Questions tagged [middle-ages]

The Middle Ages is a periodisation of European history, encompassing the period from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century.

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Has the concept of "annulment" of a putative marriage changed over time in the Roman Catholic Church?

I'm confused about the details of how the concepts of "putative marriage", "valid marriage", and "invalid marriage" are related in the context of Roman Catholic canon law ...
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What was "primitive labor rent" or "mains mortales"?

In this quote from Hellie, R. (1971) Enserfment and military change in Muscovy, Chicago, USA, page 14 (archive.org): B. D. Grekov, in periodizing peasant history, offered the following three forms of ...
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Marriage for executioners in Medieval times

I recently heard from a city guide in Franconia, Germany, that executioners were well-paid but outcast from the Medieval society. Apparently, it was quite hard for them to get a wife because nobody ...
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Was the quality of Roman armor really worse than the armor of knights of the XII-XIV centuries?

When I was studying the metallurgy of ancient Rome, I saw a rather controversial study done by Michael Fulford, David Sim and Alistair Doig called "The production of Roman ferrous armour:a ...
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What was a "census" (some sort of compensation) in early medieval Europe?

White (1962): By about 745 both monasteries and bishoprics were receiving a census in partial compensation for lost estates. Brown (2021): The formula represents a gift of property to a monastery, ...
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What is the meaning of the medieval word 'bliant', used to describe a fabric?

There are a number of references to "bliant" in The Mabinogion, but I cannot track the word down using my trusty Webster's Unabridged or Google (I get baby names, etc). Can anyone help? For ...
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What were the alleged crimes that Conradin, King of Sicily and Jerusalem, was accused of?

Conrad V or Conradin, (1252-1268) was King of Sicily, King of Jerusalem, and Duke of Swabia. The throne of Sicily was usurped by his uncle Manfred in 1258, who in turn was overthrown and usurped by ...
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What is the price of modern warfare compared to medieval in terms of GDP?

I recently read that the Russians launched 35 missiles each costing around 1 million USD on Jarov, which made me realize that modern warfare is, to put it mildly, very expensive. But I would probably ...
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Are there any examples of European rulers with a rank lower than king to utilize a "throne" and a "throne room"?

There is a image in the popular culture of a king sitting on a throne in a throne room and "holding court", that is performing administrative and diplomatic tasks. Was such ceremony and room ...
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How were "Wehrbauern" (soldier peasants) in medieval Europe even a thing, at all?

Wehrbauer (German pronunciation: [ˈveːɐ̯ˌbaʊ.ɐ], defensive peasant), plural Wehrbauern, is a German term for settlers living on the marches of a realm, who were tasked with holding back foreign ...
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Why did armies meet on the battlefield, and how often did they? (medieval times) [closed]

A common criticism I hear of fiction set in medieval-esque worlds is that it makes no sense for the defending army to leave the fortifications in order to meet the attacking army on the battlefield. ...
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How did the Palace of Poitiers change from its depiction in Tres Riches Heures to now?

They seem completely different so I'm really confused how they could be the same structure.Is there anything left of what was depicted in the manuscript? Tres Riches Heures Now (sorry couldn't find ...
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Where and how were the catapults/trebuchets operators trained?

Practice makes perfect: give someone enough time with a sling, bow or crossbow and after a while he will learn to hit the target - you don't need to know much science, as much of the learning revolves ...
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Are there any examples of mercenaries receiving title and land in medieval Hungary for services rendered?

I am mostly interested in examples from the 15th century. Could a former mercenary from the Black Army earn a title such as baron or count (alongside a piece of land) for serving the king (or one of ...
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36 votes
4 answers
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How literate were common people in Medieval Europe?

I stumbled upon a youtube video some time ago about literacy in Medieval Europe. The guy argues that probably at least one person per household was able to read - contrary to common belief. His ...
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How were siege ladders used to attack medieval castle walls?

It's a common trope in both movies and computer games that ladders are used to climb walls when assaulting a castle. But in each case it seems like it would be incredibly easy to defend - it appears ...
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How did Medieval European river passenger transport develop?

I read some sources that transport by boat over European rivers developed already in the early medieval period, ie after having developed ships with low draft as well as the invention of a ...
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What was the role of Scotland during the Hundred years war?

Scotland was the enemy of England, as they had just won independence. It made sense for them to join hands with the French forces. And I heard something like that in an Extra Credits video. But can ...
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Were any prominent people exiled from France during the Hundred years war? Especially between 1390-1397

Were any notable figures (such as noblemen, or mercenaries, politician [idk what they called them back then] etc. ) that were exiled from France during Hundred Years War between 1390 to 1397. Or any ...
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Is Jacques Le Goff's statement about medieval labor mechanization not leading to qualitative progress true?

Jacques Le Goff said this in his book "Medieval Civilization 400-1500" on pages 200-201. I would like to know if modern historians agree with these statements of Jacques le Goff and why: ...
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At what height were Gargoyles typically used in Gothic architecture

In terms of the design of gothic buildings, specifically French Gothic, at what height were Gargoyles typically installed / deemed necessary? Or were they installed in most stone buildings regardless ...
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How was plate armour attached and secured?

I can see from this quora post leather straps were used throughout history, but was that all that was used, and where typically (if there's well defined types of attachment) did various parts attach ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Why didn't pre-Gutenberg movable type systems cause a printing revolution? [duplicate]

From Wikipedia Around 1040, the first known movable type system was created in China by Bi Sheng out of porcelain. Bi Sheng used clay type, which broke easily, but Wang Zhen by 1298 had carved a more ...
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How did ancient people handle lightning in practical life?

..and any culture before the ubiquitous recognition of lightning in our current everyday understanding. In particular those who were especially exposed in everyday life: For instance Scandinavia had ...
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How aware was Europe nobility of the danger of consanguinity?

