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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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Was the Maltese Falcon a real historical artifact?

Am wondering if any of this is true (Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, p. 150). "The archives of the Order from the twelfth century on are still at Malta. They are not intact, but what is there ...
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What does it mean to “take the Cross”

I am reading Simon Schama's A History of Britain Volume I, which often makes reference to this form of punishment. For example, on p144: "The assassin's made for Yorkshire, where they lived ...
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Is the term “chainmail” historically accurate, or a modern invention?

I've heard the claim that the armour widely known today as "chainmail" or "chain mail" was never historically never called by that name in the era when it was used in Europe, rather known as "mail" or ...
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Did men and women feast together in the early Middle Ages?

I am interested in important feasts of the upper classes (nobility), e.g., Easter or the baptism of important heirs, in the Eastern Frankish kingdom around 900 AD, specifically the duchy of Saxony. ...
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In the Middle ages (Medieval Europe) did people store food in dungeons?

In the Medieval Castle period, Dungeons were not used for torture like many stories say. In fact, they were only used to keep poor prisoners. Many of the rich prisoners were kept in separate nice, ...
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What was the place of a catapult in a formation

My question is where would you usually keep a catapult on a battlefield. It feels as if you shouldn't keep it in the rear back of the army since it won't reach the target, and also you want to have as ...
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Did Henry V’s archers at Agincourt fight with no pants / breeches on because of dysentery?

At the Battle of Agincourt (1415), according to the War History Online article The Time English Soldiers went to Battle without Pants, and Won The conditions for the archers at the start of the ...
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How would one muzzle a full grown polar bear in the 13th century?

In his answer to a recent question on whether there had been a Viking Exchange between Europe and the Americas, LangLangC brings up that the King of Norway offered a polar bear to Henry the 3rd in ...
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How did women give birth in middle ages? [closed]

I don't really know where to ask this question, and how to name it properly in short. But here: As I read through historical literature about middle ages it seemed like the dark times: constant wars,...
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Chancery vs Common Pleas vs Exchequer vs King's Bench

Please explain with simple words. I'm interested only in their jurisdictions and functions: How did these 4 main courts' differ? What did the King's Bench cover? Parliament.uk distinguishes only ...
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163 views

Why were the doors of ghettos locked at night?

I've heard that some hundreds of years ago, in many places, the Jews were forced to live in ghettos and that the doors to the ghetto were locked at night. (See, for example, https://widerimage....
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What was the economic impact of Notre Dame When it was built?

After visiting Notre Dame a while back I became curious about the economic impacts behind building a cathedral in the middle ages. The literature and the guides talked about a variety of motivations ...
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What's the point of fortified castles inside fortified cities?

In middle ages people built highly fortified castles for royalty inside cities that were already fortified by walls. What was the reasoning behind that? Were they made to protect royal families from ...
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Do we know anything in detail about the effect of the black death on Sub-Saharan Africa?

When I was in school 20-odd years ago, historians were still unsure about whether or not the black death traveled through Sub-Saharan Africa to any large degree, in large part because the vector (...
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1answer
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What were the grooves in the side of the walls at the rear entrance of Harlech and Beaumaris gatehouses for?

The back of Harlech and Beaumaris castle gatehouses seem to have grooves in the side of the wall for a portcullis, but there is no groove above so if there was one was there it could not be raised. ...
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Why Were Madagascar and New Zealand Discovered So Late?

Considering how exploration over long distances into the unknown has been a part of human nature right at the beginning, it's surprising that some fairly large places have been discovered relatively ...
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Where are the agrarian reforms of Basil II codified?

I am interested in Byzantine law, especially under Basil II. Much weight is always attached to his agrarian reforms. I would like to read some of his laws in the original. I guess these reforms were ...
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What's the meaning of a knight fighting a snail in medieval book illustrations?

Someone sent me this really weird picture of a medieval illustration. It depicted a knight fighting a snail, and was basically a viral snarky commentary about how weird medieval ideas were. I tried ...
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Schism of 1054 - what were the positions of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch?

Q1 Given that the validity of the Western legates' act is doubtful since Pope Leo had died and Cerularius' excommunication only applied to individuals, why was the schism allowed to continue to the ...
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Have any artifacts or archaeological remains from the White Ship disaster of 1120 ever been recovered?

After the White Ship disaster, which claimed the lives of all on board (except one), including William Adeline, the heir to the English throne, England was plunged into a civil war known as the ...
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1answer
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Military reforms after the battle of Manzikert?

After the battle of Manzikert and during Alexius's reign was there any attempt towards military reform to go back to the theme peasant-soldier system instead of mercenaries? In John Julius Norwich's ...
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Did Cimabue also paint the Last Supper?

May I ask if the painter Cimabue also painted the Last Supper? I am trying to draw some comparison between the different paintings of The Last Supper in different eras... But Cimabue (1240-1302) has ...
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1answer
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What was the population of late Pre-Islamic Arabia and the population of Arabic speakers before Islam?

The Arab tribes were spread out widely, and the land of Arabia was not as viable to live on as the Fertile Crescent, so I would expect the population to be lower. But, how much in an estimated range ...
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helmet change from Greek to Macedon, Rome and Medieval period

Why did Roman helmets not cover the mouth like their greek counterparts? Did individual soldiers need to shout commands? Same for companion calvary Boeotian helmet vs that of medieval knights.
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Where in a city would a cathedral be built?

I am creating a medieval style village in a video game I am developing. Trying to be as accurate as possible I have studied the basic form Gothic Cathedrals and come to a pretty good understanding. ...
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Could medieval soldiers be organized into a Roman style legion order of battle?

