32
votes
6answers
4k views

How did people travel to remote islands like Easter Island?

Easter Island is extremely remote, being thousands of kilometers from its nearest neighbor. How did people get there safely, and how did they even know it was there?
21
votes
2answers
844 views

How did cities operate in medieval times?

Modern fiction is often filled with fantasy versions of the Middle Ages, from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, and everything in between, but how did the reality of this trope operate? There ...
20
votes
2answers
487 views

When was the term “Nationality” first came into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? By ethnicity?

When was the term "Nationality" first came into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? When we refer to Ancient Civilizations, did they consider themselves a nation in the modern ...
19
votes
2answers
534 views

What was the structure of religious beliefs among the Arabic peoples before conversion to Islam?

Other questions on this topic has addressed the pre-Islamic religious beliefs in broad detail, including the conversion of near-Arab cultures. What was the specific nature of the pre-Islamic ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why was the Treaty of Versailles so harsh?

When Germany signed the armistice in the first world war, they were still (technically) in a decent bargaining position. Germany still had troops in France and Belgium There were no enemy forces in ...
34
votes
10answers
3k views

Has there ever been a truly multi-sided war?

I was playing StarCraft the other night, and it occurred to me: that game series portrays effectively a 3-way war, where all three factions are fighting the other two with equal ferocity. Obviously, ...
33
votes
4answers
18k views

Why is Christopher Columbus credited for “discovering” America?

Even if we ignore the millions of native Americans who lived in the continent before Columbus "discovered" it, even if we ignore other civilizations (eg: Polynesians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Arabs, ...
27
votes
6answers
1k views

Are there confirmed cases where a country changed its language without being conquered?

I thought about this question and wondered: Are there any known cases where a country switched to a different language other than because of being conquered? If some country ever did this I would be ...
19
votes
7answers
6k views

How Did Moscow Become the Capital/Most Important City in Russia?

Early in the past millennium, Kiev was probably the largest, most modern city in the former Soviet Union, at least until the Mongols came. One might have expected it to be the capital of the Soviet ...
18
votes
1answer
937 views

Was there an assassination attempt against Xerxes in the battle of Thermopylae?

I watched Frank Miller's 300 last night with my girlfriend, and after the movie ended she mentioned the assassination attempt against Xerxes would have been a great plot element for the movie and that ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Why did native Americans and Europeans mix in South America but not in North America?

A large part of the current population of South America are descendants of both native Americans and Europeans. In contrast, in north America the intermingling of native Americans and Europeans was ...
13
votes
6answers
6k views

Did Hitler really support Subhash Chandra Bose's cause and did he do anything to help Bose?

Bose had come to realize that Gandhi's doctrine of non-violence was not doing much in forcing the British to retreat. He went to Germany to seek Hitler's assistance in India's struggle for freedom. ...
8
votes
4answers
283 views

The Needham Question: What stunted China's technological and proto-scientific advancement?

According to Joseph Needham Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at ...
8
votes
0answers
196 views

How is history studied?

What are the unique and distinct features of the study of history in terms of: Epistemology Purpose Theory Method Methodology Does the study of history produce unique perceptions? Does the ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the counterarguments to calling German nazism a right-wing movement?

I notice that the media routinely refer to Hitler's politics as "extreme right-wing". "extreme right-wing" and "neo-nazi" have become practically a synonym. Is this accurate? The obvious "but" is ...
5
votes
1answer
485 views

How did commoners in late medieval to early modern Europe learn to read?

Literacy in the early Middle Ages was very low, but as I recall, by the time of Reformation quite a lot of commoners could read. Even if they were not very good in reading and writing, by the 17th ...
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Why was Newton's observation of the falling apple significant?

As described in this article at Wikipedia, in 1666, Newton was in a garden when he noticed an apple falling. Surely, Newton could not have been the first person to notice that things fell when ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the earliest evidence of contact between Ireland and Egypt?

There is a folk tale of an Egyptian princess in Ireland around 1700 BC. Is there credible evidence of early contact between the two places?
17
votes
2answers
453 views

Has any foreign embassy ever been entered without permission?

I was just looking at this article: UK 'threatens' to raid Ecuador embassy over Assange "Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our ...
14
votes
1answer
396 views

Where was the furthest extent of Arabian trade explorations?

Traders from Arabia travelled to and traded with Roman and Asian empires and this Nabataean Sea Merchants article. How far did Arabian traders travel - where was the furthest extent of their ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Was any significant percentage of Mongol army infantry?

Mongols of Khan's time are generally considered to be a cavalry army, which makes sense logistically, given the width and speed of their military maneuvers. But is there historical evidence of Khan's ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why did Jews not immigrate to the Muslim world?

Throughout most of history, Jews lived significantly better in the Muslim countries than in Christian ones. Moreover, after the expulsion from Spain, many Spanish Jews moved to the Muslim world (from ...
13
votes
5answers
471 views

Are modern handguns a major reason for democratization?

I had a history teacher who argued that a major reason for the fall of the feudal system, was that the knights lost their military superiority because of development in weapon technology (longbow, ...
12
votes
3answers
559 views

Is there a possibility that the Islamic civilization visited America before Colombus?

