General History Questions thread

Almalexia

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As far as I've seen, no one has made a thread of this nature yet, but if I'm simply missing it feel free to let me know.  :smile:

Now this thread is basically for all the questions regarding history that doesn't warrant its own thread: whether it is a question of mere curiosity about daily life in history, a plea for clarification or peer review, or other such questions, this would be the place to ask it.

I'll start it off with a question of my own: Chinese ceramics and art often depict wonderfully built, handsome horses, clearly different from the stocky, pony-sized horses of the Mongols and the nomadic peoples to its North and West. Does anyone have any ideas on what breed(s) they might be, and how they were kept and bred?
 

RalliX

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I had an idea for a thread like this as well.

Examination of Wikipedia indicates that the Chinese relied heavily on foreign breeds, usually of the smaller central-asian variety.
In fact, there seem to be no heavy draft horses of Chinese origin, based on what I see in Wiki.
 

Bluehawk

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Ferghana horses, potentially. They retained a prestigious reputation since they were first encountered during the Han dynasty, and with horses being imported from the west through the Silk Roads (one route being through the Ferghana valley), it's possible that that breed was the template for the ideal equestrian in pottery, wood-print etc.
 

Almalexia

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Ah, okay, very interesting! And a very interesting idea, Bluehawk, it would explain the differences in the horses depicted in art, and those that they seemed to rely on, seeing as the Nomadic peoples, and their much less visually impressive horses, were one of their sole sources of warhorses. Thank you for your answers.  :smile:

Though perhaps the horse breeds listed in the Wikipedia article are only those breeds left in the modern day?
 

Captured Joe

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I did read in a (quite old) book that the Chinese imported Greek horses (I believe it mentioned the Silk route) to breek their own horses.
 

dinnerdog2zero

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Chinese using Greek horses seems a bit far fetched. I'm pretty sure the animals in question are Ferghana horses, known as 'heavenly horses' by the Chinese.
 

matmohair1

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:arrow: - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZknA2ps-Ps





















Tiberius Decimus Maximus said:
I'll start it off with a question of my own: Chinese ceramics and art often depict wonderfully built, handsome horses, clearly different from the stocky, pony-sized horses of the Mongols and the nomadic peoples to its North and West. Does anyone have any ideas on what breed(s) they might be, and how they were kept and bred?


:arrow: http://www.ponybox.com/news_details.php?id=1019&title=Horses-of-China









 

FrisianDude

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dinnerdog2zero said:
Chinese using Greek horses seems a bit far fetched. I'm pretty sure the animals in question are Ferghana horses, known as 'heavenly horses' by the Chinese.
which is, I suppose, what is referred to by 'Greek' horses given that the war OF the heavenly horses was fought between a minor diadochi state and the Chinese.
 

Almalexia

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Actually, through some digging, for those who are interested, the 'Ferghana' Breed actually refers to the famous Nisean horse of antiquity! An excerpt from the Wikipedia article on the Nisean breed:

The ancient Greeks called him the Nisean after the town Nisa, where he was bred; the Chinese called him the Tien Ma – Heavenly Horse
This being the same horse that helped the Persians conquer their Empire, and the Parthians used as cataphracts to smash the Romans at Carrhae. So very interesting indeed.  :grin:
 

FrisianDude

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isn't it likely that the Chinese referred to simply large horses as 'heavenly' perhaps? "Ferghana" and "Nisean" could still be different. :razz:
 

Almalexia

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The Wikipedia article on the Nisean says they were bred in a range from Armenia to Sogdiana under the reign of Darius I, Sogdiana being the region that contains the Fergana Valley, so more likely than not, the Nisean breed is one and the same as the Ferghana!  :smile:
 

Captain Pyjama Shark

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FrisianDude said:
dinnerdog2zero said:
Chinese using Greek horses seems a bit far fetched. I'm pretty sure the animals in question are Ferghana horses, known as 'heavenly horses' by the Chinese.
which is, I suppose, what is referred to by 'Greek' horses given that the war OF the heavenly horses was fought between a minor diadochi state and the Chinese.
Wow, I had never heard of this conflict before.  Or of the "Dayaun" though I guess they were just minor Hellenistic city-states, right?  The Wiki page says they accepted Chinese sovereignty- I wonder what happened to them.  Something about ancient Europeans and Chinese in direct contact absolutely mystifies and fascinates me.
 

Suspicous Pilgrim

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Why were there so many coups and rebelliond in Africa toward the latter half of the 20th century? How likely were medieval European nobles to be literate around the 1000-1200s? What were Russian military tactics during the medieval ages? I read that infantry used a formation very similar to the tortoise. Why was the literacy rate in medieval Novgorod so high?
 

