122
votes
28answers
70k views

Why did Hitler attack the Soviet Union when he was still busy fighting the United Kingdom?

This has always bothered me. Everyone knows that having to fight on two opposite fronts at once is bad... and it's also a well known fact that every European country which tried to invade Russia has ...
39
votes
11answers
10k views

What were the reasons for the Renaissance / scientific revolution in Europe?

One of the common reasons given for the Renaissance and the subsequent scientific revolution is the rediscovery of classical works by scholars in Europe and the social change that the study of those ...
33
votes
5answers
3k views

What are the factors that caused the new world civilizations to be less technologically advanced than the old world?

Assuming they started at the same point (maybe the split of the continents or the migration of the first "Native Americans" to the American continent), why did the Old World end up developing faster? ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

What are the latest publications demolishing the Aryan invasion/migration theory?

Recent findings in archaelogy and related fields have led scholars to replace "invasion" with "migration" in the "Aryan invasion" theory. E.g. Romila Thapar in this edition of The Penguin History of ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Does Grant's use of attrition tactic support his reputation as a general?

In 1864, General Ulysees S. Grant began the "final campaign" against Richmond using a war of attrition. That's because of the Union's 2-to-1 numerical advantage against a qualitatively superior ...
33
votes
12answers
26k views

Is history always written by the victors?

The famous "history is written by victors" saying argues that the victors overwhelmingly influence historical accounts. Are there any examples of history written by the(or THE) losers?
9
votes
4answers
20k views

Why was Germany held accountable for WW1?

The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war. If the war was initially due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins, why did the Treaty of ...
10
votes
2answers
53k views

What is the truth behind this speech by (Lord Macaulay)?

Was this speech was delivered by Macaulay in British parliament? Got many articles saying that this speech was not delivered by Macaulay. Is it true? What are the facts behind this speech? I have ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What historical reasons did the Nazis give for hating the Jews? How did they identify non-practicing Jews?

What historical or cultural reasons did the Nazis give for hating the Jews? Did they ever accurately and precisely identify non-practicing Jews? I asked Jewish culture differences singled out by ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

When did the practice of formally “declaring war” cease and why?

Here's a detailed description of ambassador Neville Henderson being received by the foreign ministry in Berlin in 1939. Perhaps the most famous example. He came in looking very serious, shook ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the Bible considered a reliable historical resource? [closed]

I realize there is probably a large spectrum of opinions on this matter. Nevertheless, what is the general consensus among academics on the historical reliability of the Bible? Is it a sound ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

When and how did people begin to consider slavery immoral?

Consider this: In the ancient world, murder and theft were prohibited. However, slavery was ubiquitous and considered normal. AFAIK, nobody thought of it as immoral, though probably some called for ...
26
votes
2answers
2k views

Was Napoleon as short as “common knowledge” states?

I once saw a mention (on cracked.com) that Napoleon - who pretty much everyone "knows" was of very short stature - was actually close to average height for his time/demographics, and the short height ...
24
votes
7answers
8k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
13
votes
2answers
186 views

When was the change from kalends, ides and nones to numbers

The Romans named the days of the month by counting down to kalends, ides and nones. We use numbers counting up from one for the first day of the month. When did this change take place? I assume that ...
10
votes
3answers
444 views

Is there a definition of history separate from the definition of politics?

I encountered a problem to define something as "history", namely the determination of legal status of Kosovo. The action is so recent, I would say it more belongs to "politics". For my impression ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the basis of Russian criticism of Antony Beevor's work? [closed]

Some Russian sources make claims to the effect of "Beevor is revisionist and anti-Soviet propagandist". What is the basis for this criticism? For the antecedents of the question, see here.
14
votes
3answers
802 views

Material Basis of the Golden Age of Bohemia

On a recent visit to Prague I was much impressed by the city's beauty and the number and splendor of its historic sites, such as Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge (a bit further afield Karlštejn ...
9
votes
3answers
654 views

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Chinese kids the world over are frequently taught that there is "5000 years of Chinese history". What basis is there for this claim?
52
votes
13answers
16k views

Did Imperial Japan choose to ally with Nazi Germany because of ideological similarity?

There are certain similarities that can be drawn between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Both were dictatorships, both believed in racism (though against different people), and both were wanting to ...
31
votes
5answers
10k views

What was the religion of the Arabic people before conversion to Islam?

What was the dominant religion of the Arabic people when Prophet Muhammed started the Islamic religion?
22
votes
3answers
8k views

What were the reasons that the British colonies in North America rebelled but not others?

I know more about the American War of Independence than about other British colonies, but I have begun to wonder why was it just America. The British had colonies in other places but there doesn't ...
40
votes
9answers
20k views

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during WW2?

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during the war? They produced a large amount of war material during 1939-1945, but how was this production financed? What were Germany's revenue streams that ...
33
votes
3answers
4k views

What knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Alexandria?