Islamic sources claim that there is historical evidence that an Islamic explorer visited America before Colombus and the Age of Discovery. An example. Columbus Was Not The First To Cross The Atlantic. ...
12
votes
3answers
347 views

Historical/legendary/mythological accounts that turned out to be true

Reading Herodotus' Histories, one is often baffled by passages like (3.102): {102} [...] Indians [..., of the North] make expeditions for the gold. For in the parts where they live it is desert on ...
12
votes
5answers
595 views

What happens after a widespread social chaos?

I have a pretty limited knowledge in History but I want to know the future (or outcome) of the Tunisian revolution based on the development of current events and also on some data that I know/can ...
10
votes
2answers
518 views

Did Stalin believe Israel would go communist?

In Anne Applebaum's recent book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 she claims the USSR supported the new state of Israel and states "Stalin believed Israel would quickly join the ...
10
votes
1answer
449 views

What is the origin of Indian weekday names?

The days of the week in several Indian languages are named after the same planets/gods as the Graeco-Roman days of the week. Did these arise from some common source predating both (PIE?), or was the ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did the Germans fall behind the Americans in the development of the atomic bomb after an initial lead?

I actually know certain facts about this matter, but am seeking guidance in interpreting these facts into "theories." 1) Theory 1, Economic: The Americans spent something like $2 billion (in money of ...
7
votes
1answer
160 views

The history of the idea that lack of moral censure leads to decline

"The decline of a civilization has long been linked, anecdotally, to less moral censure and a decline in manners (manners being self, usually-moral censorship)." (Brock Adams, commenting an earlier ...
4
votes
1answer
146 views

Was the ancient Roman King ( i.e. rex) elected for eight years?

This is an outgrowth of the discussion here. The rex was indeed elected (or perhaps acclaimed would be better term) by the people at the suggestion of the Senate, as far as I recall but I do not ...
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 ...
23
votes
3answers
852 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 ...
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.
19
votes
3answers
2k views

When and why was the samurai class abolished?

I am aware the Emperor Meiji abolished the Samurai class during the reformation. Why did he do so? How was it enforced?
18
votes
4answers
216 views

How would you accurately use older British currencies when writing a story?

For writing a story set in Napoleonic Wars era, how should one use the currencies accurately? I read in novels they use currencies like shilling, pound, guinea, sovereign, four (or six-, etc) pence, ...
17
votes
1answer
882 views

What is the state of the art historical analysis of claims that Carthaginians discovered America?

The Carthaginians, and the Phoenicians in general, are renowned for their seafaring abilities. There is evidence for their circumnavigation of Africa, and strong evidence for the fact that Hanno the ...
17
votes
5answers
599 views

Recognition of Palestine?

What was Palestine before, if not a country? Could you give me some history on this? Also, the recent recognition of Palestine as a country in the UN could have far reaching implications. Are there ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages?

Is there any difference between the "Middle Ages" and the "Dark Ages"?
16
votes
1answer
1k views

What percentage of the population in the “Old West” actually carried handguns?

I'm hoping cenus information and historical gun manufacturing records make this an answerable question. What percentage of the population in the Old West actually carried handguns? Was it a minority ...
15
votes
2answers
606 views

How did Hitler behave towards all those whom he knew in his childhood and youth after he rose to power?

What do we know of Hitler's acts and attitudes towards those people he knew in his childhood and youth after he rose to power? For example, his World War One comrades? Did they receive and attention ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

How many Samurai killed themselves?

How many Samurai killed themselves compared to the actual number of Samurai and how many Samurai were dishonored but did not kill themselves?
15
votes
1answer
463 views

Why did Meiji consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Emperor sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Why was that? Why, ultimately, was it unsuccessful? The Role of English and Other ...
15
votes
3answers
983 views

Why was the Western Front so static in World War I?

Once the German advance was halted, neither side could seriously advance for two years. This seems like an extraordinarily long time. Why didn't anyone succeed at going around the trenches or striking ...
14
votes
8answers
3k views

What's the advantage of the infantry column formation in the Napoleonic Wars?

In movies/books set in the Napoleonic Wars, the British are normally deployed into lines and the French into columns. The columns are usually the advancing ones, charging into the line as the line ...
13
votes
8answers
2k views

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on any other super weapon besides V-2?

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on anything else besides V-2? If so, what was it, how close was it to completion, and could it potentially turn the events around for them?
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that the Catholic Church slowed innovation during the Middle Ages?

I often hear that the rate of innovation was very high during ancient times in Greece and the Roman empire. I've also heard that the rate of innovation was reduced once the Catholic Church gained ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

What does it mean that the early supreme court “gave themselves” the power of judicial review?

I'm watching the "Crash Course: American History" youtube series, and I like, it, but it obviously skips over a ton because it's packing decades at a time into 10 minutes. So he just (briefly) ...
11
votes
2answers
614 views

English monarchs on the battlefield

It seems that in English 'older times' it was expected for the King or monarch to lead the armies in battle. My research suggests that this was the case in the 12th century in the civil war between ...

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