26
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 ...
26
votes
5answers
891 views

Did the communication lag become a problem for the ever expanding Roman Empire?

There is a dispute among historians over whether the Roman Empire collapsed because of its increasing size and system-imminent flaws which were not suited for this size. The bigger the territory, the ...
26
votes
1answer
701 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
2k views

Has Britain's 1940 invasion of Iceland been downplayed by historians?

On the face of it Operation Fork (Britain's invasion of Iceland in 1940) wasn't so terribly different from Germany's territorial landgrabs in 1939 and 1940. Britain and her allies will have ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Did the Romans have winter uniforms?

Standard ancient Roman uniform consisted of a tunic, a cloak and sandal-type boots, resulting in a look like this. Now, this is all very well for Mediterranean climates but I really cannot fathom how ...
25
votes
5answers
7k views

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during WW2?

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during the war? They produced a large amount of war material during 1939-1945, but how was this production financed? What were Germany's revenue streams that ...
25
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped when a woman is getting married?

Haven't seen anything online, even after googling. Wikipedia seems to only list the countries that support the practice, but offers no history. Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped ...
24
votes
5answers
3k views

What language(s) were spoken within the Holy Roman Empire?

What language(s) were considered the primary language for the Holy Roman Empire? Were there many different languages spoken due to the many different regions?
24
votes
7answers
4k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
24
votes
5answers
6k views

Why were there no Internment camps for German-American Citizens in USA during WW2?

I am certainly aware of Japanese-americans being detained in Internment camps , after the attack on Pearl Harbor , and subsequent declaration of war on United States , by the empire of Japan. About ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

No speed limit on German highways - why?

I wonder what are the historical circumstances that led to lack of speed limit on German federal Autobahn network. There is an advisory 130 km/h limit, but it is not mandatory one nor obeyed ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

When and where did socks become common?

To be clear, I mean the socks you wear on your feet, to insulate you form your shoes/boots/other footwear. By common, I mean easily available to the masses, rather than just to the rich.
24
votes
3answers
910 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 ...
24
votes
1answer
874 views

Did the end of the British Raj in India create an economic loss for Britain?

I know the economic downturn of the World War and the victory of the Labour Party played some role in Britain deciding to quit India. Did GB have any serious economic implications because of this? ...
23
votes
10answers
2k views

Have fair-skinned peoples ever been the lower/oppressed class?

In many societies around the globe today we see that the darker skinned peoples are generally of a lower social status than the fair skinned peoples of the same area, or that fair skin is considered ...
23
votes
9answers
6k views

Was the American Civil War the “bloodiest civil war in history”?

I heard something like that once on some TV documentary, but I'm second guessing that there must have been a caveat for just the Americas, or otherwise qualified it as, "in modern history", or as a ...
23
votes
6answers
2k views

Why did Civil War officers tell their men to “aim low”?

I'm listening to Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears and the officers on both sides seem to always exhort their men to "aim low". For instance, General John Gibbon told his 2nd Division infantry: Do ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

Why didn't Britain's nuclear weapons deter Argentina from invading the Falklands?

The United Kingdom has nuclear weapons. All the [major] political parties support this policy. A common justification heard is that they are a deterrent against foreign aggression. For example: UK ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Where did the Romans store their cash?

In the era before banking was invented, where did wealthy Romans store their cash? The emperor probably could store it somewhere in the imperial palace thanks to the Praetorian guard, but what about ...
23
votes
10answers
14k views

What was wrong with Hitler's left hand?

So I was watching Downfall last night (good movie by the way) and I noticed that whenever Hitler walked around, the movie always showed him with his left hand behind his back and it was always kind of ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are military uniforms often flared or poofy above the knee?

I've often wondered why do various uniforms have those "poofs" on the outsides of the legs just above the knee? Was there a particular purpose to this, or a practical reason, or was it just the result ...
23
votes
2answers
642 views

Why was language not used to establish dominance throughout England 1066 AD–1360s CE?

Why didn’t the Normans enforce the use of their native tongue throughout the whole of England after William the Conqueror (of Normandy) became king of England? During William’s reign as king he ...
23
votes
2answers
3k views

Why did the French sell Louisiana?

Why did an imperialistic country like France (at that time) sell a territory so large for so cheap? Was it an important region at the time? I heard that the port of New Orleans was particularly ...
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 ...
23
votes
2answers
3k views

When did homosexuality become unacceptable in Europe?

In the ancient greek world male homosexuality was common and didn't attract the same scorn as it did even 100 years ago. So 2,000 years ago, it was acceptable, and 100 years ago it was unacceptable. ...
23
votes
5answers
9k views

When and how did the USA and the UK become allies?

