Submitted by AutoModerator t3_105ohnd in history

Welcome to our Simple/Short/Silly history questions Saturday thread!

This thread is for all those history related questions that are too simple, short or a bit too silly to warrant their own post.

So, do you have a question about history and have always been afraid to ask? Well, today is your lucky day. Ask away!

Of course all our regular rules and guidelines still apply and to be just that bit extra clear:

Questions need to be historical in nature. Silly does not mean that your question should be a joke. r/history also has a discord server where you can discuss history with other enthusiasts and experts



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snnaiil t1_j3eh18r wrote

Can somebody ELI5 the story of how there were once three popes at once and how they all ended up excommunicating each other? Did that actually ever get cleaned up or??


shantipole t1_j3fa838 wrote

The short version is that the popes for a while moved the court to Avignon, in France. This made the Romans (as is citizens of the city) very upset and the Cardinals elected "Roman" pope under duress. Then they went to France and elected a French pope. And then a church council in Pisa which was supposed to solve things elected a third pope.

Eventually, the Pisan and Roman popes got together and worked it out, which the French pope people eventually accepted.


snnaiil t1_j3fj0ee wrote

Oh thank you!! Finally a mystery has been solved for me


TheGreatOneSea t1_j3fs8qt wrote

Worth adding, there was a belief that the pope would continually hold conferences to solve theological issues instead of allowing the pope to more or less run things alone as part of the compromise, but people apparently couldn't be bothered.


dripstonchruchill t1_j3fea0o wrote

In the west Texas heat, how did your average cowboy stay cool?


elmonoenano t1_j3j6z2s wrote

One thing they used was the iconic cowboy hat. It has two features that help with cooling. The first is the broad brim to provide shading. Cowboys basically grew out of the Mexican adoption of Spanish cattle raising culture. When Americans start flowing into west Texas at the end of the 19th century, they learned from the people that were already there. The brim on a cowboy hat isn't as broad as a sombrero, but it's the same idea, to shade the wearer.

Many hats have a lower crown to trap heat by the wearer's head to keep them warmer. The cowboy hat has a higher crown. This let heat released from the wearer's head escape or at least not be trapped right by the head. 10 Gallon cowboy hats are the most extreme for the cowboy hat style. You also see something similar with the famous cigarillo hats that the caballeros wore (Emiliano Zapata favored this kind of sombrero and now it's often called a Sombrero de Zapata

Anyway, in 1865 John B. Stetson recognized these needs, saw what the Mexicans were doing and invented his version, The Boss of the Plains hat. B/c it met the needs of cowboys so well they adopted the hat and it became iconic. It had other features that were useful to cowboys, but the brim and the crown were the important things for heat.

The Cowboy Museum has a little video that talks a little about it.


ShroudedScience t1_j3gqr32 wrote

I would think that they used little tricks to cool down. Drinking lots, staying indoors as far as possible, wearing cowboy hats (maybe?) but most of all in hot climates the infrastructure tends to be adapted to deal with heat.

Structures like verandas really help reduce the amount of heat entering a building.

But I imagine productivity and just general satisfaction with life probably dropped significantly during this period.


Mysterious-Banana313 t1_j3nrnol wrote

Is it true people used to go to asylums and laugh at the residents, as a form of family entertainment?


jezreelite t1_j3tk5s4 wrote

Yes. The famous Bedlam House in London was opened to the public at some in the late 16th or early 17th century as a method of funding it. Public tours of Bedlam only ended in 1770.


storiesofbritainpod t1_j3yocig wrote

Yes. For centuries prisons and "lunatic asylums" had paying public visitors. I am just writing about Newgate Prison, and the warders funded themselves partly by charging visitors.


peachsweetbunnie t1_j3sufvc wrote

How were people with Albinism treated in the Victorian Era?


Pato_lino t1_j3ex8jw wrote

How did other peoples from antiquity perceived the egyptians' mumification habit?


PatMahiney1 t1_j3u5vey wrote

Who invented ZERO? I’m no mathematician, so please explain this to me like I’m a dummy. To my understanding, the Babylonians flirted with the theory of zero in numeric systems, those from India were the first to actually use zero in numeric systems, and the Mayans were the first overall to use zero, but this was done so in their calendar systems. Please correct me if misunderstood :)


Bashstash01 t1_j3w4q3z wrote

This is quite a hard question to answer, as different people came up with out across the globe. I usually think of it as the Indians, because it was used for actual math and things like that.


GOLDIEM_J t1_j3whv4p wrote

Who was responsible for popularising the usage of Hangul?


Bazzinga88 t1_j40i2pi wrote

How is possible that people can dig entire cities? Does dust just accumulate until bury them?


Jamf t1_j3dnao7 wrote

In his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon writes ‘Dalmatia, to which the name of Illyricum more properly belonged, was a long, but narrow tract, between the Save and the Adriatic.’

“The Save” is decidedly difficult to Google. Can anyone tell me what he means? Thanks!


MeatballDom t1_j3dpjrx wrote

Sava River, known as the Savus in Latin which was "Save" in the vocative.


Jamf t1_j3duu3p wrote

Awesome, thank you! Bit irritating of Gibbon not to anticipate internet search engine ambiguity.


LateInTheAfternoon t1_j3dvgi8 wrote

Moreso it begs the question why Gibbon, not writing in Latin, would use the ablative.


