18
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the origin of the American stereotype that Polish people lack intelligence?

A quick glance at Wikipedia's list of Polish people demonstrates the stereotype as false. Poland has produced notable minds in such diverse areas of knowledge as Astronomy (Nicolaus Copernicus), ...
18
votes
4answers
849 views

Did Arab policymakers have plans for the Jewish population, in case of victory in 1948 War?

Presumably the Arab goal in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was to defeat Israel. Total victory would probably mean the total control of the whole Mandatory Palestine, which at this point already contained ...
18
votes
4answers
6k views

Why did Greeks and Romans dilute their wine?

I’ve gathered that ancient Greeks and Romans watered their wine heavily, up to 90% water. Roman-era Talmudic sources speak of wine not being fit to drink until it had been watered (although mixtures ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do so many national flags contain the color red?

I was doing some riddles with my daughter today and mentioned some nations. She had to 'calculate' how many of those nations' flags had the color red in them. As it happened, all of them did. In ...
18
votes
7answers
2k views

Why did Austronesian/Polynesian people not colonize Australia?

Australia hosted aboriginal populations since prehistory. However technologically advanced civilizations (in comparison) lived nearby, in Indonesia, Polynesia and New Guinea. Why was it not colonized ...
18
votes
2answers
648 views

Can Bill Clinton run for president of France?

Bill Clinton says in an interview (Bill Clinton on running for political office again) : Because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that ...
18
votes
1answer
884 views

Did “droit du seigneur” actually exist in medieval Europe?

Droit du seigneur, also known as "jus primae noctis" (right of the first night), was the supposed right of a feudal lord to sleep with his serfs' brides on their wedding night. Was it actually ...
18
votes
2answers
431 views

Which lost historical documents, when uncovered, led to the most substantial revisions in historiography?

I have this romantic idea about the lost writings of Epicurus that perhaps somewhere at the bottom of the Aegean Sea there still lies a ship sunken in Ancient Greek times with copies of the ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?

In classical times (let's say 200 BC to 400 AD), how accurately could a Greek/Roman/Babylonian/etc. astronomer determine their location on the earth by coordinates like latitude/longitude? Could they ...
18
votes
3answers
921 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did the Dutch, French & British acquire minor colonies in South America?

We know that South America was partitioned between Spain and Portugal in the early days of empire when Spain and Portugal were the major powers. Later, in the 19th century, when Spain and Portugal ...
18
votes
1answer
277 views

North Korean Famine

I have just read an article (in Russian) about the most recent weird news from N.Korea: women are (again) not allowed to ride bicycles. After you've finished splitting your sides with laughter, allow ...
18
votes
1answer
375 views

Farming societies without calendars

Were there ever any farming societies without a calendar? For example, the Egyptians had a calendar to help them know when to plant and when to harvest. The ancient Greeks had a calendar, as did the ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Who named the Democratic Party?

Which politician or organization was the first to formally use the name "Democratic Party" for the party of Andrew Jackson? When and where did this happen? Background: Thomas Jefferson's political ...
18
votes
1answer
631 views

When and how did classic “Italian” cuisine come to be?

Most people can recognize "Italian" food. Pasta, tomatoes, basil, etc. But many of the plants used in Italian food, didn't actually originate in Italy. Or even anywhere in the Old World. The ...
18
votes
1answer
602 views

When and where did just war theory originate?

I was reading an entry from Victor Reppert's blog (Reppert being a noted apologist), where he mentioned that just war theory, specifically prohibitions on what you could do during a war and ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Were any German cities spared by by the Allies for personal or idiosyncratic reasons?

Histories of the bombing campaign against German cities in WW2 often mention that German civilians towards the end of war were prey to fantastical rumours that such-and-such a city "is being spared" ...
18
votes
2answers
516 views

Why did modern “Romania” remain the most “Roman” part of the Balkans?

The so-called "Romanians" are the Vlachs who inhabited the territory just north of the Danube in Roman times, and today. Wallachia (home of the Vlachs), represented the outer limit or Roman expansion. ...
17
votes
4answers
6k views

How did Germany produce such an impressive portfolio of officers for WW2?

von Runstedt Model Dietl Guderian von Manstein Rommel Kesselring (who was an able commander both on land and in the air) Richtofen Donitz Raeder All of these German names have been featured heavily ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

How common was smoking in first half of the 20th century?

When watching movies that were made in first half of the 20th century, one can see many people are smoking (cigarettes), but it is not they smoke all time long. I refer to the movies, because they ...
17
votes
6answers
3k views

Why hasn't Russia maintained significant numbers of Aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. This is reflective of the past, in which we saw that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft ...
17
votes
6answers
776 views

What factors permitted Buddhism to be successful in Japan but Christianity less so?

From reading The Samurai and the Sacred, it looks like Buddhism achieved acceptance into Japanese culture due to its willingness to assimilate with the (already present) Shinto religion. Conversely, ...
17
votes
7answers
1k views

Is it true that medieval villages didn't have names?

