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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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63 votes
16 answers
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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 ...
Opt's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
2k views

What kind of education would a 12th/13th century English knight get?

I'm trying to get inside the heads of historical actors of the period. I'm sure the martial class was just as diverse as any social group, but give me the best summation that you can. I'll expand a ...
Random's user avatar
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71 votes
4 answers
18k views

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 ...
JohnWDailey's user avatar
34 votes
2 answers
8k views

How did cities operate in medieval times?

Modern fiction is often filled with fantasy versions of the Middle Ages, from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, and everything in between, but how did the reality of this trope operate? There ...
Django Reinhardt's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
27k views

What does the eighth samurai crest / symbol in this picture signify?

I would like to ask you all to explain the meaning of the 8-th symbol in this picture*: I would like to also know what are those symbols? Thank you very much. * Source: http://www.samurai-store.com/...
Martin Nemeth's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did every medieval village in Europe have a manor, castle, or other type of lord's residence?

I know that some villages were the sole and only property of certain minor lords or knights. Such villages surely had a manor (or even a castle) where the lord lives. On the other hand, many lords ...
Anas Albakri's user avatar
63 votes
12 answers
17k views

Is it true that slavery was endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa previous to the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade?

Stefan Molyneux claims in The Truth About The Crusades that: Islam dominated slave trade between the 7th and the 15th century, while the Christians entered the market of human flesh much later - ...
Luís Henrique's user avatar
41 votes
2 answers
9k views

‘Avoid sleeping on your back’ & ‘breathe in toilet smells’ were seen as precautions against the Black Death. Why did doctors think these would work?

Browsing a school book, Medieval Britain by Brenda Williams, I came across three precautions recommended by doctors to help people avoid going down with the plague. These were: cover windows avoid ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
41 votes
9 answers
25k views

Where did Medieval Europe's gold come from?

Medieval Europe processed copious amounts of gold into religious artifacts, jewelry and of course gold coins, as evidenced by the large number of those that survive to this day. Given that today, no ...
user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
10k views

What did people in 13th century England know about Greek mythology?

I understand this may depend on various factors, but I am interested to find out whether many/some/any people in 13th century England would have knowledge of the stories out of Greek mythology. ...
celkie's user avatar
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27 votes
6 answers
5k views

Has there ever been an archbishop or bishop younger than the 16-year-old James of Nicosia?

In 1456, King John II of Cyprus appointed his illegitimate son James as Latin Archbishop of Nicosia. James was just 16 at the time. James soon lost his position, being forced to flee the following ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
19 votes
4 answers
15k views

What forces/incentives drove the Mongols to conquer a much larger territory than they could comfortably settle or rule?

Internet resources on the Mongol Empire usually dwell on the Mongol conquests of a huge mass of territory. Unfortunately, seldom are the reasons behind the conquests explained. One gets the impression ...
curious's user avatar
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18 votes
4 answers
2k views

What is known about the possibility of a "real King Arthur"?

I once saw a documentary that discussed a discovered possible "round table" but wondered how "pie in the sky" this possibility was as well as just how much/how little evidence ...
balanced mama's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
9k views

What was the life expectancy of a Medieval European monarch?

Inspired by Who is the longest lived European monarch of the middle ages?. What was the life expectancy of monarchs during the middle ages in Europe? Preliminary research showed According to ...
user69715's user avatar
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103 votes
7 answers
196k views

Why was Poland spared from the Black Death?

The featured image of the Wikipedia page for the Black Death is a gif showing the spread of the bubonic plague throughout Europe. There are a few places where the plague never spread to, including the ...
TenthJustice's user avatar
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78 votes
1 answer
20k views

What drugs were used in England during the High Middle Ages?

It's well known that alcohol was brewed and drunk throughout the Middle ages in England, but I wonder what is known from archaeological evidence and contemporary sources about what other drugs were ...
Jack Aidley's user avatar
40 votes
9 answers
76k views

How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
Pavel's user avatar
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33 votes
4 answers
56k views

In the Medieval period, how long would an average swordsmith need to forge an average sword?

Based on this question over in RPG, I'm trying to figure out how long it took to forge a sword in the Medieval/Renaissance smith to make swords. I am recalling a figure of about 9-12 months per sword,...
Pulsehead's user avatar
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33 votes
4 answers
10k views

Were there any travel restrictions during the Black Death pandemic?