If my understanding of history is correct, it was common for much of European history for nobles and royalty to need to keep the blood 'pure' by marrying only people of similar standing. This ...
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How did Medieval crafts people manufacture scales?

A scale in this sense is a series of evenly spaced graduations like the marks on a ruler: Today, we use an End Mill or a Dividing Engine to manufacture the scales. Scales were used frequently on ...
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Does anyone know anything about medieval instant pottage?

Does anyone know anything about medieval instant pottage? Years ago, I saw this in Terry Jones' Medieval Lives episode 1 ( at 14:00). Jones explains pottage and then says there was an instant type of ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Insect consumption in late middle-ages in the Northern Europe

Were insects consumed in the Northern Europe in the late Middle Ages by the rural population? It seems natural to use any available source of food during a famine, but in order to get substantial ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Was throwing hammers as weapons common during European medieval combat?

I'm doing some research into the weapons of Dungeons and Dragons, and one of them is a 'light' hammer that you can throw. The description says it weighs 2lbs, if that helps narrow it down. I don't ...
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3 votes
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How were British monarchs educated about military strategy in the Middle Ages and early modern period?

It seems Erasmus and the like gave humanist education in classics and liberal arts. It also seems tactics were taught through childhood games, hunting, and archery contests. But what about the skill ...
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26 votes
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How does this bird trap work?

www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de provides the illustration below: I want to know how this bird trap mechanism works, as shown by this bird hunter of the medieval period on the book image, and it doesn'...
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Was there any sort of medieval defensive contraption which dropped rocks on attackers?

I was wondering if there's any evidence of such a contraption in the Middle Ages? I'm imagining this as a cousin to the catapult; instead of catapulting rocks on attackers, they simply drop rocks on ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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What were the heir and children of monarchs with the titles "Grand Prince" or "Prince" called?

I've tried to look everywhere, but I could not find anything substantial. What I want to know is, what were the heirs and grander offspring of monarchs, with titles such as "Grand Prince" or ...
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4 votes
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When did Averroes start to study medicine?

I'm doing research about Averroes, especially his interest in medical sciences. And I want to know his interest motivation, indication, and his age when he started to study medicine. I looked at what ...
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What percentage of the population was in the clergy (chastity vows) in Europe *at its peak* between 500-1500)?

According to this Wiki.fr page, 90% of the population were peasants. Of the 10% remaining, what percentage of them were clergy people? And does it apply during peak time? And when was this peak time? ...
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What historic documents do we have supporting women wearing veils as historically continuous since Assyrian law?

The documentation of Assyrian law is given in the answer to this question. What is the earliest history of Middle Eastern women wearing veils for modesty while in public? What historic documents do we ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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How common was cannibalism in Christian Europe until the 17th century?

When hearing about cannibalism, a Robinson-Crusoean narrative usually comes to my mind, where primitive tribes would engage in limited warfare and probably ritualistically consume their prisoners. ...
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35 votes
1 answer
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How common were marital duels in medieval Europe?

On social media, I came across a post claiming that in medieval Germany spouses could settle a divorce outside of court, civic or religious, through trial by combat! Naturally, I was shocked (the ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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What is the reasoning behind these huge numbers for participants in the Battle of Grunwald 1410?

I was reading about the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg) in 1410 during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War and I found this strange excerpt from current Wikispeedia, (which is based on an old Wikipedia ...
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How were Cumans physically?

I usually find pictures of Cumans or Kipchaks (I know they are not exactly the same, but they were strongly related) wearing full armor and full helmets with a face mask on it. I'm curious about two ...
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1 vote
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Did medieval libraries loan books to other libraries?

I'd like to know this: Did medieval libraries loan books to other libraries -- as opposed to something like having them transcribed and sending the copy? What do we know about the process? (e.g., ...
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What does Tuchman mean by transition to a "money economy" in the Middle Ages?

In A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Chapter 4, Barbara W. Tuchman writes: The governing fact was that medieval organization by this time [i.e., the 14th century] had passed to a ...
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Marc Bloch's "Feudal Society"; Why do nobles have this vocation? [duplicate]

In volume two of "Feudal Society", Marc Bloch writes in the chapter about nobility, under the section named "THE PROFESSION OF ARMS", that: "the possession of manors was the ...
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3 votes
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Did medieval armies cultivate resources during their campaigns?

Reading on the siege of Constantinople of 717, the following is mentioned: The Arab army was well-provisioned, with Arab accounts reporting high mounds of supplies piled up in their camp, and had ...
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22 votes
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Did medieval kingdoms issue health related guidelines?

Today national health protection agencies around the world such as CDC in United States often issue health and personal hygiene guidelines during pandemics or epidemic or where a large population of ...
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Is there any evidence of the miracles of Tulsidas?

Several miracles are attributed to the great medieval poet and philosopher Tulsidas, among them reviving the dead, and one of the ones that most caught my attention was his arrest by Emperor Akbar. ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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How did medieval cities get rid of waste?

What I am trying to get to is that many video games have a sewers level. To my understanding, these aren't as realistic as we'd like to think (too big or sewerage wouldn't exist yet in the settings ...
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19 votes
2 answers
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Why was the knitting needle or the distaff a symbol to show contempt in the Middle Ages?

From Charles MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions, the chapter on the Crusades has the following section: In most cases, the laugh was turned against them, for when it became known that a man was ...
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How long did it take to make a woolen sweater?

In premodern times, in temperate or colder climates, clothing was orders of magnitude more expensive than today and textile production made up a large percentage of total economic activity. I'm ...
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What became of the Richard III infidelity surprise?

Back when Richard III of England's grave was discovered, a paper published in Nature Communications reported that while his identity was confirmed through a direct-female descendent of his sister, Y-...
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