22
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
2k views

How long did it take for a diplomat to travel between Berlin and Vienna in the 1770's?

I was reading the Wikipedia entry for the War of the Bavarian Succession, and it said (my emphasis): For some historians, the War of the Bavarian Succession was the last of the old-style Cabinet ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

U.S. weapon restrictions during 19th century

Prior to the 20th century, I'm curious as to how the 2nd amendment was understood: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and ...
22
votes
4answers
386 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, ...
22
votes
6answers
12k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
9k views

Is there a reason for a Queen's husband not to be referred to as King?

While watching the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II events going on recently, I noticed that the Queen's husband is referred to as 'Prince'-- not 'King'. Upon researching further, I found that ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

Capturing a much larger ship?

In Master and Commander (book 1), the 54-man, 14-gun Sophie captures the 319-man, 32-gun Cacafuego. Is this really plausible? How would it work? Is it the confined space of a ship's deck that makes ...
22
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
12k 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?
22
votes
9answers
30k views

Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields?

Shields were considered useful in Europe until the development of full plate armor. Despite the fact that they never had anything comparable to plate armor, shield use was apparently abandoned by the ...
22
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
4k views

When and why did war chariots stopped being used?

Many cultures (Egypt, Celts, etc...) had war chariots either as mobile platforms or as troop transport. What other advance in warfare made them obsolete?
22
votes
3answers
5k 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 "silver"...
22
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
668 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
5answers
2k views

Who were the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Western Europe?

I've heard it said that the Basque are conjectured to be the last remnant of Pre-Celtic Western Europe. When would have these people existed? What evidence do we have for their culture and habitation ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

What became of Nazi Germany's embassies in neutral countries?

This picture shows the German embassy in Stockholm very near the end of World War II (with the flag lowered to mark Hitler's death). Germany surrendered on the 8th May 1945. The Flensburg government ...
22
votes
2answers
972 views

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

As a sideline to the question How Long Did the Belief in the Egyptian Sun God Ra Last?, the comments have become a long discussion on the historicity of the Exodus. Rather than have pages of comments ...
21
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
3k views

By mid-1945, was Japan capable of maintaining the war even in the absence of further direct American attacks? [closed]

The USA went to a great effort to defeat Japan, but do historians regard it as necessary? For example if the USA had just kept the naval action going to the extent of cutting of all shipping to ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

Why was the Aztec Empire known as an Empire?

Wikipedia defines an Empire as following: The term "empire" does not have a precise definition, but is generally applied to political entities that are considered to be especially large by the ...
21
votes
5answers
5k views

Why did the Soviet Union close its borders and restrict travel abroad?

It was virtually impossible for citizens of the Soviet Union to move or travel abroad. Only some ethnic minorities (e.g. Jewish) with family members abroad could move out, although with great ...
21
votes
6answers
3k views

Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a “secondary” weapon?

The bayonet was introduced in the late 17th century as a knife (later a short sword) attached to a musket, to enable the musketeer to protect himself when reloading their single-shot weapons. As such, ...
21
votes
3answers
5k views

What were the EMP effects, if any, of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is generated from any atomic bomb, as far as I know. An EMP could destroy the electronics of many devices, including lighting, electric motors, radios, phones, etc. So why ...
21
votes
13answers
71k views

Why didn't Alexander invade India?

Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the ...
21
votes
5answers
766 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

What did English people really say when knighting someone?

A while ago I curiously looked up this question and found out that people did not say "I dub thee..." or "Arise..." to him who was being made a knight, but instead used a Latin phrase which I forget. ...
21
votes
4answers
6k views

Did the U.S. and Soviet Union have a submarine battle in 1968?

There are books and articles about the Soviet submarine K-129 and the USS Scorpion in 1968, with various stories of attempted nuclear attacks and reprisals. Is there a factual narrative about these ...
21
votes
6answers
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
4answers
3k views

How were books published in Ancient Greece?

Suppose I'm a contemporary of Aristotle, living in Athens, and I want to write a book on, say, philosophy or mathematics. I suppose I would start by writing out a complete manuscript on some form of ...
21
votes
5answers
863 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
4answers
89k views

Does the number of legs in the air of a horse statue indicate how its rider died? [closed]

I have heard that the number of legs a horse has in the air in a statue indicates how the rider died. According to what I have understood: 2 legs in the air: rider died in battle 1 leg in the air: ...
21
votes
2answers
596 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
5k 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
3answers
789 views

First evidence for replacement of barter trade by local abstract currency?

What were the first local currency systems in history we have detailed information on? I dont think it was gold/silver or other hard to produce materials. Probably these became more important ...
21
votes
3answers
8k views

To what extent did Native American cultures develop metalworking for tools and weapons?

When Europeans started showing up in the New World, the native cultures were technologically far behind. Many still used stone tools: North American tribes used flint, while some Mesoamerican cultures ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

How was the modern geographic boundary between Europe and Asia decided?

Wikipedia puts the boundary as: The modern definition of Europe delimits it from Asia at the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles-Sea of Marmora-Bosporus, the Black Sea, along the watershed of the Greater ...
21
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
322 views

How did policymakers in the Muslim world react to the discovery and colonization of the Americas?

Since Colombus' voyage in 1492, the Europeans began to explore and colonize the Americas. During the next century, the Spanish (and the Portuguese?) extracted a lot of wealth from the Americas, ...
20
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
20
votes
10answers
8k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
5k views

When was the last time a reigning monarch personally participated in battle?

A similar question was asked about only British monarchs. The conditions in this question are the same, but for monarchs world-wide. For the sake of this question, tribal chiefs are not considered ...
20
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

Why did Sun Tzu believe you shouldn't wait besides a river when eager to fight?

In Sun Tzu's Art of War, Chapter 9 (The Army on the March), Verse 5, Tzu says If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross. My thinking ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Why didn't the participants of the Korean War also fight in the Vietnam War?

In the Korean war from 1950 to 1953, a lot of countries including the U.S., the U.K., France, Canada, Australia, and even Colombia, the Philippines and Ethiopia participated in the war under the U.N. ...
20
votes
5answers
42k 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the last battle fought mainly by sail-powered ships?

When and where has the last battle between sail-powered ships been fought? If possible, please include the countries involved as well as the armament and types of ships.

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