From the Wikipedia article Black Death: The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence, Great Bubonic Plague, the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Great Mortality or the Black Plague,...
Mikael Dúi Bolinder's user avatar
32 votes
9 answers
13k views

Were there any high-ranking female soldiers during the Middle ages?

There are several fictional works describing female knights in a fantasy world, but do they have any real world counterpart? For example, a knight or a high-ranking female military officer during the ...
Zeick's user avatar
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30 votes
5 answers
7k views

Why don't people without access to clean water drink beer anymore?

In the medieval ages, peasants used to drink beer instead of water because the plain water wasn't safe to drink. Why do people in countries where the water sources are polluted not do this today? Why ...
Tom's user avatar
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30 votes
5 answers
38k views

What is the difference between the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages?

Is there any difference between the "Middle Ages" and the "Dark Ages"?
Daniel's user avatar
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28 votes
3 answers
5k views

What evidence is there of the vision aids people used before the invention of eyeglasses in about 1286?

The Wikipedia article on glasses says ‘scattered evidence exists for use of vision aid devices in Greek and Roman times’ but only cites the example of Nero’s emerald. This article on Magnifying ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
26 votes
6 answers
1k views

What are 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 ...
22 votes
2 answers
9k views

What were the effects of the Black Death in the Muslim world?

What were the effects of The Black Death in the Muslim world? Both Wikpedia's page on The Black Death's migration and The Black Death have information regarding the effects of Black Death in the ...
Sakib Arifin's user avatar
  • 1,987
17 votes
3 answers
10k views

What should I call bands of armed men in the Middle Ages?

I am writing a fiction short story roughly based off medieval times in Europe. In it I have a group of men who live in a castle and fight for the castle's lord. (They mainly protect the surrounding ...
user613's user avatar
  • 273
12 votes
1 answer
686 views

Are there any ideas as to what the English landscape was like before the arrival of the Angles?

I am not sure if this question is within the guidelines (it may be), but I am curious as to this: In North America, for instance, it is often said it was heavily forested and that a squirrel could get ...
Matthew T. Scarbrough's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
3k views

Did Edward the Confessor choose Harold Godwinson as his successor?

It has been claimed that King Edward the Confessor chose Earl Harold Godwinson as his successor on his deathbed in January 1066. I googled "did Edward the Confessor name Harold his heir?" and got ...
MAGolding's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
1k views

Are there equivalents of the Domesday Book for other (French or German) duchies?

Is the Domesday Book a one-off census in the wake of the Norman conquest? One can imagine that William wanted an accurate feudal picture of his new kingdom but was it the norm? Did other dukes and ...
Chrystomath's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
4k views

Light cavalry in medieval western Europe?

What sorts of light cavalry were there in high (1300s) medieval western Europe (England and France)? I mean more like non ranged troops. I know that all soldiers likely owned a horse for transport, ...
Duncan's user avatar
  • 1,197
8 votes
1 answer
11k views

What equipment and formations did the Muslim armies employ against the Crusades?

One can easily find articles on Wikipedia about typical tactical formations of Romans, but I haven't found such information on the Muslim world, specifically during the crusades. Did the Muslim armies ...
Medi1Saif's user avatar
  • 1,509
7 votes
1 answer
16k views

How were peasant houses constructed in medieval England?

What was the typical construction material and process for a house in medieval England? Specifically, for a typical farming serf, operating a few acres of land. This question is meant as a more-...
user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
611 views

Under European feudalism, were the distribution of armies (vassals and fiefdoms) based on a coherent idea?

The context is High Medieval, (c. 1001—1300). The concept of feudalism is as understood in Europe. I'm not looking for an answer to cover all European empires or dynasties during this period -- which ...
J Asia's user avatar
  • 6,323
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

How did people categorize each other in the middle ages, how did racism work? [closed]

I'm interested in the european high middle ages, about the 12th-13th century. I'm trying to understand how people sorted each other. Nowadays, some overlapping categories people use would be: ...
mart's user avatar
  • 4,774
1 vote
1 answer
3k views

What was the relation of Barons to Counts/Dukes/Earls in England during the medieval ages? [closed]

Barons from what I gather, were under direct obligation to the king. What was the position of counts or dukes? Was their position that of viceroy? As in the barons in the area under the county/duchy ...
Rohit's user avatar
  • 3,778
103 votes
9 answers
25k 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 ...
Evil Washing Machine's user avatar
60 votes
6 answers
18k views

Was England called England in the days of King Arthur?