Paxton

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Suspicious Pilgrim said:
How likely were medieval European nobles to be literate around the 1000-1200s?
I think that we underestimate the literacy levels from those days. Clergymen were the most educated people of those days and so nobles would let their offspring enjoy an education by such men in return for a monetary compensation ofcourse. Therefore I think it's appropriate to say that at least the majority of the higher nobility and a rather significant part of the lower nobility knew how to read and write. (However in those days it could be that a person who knew how to read, didn't know how to write.) Reading has always been important in politics, so if any nobleman wanted to be competitive in feudal squabbles, then he'd have to know how to read. Reading was also one of the elements with which the elite would distinguish themselves from the lower classes.

Sources: Man I just wrote up whatever I knew, I might be very wrong and if so, I apologize. Also, if anyone knows any good books on this subject, I'd really appreciate it.


Now for my question: Did Christianity 'cause' (or perhaps one of the 'causes' if you're not for a monocausal approach) the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the so-called 'dark ages', and if it did, how significant was its role?
 

RalliX

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Paxton said:
Now for my question: Did Christianity 'cause' (or perhaps one of the 'causes' if you're not for a monocausal approach) the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the so-called 'dark ages', and if it did, how significant was its role?
Christianity as an established religion, and the Roman Empire coexisted for the reigns of ten emperors.
What caused the fall of Roma was its own corruption. No nation can endure so many years without fragmenting from greed and the power-hunger of many bad rulers.

No, the dark ages came about because the giant military edifice of Rome was not there to quell the hundreds of petty kings and warlords, and none of them were themselves strong enough to take lasting mastery of Europe once everyone was on equal ground again.

Why would Christianity be the cause?
 

Almalexia

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Rather, Christianity likely came to the fore during the waning years of Rome for the sole reason that it was in decline. The Traditional Greco-Roman religion, with its rather gloomy fate for most in the afterlife, with only a few entering into Elysium, simply couldn't compete with Christianity as more and more people looked to the afterlife for happiness and salvation as incredibly immense events beyond their control began to topple the edifice of Roman civilization. A religion where all who accept the existence and love of a God would receive the bliss of Elysium in Heaven, without requiring the heroic feats needed for entry in the Roman religion, was the more attractive alternative in darker times, especially considering the structure the Church provided as the influence of the Roman government faded away.

So, yes, it is regrettable that the remarkable religious tolerance shown by Romans practicing the Greco-Roman faith went out the window, but that hardly caused the downfall of Rome. But in the face of the crumbling of the Empire, it would seem pretty natural to adopt the more accepting (in terms of the afterlife) and structured Christian Church.
 

Paxton

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Tiberius Decimus Maximus said:
Rather, Christianity likely came to the fore during the waning years of Rome for the sole reason that it was in decline. The Traditional Greco-Roman religion, with its rather gloomy fate for most in the afterlife, with only a few entering into Elysium, simply couldn't compete with Christianity as more and more people looked to the afterlife for happiness and salvation as incredibly immense events beyond their control began to topple the edifice of Roman civilization. A religion where all who accept the existence and love of a God would receive the bliss of Elysium in Heaven, without requiring the heroic feats needed for entry in the Roman religion, was the more attractive alternative in darker times, especially considering the structure the Church provided as the influence of the Roman government faded away.

So, yes, it is regrettable that the remarkable religious tolerance shown by Romans practicing the Greco-Roman faith went out the window, but that hardly caused the downfall of Rome. But in the face of the crumbling of the Empire, it would seem pretty natural to adopt the more accepting (in terms of the afterlife) and structured Christian Church.
If I recall correctly, one of the reasons Christianity became so popular because it was more woman-friendly than most pagan religions (e.g. Mithraism). Rodney Stark also wrote the following in his book 'The Rise of Christianity':
“Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
According to him it appealed to the people because they would be more inclined to care for eachother than pagans would, which certainly does seem attractive in times of social and economic decline.


Rallix said:
Why would Christianity be the cause?
I was having a debate with someone who believed that Christianity 'held back scientific evolution and progress for like a thousand years during 'the dark ages' and we might've been exploring the galaxy if it wasn't for that...'
My argument was extensively telling that it was bollocks, but I wanted to be informed of other people's views on this and this seemed like an appropriate thread on an appropriate forum.
 

Jhessail

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Paxton said:
Sources: Man I just wrote up whatever I knew, I might be very wrong and if so, I apologize. Also, if anyone knows any good books on this subject, I'd really appreciate it.
I've read otherwise. Of course, sources for early Medieval period are fairly scarce but reading/writing were not, in my understanding, common skills at all even among nobility.