24
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
24
votes
9answers
10k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
2k 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 whether this is something that writers made up ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

How was the United States able to produce excellent tanks in 1942?

Most military histories of the war in North Africa, and especially those produced from a British point-of-view, emphasise the greenness of the American troops which landed there in 1942. There is a ...
23
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
10k views

Why are the USA and Canada's states border so straight?

Many states within the USA and Canada have straight lines as a border, completely ignoring natural borders like mountains or rivers. Many American states and Canadian provinces are just ...
23
votes
6answers
7k 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
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? ...
23
votes
5answers
711 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 ...
23
votes
3answers
906 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
7answers
6k 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?
23
votes
5answers
3k 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
1k 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
4k views

Why isn't Somaliland recognized as a separate country?

The modern country of Somalia is pretty much universally considered a failed state. Within Somalia itself, however, is the de facto state of Somaliland, which if I remember correctly is almost ...
23
votes
1answer
10k views

Did the United States have a third atomic bomb to drop on Japan?

On 15 August, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender to the United States, signing the instrument of surrender on 2 September, officially ending the war. The question ...
23
votes
6answers
10k views

Where did the Gaels originate?

The origin and spreading out of the Celtic peoples is a topic shrouded in mystery, at least to my mind. While the Germanic migrations occurred during the late Imperial Roman period and Early Middle ...
23
votes
3answers
1k 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
9answers
7k 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 ...
22
votes
8answers
5k views

Why was PTSD not written about as much before the 20th century?

As late as WW1 there was very little literature surrounding PTSD/'shellshock'. In fact, the term was not coined until the 1980's. Considering the fact that warfare has been a part of human life since ...
22
votes
9answers
6k views

Why, in the US, is Japanese brutality ignored compared with the Nazi brutality in WW2?

Instead of accepting too much of what I have read in my textbooks, I have read up a bit about WW2 on my own and have always pondered, why in the USA is the brutality and actions of the Japanese during ...
22
votes
10answers
4k views

Are tanks the only reason for the abandonment of trench warfare?

The First World War in the West was for 4 years restricted to trench warfare. Gaining enemy territory cost many human lives for both sides. The main (or maybe most spectacular) battles were Verdun and ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

What were the reasons that the British colonies in North America rebelled but not others?

I know more about the American War of Independence than about other British colonies, but I have begun to wonder why was it just America. The British had colonies in other places but there doesn't ...
22
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the origin of the “wheat and chessboard” legend?

The "wheat and chessboard" fable describes a geometric problem that is often quoted in stories about the invention of chess. According to Wikipedia, the main theme of the fable is: When the ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Why could China keep most of the lands it conquered after 17th century but European powers could not?

If we look at the map of Ming dynasty, we see a much smaller China. Most of the northern and western part of today's China was conquered during Qing dynasty. In contrast, many European powers have ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Where does the name of the country “Belarus” come from?

I've read the German and English Wikipedia on this topic as well as the translated Belarussian version and some sites I googled. They all seem to argue that the 'Rus' part stems from the Region called ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

How did people deal with ice on the roads during the horse-and-buggy era?

Before there were cars, people traveled in a horse-drawn carriage, sometimes over cobble-stone covered roads. Back in those days, was anything done to keep the traveled roads free from ice or snow? ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

When did challenging to a duel cease to be a practice in English culture?

In the Aubrey Maturin series of novels, there are at least two scenes where the protagonists are challenged to a duel: Post-Captain - Aubrey and Maturin about Aubrey's reputation with the Admiralty ...
22
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
2k 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
3answers
4k views

When was Silver ever more valuable than Gold?

These days we pretty much take it as a given that gold is more valuable than silver. The obvious example is the Olympics and other such competitions that give "gold" medals for first place and ...
22
votes
1answer
566 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
22
votes
0answers
671 views

How did people react to Cavendish bananas when they first replaced the Gros Michel strain?

I was reading that the bananas we eat today (Cavendish) weren't particularly popular until the 50s, when the more popular Gros Michel variety was virtually wiped out by a nasty disease. Apparently ...
21
votes
6answers
6k views

Why did Great Britain switch its alliance to France?

England (and its succeeding states) were at war with France for close to 1000 years. First it was over land, then they competed over religion, then they competed over colonies. For much of that time, ...
21
votes
4answers
13k views

Why didn't the US choose to demolish Tokyo with an atom bomb?

Tokyo was Japan's capital. Why didn't the US choose Tokyo to demolish with Atom Bomb? Bonus Question: What factors decided to bring Hiroshima and Nagasaki on table?
21
votes
7answers
5k 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
11k 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
8answers
7k views

Did Native Americans ever fight the indigenous people living in Mexico before Europeans arrived?

From elementary school, my history teacher used to talk about the fighting between native American tribes. Then, later in the semester, we would briefly discuss the rise of Aztecs, Olmecs, Mayans, ...
21
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
4k views

Why did Hitler not concentrate more on North Africa?

The Germans knew that oil would be crucial to the war and that they would likely need to capture new sources for the war effort. The main oil-producing regions at the time that might be captured were ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did the Soviet Union get 3 seats in the UN?

Even before the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Belarus (which were then officially part of the Soviet Union) had independent seats at the United Nations. Why didn't the US or the UK get the ...
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?
21
votes
5answers
5k 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
3answers
6k views

Why did Saladin show kindness to Richard I?

Why did Saladin, when Richard the Lionhearted was sick with a fever, send him a gift of fruit? Or when Richard's horse was killed in battle, he sent a steed to be led to his camp?
21
votes
4answers
1k views

How true is the statement “Soviet troops got into Berlin riding American trucks, walking in American boots and using American trains”?

In other words, how significant was American lend-lease in helping the Soviet front? Would the Soviets be suffering a lot more had lend-lease not happen, or was it not as significant as people make ...
21
votes
2answers
755 views

When did the term “Nationality” first come 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

Did Heisenberg undermine the German atomic bomb by deliberately hiding his expertise from the Nazis?

Source. In his massive book Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb, Thomas Powers says that Heisenberg, who never became a Nazi and balked at the immorality of building a bomb for ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Why wasn't Monaco unified with France?

Why wasn't Monaco unified with the Kingdom/Republic of France during the unification? I understand France used to be a very decentralized kingdom with many areas ruled by vassal or smaller rulers, and ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

How unfavorable were the terms of Germany's “surrender” in WW1?

The First World War ended when an armistice was signed between the Germans and the Allies. At that point, while Germany had no realistic hopes of winning the war, they had no enemies within their ...
21
votes
2answers
842 views

Classical battle sizes vs medieval battle sizes

Why did classical battles did tend to be larger than medieval ages? One particular example I am thinking of was the battle of Stamford bridge, which had around 30,000 participants, compared to the ...

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