76 votes
Accepted

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

Why? Because there was no point. First, according to more modern astronomical measurements, the current length of the year is closer to about 365.2422 days, so they would've been relatively less ...
65 votes
Accepted

Why was uranium mined in the 1500s, but only "discovered" in 1789?

Uranium oxide in the form of the mineral pitchblende was known and mined - as the Wikipedia article says. So the short answer is that as far as anyone in the 1500s was concerned, they were mining ...
  • 9,062
60 votes
Accepted

What mysterious Flemish peasant activity is depicted in this painting?

The question is: Q: What mysterious Flemish peasant activity is depicted in this painting? and one guess was: Q: There is this activity he depicts in the background... It looks like shooting arrows ...
48 votes
Accepted

Why did life expectancy decline sharply in 16th century England?

This was primarily due to the 1557 influenza pandemic, which returned in 1558 and perhaps lingered for another year or two. This was a global pandemic and other areas of Europe were also severely hit. ...
39 votes

Why would graphite have been confused with lead?

Theses minerals were confused because they are quite similar in appearance, attributes and possible usage. Graphite was previously called plumbago meaning the mineral Galena also called lead glance, ...
39 votes
Accepted

Did Martin Luther ever say "The prosperity of a country depends ... "?

Yes, he did write that. Easily verifiable when going ad fontes, as real historians should always do. That is: the language presented in the quote is thoroughly modernised, and thus mangled into ...
24 votes
Accepted

Did Johann Tetzel really claim to be able to give indulgences even for the sin of violating the Mother of God?

This is indeed already part of Thesis Number 75 of those famous 95: Opinari venias papales tantas esse, ut solvere possint hominem, etiam si quis per impossibile dei genitricem violasset, Est ...
21 votes
Accepted

Why did Hideyoshi invade Korea?

Hideyoshi's reasons were not singular. A number of factors motivated his invasion of Korea. Although speculative hypothesis regarding his mental state is popular, domestic pressure for expansion ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Who are these red flag worshipers from these early maps?

See Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus / auctore Olao Magno ... Magnus, Olaus, 1490-1558 (click here for full Hathi Trust catalog entry for the 1562 edition) or here for Wikipedia's description. ...
  • 4,829
20 votes

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

The Gregorian Calendar was introduced (to the Catholic World) in 1582, the result of preparation over the preceding five or so years. However the popularization of decimal fractions would wait another ...
19 votes
Accepted

What was a "Qua" in a "Subsidy of Armour" in 1590?

Look at your same document , pg viii(pdf page 18), which defines the abbreviations used. Qua is listed as the equipment of a man armed with a caliver or harquebus.
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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-...
17 votes
Accepted

Why did the French nobility adopt Calvinism?

Opposition to the monarchy was indeed a major factor. Many French nobles, a majority of whom adopted Calvinist doctrine, sought to regain and extend privileges lost to the monarchy. - Nexon, ...
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13 votes
Accepted

How was the Spanish Armada coordinated?

There's very little concrete evidence about how command and control of the Spanish Armada worked, or indeed, how naval tactical control was exerted during that period, which pre-dates what we now call ...
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13 votes
Accepted

How did Jean Parisot de Valette, 49th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, die?

It seems that all those sources may preserve elements of how Jean Parisot de La Valette died. In his 1864 history, The Knights of Malta, Whitworth Porter described La Valette's death as follows: ...
  • 76.9k
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 ...
  • 18.4k
11 votes
Accepted

Do we have any authentic Native American flute music from the 18th century or earlier?

Answer Sound recordings prior to the mid 19th century are anachronistic, however sound recordings since then of authentic music reproductions may be available, due to the existence of transcriptions ...
  • 6,137
11 votes
Accepted

Why are there shields present on the sides of Henry VIII ships, did they serve any function or was it pure decoration?

The shields or pavises along the side of the ship are a pavisade which is A protective barrier made up of shields bearing the arms of those on board placed along a vessel's sides. The Wikipedia ...
10 votes
Accepted

Who or what were the Nassadista?

I started on this as it looked like a pleasant naval mystery. I'm providing a Summary Answer above, and below my method for reaching that conclusion as well as other relevant information. A lot of my ...
  • 10.7k
10 votes
Accepted

Is the story of Peter Niers brutal execution authentic?

There is actually a contemporary account of Niers's crimes and execution. It can be found in a short pamphlet published shorty after his death: "Warhafftige Newe Zeittungen / Erschröcklich unnd ...
  • 1,063
9 votes

Were people happy under Ivan the terrible?

First. Movies are not a good source to study history. Soviet Movies especially. And the least reliable of them (for the study of history) are those made in Stalin's epoch. This particular movie of ...
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9 votes

How much authority did a traveling lord have in England in the late 16th century?

I am not an expert in the period or in the history of law, and quite frankly my memory of that particular play is flawed. That said, I believe that a Lord has no legal power outside his own domain. ...
  • 31.7k
9 votes

Why would graphite have been confused with lead?

The wiki page on graphite contains a bit on it, ultimately this discovery came well before (200 years) graphite was considered something different than 'black lead' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
  • 2,712
9 votes

How much leisure time was enjoyed by English peasants in the 16th century?

The labouring man will take his rest long in the morning; a good piece of the day is spent afore he come at his work; then he must have his breakfast, though he have not earned it at his accustomed ...
8 votes

What was the name of the Ottoman-Spanish truce in 1580?

As noted in Alan G. Jamieson's Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs and confirmed here the truce of 1580 simply called an end to the fighting between the Spanish and Ottoman ...
8 votes

Did Taíno natives ever work Spanish galleons?

I've checked the Spanish primary sources and according to Alonso Peña Montenegro (1596-1688), Itinerario paraparochos, the Taínos were employed as carenadores (repairers of the hull), taking them in ...
8 votes

How was the 4th Duke of Norfolk executed?

The 4th Duke of Norfolk was beheaded on Tower Hill on 2 June 1572 for his part in the Ridolfi Plot, a plan to kill Elizabeth I. There's something on what he wore. a black satin doublet, a long gown ...
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7 votes

How was the Spanish Armada coordinated?

For battle plans and such, they used dispatch boats (which they then called "Aviso" or "Adviso", as in advice boat). These would carry orders from shore to ship and from ship to ...
7 votes

How was silver/gold mining done in colonial Americas?

Gold was usually found in low places, in the middle of rain forests. Even though there were gold mines in Buriticá y Remedios (Nueva Granada), the usual method was finding alluvial gold, dragged by ...
  • 364
7 votes
Accepted

Why was the War of the League of Cambrai such a hot mess?

There were three major players in Italy: 1) France 2) Spain/Holy Roman Empire (HRE) (treat them as one unit since one man, Charles V, ruled both, and 3) Venice, the "local bully." The first stage of ...
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Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible