20
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3answers
5k 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?
20
votes
2answers
941 views

When did the Knights Templar dissolve and why?

The Knights Templar were a medieval chivalric organization within the Roman Catholic Church. When did they dissolve, and what ultimately led to the dissolution of the Templars?
20
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3answers
779 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
2k 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?
20
votes
3answers
2k views

What was the legal framework in Ancient India?

We all know the immense contribution ancient Roman, medieval Roman (or Byzantine), and pre-modern HRE cannon law has made to the modern world. These empires relied on a written constitution (or code) ...
20
votes
1answer
857 views

What is the meaning of people “looking elsewhere” on medieval paintings?

Looking at some medieval paintings I noticed that there are sometimes people "looking elsewhere" even though they take part in an important event and would be expected to pay attention: Is ...
20
votes
2answers
776 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
665 views

What was the scale of eroticism in Byzantine theater?

When reading the texts of saint John the Chrysostome i found a very severe criticism of theater because of 'nude harlots' that could be seen there. I have also read some fragments of Procopius' Secret ...
20
votes
2answers
748 views

What were the demographics and economics of South-East Asian islands around year 1400?

Background: Prior to the arrival of the Europeans on the scene, the island chains in South-East Asia, specifically in the area of today's Indonesia, Philippines and neighbouring states, housed a ...
19
votes
8answers
7k views

Why weren't aircraft carriers utilized during D-day?

Why were aircraft carriers not used during and following D-Day? They could have added a great deal of range to the air support operations.
19
votes
5answers
2k views

Has Taiwan always been a part of China?

Since young, I am informed that Taiwan is always a part of China and should not seek independence, and that the Chinese Communist Party will not hesitate to use force to stop the Taiwanese from ...
19
votes
7answers
17k views

What were the post World War 2 effects on Germany?

What where the impacts of WW2 on Germany? Obviously the war meant that a lot of resources where spent and that the youth population was significantly reduced. How did this affect Germany's post war ...
19
votes
5answers
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do land mines seem to be a more serious problem in the Balkans than the Alps?

The last war in the Balkans finished around 2000. Until today, land mines are a big problem, especially in Bosnia. There are huge regions where you shouldn't leave paved terrain. Since I love hiking, ...
19
votes
4answers
41k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
6k views

What prevented the Mongolian Empire from expanding into Europe?

The Mongolian Empire reached quite a vast extent according to the map below and leaders such as Genghis Khan seemed to defeat all their enemies consistently. Yet, the empire never extended into ...
19
votes
5answers
853 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
10k views

Who is the earliest recorded person?

Who is the earliest person recorded in history? Whose fame has survived the greatest amount of time to come down to us today?
19
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.
19
votes
5answers
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Why was the shape of German states pre-WWII (especially Prussia) so complicated?

The shapes of the Länder territories in Germany were very complicated. There was hundreds exclaves and enclaves all over the place to the point it became ridiculous. Notably the shape of Prussia, ...
19
votes
4answers
11k 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"?
19
votes
1answer
3k views

Does a reputation for cruelty to PoWs give a tactical advantage?

Among warring factions, some groups throughout history have sought to strike fear into their adversaries by 'making examples' of any members of the opposing force(s) that they capture alive, by means ...
19
votes
3answers
3k 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
762 views

Were there any conquests that Ancient Rome undertook explicitly to gain control of a natural resource?

Was there ever a case when Rome conquered a territory solely for the purpose of gaining control of a specific resource (spice, ore, timber, etc....)? I'm looking for something backed up by historical ...
19
votes
2answers
12k 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Was the Italian campaign a strategic mistake?

Background In September 1943, the Allied forces invaded Southern Italy in combined amphibious operations in Reggio di Calabria (Operation Baytown), Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and Taranto ...
19
votes
2answers
5k views

What was the significance of changing the name of “Persia” to “Iran”?

As best as I understand it, the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 was when Persia became Iran. What was the motivation for changing the name?
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Which cultures did *not* produce alcohol?

I've been reading Harold McGee's fascinating On Food and Cooking, and the chapter on alcohol has some interesting historical notes. He describes the widely varied and creative methods used in various ...
19
votes
2answers
11k views

In the Medieval period, how long would an average swordsmith need to forge an average sword?

Based on this question over in RPG, I'm trying to figure out how long it took to forge a sword in the Medieval/Renaissance smith to make swords. I am recalling a figure of about 9-12 months per ...
19
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
564 views

Was slavery in the United States legally limited to blacks?

Was slavery legally exclusive to race? That is, could blacks and only blacks in the United States be considered slaves under the law? As an example, if an owner were to import into the United States ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Where did Hannibal cross the Pyrenees?

Hannibal's passage through the Alps has been extensively studied, regarding the route chosen and logistics involved in passing a large army through difficult terrain. Before that, Hannibal would have ...
19
votes
1answer
581 views

Did anyone predict the existence of the Americas?

According to the answer of this question, Columbus was pretty much unique in his belief that the world was small enough and Asia was big enough to make sailing west to Asia possible. Everyone else ...
19
votes
2answers
425 views

What is the basis for the argument that the true believers in Juche died in the N. 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
423 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
7k views

Why wasn't San Marino unified with Italy?

Why wasn't San Marino unified with the Kindom of Italy during the unification process? Were there plans or efforts at the time to unify the two states? Did either government at any time try to annex ...
19
votes
2answers
691 views

in what form did William the Conqueror write the date of his own coronation?

This is a question about the English legal calendar as viewed by people living at the time, not as historians recorded it later. New year shifts to 1-January To the best of my understanding, the ...
19
votes
1answer
311 views

What courses would have been required to get a B.A. in America in the 1930s?

I know in the early 20th century the liberal arts curriculum was focused much more on the classics, but am interested in knowing specifically what courses were required to graduate during the Great ...
19
votes
1answer
332 views

Who, if any, in JFK's inner circle argued against the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion?

Political discussions leading up to the Bay of Pigs invasion are a notorious example of 'groupthink' and the failure of a committee in coming to a well-informed decision. Accounts of the ...
19
votes
1answer
492 views

When did Americans become safe from highway robbery?

The other day a friend and I were reconciling our memories of "shotgun" rules, the customs by which American teenagers determine who sits in the front passenger seat of a car. The concept derives from ...
19
votes
1answer
1k views

What did the Romans do for Judea?

I watched The Life of Brian and I heard this quotation: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: Yes. Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: All right, ...
19
votes
2answers
811 views

What would a Norseman in the early 11th century have worn as daily clothing?

Most of the Norse clothing we know about seems to come from burials. However, in many cultures, bodies dressed for burial are wearing either "good" clothes, or special clothes for the dead. Is there ...
19
votes
1answer
324 views

What happened to Soviet citizens on Finnish territory before and during winter war?

How many Soviet citizens were on Finnish territory immediately before the Winter War? Other than diplomats. I suppose there would have been trading officials, some engineering personnel etc. What ...
19
votes
1answer
489 views

Colonisation of India: Which regions of the United Kingdom did colonial personnel come from?

I'm a linguist doing research on the emergence of new dialects of English spoken in former colonies, especially India. These new dialects have two major influences: (1) Interference from the mother ...
19
votes
0answers
339 views

CIA mole in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet

It is discussed in several books that the CIA had a mole in Indira Gandhi's cabinet around the time of the Liberation war for Bangladesh in 1971. There are conflicting reports about who the mole could ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

What was the cleanest war ever fought?

If not all, the vast majority of wars in known history were dirty, cruel and with a lot of civilian casualties. That makes me wonder if there has ever been a "clean" war where both sides played "by ...

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