16
votes
6answers
2k views

Why did England consistently adopt red as their primary colour for insignia and uniform?

Throughout the last 1000 years red has become a consistent motif for military clothing and heraldic imagery in England. What are the reasons for this? Are there economic, environmental (eg. dyes used ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

What cultures did, or do, perform human sacrifice on a regular basis?

Looking at the Area 51 commitment page, I realized that some of the questions that were originally suggested there never got asked here, so I thought I'd add some of them. Something else I would like ...
16
votes
6answers
6k views

What factors enabled Europe to conquer almost the whole world?

As we probably all know, after ancient and medieval times European countries traveled to almost every part of the Globe. Today's heritage are, among many others, Roman law and alphabet, Gregorian ...
16
votes
3answers
8k views

Did India turn down a permanent seat in the UN in 1955?

As per this article, India was offered a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 1955 but Jawaharlal Nehru turned it down and the seat went to China. In light of the current lobbying that India ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Can you identify the ship in this picture?

Unidentified ship possibly numbered 545, aircraft carrier in background, maybe San Francisco or Washington State?
16
votes
2answers
2k 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, ...
16
votes
3answers
988 views

Why is the United States the only developed country whose labour laws leave most up to the employer? [closed]

I read this post: "Bad Facts About The USA". It says that the United States, Lesotho, Swaziland and New Guinea are the only countries in the world not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

What were the Nazi racial views on Hungarians and the Japanese?

Hungary and Japan were Nazi Germany's allies during WWII, yet it could not possibly be argued that the Japanese belong to the "Aryan race", and Hungarians speak a non-Indo-European language, which ...
16
votes
3answers
586 views

Why were the British so reluctant to allow Jewish migration to Palestine?

Not sure this is the correct forum to ask this, but i'm currently reading 'Exodus' by Leon Uris, and i'm curious as to why the British were so reluctant in letting jewish people in Palestine. This ...
16
votes
6answers
32k views

Why were Spain and Portugal neutral / not invaded in WWII?

Why was not Spain and Portugal involved in World War II with either side? Was not Franco sympathetic with the Axis powers given the help they offered during the civil war? Also, given their ...
16
votes
3answers
484 views

Has there ever been a serious effort to reform the US Electoral College system?

There seems to be widespread feeling that the US Electoral College distorts the will of the people in presidential elections. Of course, that ability was part of the reason that our founding fathers ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Why did Ford pardon Nixon?

Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon for the crimes he committed during his presidency was quite an unpopular and controversial move. Why did he make this decision?
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What was the internal Soviet reaction to the moon landing?

The Soviet Union was a famously restrictive place when it came to news and ideological spin, and obviously their attitude toward the United States was less than supportive and warm. The Space Race ...
16
votes
2answers
432 views

How many different countries could a person alive today have lived in without leaving their hometown?

For example, a centenarian who has spent her entire life in Rijeka would have lived in five: The Austro-Hungarian Empire (until 1920) The Free State of Fiume (1920-1924) Italy (1924-1947) Yugoslavia ...
16
votes
1answer
4k views

Why did Poland keep Warsaw as its capital instead of returning it to Krakow in the 20th century?

My recollection is that Krakow was Poland's capital for much of the Middle Ages, having moved there from Thorn(?) shortly after 1000 A.D. My understanding is that Warsaw, a newer city, became ...
16
votes
1answer
214 views

In which document was the exact course of the northern part of the German-Polish border decided?

While researching the answer to "How was Germany's border decided?", I didn't manage to find any documents which would precisely describe the borders between Germany and Poland between the points 53° ...
16
votes
4answers
417 views

How can prices be compared over time?

I've just asked a question where Tyler Durden wrote in his answer that paper was expensive at Euclids time. So I wanted to ask the question: How did the price of paper / papyrus develop over ...
16
votes
7answers
12k views

Are modern Greeks related to the ancient Greeks?

Greece has been subject to many many invasions since the 7th century and there must have been a serious mixing of peoples. In a similar situation, we do not usually consider the French or the Germans ...
16
votes
2answers
20k views

Why did the Federalist party collapse?

The Federalist Party in the United States was a significant political force during the early years of the United States' history. Wikipedia doesn't really cite reasons why the party declined and ...
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 ...
16
votes
3answers
683 views

What is the evidence to claim that political order in ancient Rome was sufficiently different under “kingdom”, “republic” and “empire”?

Traditionally the following stages are counted for the political order of the Ancient Rome: Kingdom Republic Empire (subdivided into Principate and Dominate) The "kingdom" is usually regarded as ...
16
votes
1answer
637 views

What was used instead of toilet paper in the US and the UK prior to 1900?

I read in this Wikipedia article that toilet paper came to be available only around 1920. On the other hand, this article says bidets were never popular in the UK and the US. Moreover, colonies of ...
16
votes
1answer
485 views

What was it like for a coastal village to experience a Viking raid in around the tenth century?

