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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1answer
3k views

Did the pope try to suppress the number zero?

Is there any evidence indicating that the Pope attempted to suppress the number zero? In an editorial review, Rob Lightner claims that "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea", by Charles Seife, ...
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Are there any medieval records of girls with large clitorises misidentified (and subsequently raised) as boys?

Several years ago, I read a piece of trivia in a popular science magazine1, which said pretty much exactly: In the Middle Ages there were many cases where a newborn girl was born with a clitoris ...
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What crops were part of the medieval spring harvest?

I am listening to a lecture series and the professor mentioned a "spring harvest" starting in mid to late March. I think this is a mistake - the winter crops were not harvested until the Summer - but ...
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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 ...
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Which arm was the shield held in?

I'm asking a question elsewhere and I'm sure I've heard some historical text to back this up as well as sound reasoning: you want your strongest arm to stop yourself from getting killed by using a ...
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How did commoners in late medieval to early modern Europe learn to read?

Literacy in the early Middle Ages was very low, but as I recall, by the time of Reformation quite a lot of commoners could read. Even if they were not very good in reading and writing, by the 17th ...
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278 views

Why did Al-Andalus become cosmopolitan?

I have been watching some BBC documentaries on the history of Spain recently. 'Blood and Gold: The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore', and 'The Art of Spain' (Episode 1: The Moorish South). ...
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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 ...
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Where was the ruling seat of East Francia located under Henry the Fowler?

It seems safe to assume that Bavaria wasn't an option as Arnulf the Bad controlled this area throughout Henry's reign. The only possible candidates that I can find are Memleben (where Henry died) or ...
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Is there a source for Medieval army composition and tactics across cultures?

It's mostly a source question, because the topic is too large to be covered by simple questions and answers, so im sorry if i posted this in the wrong place. I'm trying to research on the ...
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Why did only the English adopt, evolve and use the longbow en masse in war?

The bow was a relatively common weapon on dark age battlefields as Harold's arrow in the eye at Hastings will attest. But shortly after is was largely superseded by the crossbow, partly because pretty ...
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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 ...
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To what extent was Christianity responsible for the dark ages of Western Europe?

Some sources assert that Christianity caused the dark ages of Western Europe. But actually, to what extent Christianity was actually responsible for the dark ages of Western Europe? I know this can ...
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Why the belt or strap in some plate armor and some other armor exposed in the middle front side?

(the belt or strap locate at the middle side of the breastplate or the plackart) Won't the belt become easy target to be cut or to be worn out? Making the armor prone to break up or unable to cover ...
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1answer
737 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 ...
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Do medieval mongols horse archer have deformed arms like English bowman?

And is there other archer inside/outside of Europe in ancient time suffer the same deformity like English archer? From skeleton reconstruction . I also cant find the credible site, but its pretty ...
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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 ...
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Did medieval guards wear heavy armor for long periods of time?

We've all seen guards in movies walking around with full plate mail, clunking with each step. Now, I know that plate mail was much more mobile, and much less heavy, than movies and literature imply. ...
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What caused the imposition of strict celibacy for Catholic priests during the 11th century?

At the Second Lateran Council in 1139, the Catholic Church implemented a rule requiring all priests to remain celibate. Although the Church has already talked about being celibate for the previous ...
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386 views

How did currency exchange work in the Middle Ages, especially if the coins are not recognized?

According to Wikipedia, there were a wide range of currencies in the Middle Ages: The various Germanic states in the west all had coinages that imitated existing Roman and Byzantine forms. Gold ...
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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 ...
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How heavy were the heaviest war hammers actually used?

On the German Wikipedia page about warhammers it says their weight reached from 3 to 14 Kg! Having done some really heavy sports in my past, I was truly surprised by this last number! I searched ...
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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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A question about the definition of heresy (13th. C)

I write considering a definition of heresy, given by Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (fl. 1235), who's words are widely cited in regards to the history of the inquisition: An opinion created by human ...
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Medieval infantry deployed in ranks of #(?) men (formation depth)?

We know quite a lot about Greek phalanx, its deployment and depth and, I believe, about Roman legions as well. But do we know anything about Western European infantry formations of high/late middle ...
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What's the correct term for a waitress in the Middle Ages?

How was a waitress called in the Middle Ages? Handmaid, waitress, maid, ...? And is there a different name for the ones who did this kind of job inside a castle, in contrast to the women doing this ...
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1answer
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What did people of the middle ages call their periods? [closed]

I initially misread this question and am now left wondering what the answer to my first interpretation is. What did the people of the middle ages call their periods? I'm curious not only about ...
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What is an example of effective flanking maneuvers in medieval battles?

I'm interested in better understanding medieval military tactics. I know that flanking maneuvers are often considered devastating in battles but I can find any good examples of this tactic being ...
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1answer
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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-...
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Did the British Queen raise young women of humble lineage to serve her?

The House of the Portuguese Queens in the 13th and 14th century could be described more or less as the following: high social class - donas or ladies-in-waiting (widows or women married to important ...
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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 holds ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
259 views

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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Was Leo II of Armenia poisoned?

Leo II, also known as Leon II or Levon II, became the King of Armenian Cilicia from 1269/70 and was a vassal of the Mongols. Five of his 16 children by his highly regarded wife Keran (who later ...
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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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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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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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4answers
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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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3answers
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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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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 ...
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1answer
321 views

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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1answer
324 views

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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1answer
595 views

Were man catchers actually used in medieval times?

I know that man catchers were invented sometime during the medieval times, but were they actually used during the medieval times?
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1answer
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Weird weapons in medieval times [closed]

I know that this will be a bit vague, but here goes: what’s the weirdest weapon ever made/used in the medieval times? I meant in terms of how it’s used. I wrote the man catcher question so I would ...
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1answer
372 views

When did hand cannons become handguns?

When did hand cannons change to handguns? The Wikipedia article doesn’t address when the change happens in my opinion, but I could be wrong. I’m asking mostly for curiosities sake. I know that hand ...
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1answer
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Kissing in early Icelandic law

I'm reading the Grágás laws of early Iceland and have come across a passage I don't understand: K155, Ib p.47 "If a man kisses a woman in private, with no one else present and with her consent, then ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
339 views

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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0answers
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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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5answers
662 views

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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