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77

Yes, a trained archer can probably put more effective shots on an unarmored target than a trained musketman of the 18th century. The problem is that word trained. Consider that most nations in the 18th century did not have a standing army. Men were called up, served their time, and left. That means you either need to use skills they already have (in WWII ...


61

Poland wasn't actually "spared", it was merely less affected than the rest of Europe. That graphic is incorrect (or rather, incomplete), since a substantial number of both Poland and Milan's population did in fact die of the plague. Their death rates were only "low" in comparison to the rest of Europe - if it happened today, it would be horrifying to us. ...


31

The surname 'Hood' implied where the individual was from. For all purposes, there were many people with the last name. The name Robin Hood is accounted as not an uncommon name in the middle ages. There is a corpus of evidence that there were outlaw stories circulating about a Robin Hood during the reign of King John. However, there are cases of multiple ...


28

Indeed, the idea that educated people in the middle ages thought the earth was flat is a myth. It was well known to have been round since well before Christ. Many early maps represent a round earth with edges covered by a sea. It is quite possible that the earliest of these actually are meant to represent a flat earth, but that's 6th century BC. Of ...


26

Here is one noting: The European medieval diet was largely determined by social class. For the majority of the of the people, peasants, a large portion of their daily diet was made up of grains such as wheat, rye, oats or barley(carbohydrates). The grains were boiled whole in a soup or stew, ground into flour and made into bread, or malted and brewed ...


26

There was a separation between the noble french and the vulgar Old English. Or as I wrote in my comment: Who cares about the language of peasants I found a nice source for this assumption Middle English (1100-circa 1500 AD): After William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England in 1066 AD with his armies and became king, he ...


24

Another simple but important reason besides economic changes starting at this time is the spread of printing technique. A scientific community really only works when scholars can cite each other and share their ideas in a cheap and fast way, thats why internet boosted scientific progress in our time. If you study the link, the Gutenberg printing technique ...


23

I don't think it is possible to idenitify a single point in history as beginning the "slope toward the end". Such thinking results from the simplistic model of an empire's history as consisting of two segements: "growth" and "decline". In reality, the history of the Byzantine empire is a complex sequence of alternating growth and decline. I'd say that the ...


22

Your question embodies large amounts of modern fantasy. Firstly, imagine that nothing can be bought or sold by the vast and overwhelming majority of the population. Coin does not exist or circulate for most people. There obviously would have been farmers, creating and selling produce in markets Nope. Farmers are a modern institution related to ...


21

The fourth crusade was the turning point. The crusade was high-jacked by Venice to take revenge on the Byzantines for past deeds: imprisonments, break of contract, etc... The crusade was aimed to land in Egypt originally, as it was seen as the main threat to taking Jerusalem back. However, since the crusaders could not pay for the large Venetian feet, it ...


21

The first example of catapulting plague victims into a besieged city was that of Caffa (Modern day Feodosia) in the Crimea. This was in fact the first account of plague in European history. Caffa had been under siege by the Mongol (aka. Tartar or Golden Horde) army. The siege had been long a protracted. First starting in 1343, it was lifted by the arrival ...


21

There are a number of good accounts of the development of warfare in Europe, but the two key things you need to realise are: a) "morale" b) "mass" Much of European warfare has been conditioned by these two abstract concepts. Broadly, morale is the capacity of a unit to continue to engage in what it is doing despite adverse outcomes and mass is the capacity ...


20

Maybe someone more knowledgeable about the economics of a society like the medieval Mongols might expand on this, but to me it seems that such a civilization could generate much more income by conquering and looting new territory than what they could produce internally. This is also true to the nomadic people in the migration period some centuries earlier: ...


19

Officially the Knights were disbanded in the early 14th century, beginning in France with King Philip IV prosecuting them for multiple reasons (the Templars had lost standing after the Third Crusade, public mistrust, and the King owed money to the order), with other countries to follow. Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312.


19

There are many reasons, and I'm going to present the materialistic one championed by the Marxists (collective thud as the audience of History.SE falls off their chairs and faints). One of the requirements for having scientific progress is economic - you need enough surplus to enable the resources devoted to scholarship. This was enabled at the beginning of ...


