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Why was the bald eagle chosen as the national bird of the United States?
6 votes

It's a big scary powerful bird of prey - which is always popular as symbols. It's pretty distinctive and AFAIK only lives on the North American continent. Benjamin Franklin famously didn't agree. In ...

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Who kept noble prisoners captured in battle?
9 votes

Noble prisoners captured by other nobles would be held by them - in the proper manner- which frequently got so long and expensive the nobleman lost out on the deal. Since ultimately they belonged to ...

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Why were Spain and Portugal neutral / not invaded in WWII?
10 votes

For Germany it was unnecessary, they weren't going to be a threat and would be a useless ally. Occupying Spain even under friendly terms would cost men and equipement. Essentially the same as Vichy ...

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How was armour rusting in the rain handled throughout history?
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24 votes

"armour" is a bit general, from the fancy gleaming best tournement suit to the few bits of salvaged chain mail stitched onto an archers leather jacket. Generally the knights and foot soldiers wouldn'...

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Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
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5 votes

Not exactly an expert but I don't think the two religions can be more dis-similar. Zoroastria is a revealed religion, it has a distinct founder and prophet who historically existed (although whether ...

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Why were ancient cities protected by walls?
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12 votes

In the case of Conway (and most other places on borders) - it's more a castle than a town. There is no point in having a well fortified castle, if around it you have an undefended town to give your ...

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How did people acquire things in the pre-Roman Celtic world?
8 votes

Barter, gifts, and payments - same as now. For example, "I'll swap you a sheep for half of that pig I just slaughtered." The head of the tribe gives weapons and jewelry to people to both bind them ...

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Why was language not used to establish dominance throughout England 1066 AD–1360s CE?
4 votes

In most of the European middle ages the rulers/aristocracy were completely detached from the peasants. They were really just like a set of management consultants brought in to run a company. The ...

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Robert Hookes Diary - Why would he have bought and drunk Vomit?
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10 votes

"Taking a vomit" may have meant more generally taking something to cause vomiting, what we would call an emetic. See eg. http://thequackdoctor.com/index.php/tag/17th-century/ If you are ill it's ...

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What are the known facts about the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Giza)?
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4 votes

Those are all facts about its construction. The pyramids at Gisa are aligned pretty accurately north, if you are building something that big and you don't have theodolites and RTK-GPS then having a ...

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When did European building interiors partitioned into rooms become commonplace?
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9 votes

When the chimney became popular, 12C for castles and high status buildings, 15-16century for regular houses. Without a chimney you have a central hearth and the smoke rises to vents in the eaves, so ...

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At what point did mapmaking begin to accurately reflect what we now know about the earth?
9 votes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cartography has a very good description. Ptolemy suggested mapping a spherical earth with lines of longitude/latitude but didn't do very much field work. ...

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Who was the first head of government to support same-sex marriage?
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9 votes

If we are only counting modern history - rather than ancient Greece or the like - the Netherlands was the first country to recognize same-sex marriage in 2001, and their head of state is (and was) ...

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Did the Germans have a team equivalent to the one from Bletchey Park in the UK during WWII?
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15 votes

Generally, individual branches of the armed forces were responsible for countering the codes of their allied opposition. The German naval intelligence agency (Beobachtungsdienst) broke the British ...

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What calendar was used by the kingdom of Ireland?
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8 votes

Ireland at the time was under British rule and Britain didn't adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752 so it would still officially be on the Julian calender and written records would use this. Since ...

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Why did Canada, Australia and New Zealand separate from the UK?
15 votes

Simple answer - it's complicated! The world was very different in 1776 than it was in 1867 or 1900. The US war of independance followed the movement/ideas that led to the French revolution and was a ...

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Why Canada failed to emerge as a Great Power like UK or France?
8 votes

When do you mean? Up until 1867 it was British - and you could make a reasonable argument that geopoliticaly it was pretty much British until after WWII. Really, the Suez crisis marks the beginning ...

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Why was Napoleon not executed or imprisoned?
6 votes

He was probably lucky that he managed to surrender to the British (strictly speaking he claimed political asylum) rather than the Prussians. Even then he had a number of political supporters in ...

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Why were universities created in the 11th-12th century?
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11 votes

All about the money. As merchants and trade became important you needed lawyers, to learn law you had to go and find a teacher. The teachers hung around in towns that had important trade links (Paris, ...

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Number of bullets used in WW2
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18 votes

The following article describes in great detail the production and deployment of munitions by the Army Ordnance Dept. (AOD). The Great Arsenal of Democracy ... Lt. Gen. Levin H. Campbell, ...

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Where to find birth records for those born in Ireland pre-Independence?
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7 votes

A lot of the records were lost when the Dublin Public Record Office was blown up in 1922. But see http://www.gov.ie/en/essays/genealogy.html

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Has a book ever caused the ousting of a dictator?
7 votes

In Russia, I think Das Kapital probably has a reasonable claim

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Why did Britain not purchase Alaska when Russia had it up for sale?
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79 votes

Because Russia had been at war with Britain for most of the preceding two decades. One of Russia's problems in owning Alaska was defending it against it being used as a British route to invade Russia ...

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Was Saladin Agnostic?
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13 votes

Can we think of any reason why a major American Holywood motion picture would wish to distance it's hero from Islam? Most of his portrayal in 'literature' is from Walter Scott and the Victorians ...

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When did the British monarch become an emperor?
16 votes

Victoria was persuaded to take the title of Empress of India by then prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1876 Partly this was to stop the political embarrassment that her daughter was married to the ...

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How well can cavalry fight infantry?
2 votes

By the time of the Napoleonic wars the odds seem to be on the side of the infantry and their rifles. Although cavalry were effective against a marching column and were lethal against a retreating ...

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Were there historical examples of "citizen's arrest" concept in history independent of British common law?
4 votes

The concept of a non-citzen arrest is rather new. Other than a medieval city watch which was really just to keep strangers out rather than to investigate crimes an official force to catch people is a ...

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What other countries besides the US participated in keeping African slaves?
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30 votes

Most African slaves were sent to the Americas — basically a new world with large industrial-scale labor-intensive agriculture. There isn't much point in taking slaves to Europe to replace serfs or ...

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What were the reasons for the Renaissance / scientific revolution in Europe?
11 votes

Partly it's because you are reading the history books of those countries and a certain amount is spin. Islamic countries were the principle source of science between the Romans/Greeks and the 16C - ...

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Are there examples of well known medieval battles with very little archaeological evidence?
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8 votes

Even in England, where given the size of the country and the number of battles you can't help tripping over them, the site of a few very important ones are missing or wrong. Bosworth field, the end ...

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