A truly fascinating era filled with historical gems such as The Hundred Years War, the intriguing lives of the royals at the time, as well as the outbreak of the Black Death. With so much rich history to unfold, the Middle Ages remains one of the most significant eras of all time, and not just the less important period of time that eventually transitioned into the Renaissance period. For your viewing pleasure, here are 10 facts you never knew about the middle ages:
Fact 1: Move over ladies! You have some stiff competition! Back in the Middle Ages the women weren’t the only ones making an effort to keep their posture nice and their gut sucked in by corsets. Men wore them too! The 1930s was the time men’s clothing was the epitome of vain, tight fitting, and often times revealing fashion. From brightly colored tights to corsets that gave them the illusion of a nipped waist, it truly was the era of David Bowie.
Fact 2: Death by bread? By the time Summer came knockin’ on their doors, people from the Middle Ages anticipated the scarcity of grain. Because the new crops weren’t ready to be harvested yet, old rye had to suffice for making their bread. However, the stored rye was often contaminated with a fungus called “ergot” that caused hallucinations, gangrene, and if worse comes to worst: death.
Fact 3: You best be keeping your beloved pets indoors, lest you have the money and influence to save them from trial! Yes, that’s right. The Middle Ages actually contested to holding trials for humans and animals alike, treating the latter much like the first. There have been records of mice being prosecuted for stealing the harvest, while a group of locusts were tried for eating the crops!
Fact 4: Corsets and tights weren’t the only articles of men’s fashion that was all the rage. Back then, long toed shoes meant you were hot. Just picture long, pointy shoes that men wore going about their daily lives, most especially during special affairs. The pointed shoes were so long that they even had to be reinforced with wool, moss, and even whalebone! In order to run away from impending danger you had to cut off the tips of your shoes to be able to run properly.
Fact 5: If you were highly influential and had the money to blow, then that meant you were able to afford a chef that could cook you gross food. Throughout the period, powerful people would feast on porpoise. Richard II enjoyed porpoise himself, often having the blood of the mammal mixed in with oatmeal, pepper, spices, and boiled in the porpoise’s stomach before being served. One of the earliest written cook books of all time entitled “The Form of Cury(e)” had the instructions of how to make the meal inside the pamphlet. The recipe is quite similar to haggis, only much more gross than the usual fair.
Fact 6: if you needed to raise money back in the day, setting up a lemonade stand wasn’t the way to go. If you wanted to raise money for charity, you had to put up a hold a “help ale” fund raiser, where you brew up a batch of ale and invited a big party to drink it, collecting donations throughout the merry making.
Fact 7: Ever wondered what a feast fit for a king was like? Well, start by picturing yourself in a large banquet hall, and the long stretch of table being completely covered by 140 hogs, 14 oxen, 12 boars, 12 calves, and 3 tons of venison! All roasted, salted, and ready for the king, his court, and 10,000 other villagers to take part in. That’s how King Richard II of England liked to party.
Fact 8: Knights weren’t all as noble and bold like Ser Lancelot. In fact, most of them were quite far from the image of good we all uphold when thinking about the armored heroes. Most of them, most especially Ser John Arundel, looted villages and nunneries, raped women, and even kidnapped nuns to throw overboard off a ship. Medieval douchebags at your service.
Fact 9: During the years 1347 ‘til 1350, the epidemic known as The Black Death or the bubonic Plague shook Europe to the core and killed off 30 percent of the continent’s population. 20 million people, mostly those who lived in cities, died and left Europe with the lowest count for human life for a long while.
Fact 10: Around the time the 11th century was coming to an end, the Catholic Church authorized military expeditions known as Crusades to eradicate Muslims from the Holy Land. The Crusaders wore red crosses on their coats and believed that their service for the cause would guarantee them eternity in heaven.