130 votes

Why Were Madagascar and New Zealand Discovered So Late?

By and large new uninhabited landmasses were discovered in one of three ways: By hunter-gatherers, walking there when the sea level was much lower at the end of the last glaciation. By hunter-...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
98 votes
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What drugs were used in England during the High Middle Ages?

English meadows and forests are and were full of psychoactive substances. They were used. Quite creatively. Partially isolated, on their own. But also in what psychiatrists call polytoxicomania. In ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
97 votes
Accepted

How much smaller were medieval farm animals in England than today?

I think both sources copied Early European History by Hutton Webster, published about a century ago. The underlying claim is true: Medieval animals were much smaller than today's. However, it is ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
96 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
  • 9,790
89 votes

When did the Roman Empire fall according to contemporaries?

Most people at the time did not think the Roman Empire had fallen -- it's only from five hundred or a thousand years later that we can conclude that it did. Both points of view are reasonable. What ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,725
81 votes
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Was England called England in the days of King Arthur?

No, England would not have been called "England" in the early post-Roman period. The name "England" derives from the Old English name Englaland, which means "Land of the Angles". The earliest ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
79 votes

Is it true that slavery was endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa previous to the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade?

Africa Slavery is an ancient universal institution, which appeared independently in all cultures and societies which reached a certain level of productivity per capita. Early hunter-gatherers did not ...
sds's user avatar
  • 27k
79 votes
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Did medieval stores have names?

Short Answer For the most part, we have little evidence for the naming of shops, especially before the Late Middle Ages in Europe. Visual evidence suggests that almost all shops did not publicly ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
71 votes
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Has an heir ever made the country believe the current ruler died in order to take over the throne?

Yes. King John of England attempted to take the throne from Richard I while he was on crusade. Richard's delayed return was due to the fact that he had been taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
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
  • 119k
66 votes

How did knights who required glasses to see survive on the battlefield?

According to Wikipedia glasses were invented in 1268 by Roger Bacon. About a century later, the first wearable glasses appear on a painting by Thomasso da Modena in 1352. Glasses were rudimentary at ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 22k
64 votes

Did slaves have slaves?

This happened in Roman Times judging by two notes in Slaves doing business: the role of Roman law in the economy of a Roman household by Richard Gamauf (2009): A Roman slave could hold property which,...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
64 votes
Accepted

Did slaves have slaves?

Short Answer Yes. There are examples of slaves owning slaves from different historical periods and in different regions of the world, including: Ancient Near East Early Medieval Sunni Islam Late ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
63 votes

What was the point of horse armour?

I would contend that we tend to overestimate the effectiveness of bows vs armour, and that the armour would likely prevent at least some percentage of the damage to the mount. If we look at the wiki ...
justCal's user avatar
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62 votes
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Were there any travel restrictions during the Black Death pandemic?

SHORT ANSWER Yes, there were some restrictions on movement during the period 1347 - 51 but mostly (with a few exceptions such as some city states and Poland) they were haphazard and depended on local ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
58 votes
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How would a king's servants prove that they are on a task given by the king?

Livery is sufficient for what we today might call low trust transactions. For higher trust transactions, the noble (lord or king) could give the bearer a sealed document - those who had legitimate ...
MCW's user avatar
  • 33.7k
57 votes

Did cows in Medieval times have calves in spring or all year round?

All highlighting is mine Concerning calving in the middle ages, Cows...would calve in the early spring. Calves would nurse for about a month and then be separated from their mothers and fed by ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
56 votes

How were drawbridges and portcullises used tactically?

Any gate is, by definition, an opening in the stone curtain wall that is the main defense of the castle. A pulled up wooden drawbridge is much less secure than the stone wall: it's flammable, even ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
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
51 votes
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What is the pre-schism Christian church called today?

This is incredibly complicated and almost always misleading. For example, in many countries the Catholic Church is called strictly the Roman-Catholic church. The higher up members of that community ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
51 votes

Are there historical texts in England querying where Roman structures came from?

For the Anglo-Saxons, the knowledge that it was the Romans whose city it was is less relevant than why those cities were there no more, or, well, why they were in such a poor state. However, for a ...
gktscrk's user avatar
  • 10.8k
48 votes
Accepted

What did people in 13th century England know about Greek mythology?

Quite a bit, actually. Graeco-Roman mythology was a significant part of the education curriculum. Much of the educated elite would have been broadly familiar with ancient Greek mythologies through its ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
48 votes

After the fall of the Roman Empire, where did their armor go? Was it used by any dark ages forces?

I would dispute your claim that Roman armour was superior. Roman armour mostly consisted of a mail shirt of varying length and quality, not dissimilar to that of the germanic tribes that overran the ...
Paul Hutton's user avatar
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47 votes
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How prevalent were recreational drugs in the ancient world?

Drugs are certainly not a new phenomenon. Two well-known examples are opiates and cannabis. A great deal has been written about the use of hashish by medieval Nizari Ismailis (which gave us the word "...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
47 votes
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How did medieval manors handle population growth? Was there room for more fields to be ploughed?

1. The surplus population could leave for underpopulated areas. It should be noted that villeins were not absolutely prohibited from leaving their manors. Rather, they were forbidden from leaving ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
46 votes
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‘Avoid sleeping on your back’ & ‘breathe in toilet smells’ were seen as precautions against the Black Death. Why did doctors think these would work?

This cannot be answered comprehensively here. But a few key points might be revealed. The precautions mentioned in the question are by far not the only ones that were given, just mere examples. At ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
46 votes
Accepted

Were there any high-ranking female soldiers during the Middle ages?

She wasn't technically knighted insofar as I'm aware of, but Joan of Arc springs to mind. She played a decisive role in ending the Hundred Years' War. Cursory googling yields a few more female ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
46 votes
Accepted

Did Pope Urban II issue the papal bull "terra nullius" in 1095?

It seems likely this is a historical myth. According to WikiPedia's list of Papal Bulls*, Urban II did issue a bull that year, but it had to do with who was allowed to excommunicate the ruler of the ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k

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