19

Perhaps you're thinking of a video game, because I'm sure that what you posit makes no sense whatsoever in hand-to-hand combat. A shield is just movable armor. It's big enough not to require a lot of accuracy in placement, just a shift toward the direction of attack. Its design, at some minimal level, will resist blows from hand weapons passively, i.e. ...


19

Probably not. It seems to have existed as a traditional right, but was almost never exercised. Wikipedia denies the existence of this right, citing Albrecht Classen's The Medieval Chastity Belt. Snopes concurs, citing Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., 10.610: [The droit du seigneur] is paralleled in various primitive societies, but the evidence of ...


18

The "Middle Ages" or medieval period generally refers to the entire time span between classical antiquity and the modern era in Western history. The Middle Ages lasted approximately AD 500 - 1500, from the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire to the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the discovery and colonization of the New World. The Middle Ages are often ...


18

That's not exactly how it worked. As not everybody was able to become a knight (especially without richness), many squires were adult, sometimes more than 30 years old, and because of their experience, they were well-trained fighters. Don't think of heavy cavalry only as knights. For example, the regular heavy cavalry unit in Poland was called Chorągiew ...


18

The practice of drinking beer instead of water was because people noticed that you would get sick less. Why was not understood until the 19th century, with the advent of modern bacteriology etc. Since we now understand that it's non-clean water that makes you sick, clean water is a high priority around the world. Clean water is always cheaper than beer, so ...


17

It would be very interesting to see a chart of rate of innovation over time in western civilization. Of course, this begs the question of what is "innovation". Do you count number of inventions? Do you give more weight to inventions that would have long lasting significance through history? Or ones that may have been less influential but providing a huge ...


17

Actually the motivation is pretty well-known. The motivation for the invasion of Spain was similar to that of all Muslim conquest of the period. Islamic armies under the command of the "The Rightly Guided Caliphs" and the following Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs benefited from a unifying religion to form a large and motivated armed forces, out of what had ...


17

"armour" is a bit general, from the fancy gleaming best tournement suit to the few bits of salvaged chain mail stitched onto an archers leather jacket. Generally the knights and foot soldiers wouldn't march in anything like full armour, medieval battles were fought on agreed sites when the armies were visible to each other - not ambushes or blitzkreig. So ...


16

I don't have much historical evidence to bring to this one, but I've worn heavy SCA armour on hot days (hot by British Isles standards) and discussed the problem with people who have done so in hotter climates (Texas and Israel, most notably). So, first and foremost, they probably would not have worn the armour unless they were expecting to go into a fight. ...


16

The Mongols were pastoralists. Livestock herders. As such, their culture naturally thrived on steppe (or grassland) territory. A pastoral nation is not tied to any one place, but rather moves around with its herds to find the best grazing. A militarily dominant pastoralist society will naturally attempt to take over all good grassland territory for itself. ...


15

Your main question has been pretty well answered, but I'd like to clarify a few points: If the attackers had plague victims to toss over the wall, it means they were also exposed to the plague. Which might adversely affect their ability to maintain the siege. Even an extremely virulent plague like the Black Death only killed something like a third to ...


15

I'm afraid any answer to this question must begin by considering what is understood to be the 'Renaissance' and the 'Scientific Revolution'. And that consideration, in turn, inevitably reveals a number of historiographical difficulties. The first of these is that neither of these were 'events', at least, not in the sense of a war or an assassination. They ...


15

England in 400BC was a broadly Celtic culture with Pictish remnants in the North; 1600 years later it had gained a lot of influence from Roman, German, French, and Norse invasions. Language, food, architecture, laws, and so on were much different. These are the obvious changes. Your middle age Englander transported to Iron Age England would perhaps guess ...


15

Having done some archery, I can attest to the fact that you can get a lot more people on the line, shooting at the same time, if their movements are at least broadly in sequence. The combined benefits of the physical impact of more archers in the same space, and the moral impact of a thousand arrows hitting at the same time rather than a steady stream, seem ...


15

"In the medieval ages, peasants used to drink beer instead of water because the plain water wasn't safe to drink... Why did this practice emerge in some countries but not others?" One really good reason is this -- it's not true in the first place. It's a myth, and a very common one. People didn't use spices to cover up the flavor of spoiled meat, either! ...



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