17
votes
2answers
4k views

How did the gold of the new world cause the Spanish Empire to collapse?

There are some arguments that Spain over-exploited the precious metal deposits of the new world, leading to wide-scale inflation. This, coupled with their expulsion of Jewish money lenders, caused ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How did the Soviets decide what to annex in WW2?

During and after World War II Soviet Union annexed some countries while others eventually became member states of the Warsaw Pact. What is known about how the Soviets made the decisions about which ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Did the syphilis epidemic start the 16th and 17th century wig craze?

I've read that one reason that the nobility attending royal court in the 17th century had a passion for wigs, powdered faces, and gloves was the then prevalence of syphilis. By this reasoning those ...
13
votes
8answers
12k views

Why did Canada, Australia and New Zealand separate from the UK?

I asked this question in various places on the Web. I haven't received a clear answer. The USA separated from the UK because the people felt that they were not British, and they weren't. Weren't ...
11
votes
5answers
575 views

Have any armies equipped/fed their officers and enlisted men equally?

In the Soviet army during WW2 the officers had bigger food rations. They also had better boots (kirza vs. leather). The air force pilots were fed even better (but that is not very relevant). What ...
10
votes
1answer
520 views

How successful were Einsatzkommando Tunis and how much was Rommel complicit?

This Einsatzkommando was headed by SS officer Walter Rauff and according to his wikipedia article it had great effect on the local Jewish population. An example is given, a quote from a German TV ...
10
votes
1answer
430 views

What corrections did the Catholic church make to the Copernicus work “De revolutionibus”?

Catholic encyclopedia says: On 5 March, 1616, the work of Copernicus was forbidden by the Congregation of the Index "until corrected", and in 1620 these corrections were indicated. Nine sentences, ...
10
votes
3answers
583 views

What sources or documentation exists to indicate Stalin's level of popularity in Russia today?

To what extent is Stalin still loved and/or respected by Russians (and for extra points former USSR states)? While articles like these news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7802485.stm ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Wiliam Wallace vs. Robert Bruce: Why Did One Win and One Lose?

At the battle of Falkirk in 1298, William Wallace (aka "Brave Heart") abandoned the guerrilla tactics that served him so well at Stirling Bridge, and adopted a strong, but "conventional" defensive ...
7
votes
4answers
431 views

Was the American Civil War the first to include multiple multi-day battles?

Looking at wikipedia reveals that there were plenty of multi-day battles in the American Civil War. I looked at its article on the Crimean War, which as far as I know was the previous significant ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

What are the latest publications demolishing the Aryan invasion/migration theory?

Recent findings in archaelogy and related fields have led scholars to replace "invasion" with "migration" in the "Aryan invasion" theory. E.g. Romila Thapar in this edition of The Penguin History of ...
5
votes
1answer
111 views

What family or other connection bound Chiang Kaishek and Cai Yuanpei, two ideological opposites?

Politically, Nationalist China's Chiang Kaishek must be considered a "strange bedfellow with Cai Yuanpei. Chiang was a disciplined, narrow-minded conservative of the type one might expect from a ...
5
votes
2answers
316 views

Who was the oldest recorded participant in a battle whom we know of?

This is a record of a eighy-year-old's participation in a battle -- the Battle of Vienna in 1683 -- from Andrew Weatcroft's The Enemy At the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe; he ...
23
votes
6answers
37k views

Why did Italy abandon its alliance with Germany in WW1 and join the Allied side?

Before WW1 Italy was part of an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, yet it didn't join them when the war started and it even joined the Allied side later during the war. Why did Italy do this? ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

What were Hitler's religious beliefs?

Hitler is often cited as an example of an evil atheist (along with Stalin and Mao). But there are several quotes from him that seem to indicate he believed in the Christian God - and even used this to ...
17
votes
3answers
680 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...
16
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
691 views

Why do the Japanese sing Ode to Joy during the Japanese New Year?

During the New Years, the Japanese have a curious custom where they perform Beethoven's 9th symphony. This has produced some stunning sights on youtube But there's nothing particularly festive or New ...
14
votes
2answers
13k views

How many people in the US starved to death during the Great Depression?

I was trying to look this up earlier and could not easily find reliable information on the internet, mostly due to a new popular claim that 7 million people starved to death in the Great Depression! ...
13
votes
1answer
198 views

Song school vs. Han school of Confucian thought in the Qing dynasty

The Song school eventually prevailed due to favor from the Qing emperor and also because some Han texts were determined to be not genuine by scholars of the time. My question is, were the scholars ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do we find a large number of nude male characters in ancient Greek paintings and sculptures?

Why do we find a large number of nude male characters in ancient Greek paintings and sculptures? What was the social status of nudity in ancient Greece?
12
votes
1answer
448 views

What do historians do when there are no sources?

Historians rapidly come up against absence sources: the documentary record of the past is by its nature fragmentary, selective, partial and obtuse. What strategies do historians use when there are ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

How did people realize that America was a different continent?

American schools teach that the American continents are named after Amerigo Vespucci because he realized that Columbus had not sailed to Asia but rather a new continent. If this story is true, how ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Gold Confiscation Act of 1933

On March 9, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) called Congress in for an emergency session, which would result in the speedy passing of the Gold Confiscation Act. According to FDR's Executive Order ...
9
votes
3answers
869 views

When passports/border checks became widespread?

