21
votes
5answers
20k 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? ...
19
votes
1answer
640 views

Was Napoleon as short as “common knowledge” states?

I once saw a mention (on cracked.com) that Napoleon - who pretty much everyone "knows" was of very short stature - was actually close to average height for his time/demographics, and the short height ...
19
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
570 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 ...
15
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 ...
13
votes
1answer
349 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
175 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
5answers
5k views

World War II - Have Historians Envisioned How The Axis Powers Might Have Won? [closed]

OK, so it's a "WWII What If" question, I have searched on here and cannot find an example of this being asked before, which I find surprising. Maybe my searching abilities aren't very good. Anyhow, ...
11
votes
1answer
1k 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
986 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?
11
votes
3answers
780 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Who is the earliest recorded person?

Who is the earliest person recorded in history? Whose fame has survived the greatest amount of time to come down to us today?
10
votes
3answers
796 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
268 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
259 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
238 views

What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur caps and dress. What was their summer uniform?
5
votes
2answers
934 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
358 views

What historical reasons did the Nazi's have to hate the Jews? How did they identify non-practicing Jews?

What historical or cultural reasons did the Nazi's have to hate the Jews? Did they ever accurately and precisely identify non-practicing Jews? I asked Jewish culture differences singled out by ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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
3answers
454 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
465 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
194 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
158 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
485 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
8answers
7k views

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

I asked this question in various places in the Web. I haven't received a clear answer. The USA separated from the UK because the people felt that they are not British, and they weren't. Weren't ...
8
votes
3answers
833 views

Chinese Hundred Schools of Thought and Ancient Greek Philosophy

As a beginning student of Chinese I am also learning a bit more about Chinese history. As such I am more-and-more impressed by the quality of thought that has been left behind by Chinese philosophers ...
7
votes
3answers
338 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?
7
votes
2answers
785 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
290 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
804 views

How did Columbus calculate the size of the Earth?

Eratosthenes' calculations of the size of the Earth were very precise and very accepted during Columbus' time. Still, Columbus was convinced that the world was significatively smaller and that getting ...
6
votes
4answers
265 views

Resources on the History of African Civilization

I was wondering if anyone might be aware of any good resources on the history and development of African civilizations? I will of course be seeking council from the Most Wise and Great God Google, ...
5
votes
2answers
477 views

What evidence support the theory that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in ancient Athens?

While researching the Who first wrote about deafness? question, I came across this bold claim on Wikipedia: Sparta is often portrayed as being unique in this matter, however there is considerable ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Were the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary? [closed]

The United States bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Before the Japanese could surrender, they bombed Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The two bombs killed over 200,000 people, most of them civilians. ...
3
votes
1answer
151 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
255 views

Who are the ancestors of Israelites?

Who were the historical ancestors of the Israelites? Do they have no ancestors? Please, try to avoid Biblical references to Genesis if there are there any scientific/archeological/historical ...
3
votes
0answers
122 views

How did Isaac Newton support himself in the period of self-study that he conducted at 23?(after he received his B.A.)

I quote wiki : Soon after Newton had obtained his B.A. degree in August 1665, the university temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished ...
3
votes
6answers
589 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. ...
2
votes
7answers
1k views

What is a difference between the revolution in Egypt that sprung recently and the Russian Revolution of 1917

What is a difference between the revolution in Egypt that sprung recently and the Russian Revolution of 1917 i need to find a difference between the revolution that happened recently in Egypt, ...
44
votes
10answers
8k views

Did Imperial Japan choose to ally with Nazi Germany because of ideological similarity?

There are certain similarities that can be drawn between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Both were dictatorships, both believed in racism (though against different people), and both were wanting to ...
35
votes
9answers
6k views

Why did Hitler declare war on the USA?

Since there had not been any offensives launched by either side against the other, why declare war just because Japan had attacked the USA?
45
votes
7answers
11k views

Why did the USSR give Crimea to Ukraine?

In 1954 Soviets transferred Crimea from Russian Soviet Republic to Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Why is this strange? The whole act, at least officially, was meant to be "a gift", a token of ...
40
votes
9answers
5k views

Why didn't France and UK invade Germany September 3rd 1939?

On September 3rd 1939, when UK and France declared war on Germany, both ordinary Polish people and government officials became enthusiastic. There were spontaneous demonstrations of support for the ...
40
votes
4answers
1k views

How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
30
votes
15answers
9k views

Was the secession of the Confederate states illegal?

Putting aside their reasons for wanting to do so and all the emotional responses they would provoke, was the secession of states from the Union to eventually form the Confederacy an illegal act in ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

Why were there no religious wars in Poland?

During the 16th and 17th centuries, there were many religious wars in Europe. In countries, were it was very close to Rome (like Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italian states), they did not occur. In ...
14
votes
7answers
7k views

Why did Nazi soldiers do Hitler's bidding?

The atrocities committed by Nazi soldiers during World War II are well known. I'd like to know what motivated those soldiers to do Hitler's bidding. Were they brainwashed? Did they believe they were ...
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 ...
27
votes
2answers
1k views

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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