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30 votes
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Why didn't the Roman maniple make a comeback in the Renaissance?

Although the two formations look similar, the pike square was developed in a very different tactical environment than the phalanx. The phalanx and the maniple were developed in an environment where ...
Mark's user avatar
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28 votes
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Did Magellan's log show a lost day?

The first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world was the Nao Victoria. It was originally part of Magellan's fleet. All of the other ships (the Trinidad, the San Antonio, Concepción and the ...
CGCampbell's user avatar
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25 votes
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Hiring professionals to transcribe historical documents

The short answer is yes. The detail will depend on where in the world you are based. In the UK, for example, we have the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. Their website ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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22 votes

Why are the ground floors windows of northern Italian palazzi often barred up?

So what where these barred windows protecting against? Theft / burglary? Angry mobs with pitchforks? Feuds/wars with rival families? Yes. A little more seriously, in the case of the specific example ...
justCal's user avatar
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17 votes
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Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

I understand that there are four surviving accounts of de Soto's expedition. Three of those accounts were written by survivors: Rodrigo Rangel or Ranjel, who was de Soto’s personal secretary; Luys ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why was William Tyndale burnt at the stake?

The trivial answer is he was executed for being a Protestant. The deeper answer is we aren't quite sure, but he had gained some powerful enemies. There was a lengthy list of charges read at his trial....
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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12 votes

In the Medieval period, how long would an average swordsmith need to forge an average sword?

In medieval Europe it took a standard blacksmith about a week to make a decent average steel longsword. If they were making something for their lord or king they would often spend as much as 6 months ...
TornadoCreator's user avatar
11 votes
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Were "hitmen" a real historical occupation?

Many famous people in history died of allegedly natural causes and were suspected of being poisoned. Thus there are many people in history who might have been assassinated by poison if poisoning is ...
MAGolding's user avatar
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10 votes

What happened to all the scholars and scientists of Western Rome during the barbarian invasions?

There is no analogy in this respect between the fall of the Western empire and the Eastern one. Decline of ancient scholarship happened before the main barbarian invasions, in both East and West. When ...
Alex's user avatar
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10 votes

How did the Medici originally get into finance?

Cosimo di Medici inherited a thriving "banking" business from his father Giovanni, who was the "Fred Trump" of the family, with Cosimo being like the current President of the United States. Most ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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10 votes
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Why was Polish king Sigismund II Augustus' coronation held when his father Sigismund I was still alive?

The practice of a king having his son crowned during his lifetime was not uncommon; two well-known examples are Henry the Young King, son of Henry II of England, and Philip II Augustus, son of Louis ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
10 votes

Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

The entire image in question can be seen here. Under the image is a numbered scene describing the images individuals. The person in question is listed as Moorish Servant. A little more research into ...
justCal's user avatar
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9 votes

Why didn't early modern Christians object to pagan symbolism in art?

I had a copy of 'Os Lusiadas' (the epic poem written by the Portuguese Camões), with a preface written by a contemporary (XVI century) bishop. I do not remember the exact words, by the general idea ...
Luiz's user avatar
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9 votes

Why didn't early modern Christians object to pagan symbolism in art?

Not a specialist, but my understanding is there were multiple competing trends at work since Christianity has been a thing. As an answer, I'd stress that the introduction of christianity itself was ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
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 ...
o.m.'s user avatar
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9 votes
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How did Raphael paint halos?

A article here discusses some of the techniques used by artists of the era, and the probable answer is that sketches were made separately and then transferred onto the main work-essentially tracing ...
justCal's user avatar
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9 votes
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How much did cannon cost in 1410?

I don't want to recite all the disclaimers and caveats from comments all over again. This is a little like asking what a car costs in the United States in the twentieth century, where the range is so ...
alexg's user avatar
  • 933
9 votes

Why are the ground floors windows of northern Italian palazzi often barred up?

If I may: I am Italian and live in northern Italy. It seems to me that most houses here have bars on their ground floor windows. I live in a small village and my house has bars on the ground floor ...
Myopicus's user avatar
8 votes
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What language was spoken between Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian I

They likely spoke a combination of German and French. It's not entirely clear what they were speaking while teaching their respective mother tongues to each other - most likely Latin, maybe Flemish, ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
8 votes
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Why was Columbus not aware of the existence of America?

Simply, the Greenland settlement those discoveries were centered on died out before the Printing Press. The last anyone heard from it for sure was 1410, and Gutenberg started working on his press in ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
8 votes
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Prior to 1790, before dentist chairs, did dentists put the patient's head between their knees?

Unfortunately, the source you cite doesn't give any references, but a similar description is also given in Avoiding the Tooth-Pullers: Dental Hygiene, Eighteenth-Century Style, which cites Dr. Johnson’...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
8 votes
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Were medieval and renaissance era jesters commonly disabled?

So there is actually a difference in Medieval and Renaissance times, between a Jester and a Fool. Jesters were typically known for their witticisms and wordplay - essentially their ability to work ...
M Gibson's user avatar
8 votes
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How could a man be made a bishop of a place while not having received major orders?

The whole scoop is covered well in JSTOR's The Catholic Revival in Osnabruck and Minden, 1591-16511. Long story short: It was the Prince Bishopric of Osnabruck, which while including the spiritual ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
7 votes
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What language is the inscription in Masaccio's Holy Trinity

The inscription is in Italian or, perhaps more accurately, in the Tuscan dialect that became the basis of modern Italian. The inscription is written in an abbreviated form, which was usual in ...
JMVanPelt's user avatar
  • 2,266
7 votes
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When did the terms, 1-point, 2,-point, 3-point, etc... perspective come into use?

The oldest reference I find is surprisingly recent, 1878. These specific terms seem to have been assumed specifically by the architectural community in the late 1800s. From the 1878 American Architect ...
justCal's user avatar
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7 votes
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Who are the five figures in the niches in the 'Monument of Marchese Spinetta Malaspina'

The five small statues in the niches of the cenotaph represent (from left to right) St. Jerome, St. John the Baptist and the Virgin and Child, a bearded male saint (perhaps St. Paul or St. Peter) and ...
MCW's user avatar
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