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
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
6k 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
1answer
543 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
7answers
22k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
419 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
1answer
292 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
330 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
465 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
818 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
766 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
301 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
461 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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
4answers
9k 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 ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

Who was responsible for the partition of India?

Who was responsible for the partition of India? Did it happen due to Mohammed Ali Jinnah or Mahatma Gandhi? Or were the British of the view that the country needed to be divided?
18
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
868 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, ...
18
votes
13answers
14k views

What was the ratio of German to Soviet losses on eastern front during different stages of the war?

I've read somewhere that the ratio of Soviet to German casualties on the eastern front was 1.4 for the whole war. But what about data for different stages of the war? (this ratio wasn't constant after ...
18
votes
4answers
5k views

Why was there lack of food during WW2 in the UK?

Why was there lack of food during the WW2 in the UK? I understand the lack of food in the countries occupied by Germans, as they recruited a lot of agricultural products for their war machinery. But ...
18
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
37k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

What were the 52 kinds of victims persecuted by the Nazis?

Out of the surviving 6,808 arrest files of Duesseldorf, a small city of half a million population, 1,440 were those of Communists alone. They were, however, only one among the 52 types of ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Did Churchill and Roosevelt know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the following secret pacts between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany prior to, and during WWII. It seems that the actions of the two countries after the invasion of Poland ...
18
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 ...
18
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

What happened to US's Lend-Lease machinery given to the Soviet Union?

Although most sources say that the Russians were supplied with great amounts of equipment and food as part of Lend-Lease program, I have not in all my years living in Russia seen US labeled machinery. ...
18
votes
8answers
15k views

How do Tamahagane, Damascus, and Toledo Steel compare?

Has a comparison been made of the qualities of Samurai (Tamahagane), Damascus and Toledo steel (rather than the swords)? I've seen claims for each being better than the others. If it's on topic, I'm ...
18
votes
6answers
441 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
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
4answers
1k 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
5answers
12k 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
1answer
8k views

Who discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?

Who (and when) discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?
18
votes
7answers
3k 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
790 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
2answers
2k views

What was the tactical benefit of using flamethrowers as weapons?

I often hear stories of flamethrower troops storming the beaches of Iwo Jima and burning bunkers full of troops. But isn't it more risky to carry a tank of flammable liquid with limited fuel and ...
18
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How did the British Navy pass orders to its fleet before radio?

During the 18th and 19th century, the British Navy had ships all over the world, and communicating with them had to be difficult. After all, the Battle of New Orleans happened after the British had ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did John Ganson vote contradictorily on the 13th Amendment?

The House of Representatives originally did not pass the 13th Amendment, and on January 1, 1865 it was reconsidered and passed. Evidently, the House first voted that day on whether to reconsider the ...
18
votes
5answers
15k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Did the Romans ever deploy troops to, or try to conquer, Ireland?

The Romans obviously conquered Ireland's nearest neighbor, Britain (at least the southern part of it), but they seem to have stayed away from Ireland, at least as far as I am aware. Is this the ...
18
votes
6answers
2k 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
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 ...
18
votes
1answer
1k 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
4k 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?
18
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 ...
18
votes
1answer
2k 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. ...
18
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...

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