King Arthur is a legendary king who is said to have ruled Britain in the early days of post-Roman Britain. Now Thomas Malory's famous novel "La Morte D'Arthur" puts the following inscription on the ...
Keshav Srinivasan's user avatar
49 votes
7 answers
14k views

Why did Europe not see Roman-era numbers of men participating in battles until the 17th century?

Typical decisive battles in Roman times involve 4+ legions - around 20,000 men + auxiliaries giving a total of about 30,000 men, on the Roman side only. Battles in even the late middle ages and early ...
Evil Washing Machine's user avatar
43 votes
12 answers
16k views

Were Medieval Britons aware of the existence of the Roman Empire?

I would like to know if the medieval people in Britain, by around 800 AD, knew that there was an empire that ruled Britain several hundreds of years before. Otherwise, were there any myths, legends, ...
Ricky Youssef's user avatar
43 votes
2 answers
8k views

When did the Roman Empire fall according to contemporaries?

The Roman Empire divided itself into two parts, the Eastern Roman Empire headquartered in Constantinople and the Western Roman Empire headquartered in Rome. The city of Rome itself fell in the year ...
Keshav Srinivasan's user avatar
42 votes
4 answers
11k views

Has an heir ever made the country believe the current ruler died in order to take over the throne?

Before the invention of the semaphore and the telegraph, a message couldn't travel faster than the speed of a horse (or maybe a messenger pigeon or something along those lines - still pretty slow). ...
Maurycy's user avatar
  • 523
40 votes
1 answer
4k views

What were the acceptance criteria in universities of medieval Europe?

Did they have entrance tests? Were certain groups officially banned from entering? How much did one have to pay? Did they have scholarships for talented studends? How these criteria differed between ...
Vanessa's user avatar
  • 2,636
38 votes
4 answers
19k views

How did Medieval armies survive the use of mail armor in the deserts of the Middle East?

Something that has long puzzled me is the use of full mail hauberks and the like in the Crusades. How did Crusaders and their various enemies avoid cooking inside their armor? I know many of them ...
user avatar
37 votes
11 answers
16k views

Did archers synchronize fire? Why?

I noticed that in medieval movies and TV shows, when there is a big battle happening, groups of archers always synchronize their firing. I was wondering whether this is something that writers made up ...
Caesar's user avatar
  • 853
36 votes
3 answers
4k views

Who believed the earth was flat?

Christians are sometimes mocked for having once believed the earth was flat. However, the only references I can find are Lactantius in the beginning of the 4th century, and Copernicus, who says ...
jdj081's user avatar
  • 615
34 votes
4 answers
6k views

How much would 300 pounds (money value) weigh in Medieval England?

I remember reading a Robin Hood story as a child where the Sheriff of Nottingham rode though Sherwood forest, as I remember foolishly going alone, and Robin Hood robbed him of 300 pounds. And I ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 19.3k
33 votes
2 answers
6k views

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 ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
32 votes
5 answers
12k views

Why did the grip-centered viking shield fall out of use relative to the kite shields?

Did Normans have battle advantage with strapped kite shields over Saxons and Vikings with their grip-centered shield style of fighting? What often comes to my mind are battles like Hastings (1066). ...
Jotunn's user avatar
  • 661
32 votes
6 answers
16k views

Where does the name of the country "Belarus" come from?

I've read the German and English Wikipedia on this topic as well as the translated Belarussian version and some sites I googled. They all seem to argue that the 'Rus' part stems from the Region called ...
LeoR's user avatar
  • 430
32 votes
5 answers
14k views

How prevalent were recreational drugs in the ancient world?

A recent discussion about the Queen Mab Speech in Romeo and Juliet, prompted us to wonder whether Mercutio was on drugs. Which then led to the question of how prevalent recreational drugs where ...
SleepingGod's user avatar