Recently I've read a certain book about the Middle Ages that has been quite popular with laymen but is held in utter contempt by professional medievists. In fact, I hadn't known the book's reception ...
17
votes
4answers
24k views

Why did the southern states secede from the U.S.?

Lincoln's election precipitated the secession, but didn't they have enough congressional power to continue things much as they were? It seems in the preceding two decades the slave states had managed ...
17
votes
3answers
439 views

Which Babylonian tablets contains the list of squares and cubes?

The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive writes Two tablets found at Senkerah on the Euphrates in 1854 date from 2000 BC. They give squares of the numbers up to 59 and cubes of the numbers up ...
17
votes
6answers
374 views

Good online sources for historical maps

I am looking for good online sources for historical maps, specifically the late medieval period (but other periods would be interesting as well). While there are many historical maps out there, few ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the role of the Soviet Navy during WWII?

Most books of WWII speak of the naval battles of allied and axis powers during the war, but none about the Soviet navy. The soviets had an active fleet at the time, why did it not engage the Germans ...
17
votes
4answers
5k 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"?
17
votes
4answers
5k views

What did Germany do after World War II to recover so successfully that it became more prosperous than its WW2 victors?

Germany lost in World War II. Being the loser, its economy started at a disadvantage compared to her World War II victors in the aftermath of WW2. However, Germany managed to recover more ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

How far were women able to advance in the Gestapo?

I'm trying to write a story happening during World War 2, and I'd like to include there a female Gestapo agent/interrogator as a main character. However, I've been searching and I can't find evidence ...
17
votes
5answers
851 views

What was the first battle in history fought by vast-majority-% “distance-shooting” non-mechanized force?

Historically, armies usually had a balance between warriors with projectile weapons (bows/guns) and close combat edged weapons (sword/pike/axe etc...). This was necessary because ranged weapons of ...
17
votes
6answers
6k views

How far could an English war bow shoot?

The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds) So says Wikipedia. I did read, however, in a semi-fictional, semi-historical work of ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

What did squires do in the middle of a medieval battle?

According to wikipedia, a normal squire daily job included: Carrying the knight's armour, shield, sword, Holding any prisoners the knight takes, Rescuing the knight should the knight be ...
17
votes
2answers
486 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

What is this military patch with the silhouette of a pegasus on it?

I found this patch among my grandfather's things. I know it's a military patch of some sort because it was with his war memorabilia. He served in the European theater during WWII, if that helps at ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Before the Land Bridge Theory, how was human presence in the Americas explained?

The Land Bridge Theory argues that humans crossed over to Alaska from Siberia, via a land bridge created by glaciation. The theory developed in the 1930s and became the popularly accepted explanation ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

Did the Germans purposefully arrange to send Lenin to Russia to start a revolution?

A recent documentary, The World Wars, on the History Channel suggested, strongly, that the Imperial German government secretly arranged safe-passage for Vladimir Lenin to return to Moscow from ...
17
votes
2answers
267 views

Private firms (aka mercenaries) as a police force

Since the police invited security firms to bid for roles in the UK, I was wondering if there are historical events where mercenaries were used to police a city (or town or local) and what the effects ...
17
votes
1answer
1k 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
10k views

What events led to the fall of the Zhou Dynasty during the Warring States period?

The title above is fairly broad, so more specifically, what specific events led to the Warring States period experienced towards the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty in ancient China? As the lineage ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

How was armour rusting in the rain handled throughout history?

Various sources (ex) state as one of the biggest advantages of non-metal armours, that they did not rust in the rain. However, a knight would have a squire to clean and oil his armour every evening. ...
17
votes
1answer
412 views

What were tally sticks?

What were tally sticks, and how was it that they they worked for the economy? I understand that they were a form of currency and were of fixed value based on the notches, but how did they work as a ...
17
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the history of the popped collar?

A popped collar on a polo has become the symbol of Frat Boys and wannabes everywhere. Especially in the "Jersey Shore" culture. I initially thought maybe it was tied to New England preppy style (the ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Has mercantilism ever been successful?

Mercantilism, which includes protectionism, industrial policy, capital controls, and other distortions to trade, is generally viewed by economists today as unsound economic policy. An overwhelming ...
17
votes
3answers
653 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
363 views

When did it become acceptable to campaign for yourself for US President?

I am fascinated by the stark differences between election mechanics/strategies/policies of the early United States when compared to today. In the early days of the US, it was seen as "ungentlemanly" ...
17
votes
2answers
352 views

How does Göbekli Tepe fit into the current picture of society development?

Göbekli Tepe is a huge archaeological site in Eastern Turkey, currently under excavation (make sure you click on "Pictures"). It is one of the oldest architectural complexes in the world, possibly the ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Are there any records that indicate a submarine vs submarine battle?

I am aware of only one which is the U-864 was sunk by the HMS Venturer but that was when both were being submerged -- according to wikipedia. Is that accurate? Which battles did happen between two ...

15 30 50 per page