks?

Frederick the Great famously noted after the Battle of Zorndorf that "It's easier to kill the Russians than to win over them." For that same battle the Russian commander (William Fermor) is noted as ...
9
votes
3answers
426 views

What went on during multi-year sieges?

You hear all the time in ancient history about cities or fortresses being besieged for a year, or two years, or even many years such as the sieges of Tripoli or Carthage or Drepana. I'm wondering, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Why were the Huns so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not?

I am listening to Mike Duncan's podcast titled "The History of Rome" and in it he mentioned that it is kind of a mystery that the Huns were so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not. Both ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Did American forces specifically target officers during the revolutionary war?

There is a story that says that American revolutionaries fought unconventionally against the British, including targeting their officers, which was not done between European forces. Is this true or ...
13
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
280 views

Battle of Xiaoting: was Shu's invasion doomed from the start?

The Battle of Xiaoting was one of the three major battles of China's Three Kingdoms period; after the kingdom of Wu invaded Jing province a few years earlier, the state of Shu amassed an army to ...
31
votes
4answers
4k views

How did Genghis Khan's army feed so many horses?

The average horse eats 10-20 pounds per day, according to this pet website. Considering the fact that the horses may have to eat even more because of the hard traveling they had to endure, it's likely ...
10
votes
2answers
576 views

When did the parole of prisoners of war become unacceptable?

Prisoners of war in earlier centuries, especially officers, could be given temporary or permanent freedom in return for various conditions: A parole. This overlaps with the modern civilian use of ...
9
votes
1answer
209 views

Did hanging tyres from Mostar's bridge help at all to protect it?

At various points (e.g. 00:14) in this BBC documentary on Mostar's Stari Most (Old Bridge) you can see dozens of car tyres hanging from the bridge prior to its destruction in the Croat-Bosniak ...
4
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
228 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

Battles won by much weaker side [closed]

I'm interested in battles that were won by much weaker side or even lost by it, but for example making the stronger side to keep fight against this weaker force and thus providing it strategic ...
-1
votes
1answer
7k views

Do Navy Seals die in training? [closed]

I didn't know where to ask this but i've heard that sometimes Navy Seals die during traing? Is this true? The same goes fro Green Berets.
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Patriotism and how it contributed to the recruitment process in WW1

I know that a lot of people joined the army (and the navy) in World War 1 due to patriotism – the will to fight for your country. This shows that a lot of people, even those who were unemployed or ...
9
votes
10answers
2k views

Why were people from the Asian Steppes able to militarily dominate Europeans on a repeated basis?

From the Huns through the Mongolians, why were nomadic people from the east able to create such havoc in Europe? Was it an endless 'first mover' advantage with horse domestication? Was it a higher ...
2
votes
2answers
477 views

How did the triple entente manage such a large breakthrough in WW1?

In WW1, there have been many attempts at breakthroughs in order to evade the trench system. The battle of Somme was one of the less successful attempts at a German breakthrough. Yet, before USA ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Machine gun specs in WW1 [closed]

I know that machine guns were a vital part of world war 1. I know that they were mainly used in the trenches as fixed position weapons. However, I would like some specifications about the machine gun ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

How were dogs used in WW1

I know that dogs were used in WW1. I know that they weren’t vital, but didn’t play a reasonable role in helping the soldiers in the trenches. However, there is one thing that confuses me: How were ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

Why did Germany attack Neutral Belgium in the first world war?

I have a basic idea about the Schieffen plan and I know that Germany attacked Belgium in the First world war. But I am slightly confused about this topic, as despite the fact that the schieffen plan ...
11
votes
2answers
547 views

Amount of time an aeroplane could stay in the air during the last stages of WW1

I know for a fact that aeroplanes were used at the last stages of the first world war to capture images of the enemy trench system and supply lines. They were also used to alert the artillery how far ...
7
votes
4answers
744 views

Why didn’t Britain use its vast navy to get past trench warfare?

Before the start of World War I there was a large arms race between Britain and Germany and although Britain didn’t come out with the largest army – they had by far the largest navy in the world. This ...
4
votes
5answers
979 views

Can we classify holocaust as Hitler's war time strategic mistake?

Can we classify the Holocaust as one of Hitler's war time strategic mistake?
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Most fought over piece of land? [closed]

If you divided the Earth into plots of (say) 1 square mile each, and looked at the history of each one over (e.g.) the last 2000 years, which one would have seen the most years with war? If there is a ...
23
votes
9answers
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 whether this is something that writers made up ...
9
votes
1answer
131 views

Health precautions before going into Battle of Trafalgar and other battles

Tom Pocock's The Terror Before Trafalgar: Nelson, Napoleon, and the Secret War contains this memorable description of preparations aboard HMS Victory immediately before the Battle of Trafalgar in ...
3
votes
7answers
648 views

Has the American Civil War led to any significant innovations in 19th-century warfare?

