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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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 ...
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Do we have any idea what people in the Middle Ages (or before them) thought the far future was going to be like? [closed]

We know what people in the 20th century thought the 21st century was going to be like, but do we have any sources or documentation or books that attempt to describe the future (preferably the one we'...
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How was financial profit viewed in Medieval Europe?

What was the attitude of people in Medieval Europe towards earning money, making a profit etc. I know that in some places Jews were well established as merchants because, from the point of the view of ...
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Can anyone explain why the Scottish flag on this map from 1504 has a red cross on a white background?

The section of the map below is from a nautical chart by the Portuguese cartographer Pedro Reinel (c.1462 – c.1542). On it, Scotland is shown with a red St. Andrew's Cross on a white background. Upon ...
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What was the composition of European Medievel armies?

What was the class make up of Western European armies of the middle ages? Most cliches are telling us that there was usually an elite force of nobles, as knights, a bunch of peasant levies and ...
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How was Galileo's approach to mathematics different than Descartes's approach?

According to Galileo "the world is written in the language of mathematics," and a natural philosopher must learn to read it. How did this approach differ from Descartes' notion of a mathematical ...
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What is the meaning of a glove on the tail of monsters in illuminated manuscripts?

I've seen several images from illuminated manuscripts depicting odd-looking creatures with gloves showing two raised fingers on their tails: What is the meaning if this device?
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What was the “Brakteaten” medieval monetary system?

I am reading "Interest and inflation free money" by Margrit Kennedy. I have only found this book online (here). It is not in my local libraries or bookshops. The author states (page 39 of pdf): “...
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Are there any records of Charlemagne's baptismal (ie. Christian) name?

Just like the title states, I am curious if Charlemagne took on a baptismal name.
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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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In Europe, why were there few portraits showing a real likeness of the subject before the 15th century?

According to the Wikipedia page on portrait painting in the middle ages, it was not until after 1350 that portraits ‘became clear likenesses’. This seems to be confirmed, for England at least, by the ...
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Many Questions Regarding the Principality of Theodoros

I think I've made a pretty decent list of Princes of Theodoros. However I'm still not quite sure about alot of them. Here is my list. Demetrios 1340 to 1370 (rough) Basil 1370 (rough) to 1380 (...
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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 ...
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Why did Stephen II of Blois (father of King Stephen of England) abandon the First Crusade in 1098 knowing how much he would lose by doing so?

Having taken the crusader’s vow and raised an army of thousands, why did Stephen II of Blois forsake the enormous prestige associated with crusading and risk shame and accusations of cowardice by ...
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What was Pope Innocent III's response to the Children's crusade led by Stephan of Cloyes?

In 1212, two groups involving children embarked on crusades to the Holy Land. They are generally lumped together and known as the Children's Cruade. They were not true crusades in the sense that the ...
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Did monasteries hold land and collect rent in medieval Europe?

In Ken Follett's series of books about the fictional town of Kingsbridge, the monastery essentially acts as lord over the surrounding area. They collect rent on lands they own, hear cases between the ...
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Why did physicians recommend curing the “dancing plague” with more dancing?

The Dancing Plague of 1518 was an event in which nearly 400 people in Strasbourg danced for days on end, some even dying of exhaustion or other causes. One section of the Wikipedia article has me ...
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‘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 ...
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Did Muslim states hire Western European knights as mercenaries before the Crusades?

In the book Hattin by John France the following claim is made: The fighting qualities of western knights were widely recognized in the Mediterranean lands, and they were often employed even by ...
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Were there any surveys done in the middle ages of England and Wales for the areas not covered by the Domesday book?

The Wikipedia page on the Domesday Book (completed in 1086) states that the City of London, Winchester, Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland, the County Palatine of Durham and some other areas / ...
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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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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 - ...
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Aside from Saint Francis of Assisi, were there other famous figures-(distant or near) who walked along the Camino Del Santiago in Northern Spain?

The Camino Del Santiago/"Road of Saint James" has been a popular destination for peripatetic and religious pilgrims since the 800's AD/CE-(though it declined in popularity during much the Early Modern ...
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Why is Richard I (The Lion-heart) considered to be a good king and Jean I a bad one?

I've been rereading "The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England" by Dan Jones and there is something I don't get. Richard I is praised for basically everything he did in his reign,...
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What was preventing the populace from progressing in medieval times?

I haven't studied the medieval period in much depth, but some basic research tells me that the general populace after the fall of Rome lost a lot of the technological and artistic advances of the ...
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Is there a difference between “post-medieval” and “modern”?

Is there a difference between "post-medieval" and "modern"? Many of the items in the UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme mention "post-medieval or modern period" and even "post-medieval or early modern ...
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What is the definition, usage, and etymology of “Sandy ware”?

