15+ Facts That Prove Life in the Middle Ages Was Much Cooler Than Modern Blockbusters

Many people think that the Middle Ages were dark times, and for absolutely no reason. Despite stereotypes, not every beautiful woman was considered a witch at that time, they didn’t fight science and value cleanliness and hygiene.

At Bright Side, we put together a new portion of facts about the Middle Ages that can really surprise you.

  • There was no such thing as childhood in the Middle Ages. People didn’t even know their own age. Newborns were considered evil by nature. Childhood began to be viewed as a separate stage of life only in the 17th century. In the same century, babies began to be treated as innocent creatures who needed to be protected.
  • To get married, you didn’t have to organize a big event. The main condition was the consent of the bride and groom. A couple could get married anywhere, even in a pub. But it was recommended to have witnesses of the marriage to avoid any uncertainty.
  • In some European countries, the conflict between the husband and wife could be resolved with a duel. But since a man was naturally stronger, he was limited in movement.
  • Another type of medieval duel was snickersnee. This is a fight with knives in the Netherlands, which became common in the 16th century. The reason for the fight was usually verbal abuse. The main rule was to never have a fight in the pub where the conflict started.
  • It’s generally believed that the rich people of the Middle Ages were mostly the nobles. But even in the 13th century, there were wealthy commoners who could own a castle. Such was Artaud of Nogent, whom Henry, the Count of Champagne, respected very much. His respect was so big that he even called him “sire commoner.” However, this didn’t prevent the feudal lord from lending the rich townsman to a poor knight, so that Artaud would pay his daughters’ dowries.
  • Until the 16th century, people had a completely different gait. It was all because of the shoes. Most people had no shoes at all and wrapped rags around their feet or walked barefoot. Those who were wealthier wore thick leather boots. But these shoes had no soles, so they could feel every pebble on the road. Therefore, people walked like ballerinas, walking on the balls of their feet in order to first carefully check if the ground was safe enough to put their full weight down.
  • In the Middle Ages, people loved to laugh. It is believed that if a person laughed, then they had good blood and were healthy. However, this became true only in the 12th century. Before that, laughter was considered something reprehensible and could be perceived as a sign of an active spleen.
  • Discussion of the natural needs of the body was not considered shameful, but etiquette in this area would seem somewhat strange to a modern person. For example, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus said that it was impolite to greet a person who was in the process of relieving themselves.
  • In castles, toilets were placed separately. The Teutons even used to build a free-standing tower, trying to place it on the edge of a body of water. Such a structure was called a “dansker”. According to one theory, this word came from the name of the city of Danzig (Gdańsk). According to another theory, it was associated with the word “dansk,” which meant “wet” in Prussian. How could you tell where the toilet was located in the castle? You could tell it by gray streaks under the windows of the tower because all the contents of the toilet were sent outside.

The dansker of Kwidzyn Castle

  • In the Middle Ages, many things were invented that we still use today. It’s believed that the question mark was invented by the scientist Alcuin of York, Charlemagne’s counselor.
  • The word “computer” that we associate with the contemporary term comes from the Latin word “computus,” which means the process of calculating the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. So we can say that the clergy of those times used a computer.
  • You can even say that memes were also invented in the Middle Ages. At that time, there were funny pictures accompanying the text. They were called “drollery” — comic drawings on the margins of manuscripts. They could depict a rooster with a human head, a dog wearing a mask with a person’s face on it, archers flying out of the mouth of a fish, or birdlike dragons with an elephant’s head on their backs.
  • One of the most common motives of drolleries were violent rabbits, bravely fighting their opponents. Presumably, these drawings ridiculed the stupidity of knights, who could be attacked even by such a harmless cute animal.

Would you want to live in the Middle Ages for awhile? Tell us in the comments below.

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