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.

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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 ...
7
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6answers
546 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 ...
6
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1answer
155 views

What deaths were caused by weapons deployed during a war long after the war has ended? [closed]

Inspired by Last death caused by World War I. Even as recently as 2013, we still have had casualties from abandoned munition stockpiles and the likes from WW1. I'm wondering if there are any wars ...
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2answers
67 views

What exactly were currours, and what were they used for?

In researching this question on Medieval light cavalry, I came across this reference to "currours" in Wikipedia, with no link: Many countries developed their own styles of light cavalry, such as ...
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3answers
263 views

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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6answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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5answers
600 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 ...
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6answers
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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
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2answers
150 views

What was the combat effectiveness of German infantry in the western front of the Second World War?

I am specifically looking for statistics that estimate man for man what Wehrmacht infantry units were worth compared to allied infantry (principally British and American) after the opening of the ...
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4answers
172 views

Why was the the sack of cities acceptable?

When reading history, it seems that the sacking(killing citizens ) of a city after a successful siege was a common and accepted practice... Why was it acceptable?
4
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1answer
104 views

What was the custom/consensus regarding irregular combatants 19th century?

Immediately prior to the battle of Sedan, the German soldiers who captured the town of Bazeilles executed a number of armed civilians who had been firing on German troops that day. This happened in ...
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5answers
263 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 ...
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3answers
845 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
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1answer
136 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, ...
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2answers
254 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 ...
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2answers
152 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 ...
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6answers
1k views

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 ...
8
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2answers
392 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 ...
11
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2answers
202 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 at later times like the Arabs and Mongols keep the route of supplies going to support their armies marching through the vast ...
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1answer
90 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 ...
8
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3answers
198 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, ...
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2answers
167 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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2answers
2k 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 ...
6
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1answer
422 views

How do war elephants fight?

Do they just run breaking phalanx? Do they pull their front food and then crush enemies below? What do elephants do? Or are the fighters on top of it just shoot arrows?
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2answers
6k 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 ...
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2answers
272 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 ...
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0answers
98 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 ...
11
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2answers
267 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 ...
6
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2answers
224 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 ...
2
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1answer
684 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 ...
2
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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7answers
679 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 if this is something that writes made up and it ...
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7answers
505 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 ...
9
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1answer
93 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 ...
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4answers
406 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 ...
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1answer
552 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.
32
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7answers
3k views

When were swords last used in European warfare?

Specifically, I'm interested in the last documented occurrence of swords (of any sort) being used as a primary weapon by infantrymen or cavalrymen in Western warfare. That is, when did any European or ...
4
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1answer
901 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 ...
2
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2answers
176 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
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1answer
458 views

Machine gun specs in WW1

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 ...
3
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5answers
512 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?
3
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2answers
573 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
173 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 ...
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5answers
510 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 ...
9
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2answers
150 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 ...
6
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5answers
271 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 ...
6
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1answer
68 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 ...
3
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1answer
423 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 ...
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1answer
3k views

What really happened to the Maya civilization?

Are there any reliable sources that explain the "disappearance" of the Maya? I am highly skeptical about the following account as it states that the cities were destroyed by the war when in actual ...