Is there any reason why medieval soldiers could not have been organized into the order of battle of the Roman Empire by a ruler or empire that chose to do so? Integrating crossbowmen, longbowmen, ...
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What are some of the earliest examples of welfare states?

I was reading about Welfare States and came across this on Wikipedia: Emperor Ashoka of India put forward his idea of a welfare state in the 3rd century BCE. [...] The concepts of welfare and ...
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At what age could you hold custody of another in 12th century England?

My question is as stated in the title. My reason for asking is that I know girls could marry at twelve, and boys at fourteen. I am wondering at what age could each have legal custody of another? I ...
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Who revoked their signatures from the union agreement at the Council of Florence?

In many Byzantine history books, a general statement is made that from the 700 strong delegation to the council of Florence, "many Orthodox bishops revoked their signatures" after the council ...
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How accepted were public displays of affection in medieval France?

Were a man and a woman allowed to kiss/hug/hold hands in public? Did it differ depending on whether they were married or not? What about if they were engaged? If it was forbidden, what punishment did ...
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In the High Middle Ages, how did French nobility introduce each other?

Say two lord, or lord and a lady are talking. Would they start a conversation with a person whose name they don't know? And if so, how would they ask for the other's name/introduce themselves? I'm ...
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Was it possible to organize a women's uprising or feminist movement in the Middle Ages? [closed]

Women in Europe endured thousands of years of gender inequality, culminating in the Middle Ages. Women in the Middle Ages had few rights and were treated like minors and properties, yet they did very ...
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In the Middle Ages, adultery was strictly condemned by the Church. How did Kings justify their extra-marital affairs?

In the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for kings and other nobles to have extra-marital affairs. Sometimes such affairs were semi-public. Even a few Popes (such as Alexander VI) had girlfriends ...
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What is the best book to learn about medicine in medieval times? (research for a novel)

I am writing a novel where the main character is a healer in medieval times / a low-technology environment. Most of his work would involve field medicine, or treating people generally as a village ...
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Did medieval ransom taking have agents?

Medieval ransom taking was big- people were taken of all types of social standing for wide ranges of payments for their release- virtually a business. Did the business have agents who provide various ...
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1answer
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In medieval England was heresy dealt with in the king's courts or church courts?

In medieval England was heresy dealt with in the kings courts or church courts? Clearly heresy was a crime against the church but the punishment was death so presumably it must have been dealt with ...
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Source material for a tale originating from the Middle ages: “Falling off a church and surviving by falling on someone”

I'm looking for the original story of a tale I've been told years ago back in high school by my history teacher. A worker in France was working on a church and lost his balance and fell. He landed on ...
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Are there any famous people who died from cancer before 1800? [closed]

Cancer was described by the ancient Egyptians by 1600 BC and, much later, by Hippocrates and then Celsus during the early empire. Cases were diagnosed but there is no mention of people who were famous....
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1answer
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Youngest age for the militia in the middle ages

I know it probably differed from village to village, town to town, city to city, but what was the standard bare minimum age for anyone to join the local militia or receive any sort of combat/survival ...
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How did medieval fishermen work a long line?

How did medieval fishermen use a long line? What did they use as bait? How many hooks were there? When was it put out? When was it pulled in? I want as many details as possible.
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Did a villein ever rise to the nobility in Medieval England?

I know that there are tales of burghers and other commoners getting rich through trade. Was it unknown for villeins to climb the social scale?
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Oppression of non-ethnic Hungarians in Hungary pre 1800s

I was reading about Magyarization and it is noted that this process only began in the 1800s. However, I was wondering about earlier oppression of Romanians specifically in the Transylvania regions pre-...
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1answer
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What is an antimendicant?

I am reading a book (Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Books Under Suspicion, (University of Notre Dame Press) 2006.) called Books Under Suspicion. In it, there is an ongoing struggle between the mendicant orders ...
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1answer
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Are there any documented cases from ancient or medieval times of someone escaping captivity by cross-dressing?

In 1642, at the beginning of the English Civil War, the Irish Royalist Daniel O'Neill escaped from the Tower of London where he had been imprisoned by the Parliamentarians by tying bed sheets and a ...
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1answer
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What expenses did a village have?

I'm trying to research the incomes and expenditures of a small village in medieval England. The village occupies a formerly abandoned settlement situated against an abandoned castle. The village is a ...
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What is the date and original source of this medieval picture?

While researching the history of chimneys, I came across this medieval image on two different sites, neither of which gives any details. Source: Dark Ages Project. The same picture can also be found ...
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Aside from Henry VIII, did a king ever take part in a joust as an unknown knight (incognito)?

The unknown knight would seem to belong in the realm of fiction - witness Gareth in Le Morte d'Arthur and Wilfred in Ivanhoe, among others - but incognito knights fighting in jousts or melees were not ...
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Why did King Arthur have such a great influence in Brittany?

King Arthur, according to its literature, was a British leader. However, its influence in Brittany is huge. The Brocéliande, the mythical forest where Merlin was buried, is there, lots of family names ...
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Did foreign language phrase books exist in the ancient world?

I am finding out about the ancient equivalent to modern foreign language phrase books, used in conversations. Such as a medieval Italian-Latin conversational book, or an ancient English-French ...
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1answer
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The Abbasid ransom for the Black Stone (Hajar Aswad)

The Black Stone (Al Hajaru Al Aswad, popularly called Hajar Aswad) of the Kaaba in Mecca was stolen in 930 AD by the Qarmatians, and was returned 23 years later in 952 AD for "a huge" ransom paid by ...