So, you may remember that the United States and Great Britain had a minor spat in 1776, which shall we say, did not put them on the friendliest of terms. In 1812, while Britain was focused on its war ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

How beneficial were war bonds to the US during WWII

I've been watching classic cartoon shorts from Disney and Warner Brothers. So many devoted time to encouraging Americans to buy war bonds. Did money collected from war bonds amount to a significant ...
23
votes
3answers
938 views

What was the status of Arab Christians during the crusades?

Did Arab Christians take an active role in the crusades in the Holy Land or at any point on their trip to the Holy Land. Or were they victims of the crusaders? Did the crusaders typically ...
23
votes
3answers
766 views

What is the earliest known account of the modern military salute?

The military salute, made with right hand to head of a soldier, seems to be a European tradition, however it is adopted by many armies in the world. What are origins of this gesture? I came across a ...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

Last death caused by World War I

Today, I heard about seven deaths attributed to an explosion of a bomb from World War 2: Seven dead as war bomb explodes in Bangkok scrap yard Hopefully, the last death or deaths that can be ...
22
votes
9answers
10k views

Why is Dravidian history ignored?

Whenever I read an article on ancient Indian history, I see people only writing about the Indus valley civilization and the Aryans. But what about Dravidians? Didn't they exist even before the Aryans ...
22
votes
5answers
1k views

What was the purpose of Nazi extermination camps?

Why did they spend money and effort to build the infrastructure and organization, collect, transport and house the prisoners while execution on the spot would presumably be easier and less costly? I'm ...
22
votes
6answers
591 views

Why didn't the silk road run north of the Black Sea?

I have read many times that the only way for Europeans to get to China, or vice versa, was through Anatolia and Persia. This gave Istanbul an advantage in throttling trade, as well as Mesopotamia and ...
22
votes
5answers
626 views

Besides Magna Carta and general decentralization, what specifically led to democratization in England?

In England, the gradual weakening of the central government (starting with the Magna Carta), and the gradual rights given to nobility slowly pushed England to a democratic form of government. Yet in ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do minor political parties in the US receive so few votes?

Reading about the election statistics in the United States I was amazed about how few votes are received by the minor parties and their candidates. For example, Gloria La Riva received only 181 votes ...
22
votes
1answer
959 views

Third Reich? What were the other two? [closed]

Nazi Germany is widely called the Third Reich. But what were the First and Second Reich then?
22
votes
1answer
461 views

Did Archery evolve independently on separate continents?

Is there evidence that early civilizations across the world discovered archery independently from one another (like Native Americans, Europeans and Africans)? Or can the technology be traced back to a ...
21
votes
7answers
4k views

Why did the US drop nuclear bombs on a weakened Japan? [closed]

Why did the United States drop two nuclear bombs on the Japanese mainland? It appeared that Japan was ready to surrender.
21
votes
9answers
6k views

Which religion was the first monotheistic one?

Which religion was the first monotheistic one? Was it judaism or a religion which disappeared from practice?
21
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Why didn't Moldova unite with Romania?

Towards the collapse of the USSR, nationalism rose in Moldova. Nationalists proclaimed the linguistic and ethnic identity between Moldovans and Romanians. It seems that they strove toward unification ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

Great Wall of China Controversy

Until several years ago the eastern end of the Great Wall of China was considered to end at Shanhaiguan where the wall goes into the sea, but the Chinese have revealed (in 2009) new portions of the ...
21
votes
2answers
417 views

Which war games did Napoleon practice with his generals?

I have read that Napoleon actively used to play strategy games with his generals in order to understand how they act in a range of situations. The generals also learned the same thing about each ...
21
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

Why wasn't the Republic of Ireland invaded (by either side) in WW2?

Ireland was neutral in WW2, however it was never invaded (by either side). How come? Why wasn't Ireland invaded by the UK to prevent the Germans invading? Why didn't germany invade ireland? It would ...
20
votes
10answers
8k views

Is history always written by the victors?

The famous "history is written by victors" saying argues that the victors overwhelmingly influence historical accounts. Are there any examples of history written by the(or THE) losers?
20
votes
5answers
17k 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
4answers
3k views

How did the Roman state verify citizenship?

How were ancient Roman citizens identified, and how did officials make sure that their identity wasn't fake? I.e., did they maintain some kind of citizens registry, or did they have some kind of ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Oldest building in the world still in use

What's the oldest building in the world that is still in use (i.e. used for something other than a tourist spot).

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