77

Art does not exist in a vacuum, but is rather only one part of the historical record. Just as people comment on our modern standard of beauty today, so does early modern writers on theirs. Fortunately, Baroque art dates from a recent enough period that the historical record is extensive. For example, a 17th century commentary on a Van Dyck portrait of a ...


33

tl; dr There were certainly laws requiring that adulterers had to wear the letter 'A' stitched upon their garments in the late seventeenth century. The letter was not required to be scarlet - just a different colour from the clothes themselves, so it would stand out. The law also applied to both men and women. However, during the time in which Nathaniel ...


30

It is important to note that the modern Western conception of homosexuality as an essential property of a person did not exist in Antiquity: men and women might perform certain acts, but everyone was expected to marry the opposite sex and procreate. No "deeper" theories about these inclinations were entertained, at least not by most. One "was" not homosexual,...


27

I have to recommend the recent book Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying by a historian and social psychologist here, as there isn't are more objective source for understanding the mindset of those German soldiers during WWII as their own conversations: A trove of previously unpublished, transcribed conversations among German POWs—secretly recorded ...


25

A lot of the paintings were commissioned as portraits, why would people pay for themselves to be depicted in an ugly way? Wealth nowadays is associated with a slim, tanned, and shaped body because those are traits of people who have enough free time, and money to achieve it. In that period, it would be the reverse, being more on the fat side would require ...


16

Not every thesis has a single antithesis or opposite. However, we can highlight a few trends or schools of thought in historiography (the study of history) that contrast most sharply with the Great Man Thesis. One such answer is implicitly given in the question itself: historical sociology. The early sociologist Herbert Spencer directly critiqued the Great ...


15

The simple answer (and here I agree with @Evan Harper's comment) is deference to authority and careful planning by Nazis to hide the truth of what they were doing. Deference To Authority The most easily understood example of this it the Milgram exmperiment. This experiment was especially motivated by Holocaust trials. A summary from Milgram of the ...


13

Q How do we know baroque art depicted obese ladies because of a different ideal of beauty? Do we really? We don't. The anthropological constant to be observed is: "women are considered 'attractive' if: young and healthy" (both more or less relating to fecundity; Whether socio-biological, evolutionary, or just cynical): Differences in the historical record ...


9

Yes, indeed! During the Penal Law period of the 18th Century, there were laws in Northern Ireland designed to "protect Protestants against the pollution of Popery" (Akenson, 111) You might find this history of marriage in the west interesting. Marriage started as a pact between families, and was a purely secular matter following the Roman patriarchal ...


9

It was made illegal in Republican Ireland in 1937. Probably as a reaction to England broadening its laws on the subject.


8

There was an old, if rough rule of thumb (that I read in the Encyclopedia Britannica years ago) that an army could sustain only 30% casualties without breaking. At this point, the survivors would all feel a real fear of getting killed or wounded "next," instead of "that's what happened to the other guy." That's all other things being equal of course. An ...


8

The "Global Village" (todays metaphor for the world wide web) comes to my mind, predicted by probably most influential communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. In his book, "The Gutenberg Galaxy" (1962), he basically predicts PC, WorldWideWeb, Wikipedia, Google, social-media, e-commerce everybody uses today in the western world: “The next medium, ...


8

The gas chambers were intentionally chosen to make it easy to kill lots of people. The Germans tried shooting gypsies and disabled people (the first victims) but their soldiers wouldn't be able to do it for long. It upset them. The Nazi party needed an easier way to kill lots of people. The gas chamber was easy for their soldiers because one group of ...


8

The opposite view holds that extra-human dynamics govern the courses of events. This is a recurring theme of Tolstoy's War and Peace, a fundamental principle of Marx's dialectical materialism; it is also regurgitated by Jared Diamond in his Guns Germs & Steel. People who believe in governing dynamics would argue that the Renaissance was caused by ...


7

I'm looking at "The Good Old Days" The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders, and at the Police Battalion studies, and I'm still thinking functionalism is more explanatory than intentionalism. Ordinary Germans, including the vast majority of the Wehrmacht, shared a racialist politics and during the circumstances of the war shared a common ...


