The 40,000km-long Incan road system connected 12 million people, but it also supplied the Incan army with food from thousands of storage depots spread across the whole network.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 the economic value of forests is not measured in the amount of wood they could provide, but in the amount of pigs they could feed.
In Norse mythology Fimbulwinter is the great winter immediately preceding Ragnarök. It may have been inspired by the horrifying real-life events of 536 CE.
The historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that in Medieval Europe, and in many places prior to the Industrial Revolution, people would habitually wake up for an hour in the middle of the night.
In 1946 Simeon II, the last person to bear the title “tsar,” was deposed and exiled from Bulgaria. Fifty years later, he returned and was elected prime minister.
The 1960 Oakeshott typology is a military historian’s attempt to classify the full range of European medieval swords.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
The Darb-e Imam shrine in Iran contains an early and exciting example of non-periodic tiling that was only mathematically appreciated five hundred years later.
In 13th century northern Europe, groups of women formed their own autonomous religious communities. Neither nuns nor wives, the Beguines forged their own route through the strictures of Medieval life.
Within the witch panic of Medieval Europe was a strange subset of trials that accused people of being both witches and werewolves.
If you wanted to build a castle in medieval England, you needed permission from the king. They’re supposed to be for the defence of the realm, but sometimes you just want to fake out the neighbours.
Princess Alexandra of Bavaria was a noted author and translator in the mid-19th century. She also firmly believed that as a young child she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass.
Europe has a long tradition of puzzle and prank cups and jugs: to drink out of these vessels you must first solve a mechanical challenge.
When the air is just right, a large ring appears around the moon. A similar effect makes it look like three suns are rising at once; this may have helped the English king Edward IV win the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461.
July 15 is Saint Swithun’s Day. Legend has it that, if it rains today, we’re in for forty more days of bad weather. It’s like Groundhog Day, but instead of a whistlepig there’s a saint who was buried outdoors.