Were fishing villages really completely at the mercy of these Vikings, or could they defend them selves? Did villagers have their own weapons? Could they expect any support from a Lord or Land Baron? ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What was the first successful non violent independence movement?

It is a known fact that Mahatma Gandhi launched a non-violent movement which freed the Indian subcontinent from the British rule on 15th August 1947. But was this the first instance that a freedom ...
16
votes
1answer
593 views

Was there any theological opposition to the lightning rod?

Apparently, there was some opposition to the lightning rod at the time of its invention because lightning was seen as "the wrath of God" and should not be controlled. I'd like to find some citations ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

When was the concept of “weekly day off” first introduced in Indian Subcontinent?

Did ancient & medieval indians have a weekly day off? Or was there even a generally recognized day as public holiday? Or did the concept get introduced with Arabs or Europeans?
16
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
268 views

What was the Julian Calendar aligned to?

I understand that the Julian Calendar was introduced to align the length of the calendar to the tropical year, i.e. make the average year 365.25 days long. However, what I'm still trying to figure out ...
16
votes
1answer
308 views

When did the cats versus dogs rivalry begin in the US?

In the US people that own pets seem to be pegged as either dog people, or cat people. This cultural phenomenon is so prevalent that Hollywood even made a movie about it. My question is, when did this ...
16
votes
1answer
356 views

Did the Romans pour wine down wells for health purposes?

I've heard some kind of story that after the Romans would conquer a new village or city, they would pour wine (or other alcohol?) down the wells to kill the bacteria and make it safe for future ...
16
votes
1answer
338 views

In 19th century India, pre and post Raj, did any private British citizens actually own land in India?

I've never been able to clarify this question. From what I can tell, the land that the British occupied in India was either "owned" (if this is the right term) by the Company during the time of its ...
16
votes
2answers
795 views

How were small swords worn in the 18th century?

Quick summary: How was the small sword (or dress sword) fastened to the body? What are the different ways of wearing it? Looking at many drawings from this period, a good bunch of them depicts men ...
16
votes
2answers
684 views

How did Islam and Hinduism thrive together in Medieval India?

In countries in the Middle East, Indonesia and many North African countries, the onset of Islamic rulers spread Islam in a rapid manner, eventually wiping off the local religion. However in spite of ...
16
votes
2answers
471 views

Was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 captured on film?

I have a memory of reading about how Franz Ferdinand's assassination in 1914 was captured on film and watching it, but for the life of me I cannot find this and am beginning to think I fabricated it. ...
16
votes
1answer
372 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

How well can cavalry fight infantry?

In the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar's infantry won by throwing their spears at the horsemen's faces. So how come in Battle of Zama and many other battles, including the battle where Khalid ibn ...
15
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the earliest reference to “space aliens”?

If we go back sufficiently far in human history we will most likely see that any descriptions of (supposed) "aliens" are described solely in religious terms. So in the distant past, any weird or ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How were nobles 'promoted' in aristocracies?

According to this list, how were nobles promoted? For instance, Baron to Viscount, and Duke to Archduke? If ranks are hereditary, were there only a specific number of each rank given out in each ...
15
votes
13answers
7k views

Why does Europe have so few skyscrapers compared to East Asia?

The European Union has virtually no skyscrapers except the newly built 'The Shard' in London. There are also a series of newly-built state-funded skyscrapers in Moscow. On the other hand if you look ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Was the US Navy larger in 1917, and if so, why?

Following the recent discussion in the third US Presidental Debate about the size of the Navy, there actually seemed to be a good discussion buried in there. How does the US Navy compare to its ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Is the USA a superpower today because of WW2?

I understand that the USA funded the war effort against the Axis, although the Allies in Europe had to pay for this help in one way or another. It's fascinating to see how not that long ago ...
15
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

What were the Allies' plans for if they caught Hitler alive?

Hitler committed suicide in 1945, but I'm curious as to what would have happened to him if he hadn't. Did the Allies have any formal plans as to what they would do with Hitler if they caught him ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

How do new countries legally and without bloodshed declare themselves independent?

I saw an article about the legality of the declaration of independence. For example, when USSR broke up, several countries became independent, but for others, there is still fighting to maintain them ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
1k 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, ...
15
votes
4answers
978 views

Do most of today's democratic nations with two-party system exhibit a civil war in recent past?

I was thinking about the two-party system in USA and comparing it to mostly multi-party systems in Europe and was wondering, if this national state of democracy is mainly caused by political decisions ...
15
votes
3answers
382 views

Were there ever actual organizations of pirates?

You can see depictions of pirate organizations in popular media a fair bit. For example, in many movies, and the Captain Morgan commercials. But I get the impression from my readings that most pirate ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Which country traces its roots back to the oldest civilization?

Which country is recognized or documented as having the first prominent civilization? After reading so many articles, I couldn't determine which country should be acknowledged as having the oldest ...

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