131 votes
Accepted

Why did Columbus cross the mid-Atlantic instead of exploring from Greenland?

There's a lot in the question that seems to be assuming modern knowledge that Columbus most likely did not possess. There is no good evidence the Iberian maritime community in the late 15th century ...
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  • 109k
44 votes

Why did really old paintings use such bizarre, unnatural perspective/proportions?

It sounds like you are talking about the transition from Romanesque/Gothic painting styles to Renaissance styles. This is a big topic in Art History (or at least was when I took it back in the '80's). ...
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  • 109k
30 votes
Accepted

Why was the standoff on the Ugra river the end of the Tatar-Mongol yoke in Russia?

It's precisely because Akhmat Khan retreated. The Mongolian yoke over Russia was underpinned by their ability to compel obedience (i.e. tribute) through the force of arms. Akhmat Khan's retreat ...
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  • 95.9k
28 votes

Why did really old paintings use such bizarre, unnatural perspective/proportions?

Anything other than photo-realism makes you 'angry and confused'? That's sad. You're missing out on enjoying a whole lot of good stuff! Early pictorial art was often allegorical rather than strictly ...
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25 votes
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What was the Hundred Years' War called at the time?

19th CENTURY HISTORIANS The term Hundred Years' War originated in the early 19th century. The Hundred Years War has become the established name for the Anglo-French conflicts that happened ...
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23 votes
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Why did the Ming treasure fleet voyages end?

This is still a mystery. It was probably a combination of several factors, though. The government's focus shifted. Coincidentally or not, after 1433 the Oirat Mongols emerged as a serious threat. ...
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  • 95.9k
23 votes

Why did really old paintings use such bizarre, unnatural perspective/proportions?

There's been some perspective around for a long time. Look at this ceiling, from "The Vergilius Vaticanus" dated around 400 C.E. And here's a Chinese painting from around 1000 CE showing a ...
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  • 331
22 votes

Why did Columbus cross the mid-Atlantic instead of exploring from Greenland?

Let's suppose that Columbus knew about Greenland. European colonies in Greenland were abandoned by that time. Therefore sailing there was actually useless, because it would be impossible to get ...
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  • 4,817
18 votes

Were beaches red with lobsters upon arrival of Columbus?

Adding to what @Alex said "typical" lobsters (i.e., the lobsters that humans eat and the ones that turn red when you cook them) don't even extend as far south as Hispaniola. They are a cold-...
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14 votes
Accepted

Why did the negotiations between Henry V of England and France fail?

Short answer The two accounts cited in your question are not so much contradictory as very short versions of what was a lengthy series of negotiations over many months. The 1360 Treaty of Bretigny, ...
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13 votes

In the coat of arms of Georg von Frundsberg, where does the ostrich come from?

The arrangement of separate coats of arms on a single shield or other field is called marshalling in English heraldry. It is common to display the coats of arms of a married couple by dividing the ...
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12 votes

Why was the standoff on the Ugra river the end of the Tatar-Mongol yoke in Russia?

Its fairly simple: There was an arrangement where the Russian Rulers were paying tribute to the Golden Horde since the days of Genghis Khan. This is the international equivalent of "protection money". ...
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  • 109k
11 votes

Pre-columbus, what tools did Native Americans use to shave their heads and faces?

Like the modern Chinese, most Native Americans did not grow much facial hair to begin with. What sparse facial hair did grow was typically plucked out as soon as it appeared, according to accounts ...
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  • 1,258
10 votes

After the fall of Constantinople was there a re-evaluation of the basis of Russia's religion?

First of all, at least a part of the reason for rejecting Judaism (and Islam) was circumcision. What the Chronicles say is not perfectly reliable. But, mostly, changing the state religion is a major ...
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10 votes

What was the Hundred Years' War called at the time?

The Medieval ages, and in turn the 100 years war, was a politically a different beast than war as we are used to it in the modern era. During both world wars we see a declaration by majors powers ...
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10 votes
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Teaching of Mathematics in Italy and in Germany in the fifteenth century

tl;dr This is not a real story but an illustrative description, probably invented in the 1930s. The first Indo-Arabian numerals came to Europe in the 10th century. They had a hard time at first. In ...
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9 votes

What exactly happened with beer and Leeuwarden in 1487?

While the veracity of this site on the history of crime may be doubtful, it appears to be the only easily located English-language source The ban was put in place to protect sales of local suds in ...
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9 votes

Were there ever any libraries in medieval villages?

Medieval times span ten centuries and a continent. An English village in 1400 would be far from a Norwegian village in 500. That makes generalizations difficult. Here I'm thinking of the 11th or 12th ...
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9 votes

What exactly happened with beer and Leeuwarden in 1487?

I came across this question today, and saw that JMVanPelt in his answer mentioned a Dutch book for which no English translation was available. I have translated the relevant parts of it below. I have ...
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  • 188
9 votes

Are there factors which caused the printing revolution to begin in Europe in 1450 and not some other place some other time?

A modern misconception was that Gutenberg invented printing; this was not the case. Woodblock printing was a craft over a thousand years old when he came about. Another misconception was that ...
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8 votes

What exactly happened with beer and Leeuwarden in 1487?

Some more info to complement what @PieterGeerkens has found: there's a very scholarly work on the subject on Google Books, Het Bier-oproer te Leeuwarden, in het jaar 1487, in zijne oorzaken en ...
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  • 2,176
7 votes

Pre-columbus, what tools did Native Americans use to shave their heads and faces?

The advantages of a steel blade are 1) it's possible to make the blade arbitrarily large, 2) it's easy to sharpen the edge, and 3) steel holds that edge longer during use. For something like a sword ...
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  • 8,302
7 votes

Why did China shut itself out of the world in the 15th century?

Wrong assumption. Ming trading with SEA continued during the 14-16th century, trading Ming porcelain and other goods for spices, teak, ivory and turtle shell, with archaelogical finds in Malacca and ...
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  • 71
7 votes

Why did the negotiations between Henry V of England and France fail?

Biographies of both Mowat and Kingsford are in agreement that the final round of envoys to Paris, in spring 1415, negotiated in apparent good faith and were willing to relent on Henry's claim to the ...
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6 votes

Were Shakespeare's plays written for "high culture" or "entertain the bawdy masses" during his time?

Shakespeare wrote for popular and aristocratic audiences both. Like other theater companies of the era, Richard Burbage's company (of which Shakespeare was a part) depended upon patronage by members ...
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  • 211
6 votes
Accepted

Did the fortunes in the Hundred Years' War depend largely on the weather?

The answer to both questions is yes. To quote specific examples, the French won major battles after "bad", or rainy, weather at the Battle of Saint-Omer and the Battle of Cocherel. The English won the ...
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  • 76.2k
6 votes

Did the Muslims of Granada expect their Christian conquerors to keep their promised terms?

From additional research I have clarified this answer to better reflect the documentation from Spanish Historians who have provided much more detailed commentary and record of the events of the ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Does any copy exist of the Papal bull which authorized the Spanish Inquisition?

William Thomas Walsh's Characters of the Inquisition (1940) ch. 5 ("Torquemada") fn. 10 gives this as the citation for the Latin text: For the complete Latin text of this Bull, see the Boletín de ...
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