TheGreatOneSea t1_j3dqn77 wrote

If Napoleon had actually managed the channel crossing he had hoped for, landing troops before the British Navy cut France off again, could they have accomplished anything that might have swayed the final outcome of the napoleonic wars?


elmonoenano t1_j3duqqy wrote

BBC 4's podcast In Our Time just had an episode on the Irish rebellion of 1789 to give you some idea of what could have happened if Napoleon had focused on the UK instead of Egypt. It's a great podcast worth subscribing too.


darthsheldoninkwizy t1_j3eek7s wrote

Is it true that Stalin built wide tracks in Poland to transport coal from Silesia to cover the lakes. This is something my father tells me like a mantra, and that his father and the Silesians who lived under Stalin told him about it (father born in 1956, so he did not witness it).


elmonoenano t1_j3evftk wrote

So, this probably is related to the fact that the Soviets used a different gauge of railroad tracks than the rest of Europe. The Soviet tracks were about 5 feet wide, while the standard European gauge was 4'8.5". The Soviets desperately needed coal to power their trains, factories, and for heat. So it would make sense for them to lay Soviet gauge track to the mines instead of transferring loads from one train to another at the border.

The wikipedia page on 5' gauge has some info and if you look around you can find lots of websites talking about the issues with the gauge change and how it hindered the Nazi supply when they invaded. The Wehrmacht has this popular conception that it was highly mechanized but it turns out not to be true. They were heavily reliant on horses and rails. So, when they lost the rail link they began suffering significant supply issues.


ShotDate6482 t1_j3m0l3y wrote

To cover the lakes? What does that mean, like dumping coal in the lake?


darthsheldoninkwizy t1_j3m59jc wrote

Yep, dumping coal to lake and cover them. My father said it like manthra every time, when some about Russia or Stalin is said.


Dr_Serum t1_j3gl9zs wrote

Who originally built the Parnham house? (not john nash)


drea2 t1_j3jossi wrote

How did the British conquer most of the world without sunscreen?


Brickie78 t1_j42ihhm wrote

  • Widespread use of "native" labourers and soldiers. There were remarkably few actual Brits in places like India and Africa proportional to the population.

  • Brits died in their droves of tropical diseases and generally not doing well in the climate. Anyone there long term developed something of an immunity.

  • It's not a coincidence that the places where White Brits settled - Canada, Australia, the US etc are generally not tropical.

  • Often, by adapting around local norms and customs. Resting in the afternoon and working in the evening etc.

Listen to the podcast "Empire" for more, or read "The Anarchy" by one of the podcasters William Dalrymple about the East India Company.


reaLife00 t1_j3knxni wrote

Was everyone in western US during the 19th century super fit?


loyaltyElite t1_j3mju2e wrote

Is there a visualization of every civilization and how they were taken over or separated? For example, Spain and Aztec would merge but GB and US would separate. Wanted to see if there was one for all of history. Would be interesting to see.


en43rs t1_j3nklxm wrote

So this would be impossible. First civilization doesn't really mean anything. It's a subjective construct. You should rather look for states/political entities. And the history of the world is just too big a subject. You can't show every evolution of every border.

What exist are:

-either specific videos of timelapse of specific wars, this channel is perfect for this

-or broad simplification of world history. This is the most famous one, lots of problems but okay overall.


[deleted] t1_j3xkptd wrote



MeatballDom t1_j3xzwud wrote

Pretty common, there's a common joke at universities about how almost all historians are bad with maths and numbers (which I think there is something to).

Gets even worse when working on projects that spread between BCE and CE and you have to work with second century BCE and second century CE and having to work out how that works for both.

I mainly avoid using the terms when giving lectures and just stick to specific dates or say "around 200 BCE" etc. Much easier.


storiesofbritainpod t1_j3ynwxt wrote

It is very counterintuitive. I have been writing and talking about history for 16 years, and sometimes catch myself out. Because of this, I never use terms like 18th century in our podcast, for exactly this reason.


Danwinzz t1_j3xwfcw wrote

What are the most significant graves that we have ever discovered well after they died? (besides King Tut)


saywhar t1_j4600i6 wrote

what are the least discussed periods of recent-ish history? (18th century?)


Kitenn_ t1_j480lo9 wrote

I have some questions about the same theme :

- why do people bully France for surrender in 1940 ? I mean, what is bad in the idea to stop fighting and preserve peace in a country I guess ?

- and why do people don't bully Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark or even Poland for surrender if they bully France for the same thing ?


drhunny t1_j4cc8z8 wrote

Not an historian.

Lux, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark basically never stood a chance against Germany. Small countries with small armies. No room to trade space for time.

In 1939, France arguably had a larger and better equipped army than Germany (for instance, the French armor was estimated to be superior to German armor at the time) , but the French army collapsed due in large part to poor generalship and and to a lesser extent poor morale.


emperator_eggman t1_j49cdqt wrote

Why doesn't r/history have a discussion page like r/badhistory?


MeatballDom t1_j49jzsv wrote

What do you mean?


emperator_eggman t1_j4dzp1y wrote

Like Mindless Mondays on that sub where it's a weekly or daily thread. I think that will definitely increase this sub's presence and make this sub feel less elitist/gatekeeping.


MeatballDom t1_j4e0t0y wrote

Well we have this Saturday Questions thread

and a Wednesday Bookclub/Sources thread where people can talk about the books they've been reading

We're definitely wanting to do more for the community, but we do need things to be a bit on topic and about history. If you can think of a way we could do a Mindless Monday or whatever that still has a bit of a history theme I'd be more than happy to talk it over with the other mods and see if we can trial something.


emperator_eggman t1_j4e8n18 wrote

Sounds great. There's only so far that you can talk about without having it be a question or something that you read. Although having it just solely be history is a little difficult in my opinion. My best suggestion is to put it a disclaimer that such a thread will only be for "history-related topics" and give people two warnings before banning them from the sub if they don't obey the disclaimer.