Although the middle Ages are generally characterized as a tumultuous time, the truth is that many interesting things took place within the society. From the nobility to the peasants, the merchants to the clergy, the women and men, humans and animals, the middle ages were packed with fascinating happenings.
Here are some middle ages facts:
1. Kings of the early middle ages confined the early expression of art to religious arts and in particular that which related to Christianity. It was considered blasphemous to create art that was not restricted to frescos and mosaic paintings that told stories about saints. The literal manuscripts and poetry were also a reflection of piety as ordained by the state and Church. Some of the most popular artists of this time included Donatello, Fra Angelico, Leon Battista just to mention a few. Even though women did not have a significant stake in society, the Middle Ages produced female artists with the most famous being Hildegard of Bingen. Female artists were largely confined to creating manuscripts that had a heavy inclination to the Catholic religion.
2. The Church was very influential during the middle ages. The top clergy including the bishops and the archbishops played a significant role in creating the laws of the land. The Pope was even considered as bearing more authority than the kings bore. The Pope triggered the initial Crusade, the first in a series of seven bloody wars between Christians and Muslims. The Church, in particular the Pope, bore so much power that he promised to absolve the sins of those who went to fight in the Crusades.
3. There was a church for every 200 people. This means that in any given city, there were churches everywhere. Most buildings in the medieval cities were churches. For example, cities such as York, Lincoln and Norwich that had a population of not more than 10,000 each, had an average of 50 churches each.
4. Knights were an important part of the king’s army and most people aspired to serve in it. Young knights were trained to fight by mounting on piggybacks; through this technique, they learned how to balance and the skills that they needed to mount a horse during battle. Training to become a knight lasted for 7 years as a page and an additional 7 years as a squire.
5. Medieval knights used warhorses known as Destriers and when they went to combat, most would don favors such as scarves, a sleeve or a veil that they received from ladies
6. When in battle knights charged at each other at a speed of 60 mph. The final blow that they would give to their foes was known as a Couple de Grace.
7. The Black Death was one of the deadliest plagues of the middle ages. Italian merchants from Asia came back to Europe in 1347 and brought with them the plague. The plague was characterized by blue and black swellings all over the body. According to historical accounts, the Black Death killed about half of Europe’s population in just three years.
8. Another plague that spread across Europe in the middle ages was the plague of drunkenness. This plague settled in just about the same time of the Black Death but outlasted the Black Death plague. People all across Europe drank themselves to death thinking that the alcoholic concoction would protect them from the Black Death disease.
9. Women in the middle ages were completely submissive to the males whether it was their father, brother or husband. A woman would be beaten if she refused to take orders from any male. A lack of submission was perceived as a sin and contradictory to religious principles.
10. Berengaria of Navarre was the Queen of England as she was married to King Richard the Lionheart. However, this queen of England never went to England in all her life. She lived in Europe for the whole duration of her marriage to King Richard I. King Richard I only spent a total of 6 months in England.
11. According to some historical accounts, King Richard I was homosexual and he was involved with Berengaria of Navarre’s brother before he married Berengaria. Historians such as Roger of Hoveden also suggest that King Richard I and King Philip II of France were involved in a homosexual relationship.
12. Although modern day film and folklore depicts the Middle Ages romance as courtly and velvety, this is far from the middle ages facts. The medieval marriage typically involved young children; a boy aged fourteen and a girl aged twelve would get married and their union would be considered consensual and legal. The noble families conducted betrothals when their children were as young as 7 years and some even betrothed babies at birth.
13. It was important that the noble medieval women maintain an attractive physical appearance. However, because women gave birth so often and to so many children, they grew old faster than the men did. Additionally the food that noble women ate did not contain vitamin C and as such many women of the nobility had bleeding gums and crooked teeth.
14. A pale complexion was particularly important to the noble women that she was bled to achieve that pale look. Then she would apply facial make up from plant roots and apply a mixture on her hair that would make it look yellow.
15. One of the most gruesome middle Ages facts is that most trials were “trials by ordeal,” and were especially common in England. These trials entailed subjecting the accused to painful punishment such as burning him with a heated iron. The accused would be found innocent if the wound healed quickly, as it was believed that God had healed him because he was innocent.
16. As much as humans were put through these trials, so were animals. In medieval times, animals were put on trial for hurting or killing a human being. For example the parliament in France ordered that a cow be executed for harming a human; the cow was hang and later burned.