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a major conflict with a long string of battles. Has it led to any innovations in 19th-century warfare? It has been pointed out that it may have been the first ...
17
votes
6answers
8k views

How far could an English war bow shoot?

The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds) So says Wikipedia. I did read, however, in a semi-fictional, semi-historical work of ...
4
votes
2answers
376 views

Was a technological advantage more effective in European warfare than in China's history?

In Europe, the Spartans won against the Persians due to hoplites fighting in a phalanx formation. Then the Spartans were defeated by Macedonians because the Macedonians used longer spears called ...
10
votes
2answers
230 views

Why didn't mercenary combat after the middle ages lead to the collapse of the ruling class?

The structure of society and warfare were closely connected to each other in the feudal system. The land belonged to the crown, the king assigned it to lords in return for military service, and in the ...
14
votes
4answers
723 views

How did ancient armies keep the route of supplies to their battlefield?

How did ancient armies like the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Chinese, or even in later times, the Arabs and Mongols keep the route of supplies going to support their armies marching through the vast ...
10
votes
2answers
409 views

What kind of armor did the soldiers use in pre-gunpowder Southeast Asia?

The tropical Southeast Asia (especially the Malay world, e.g. Malaysia/Indonesia) are very hot, and apparently wearing European-style full armor is very uncomfortable in hot climates. What kind of ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Comparison of naval fleet strengths during the Napoleonic wars

Do we have knowledge on the number of vessels in the armadas of the various belligerents of the Napoleonic wars? Information on the types of boats, captured vessels, and sunk vessels will also be ...
6
votes
5answers
352 views

Historical examples of significant no man's lands between states in perpetual conflict

What are some historical examples, if any, of large-scale (say > 10000 km squared) "no-man's lands" between states in perpetual conflict? These states would be mutually hostile, firmly divided ...
7
votes
1answer
106 views

Were any of the early settlements in America attacked from the sea?

I have a textbook which describes various considerations colonists made in selecting sights for settlements. For example, it says that Jamestown was too swampy, so there were many mosquitoes and ...
24
votes
9answers
11k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
885 views

What did the end of the western front look like at the Swiss Border?

After the German advance was stopped at the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, the race to the sea (and also to the swiss border) began with both sides trying to take as much ground as they ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Ancient and medieval canteens (water-bottles)

Nowadays, water-bottles, aka canteens, are routinely issued to soldiers who serve in warm climates. Was it the case in ancient times? In the Middle Ages? The case I have in mind is the Battle of ...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

Early instances of bacteriological warfare

Via The Straight Dope, I came across this page which claims that Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of the Brits in America seriously considered distributing blankets infected with small-pox to ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Did the Nazis regard chemical warfare as inhumane and “Jewish”?

I sometimes encounter accounts that the main reason why chemical weapons were not used in WWII was because initially they were invented by a Jew Fritz Haber, and as such Hitler expressed opinion that ...
33
votes
4answers
15k views

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

In WWII-era films and newsreels, aerial bombs are often shown making a whistling sound as they fall; starting high pitched, then decreasing as the bomb approaches the Earth (example here, starting at ...
16
votes
5answers
776 views

What made Alexander great?

Historians have titled Alexander III of Macedon "the Great". In a very short period of time he conquered one of the largest empires in ancient history and was undefeated in battle. What I'd like to ...
5
votes
2answers
315 views

What is the origination of the Forlorn Hope?

Going back to a comment I had made in the question on What were the types of sieges something I had seen often referred to in the Bernard Cornwell Sharpe series was the Forlorn Hope. Basically these ...
10
votes
2answers
345 views

Animal “blood lust”

I remember reading in some older books about ancient combat that animals would sometimes get "into the fight" so to speak. For lack of a better term, this was evidenced by horses actually attacking ...
16
votes
1answer
653 views

Did the Germans have a team equivalent to the one from Bletchey Park in the UK during WWII?

There is a lot of information about the British code breakers at Bletchey Park and the work they did for cryptography, computing and the war effort. Still, I haven't heard a lot about a German ...
25
votes
2answers
7k views

How did Europeans first acquire gunpowder?

I know that gunpowder was first invented in China around the 10th century, and it seems that gunpowder likely made its way to Europe via the "Silk Road." However, there doesn't seem to be a ton of ...
5
votes
1answer
228 views

Was the “Mot Pulk” formation simply a propaganda ploy?

The "Mot Pulk" was a motorized formation used by the Germans during World War II. Based on when it was introduced (after heavy defeats in the USSR) and the vague descriptions that I've found, it ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

Master title for fencing

When and where did the practice of calling either a fencing teacher or a great swordsman "master" originates from? I am interested mainly in European primary sources, the older the better.