6

From what I have read, the level and intensity of training influences this massively. More green troops will break easily whereas veterans will tend to fight longer and harder. Panic is another factor: the more there is, the greater the chance of an army breaking. Mercenaries when not well paid, had a tendency to break or change side -- see the Thirty ...


6

As far as I know, the important change here was Christianity that spread out in Europe. The common justification to condemn homosexuality is the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah story. The dominant Christian interpretation of the story views homosexuality as the sin that caused the destruction of these cities.


6

Here's a couple quotes from a 1932 article in Foreign Affairs called "Hitler: Phenomenon and Portent". This was written by Paul Scheffer, the Washington correspondent of a German newspaper called Berliner Tageblatt. The newspaper was shut down by the Nazis in 1939. Hitler's adversaries are right in charging that such an audience can easily be misused. ...


6

This would have varied by region and culture. Medieval Europe Dueling has its roots in trial by combat. Presumably, if you refused such a duel, you were conceding your wrongness in the case, and the penalty would be whatever the judge decreed based on the crime and whether you were the accuser or accused. Renaissance The church frowned on duels, and ...


5

It's called "History from Below". I justify this by quoting Herbert Spencer: You must admit that the genesis of a great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown.... Before he can remake his society, his society must make him. -- Herbert ...


4

I usually don't share my family history, but here it goes: my grandfather was Waffen SS. My understanding is he wanted to be the best first and foremost. The Waffen SS was just that. Second, he actually believed what he was doing was right for Germany (I disagree). Third, as the war dragged on and many of his comrades were killed, he fought not so much for ...


4

There is a difference between "control" and sovereignty. After the Battle of Hastings it was clear William had the most powerful force, so he became sovereign. When he marched to London there was noone to oppose him, so the town capitulated to him. He took hostages in London and then went around demonstrating his power. This activity which took place for ...


4

There may have been 1.7 million people in England, but 50% were women, who were non-combatants, so we're down to 0.8m (arguably; scaly llama exceptions apply) 33% of the remainder were over fighting age and 33% below fighting age; we're down to just over 0.2M Of the remainder, probably 95% of them had no military training (remember that Harold Godwinson ...


3

A more "normal" ratio of military to population might be something like 1%. That ratio would imply 17,000 men for the Norman conquerers instead of 7,000. There was one other factor in the Normans' favor. In modern times, guns are a great "equalizer." Not "everyone," but a large part of the population can be taught to use a gun in a short period of time. ...


3

Green units might break, retreat or even desert without any deaths. For example, mass surrender of Germans in the west at the end of WWII, or Iraqi army at the end of the Gulf War. While other units fight to death, specially if their culture does not allow surrender or retreat. For example Spartans on Thermopylae or Japanese on Tarawa, where survival rate ...


3

There are many many facts that would account for monogamy : Gender ratio - The gender ratio at birth is about 1:1. If there is no large scale deaths in males, then polygamy would essentially leave many men wifeless. Religion - Christianity bans adultery and polygamy. Given the dominance of Christian Europe in the last few centuries, this has probably had a ...


3

I believe division of labor is almost as old as humanity itself. Consider the following: Almost immediately we have division of labor between men and women, since only women can give birth and only women can breast feed. There would be a division of labor between the young and old, with the younger people going out hunting and the older people becoming ...


3

I am not an expert on the Mongols, but what you describe seems similar to the Irish Tain Bo Cualinge, or the Norse Viking around the period of the Great Heathen Army (that's not the best reference, but it is the one I could find quickly - I'm thinking more of Rollo, and possibly of the Normans in Sicily (I think there is a podcast by Lars Brownnworth, but I ...


3

Yes, there is (was?) such a custom in the Eurasian steppes (i.e. Mongols, focus of the question). I don't know it terribly well because this one is certainly within social anthropology+, not really my interest and reading. But, I'm going to try to explain it. Selective raiding and pillaging between tribes is -- within their context -- a practise that seems ...


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