Of course we'll never know for sure, but do historians have some reasonable ideas about what knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Serapeum of Alexandria, when it was destroyed by the Decree ...
45
votes
6answers
32k views

Why is Christopher Columbus credited for “discovering” America?

Even if we ignore the millions of native Americans who lived in the continent before Columbus "discovered" it, even if we ignore other civilizations (eg: Polynesians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Arabs, ...
16
votes
4answers
759 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
386 views

What are some indicators that distinguish pseudo-history from actual history?

It is sometimes hard for a layman to separate well-researched history from the writings of kooks (or what Mark Twain called "inspired idiots"). For example: my local library carries "A Secret ...
22
votes
3answers
10k 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?
10
votes
6answers
3k views

Why Europe became more developed although metal was first discovered and used in Asia/Africa? [closed]

Copper was first discovered and used in Middle East. Iron was first discovered in Egypt. What were the factors that allowed the development of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations (the father of ...
7
votes
2answers
22k views

What was Hitler's attitude towards the Aryans of India?

Considering some of the questions/questioners that have cropped up recently on this site, what was the Nazi attitude towards India and specifically the Aryans of India? Did Hitler consider them to be ...
7
votes
1answer
158 views

What are legitimate methods and sources?

How does a historian or an amateur determine what legitimate methods can be used and what legitimate sources are? Obviously there are many methods to read texts and speculate about political, social, ...
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 ...
19
votes
4answers
40k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
8k views

World War II - Have Historians Envisioned How The Axis Powers Might Have Won? [closed]

OK, so it's a "WWII What If" question, I have searched on here and cannot find an example of this being asked before, which I find surprising. Maybe my searching abilities aren't very good. Anyhow, ...
11
votes
5answers
519 views

Why did non-monarchic rule meet with so little success in ancient China?

In the ancient world, the states around the Mediterranean were ruled by various forms of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, each of which had varying levels of success. Meanwhile, in China, monarchy ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Was the Zimmerman Telegram a ruse on the US or a way of Germany to incite Mexico to declare war on the US?

Prior to America's entry into WWI the Zimmerman Telegram was one incident that helped push America to declare war against Germany and join the Allies, while Mexico never fought against the US was this ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Chinese Hundred Schools of Thought and Ancient Greek Philosophy

As a beginning student of Chinese I am also learning a bit more about Chinese history. As such I am more-and-more impressed by the quality of thought that has been left behind by Chinese philosophers ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Were the “hussars” that Jan Sobieski used at the battle of Vienna actually elite troops?

Apparently, the decisive blow at the 1683 Battle of Vienna was struck by Jan Sobieski, with only 3,000 "hussars" (cavalry). This seems a bit hard to believe, given that the Turkish army had about ...
1
vote
1answer
538 views

How and Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? [closed]

How did the Soviet Union collapse? (Collapse meaning loss of central power over its member states who declared their independence.) Was it economic, and to what extent? Was it Ronald Reagan and ...
76
votes
13answers
24k views

Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
48
votes
9answers
2k views

History of scientific regression [closed]

Throughout history, humans have made many subtle and many substantial scientific advancements. Humans have explored, examined, learned, applied and at times seemingly "forgotten" and/or were unable ...
65
votes
13answers
9k views

Why China was able to unify and not Europe

If you look at a map of China through the ages, you will usually find (from about the Han up) a huge mass representing China. On the other hand, you look at a map of Europe, and you'll usually see a ...
42
votes
16answers
22k views

Was the secession of the Confederate states illegal?

Putting aside their reasons for wanting to do so and all the emotional responses they would provoke, was the secession of states from the Union to eventually form the Confederacy an illegal act in ...
56
votes
5answers
3k views

How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
39
votes
11answers
13k views

Why did Hitler declare war on the USA?

Since there had not been any offensives launched by either side against the other, why declare war just because Japan had attacked the USA?
26
votes
4answers
7k views

How did the Roman state verify citizenship?

How were ancient Roman citizens identified, and how did officials make sure that their identity wasn't fake? I.e., did they maintain some kind of citizens registry, or did they have some kind of ...
30
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are many African nations poor?

Many African countries are currently in the bottom parts of socioeconomic rankings like GDP per capita, life expectancy, literacy, HDI, etc. Some of them possess a decent amount of natural resources ...
73
votes
9answers
15k views

Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

Even if we account for the argument that it is much more tedious to train a man to use a bow than a musket, why then did the arbalest not make a comeback? Its effective range - reportedly at 300m, is ...
48
votes
9answers
10k views

Why was Africa colonized last of the continents in the Age of Discovery?

One thing that I always wondered is during the time where European powers were dividing up the world amongst themselves (1500-1900 roughly), why was it that Africa seemed to lag behind in ...
32
votes
9answers
3k views

What were Hitler's religious beliefs?

Hitler is often cited as an example of an evil atheist (along with Stalin and Mao). But there are several quotes from him that seem to indicate he believed in the Christian God - and even used this to ...

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