Q&A

What was the Sheepeater War?
"More a series of armed confrontations between US soldiers and Western Shoshone Native Americans in Idaho, the Sheepeater War began and ended in 1879. Known as Sheepeaters because they hunted the...
Who was Alice Wheeldon?
"A pacifist and socialist, Alice Wheeldon was charged in 1917 with conspiracy to murder the then prime minister David Lloyd George. Opposed to the First World War, she had opened her home in Derby to...
How were disabled people treated during the reign of Richard III?
"Disability was viewed ambivalently in medieval society and could be seen as divine punishment for human misdeeds – usually the general sinfulness of mankind. Misshapen bodies could be symbolic...
Did the Suffragette movement ignore the disenfranchisement of the working classes?
"The main aim of the ‘militant’ Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded in 1903 by the charismatic Emmeline Pankhurst, was to campaign for the parliamentary vote for...
What was the Bava- Beccaris massacre?
"Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris was an Italian general who fought in the wars of independence that unified his country. In May 1898, he was in command of troops in Milan when the city was threatened by...
Why did Britain welcome the 1803 Louisiana Purchase?
"In 1803 the United States negotiated the biggest real estate deal in its history when it more than doubled in size with the Louisiana Purchase from France for $15m. One can understand this momentous...
Were there any significant cultural differences between the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes in the early medieval period?
"The answer here is still hotly disputed. It was the Venerable Bede (who died in 735), writing 250 years after the events he describes, who first claimed that Roman Britain fell to invasion by Angles...
Where is Stotham, Massachusetts?
"The obvious answer would be ‘Massachusetts’ but the truth is that, although it was the subject of a learned article in a 1920 architectural journal, Stotham does not exist. The town was...
If President Kennedy hadn’t been wearing a back brace when he was assassinated, would he have lived?
"Despite his appearance as a vigorous and healthy man, John F Kennedy had a number of serious health problems. He wore a back brace, the result of an injury in the Second World War, and was in a good...
How was Germany able to afford the astronomical cost of rearmament in the 1930s?
"The short answer is that it almost didn’t. Hitler’s peacetime rearmament programme involved huge costs of over 60bn Reichsmarks, with armaments expenditure expanding from 1 per cent of...
What was the Woolwich Auto Stacker?
"In 1960, Woolwich Council invested in what was meant to be a fully automated multi-storey car park. The idea was that a motorist would deliver a car to a parking bay on the ground floor. Using a...
What was ‘Garnett’s Straw’?
"Henry Garnett was an English Jesuit priest who was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, tried for treason and executed on 3 May 1606. After the executioner threw his severed head into a straw-...
Why did Britain and France not declare war on the Soviet Union when the Red Army marched on Poland in September 1939?
"The reason why Britain didn’t declare war on the Soviet Union is an intriguing one. Unknown to the general public there was a ‘secret protocol’ to the 1939 Anglo-Polish treaty that...
If the battle of Hastings had never taken place because Harold Godwineson fulfilled the oath of allegiance that William of Normandy claimed he’d made to him, would British history have been any different?
"Enormously different; the battle of Hastings changed everything. The death of Harold and hundreds of other powerful men in 1066, as well as during the years of rebellion that followed, quickly led...
Who was Mary Furley?
"In the spring of 1844 a woman was rescued from the Regent’s Canal in London. Her name was Mary Furley and she was a 40-year-old single mother who, reduced to destitution and unable to face the...
When did Italian replace Latin as the language of Italy?
"Languages can literally die overnight when the last of their speakers dies, but the death of Latin was very different. After the fall of the Roman empire in the west in AD 476, Latin evolved into a...
I have read that present-day Egyptians are not the descendants of the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids. Is this actually the case?
"There has been a long-standing debate over the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians. However, there is no evidence in the skeletal record of any significant change in the mix of human types between...
What was the 'battle of Highbury?'
"  In November 1934, Italy, winners that summer of the second football World Cup, came to Highbury, Arsenal’s ground, to play England in a ‘friendly’ international. England had...
Would modern medical practices and resources have been able to save Abraham Lincoln after his trip to the theatre?
"  Abraham Lincoln was shot at point-blank range on 14 April 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, wielding a Philadelphia Derringer pistol. The bullet entered his head just under his left ear, went...
What was a phenakistoscope?
"  An invention in 1832 by Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau, the phenakistoscope was one of the first devices to create moving pictures. It consisted of two cardboard discs mounted on the same...
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