74 votes
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Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's actually exactly what they did. In the early 17th century, Maurice of Orange reformed the Dutch army and drilled them to use volley fire. This involved the first rank (i.e. the first row of the ...
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49 votes
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Was it possible for a young Japanese woman to end up enslaved in Great Britain in the mid-1600s?

No. At least, not to any practical intent or purpose. Japanese in Britain Significant numbers of Japanese were actually sold into slavery overseas during the 16th century, mostly through Portuguese ...
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46 votes

Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

There is a difference between abstract knowledge and "inventions". In the 17th century it was still widely believed that the ancient Greeks had discovered and formulated pretty much the sum total of ...
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37 votes
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What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

As Stephen Burnap has already explained, it is unlikely that Newton would even have heard of the Salem Witch Trials. As for Newton's personal beliefs on the subject of witchcraft, I think most people ...
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36 votes
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Was the Dutch State independent when the Dutch East India Company was founded?

Recognition of independence is different from de facto independence. While the Dutch Republic was officially recognised as independent only in 1648, it was actually founded 80 years earlier by the ...
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34 votes

What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

It's a big assumption that they knew. At the time, Salem was the middle of nowhere, with a colony founded specifically to keep to itself. The trials themselves would likely not have attracted much ...
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28 votes
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Why did Robert Walpole get painted with a crown on his right side?

The painting shows Robert Walpole in his full regalia as First Earl of Orford. The "crown" is not, in fact technically a crown, but rather a coronet, which forms part of that regalia. The ...
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21 votes
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Purpose of Guinea in British monetary history

Financial Wikipedia answers: The guinea is a coin that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1814. It was the ...
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21 votes
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What is this 17th century Swiss coin?

The inscriptions are (note that the S's are backwards): Obverse (bear) - MONETA BERNENSIS (coinage of Bern) Reverse (cross) - SANCTVS VINCENCIVS (Saint Vincent) (The style of lettering can be compared,...
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  • 832
20 votes

Why did Charles I not borrow abroad?

SHORT ANSWER Charles I did borrow money from abroad but it was never enough to meet his needs. The financial drain of the Thirty Years War on much of Europe, a muddled foreign policy, and a lack of ...
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20 votes

Did 17th Cent. French Gentlemen Necessarily Use a Scabbard for Dress Swords?

A scabbard is paired with the sword it is supposed to encase, not with the belt to which it is attached. Carrying a sword without a scabbard is not a very good idea (to put it mildly): not only it is ...
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20 votes

Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's roughly what they did. Both sides would line up their men, where the defender had the advantage: they could form two or more lines. The first line fired, then reloaded, while the second line ...
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16 votes
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Why was William III of England referred to as the British-Batavian Nassau?

William III was a member of the House of Nassau and, as the Prince of Orange a pre-eminent Dutch leader. In 1672 he became a Stadtholder in the Dutch Republic. Following the Glorious Revolution in ...
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16 votes
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Why was slavery profitable in the Southern colonies and not New England?

One important factor was the warmer weather in most parts of the south. That led to two important effects: 1) the cultivability of cash crops such as cotton and sugar, and 2) relatively short winters. ...
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15 votes
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How common was it for people to live 80+ years in the 17th century?

Actuarial science was just getting started in the 17th century, so we can answer this question with some specificity--for London and Breslow, anyway. John Graunt made the following life table for ...
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15 votes

What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

As mentioned by Steven Burnap Salem was isolated, but we can have a look at other examples. During the witch processes in Stockholm 1678 Urban Hjärne (chemist, geologist, physician and writer) ...
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15 votes
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What is the meaning of the hand gesture performed by King James II in the portrait by Peter Lely?

The hand gesture showing the middle fingers together has been variously described as a ‘W’ or ‘pseudo-zygodactylous gesture’ or the ‘El Greco gesture’. It seems to have originated in late renaissance ...
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14 votes
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Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

Other answers are good but I would like to add a bit of context. The OP states that it should have been clear by 1600 that some advance had been made since Roman times. However, the idea that by then ...
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14 votes

Was it possible for a young Japanese woman to end up enslaved in Great Britain in the mid-1600s?

1: Could there have been young Japanese women in Great Britain in the mid-1600s? This seems extraordinarily unlikely. According to the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan 1600 William Adams, a ...
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13 votes
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What was the price of going from England to New England as a passenger in the 1600s?

It seems that the Massachusetts Bay company had a rule setting out some costs and the limits on the number of passengers that ships could carry. A ship of two hundred tons should not carry more than ...
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13 votes

Why did Britain, not the Netherlands, create the greatest overseas empire?

I believe the main reason for the decline of the Dutch Republic was certainly the combined rivalry with both France and Britain, but mainly it is owed to its own economic decline around 1730, its own ...
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12 votes
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Were the Puritans for a State Church?

Yes, Puritans supported a state church. Ministers' salaries were paid by taxes levied on all residents of the colonies. Colonial meetinghouses, also built at the taxpayers' expense, were used for ...
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12 votes
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How much did it cost to maintain Gustavus Adolphus' army? How much of it was paid by Richelieu?

According to this source by the Treaty of Bärwald: Richelieu, however, turned against the Habsburgs young Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, paying him a subsidy of a million livres a year by the treaty of ...
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11 votes

How was the dynamics of a naval battle in the 17th century?

The C17 was a period of evolution in naval tactics. At the start naval battles were generally conducted in a pell-mell fashion with small groups of ships supporting each other in an attempting to ...
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  • 111
11 votes

Why did the Dutch West India Company allow Quakers in the New Netherlands?

It was basically a business decision. The Dutch West India Company had a large financial stake in the success of the colony, and ensuring that new settlers were treated with "moderation" was seen as ...
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  • 5,902
11 votes

What is the flag in this 17th century painting?

I would say it is the flag of Deventer. It's a city towards the east of the Netherlands, that prospered by trading with the various cities around the North and Baltic Sea coast as well as Scandinavia. ...
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  • 211
11 votes
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What did Catesby and crew expect to do after the explosion?

What we now know as the Gunpowder Plot began as a conspiracy between three men: Robert Catesby, John Wright and Thomas Winter. Only one of the three, Thomas Winter, survived to tell their account of ...
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11 votes
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Did Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Finance Minister of Louis XIV, sanction mass executions for reasons of economic policies?

Author of The Mystery of Capitalism and the NYTimes article cited above, Hernando de Soto is a well-known Peruvian economist who has perhaps been a little careless with his words. Some (or even many) ...
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11 votes
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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 ...
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