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164 votes
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Why is the consensus that WW2 started on September 1, 1939 and not July 7, 1937?

Actually, good arguments can be put forward for both dates as the the 'start' of World War 2. In fact a number of other dates have also been suggested for the 'start' of World War 2, including: ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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148 votes
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Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Lyon's theory is rather flawed. First of all, the Etymologiae was written in the 7th century. Just because one paragraph from one chapter in the book might possibly be construed as implying a flat ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
99 votes

Why was Germany not as successful as other Europeans in establishing overseas colonies?

Which Germany do you mean? Something that can reasonably called a German nation-state was founded only in 1871, when Prussia first defeated France and then unified most German states under their ...
o.m.'s user avatar
  • 17k
95 votes

Was hay invented only in the Middle Ages in Europe?

The Roman writer on agriculture Columella, who died around AD 70, gives a detailed description of the manufacture of hay (Latin: faenum) in his de re rustica 2.18, which reads as follows in the Loeb ...
fdb's user avatar
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77 votes
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Why are the German and French languages so different?

Defense of German heritage against Romans The biggest reason for how the lands east of the Rhine retained their German identity (unlike the Gauls of modern day France who lost their Celtic identity) ...
NSNoob's user avatar
  • 8,195
75 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Thomas Aquinas wrote a number of works in the 13th century, some of which were introductory (at least to medieval students - less so to today's students, who are not familiar with scholastic ...
Stephan Kolassa's user avatar
72 votes
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Which European Languages are not Indo-European?

Overview Since there are a fair amount of them, languages are grouped below by language family: Basque A linguistic isolate native to the Pyrenees mountains between Spain, and France. Source: &...
69 votes
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Did medieval peasants work 150 days a year?

Probably not. The one economist this number can be traced to now says its a huge underestimate. In 1986 economist Gregory Clark wrote a working paper that (according to citers) contained this estimate....
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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65 votes
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How did such a relatively minor event as the assassination of an archduke start World War I?

The assassination itself did not cause the war — it only caused the first declaration of war in World War One. What really happened between the assassination (June 28) and the eruption of war (...
George A. Solodun's user avatar
58 votes
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How were Martello towers supposed to work?

That was the whole idea behind it. Not every bit of coastline is liable to invasion. Only on certain beaches troops could be landed. Steep cliffs and dangerous shallows didn't need protection. Place a ...
Jos's user avatar
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57 votes
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Who is this young 'Prince'?

I don't know uniforms well enough to be completely affirmative, but all your clues and the physionomy of the boy remind me of French Imperial Prince Napoleon, son of Napoleon III. He was born in ...
Evargalo's user avatar
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55 votes
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How common were marital duels in medieval Europe?

Not that common. Very curiously, we do not see husband and wife, necessarily, in these pictures. Talhoffer only writes of man ("er") and woman ("frow"). (More illustrations, with ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
53 votes

Why was the Scout movement so successful?

Baden-Powell had been besieged in the town of Mafeking during the Second Boer War. He had formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps, which was a group of youths that supported the defending troops by carrying ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
53 votes

What is the oldest European royal house?

In terms of continuously dateable genealogy, it is probably the Bagratids of Georgia, the current head of which is disputed between three branches. The Georgian branch was founded by Adarnase in the ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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51 votes
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Why did Europeans (and not people in other regions) dominate oceans?

Europeans had an incentive to explore the Atlantic because they were dependent on the trade routes which pass through Arab territory. The Arabs and other peoples living in the Middle East made a lot ...
Pablo's user avatar
  • 633
47 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Well, it isn't exactly true that medieval scholars understood the world to be round. They were much, much more subtle in their thinking that that. You see, it was quite clear that the world couldn't ...
pokep's user avatar
  • 1,805
45 votes

Why is the consensus that WW2 started on September 1, 1939 and not July 7, 1937?

Because it was the participation of the British and French empires, beginning with Declarations of War against Germany on Sept. 3, 1939, that turned several isolated regional conflicts into a World ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
44 votes
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Has there ever been an archbishop or bishop younger than the 16-year-old James of Nicosia?

I'd imagine that the youngest ever bishop would have to be Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III. Image source Wikimedia Born on 16 August 1763, he was ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
42 votes

Are there any accounts of everyday life during the Black Death?

Chronicle of the Black Death There is a chronicle from the British Library which I will link to. It was written at the cathedral priory of Rochester between 1314 and 1350, and deals with everyday life ...
John Strachan's user avatar
42 votes

How literate were common people in Medieval Europe?

Here are some semi-random quotes. I do not have time to chase the references, but they are coming from a modern professional historian, not from a You-tube personality, so I'd take his numbers ...
Moishe Kohan's user avatar
  • 6,275
39 votes
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Was a passport needed to travel between UK and France in 1972?

Piecing together various sources, it is clear that there was a no-passport agreement between the United Kingdom and France from 1961 until 1984 and that, even after the termination of this agreement, ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
38 votes

What is the most number of times someone has become leader of a European country?

Aristide Briand was Prime Minister of France 6 non-contiguous times: Jul. 24, 1909 - Mar 2, 1911 Jan 21, 1913 - Mar. 22, 1913 Oct. 29, 1915 - Mar. 20, 1917 Jan. 16, 1921 - Jan 15, 1922 Nov. 28, 1925 ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
38 votes
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Why didn't Europeans before Gutenberg print with woodblocks?

First I would say that during the medieval period the demand for books was much lesser than after the books became comparatively cheap after Gutenberg. The key here is the expense a quickly worn out ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
37 votes

Which was the last major war in which horse mounted cavalry actually participated in active fighting?

During World War II, the USSR used nearly 200,000 horses in active cavalry fighting. The Russians' retention of large units of cavalry long after this ancient arm had been abandoned by other major ...
George A. Solodun's user avatar
37 votes

Why are most of the world's oldest buildings in Europe and not in the Fertile Crescent?

If you look at the details of the oldest buildings on your list, all of them are built from fieldstone or minimally-shaped quarried stone. Further, the building materials were either found on-site or ...
Mark's user avatar
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37 votes
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What should I call bands of armed men in the Middle Ages?

As Carlos Martin has noted, these soldiers are men at arms. They might be armed with swords, bows or crossbows, spears, or other pole-arms (eg pikes or halberds) depending on precise period and ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
35 votes

What's the meaning of a knight fighting a snail in medieval book illustrations?

This is an example of decorative marginalia, which is quite common on medieval manuscripts. Sometimes the marginalia relates to the context of the subject of that page of the manuscript, but often it ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
35 votes

How did the Druids learn the Greek language by the time of Caesar's campaign in Gaul?

They most probably got that knowledge from cultural exchange with the greek city-states from southern France, like Massilia (Marseille), which was founded around 600 BCE and had plenty of relations ...
mikeboix's user avatar
  • 484
34 votes
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What was the Seven Years War called at first?

There were several names for the war depending on the belligerent. Here are a few: Prussia and Austria: Dritter Schlesischer Krieg (third Sileasian war) (refers to Austria trying to reconquer Silesia)...
Dulkan's user avatar
  • 2,056

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