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58
votes
17answers
18k views

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 ...
49
votes
5answers
8k views

What are the factors that caused the new world civilizations to be less technologically advanced than the old world?

Assuming they started at the same point (maybe the split of the continents or the migration of what became the first "Native Americans" to the American continent), why did the Old World end up ...
60
votes
17answers
71k views

Was the secession of the Confederate states illegal?

Putting aside their reasons for wanting to do so and all the emotional responses they would provoke, was the secession of states from the Union to eventually form the Confederacy an illegal act in ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How long would it take a Victorian to travel from central Germany to the UK?

Specifically from Lauscha in 1862, does anyone know how extensive railways were then?
104
votes
3answers
14k views

Why are Germans referred to so differently in different languages?

I was inspired by the other question "Why are the German and French languages so different?". But while, for me, the answer was obvious (the Romans did not conquer most parts of today's Germany and so ...
61
votes
6answers
23k views

Why are the German and French languages so different?

My understanding (which could be wrong) is the following: During and before the period of the fall of western Rome (roughly 400 AD), the Franks and the Alemanni were tribal people who moved around a ...
19
votes
6answers
68k views

Why was Germany held accountable for WW1?

The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war. If the war was initially due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins, why did the Treaty of ...
38
votes
10answers
13k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Does Grant's use of attrition tactic support his reputation as a general?

In 1864, General Ulysees S. Grant began the "final campaign" against Richmond using a war of attrition. That's because of the Union's 2-to-1 numerical advantage against a qualitatively superior ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

How were diplomats and their staffs treated when World War II was declared?

This could be a large and varied subject so I will restrict it to the 20th century and give two instances. In Sept 39, after Poland was invaded, the British diplomat in Berlin handed a note to the ...
197
votes
34answers
176k views

Why did Hitler attack the Soviet Union when he was still busy fighting the United Kingdom?

During World War 2, Hitler was fighting a war with Great Britain, but while fighting that war, he attacked the Soviet Union. Everyone knows that having to fight on two opposite fronts at once is bad......
55
votes
13answers
80k views

Is history always written by the victors?

The famous "history is written by victors" saying argues that the victors overwhelmingly influence historical accounts. Are there any examples of history written by the(or THE) losers?
51
votes
6answers
24k views

When did worshipping of ancient Greek gods come to an end?

The ancient Greeks had their pantheon of gods whose significance vanished with the civilization. Some individual gods entered the belief systems of later cultures, but such mutations are not what I am ...
59
votes
9answers
63k views

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during WW2?

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during the war? They produced a large amount of war material during 1939-1945, but how was this production financed? What were Germany's revenue streams that ...
25
votes
6answers
74k views

Why did the southern states secede from the U.S.?

Lincoln's election precipitated the secession, but didn't they have enough congressional power to continue things much as they were? It seems in the preceding two decades the slave states had managed ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

When passports/border checks became widespread?

I was reading the Wikipedia on passports, and there were numerous important dates in passport history, but I didn't find any date when passports became widely used documents for travelling. I see ...
10
votes
6answers
9k views

Early modern vs late modern vs post modern?

I frequently come across these three terms, but I haven't been able to find a source that explains the difference between all three of them precisely. Here's what I think I know now: The early ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there any examples of single combat between kings/generals ending a war?

I have read various tales of two armies meeting on a battlefield, but rather than fight, the two leaders agree to one-on-one combat, and the winner decides the war, thus saving on bloodshed. Are ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

When did Australia declare war on Germany in WWII

In 1939, Australia had not ratified the 1931 Westminster Statute, and so lacked an independent foreign policy. Menzies recognised this by saying in 1939, that as Britain was at war with Germany, so ...
106
votes
16answers
28k views

Why bother attacking castles at all? Why not go around?

Castles were designed to hold people, weapons, and supplies to survive a siege. They were well-defended. Taking one could easily be a long, bloody struggle. Why attack at all? Most castles I've seen ...
86
votes
7answers
27k views

Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

The Strait of Gibraltar, at its narrowest point, is about 14 km wide. Why didn't Germany blockade it during WW2? It seems to me that only a handful of submarines and destroyers could do the job. Wasn'...
51
votes
10answers
10k views

What was the historical context of the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution?

The 2nd amendment states: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. There is a lot of ...
69
votes
16answers
28k views

Has there ever been a truly multi-sided war?

I was playing StarCraft the other night, and it occurred to me: that game series portrays effectively a 3-way war, where all three factions are fighting the other two with equal ferocity. Obviously, ...
28
votes
13answers
173k views

Why didn't Alexander invade India?

Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the ...
75
votes
5answers
11k views

Is there any evidence to support the claim that the United States was “suckered into WW1” by Zionists, made by Benjamin Freedman in his 1961 speech?