I was reading the Wikipedia on passports, and there were numerous important dates in passport history, but I didn't find any date when passports became widely used documents for travelling. I see ...
8
votes
1answer
440 views

What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur hats and dress. What was their summer uniform?
8
votes
2answers
351 views

State boundaries in mountainous regions

I have in front of me a map of South-East Europe (as depicted below) from the inside cover of the 1967 German edition of John Stoye's The Siege of Vienna. A detail shows three then dukedoms situated ...
8
votes
2answers
331 views

At what point do armies tend to break?

I remember hearing something about where it was discerned that after a certain percent of losses armies tend to break (ie retreat). Does research on this exist? If so, at what point do armies tend ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Why does Latin America has a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

Despite having the same disease susceptibility and technological inferiority against the Europeans, it seems that Native Americans have much more surviving descendants in Latin America compared to ...
6
votes
3answers
909 views

Where were the western legions when the Roman empire fell?

Whenever I read about the collapse of the western half of the Roman empire, I get a feeling of total collapse, as if no legions existed there anymore. The collapse of the empire would also mean no ...
6
votes
1answer
559 views

Was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan one of the major reasons that led to the fall of Soviet Union?

Was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan one of the major reasons that led to the fall of Soviet Union? That is what the world history teacher told me. Please show your sources.
5
votes
2answers
2k views

About Naval Formations?

What are the differences between the "line ahead" and "line abreast" formations in naval warfare? Which is more likely to lead to the (advantageous) of "crossing the opponents' T" (or being crossed)?
4
votes
2answers
4k views

What evidence supports the claim that Shivaji's father was Muslim?

Professor James Laine wrote a biography of an Indian historical figure named Shivaji. The book was outlawed for a number of years but later the Supreme Court of India unbanned it. There are various ...
3
votes
1answer
213 views

Was Julius Caesar a hippie?

I was reading the question What was the hippie movement? Why did it decline? when I noticed this comment by Oldcat: There is even a story of Julius Caesar wearing a long fringe sleeved tunic to ...
3
votes
2answers
500 views

Why is such a large percentage of Jewish population worldwide in USA

Close to 50% of all the Jews worldwide reside in USA. What were the main historical events and trends that contributed to such a distribution? A good answer should include both demographics and ...
3
votes
7answers
845 views

What went wrong with India's scientific development as a society?

India had been among the "leaders" in scientific research spanning Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry and others. ...
3
votes
3answers
562 views

Based on historical experience what would happen if/when the USA/EU fell? [closed]

In this video the guy talking mentions that when empires fall. Governance tends to become more local and smallscale(warlords, feudal lords etc) because threats tend to become smallscale and local. And ...
21
votes
5answers
643 views

What were the reasons for making Prohibition a constitutional amendment?

What were the reasons that the Prohibition in the United States was passed as a constitutional amendment, rather than a normal federal law, or a set of state laws?
16
votes
1answer
238 views

In which document was the exact course of the northern part of the German-Polish border decided?

While researching the answer to "How was Germany's border decided?", I didn't manage to find any documents which would precisely describe the borders between Germany and Poland between the points 53° ...
14
votes
2answers
189 views

In the French Republican calendar: were Quintidis holidays?

I did some research on the French Republican calendar and found some contradictory information on weekly (or decadian?) holidays. Wikipedia (and most other articles I found) mention: The ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

What kind of labor was used to build the Egyptian pyramids?

Most people believe the pyramids were built with slave labor (or at least it seems that way). This notion is perpetuated by movies; the building of the pyramids often evokes images of ancient ...
13
votes
2answers
548 views

New World Sickness

When Europeans came to the Americas, they brought with them "Old World diseases" that decimated the Native American population. There's a big list of them here. Were there any "New World" diseases ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there a correlation between the colonial power and the stability/success of the post colonial state?

Looking at the history of Ghana relative to many post-colonial African states, it appears to be quite a successful and stable nation-state, both politically and economically, compared to many other ...
9
votes
2answers
286 views

Roman navy propelled by animals instead of human rowers?

I have read one brief account of military planning around the time of Roman emperor Constantine the Great (272 – 337) whereby the Roman navy's rowers could have been substituted by animals (source ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did Hitler not order the use of poison gas in combat?

From what I know, Hitler wanted Germans to fight, quite literally, to the last, and he wouldn't have minded terribly if every last German died fighting the enemy. So why did he never use poison gas ...
8
votes
3answers
489 views

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Chinese kids the world over are frequently taught that there is "5000 years of Chinese history". What basis is there for this claim?
8
votes
3answers
1k views

GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWII?

Perhaps this is difficult to measure and maybe not even a good metric for anything meaningful, but what was the GDP and GDP per capita for nations around the world immediately before World War II? ...
8
votes
5answers
5k views

What technological/economic factors triggered the Industrial Revolution?

In the 19th century, many things started to change. The world of 1800 would not be a shock to a person from the 15th century. But for some reason, the world of today would be an incredible shock to ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How historically accurate is Les Miserables?

In essence, I'm asking about whether there are any historical inaccuracies in the movies/plays themselves. I'm pretty sure the book would have very few, due to the fact that it was written in a ...
6
votes
4answers
329 views

Does (or did) any monarchy have a limited length of tenure?

Wikipedia's page about monarchies states that they might have "predetermined limits on the length of their tenure". However reading the page there is no mention about any current monarchy who does ...

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