Wikipedia has the category "Sandy ware in the Portable Antiquities Scheme" Is it a kind of pottery? Or a type of coating for pottery? That's what I would understand from this page. What would it have ...
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What language was spoken between Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian I

As the title states: What language was spoken between Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian I. of Habsburg? I could think of three possibilities: Latin, French and German, but am leaning towards German.
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Why didn't the Christian kingdoms in Hispania participate in the crusades? [closed]

I have read in the history of crusaders that Catholic kingdoms in Europe including England and France and Holy Roman Empire participated in the crusades but not Spain, any clear reason for that? ...
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How common was it for monasteries to attack other monasteries in the early medieval period in western Europe?

Recently, I saw this passage in M & H. Whittock, ‘The Viking Blitzkrieg’ (referring to Ireland) of the 113 attacks on monasteries between 795 and 820, only twenty-six were carried out by ...
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Why did European alchemists seek metal transmutation in addition to the Elixir Of Life?

From what I understand of European alchemists, they were equally advertised as working towards the transmutation of base metals into noble metals and an Elixir of Life. What confuses me in why they ...
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What caused medieval England to be freer than other countries at the time?

I have read that medieval England was an outlier in terms of personal freedoms in the middle ages. Can this be reliably traced to the cultural influence of the Saxons, or the Normans, or anyone else? ...
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Did the chronicler William of Malmesbury write that William Adelin threatened to make Anglo-Saxons 'draw a plow like cattle' when he became king?

In the Bohn's Antiquarian Library 1847 edition of William of Malmesbury's 'Chronicle of the Kings of England', there is a footnote which says another translator (Brompton) wrote: 'Willelmus ...
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1answer
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In the Lombard period, could not the Byzantine Empire have occupied Rome?

The Italian campaigns were finished in 556. The three chapters schism between the emperor and Pope came to a head. Some popes were dragged to Constantinople. This shows that the Emperor was exerting ...
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What were medieval, Viking-Era, Scandinavian laws regarding rape?

Since the vikings have a reputation for their "rape and pillage" tactics, I thought it interesting to look in depth at their legal system and learn a bit more for myself. However, viking-era legal ...
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1answer
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Why did Henry I imprison his older brother and rival Robert for almost 30 years instead of having him killed?

Keeping relatives who were rivals locked up was often seen as too risky – even if these relatives didn’t manage to escape, they could easily become focal points for rebellion. The English Kings John, ...
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Please outline how Philip II gained Normandy from the Third Crusade

I saw a video which summarized this, but now I can't find anything close to it. I believe that Philip made some type of agreement with Richard Lionheart before they went on the Crusades. Phillip came ...
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How kind were the Muslim occupations of North Africa?

I grew up in Egypt and although I was raised in Muslim-majority country, I am atheist now. In history classes we were told a doubtful story: The Muslims would have been kind and merciful invaders ...
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How would a date be written on a German manuscript circa 1445?

How would a date be written on a German manuscript circa 1445? Would it be written in Roman numerals, or written out in regular numbers?
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How much knowledge of the past was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries?

Apart from the buildings themselves, what items of particular historical value were lost during Henry VIII's reign? Wikipedia's 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' makes some mention of libraries but ...
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Should the Great Schism of 1054 be taken to be 1204 (or 1182) instead?

It seems that 1054 wasn't such a big deal: forty years later Pope Urban and Emperor Alexios were on such good terms that a crusade was initiated to save Constantinople and the Holy Lands; even in 1136 ...
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What was the number of native casualties in the Muslim invasion of Hispania?

Where can I find information about the number of casualties amongst native peoples produced by the Muslim invasion of Visigothic Hispania? Strangely, it's very easy to get an estimate of the number ...
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What evidence is there relating to Matilda of Scotland as a wife (to Henry I) and mother (to Empress Matilda and William the Adelin)?

The information I have relates mostly to Matilda/Edith as her husband’s loyal regent during his frequent trips to Normandy. I have also found references to her good works, an interest in architecture ...
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In medieval Europe, were children born in an annulled marriage automatically illegitimate?

I know that under modern laws (even within the Catholic Church), children born in a marriage that is later annulled are still considered legitimate, because they were born of a putative marriage. Was ...
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What was the church's attitude to “magic” prior to the 15th century?

According to Google the earliest witch trials were in the 15th century. Belief in magic, however, is obviously much older. What was the church's attitude to supposed witches prior to the 15th century?...
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Has there been an occasion where ranged weapons were available but not used?

I have been trying to prove my thinking wrong. I believe that there can never be an occasion where ranged weapons are available in outdoor battles / skirmishes that they would not be used. I am ...
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Why were the Franks so successful in projecting power?

Per Byzantine sources the Franks were, as late as 550, a relatively minor Germanic Tribe living in Gaul. Yet within 300 years Frankish Tribes had basically set the foundation for every major Pre-...
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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 ...
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What do we know about the character of William Adelin, son of Henry I?

The chronicler Henry of Huntington doesn't have much good to say about William Adelin (or the Atheling). What about other chroniclers of the time?
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Were there ever any libraries in medieval villages?

I know that in towns and cities there might be libraries built, but is it possible or likely that peasants can have access to it as well? I've heard that every village has an least a monastery or ...