In the comments to another question another user of History:SE made a remarkable, if unbelievable, claim: Actually, Germany was shocked when the US declared war and entered on the side of Great ...
53
votes
8answers
16k views

Why didn't Great Britain give the colonies voting rights?

The thirteen colonies rebelled after "No Taxation without Representation", and Great Britain probably could have appeased them for quite some time the same way they did Canada (who stayed with Great ...
48
votes
7answers
8k views

When and how did people begin to consider slavery immoral?

Consider this: In the ancient world, murder and theft were prohibited. However, slavery was ubiquitous and considered normal. AFAIK, nobody thought of it as immoral, though probably some called for ...
34
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
13k views

What was Hitler like in private?

The image of Hitler is very well-formed in the modern public imagination: stern, stoic, focused, commanding and intimidating, with a powerful oratory skill and a terrifying ability to stir up passion ...
41
votes
7answers
4k views

When did the practice of formally “declaring war” cease and why?

Here's a detailed description of ambassador Neville Henderson being received by the foreign ministry in Berlin in 1939. Perhaps the most famous example. He came in looking very serious, shook hands, ...
34
votes
10answers
19k views

Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

Despite having the same disease susceptibility and technological inferiority against the Europeans, it seems that Native Americans have much more surviving descendants in Latin America compared to ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

How can prices be compared over time?

I've just asked a question where Tyler Durden wrote in his answer that paper was expensive at Euclids time. So I wanted to ask the question: How did the price of paper / papyrus develop over time?...
30
votes
3answers
33k views

Why did Saladin show kindness to Richard I?

Why did Saladin, when Richard the Lionhearted was sick with a fever, send him a gift of fruit? Or when Richard's horse was killed in battle, he sent a steed to be led to his camp?
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Is the Bible considered a reliable historical resource? [closed]

I realize there is probably a large spectrum of opinions on this matter. Nevertheless, what is the general consensus among academics on the historical reliability of the Bible? Is it a sound ...
42
votes
3answers
12k views

Was Napoleon as short as “common knowledge” states?

I once saw a mention (on cracked.com) that Napoleon, whom pretty much everyone believes was of very short stature, was actually close to average height for his time/demographics, and that the short ...
30
votes
7answers
28k views

To what extent did Native American cultures develop metalworking for tools and weapons?

When Europeans started showing up in the New World, the native cultures were technologically far behind. Many still used stone tools: North American tribes used flint, while some Mesoamerican cultures ...
16
votes
3answers
21k 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/...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Why did Stalin deem Quantum Mechanics 'counter-revolutionary'?

I've read that in the late 1940s Stalin planned to hold a conference to discuss the ideological difficulties of physics in the Soviet Union, but called it off (presumably because of the successful ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

How dependent was Nazi Germany on iron ore from Sweden?

From the wikipedia article on Swedish iron mining during WW2, there are a lot of uncited claims. I'll quote the most outstanding of them here: In the year before the war, Germany received 22 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Material Basis of the Golden Age of Bohemia

On a recent visit to Prague I was much impressed by the city's beauty and the number and splendor of its historic sites, such as Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge (a bit further afield Karlštejn ...
16
votes
5answers
19k views

Was the Zimmerman Telegram a ruse on the US or a way of Germany to incite Mexico to declare war on the US?

Prior to America's entry into WWI the Zimmerman Telegram was one incident that helped push America to declare war against Germany and join the Allies. While Mexico never fought against the US, so was ...
16
votes
2answers
456 views

When was the change from kalends, ides and nones to numbers

The Romans named the days of the month by counting down to kalends, ides and nones. We use numbers counting up from one for the first day of the month. When did this change take place? I assume that ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Who are the ancestors of Israelites?

Who were the historical ancestors of the Israelites? Do they have no ancestors? Please, try to avoid Biblical references to Genesis if there are there any scientific/archeological/historical ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

At the start of Barbarossa, what was the state of Germany's oil supply?

Very recently, I came across this statement from Wikipedia: In 1938, two thirds of German oil supply came from the United States and Latin America. It has a citation, some book reference that ...
-3
votes
2answers
1k views

Which European nation had the most kings in the 18th century? [closed]

Which European country had more kings than any other in the totality of the 1700s?
94
votes
12answers
52k views

Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
64
votes
6answers
29k views

What knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Alexandria?

Of course we'll never know for sure, but do historians have some reasonable ideas about what knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Serapeum of Alexandria, when it was destroyed by the Decree ...
109
votes
9answers
41k views

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

Why did Native Americans die of European diseases while Europeans didn't have serious diseases from the New World? I read that most Native American victims of colonization in the new world died of ...
76
votes
8answers
9k views

How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
55
votes
5answers
69k views

Why were the Romans unable to conquer Germania?

Emperor Augustus ordered his army to subdue the Germanic tribes in what is modern Germany. This was promptly achieved and by 6 AD the Romans controlled Germany up to the river Elba. The Romans were ...

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