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I think whether we know it or not, we all harbor myths about the Middle Ages, that time period usually considered between 500 and 1500 AD.
Columbus did not sail the ocean blue in the year of 1492 to discover a new world or to prove the earth was round. In Newgate prison between the years 1281-1290 there were 200 cases of homicide and only 21% of those were found guilty, so there was as sense of justice prevailing in the Middle Ages.
No, it is a Victorian myth to perpetuate the romantic (romantic?) notions of an age of Chivalry. Another myth was that medieval people were more violent because of lead poisoning from all this pewter that they didn’t use. You might have heard that some believe the term Upper Crust came from the wealthy desiring to eat only the upper crusts of the bread, and thus the term was born. A knight in full harness--that is, with mail, plate, helm, and sword--weighed anywhere from 60 to 120 lbs. Then, what I get to do, is take that information, recreate that world and time, and play with my repertoire of characters to bring you interesting dramas. I loved the scene in Wolf Hall in which Cromwell describes a patron so rich he served his guests on gold plate, and then - to show his wealth - tossed them out the window into the canals rather than clean them.
The punchline of course was that he had lined the canals with nets and had divers at the ready. Great list - if only this could be obligatory reading for anyone wishing to write medieval fiction before doing some diligent research.
I am a Medievalist in training and encountered some of these ideas before, but a like this list. The earth produces enough food for each of its 7 billion people to have the recommended number of calories per day.
Drew Gneiser tells stories and manages the social media at Feed My Starving Children, an international nonprofit in the business of helping volunteers turn hunger into hope with their own two hands. And since I write medieval mysteries and spend a lot of time researching the era, I thought we might spend some time going over those tired myths that crop up from time to time; those hackneyed fallacies that travel the net and maybe even into the conversation around your dinner table. Henry II in the twelfth century gave us trial by jury, though the jury was made up of people that you knew rather than an anonymous group as we have today. Chastity Belts—the idea that a knight would encase his wife in a contraption to ensure fidelity as he went off to the Crusades might be a cultural curiosity, but it was never fact. Remember, this was the age of the pre-Raphaelites, whose depiction of noble, dutch-boy coifed Crusaders would meet their lady loves in sunlit groves, a veritable Rivendell of velvet gowns and pointy sleeves.
Ate off pewter plates and threw bones on the floor—Okay, pewter was something still relegated to the wealthy and not in wide use until about the 15th century. In fact, I might mention this in my own blog because many of your points become peeves when reading about some fantasy worlds. You take a white cloth and wipe your teeth, then you swill your mouth with white wine, and then chew on some herbs like parsley to sweeten the breath. By the way - witchcraft wasn't legally heresy before 1484 when the Pope first denounced it - and burnings in England started way, way after that. I hear all these odd things from people about what they *know* about the middle ages, including the whole witch thing. While 805 million people in the world still don’t have enough food, throughout the past 20 years, the percentage of those living in extreme poverty has been cut in half.
Other factors causing ongoing hunger include lack of freedom, lack of access, and lack of income.


However, hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and Tuberculosis combined. Kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein deficiency, causes a malnourished child’s stomach to bloat and swell.
If smallpox can be eradicated (and many others are close to elimination), then ending hunger is certainly possible as well. Hunger is rooted in a complex and interconnected set of problems including corruption, environmental issues, farming, history, psychology, and more.
The whole city of Bath in England started out life in Celtic times, pre-Roman, and were valued as a holy place. When he refused to believe he was somewhere new, he named the inhabitants “Indians” because he tried to convince himself he was in India. Those last vestiges of chicanery were removed from the British Museum, many of which have been on display since 1846—which was probably when they were made! Very high levels (meaning you’d have to be eating the stuff in large quantities) may cause vomiting, staggering gait, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma. There was an understanding of one’s place, a code of ethics we might bristle at in the U.S. What we do is read primary sources—the actual documents, archaeological discoveries, or we move on to secondary and tertiary sources like text books by the latest scholars in the field who draw their conclusions from primary sources, new archaological finds, and from the exchange of ideas with other scholars.
It’s estimated that at least 6,000 people die every day from hunger and hunger-related causes. Scientists and economists now have early warning systems capable of predicting potential famines. Our current trajectory shows that if we stay on course, extreme hunger will continue to move towards zero. Good organizations know solving hunger means doing more than just giving food to the hungry. Later Manslaughter was added, the killing in hot blood in a duel or if one caught one's wife in adultery. But Miss of Arc was a special case and it was more a case of English versus French rather than person versus Church. And relatively speaking, the Middle Ages was not more violent than our current era, just different violence and toleration.
After it soaked up the juices you could eat it, but more often than not, your servants ate it or it was donated to almshouses to pass out to the poor.
Dogs might have been wandering about and you might have fed them scraps as you might do now, but tossing scraps over your shoulder? Without a proper diet of vitamins and minerals, a body might look normal on the outside, while inside, organs begin to slow down or stop. The most detailed documents from the period include the law courts and lawsuits by ordinary citizens against the other, women suing men and men suing women. As soon as her knightly husband trotted over the horizon she would get awfully friendly with the local tinker and all the kids would end up looking like him! You had to have been a very naughty boy or girl to get this treatment, and the headsmen were so unskilled at this that there were often many chops to get it right. In the past 25 years, there have never been more opportunities to volunteer, donate, and advocate online for the poor and hungry. If you were rich, in fact, you prided yourself on being able to afford well-milled wheat for light, fluffy loaves of bread—the Wonder Bread of the Middle Ages.


There's a scene with a feast where he takes a bite of a mutton joint or some such and then tosses the bone over his shoulder. We live in a time where we care for people of all kinds, all races, all faiths, people we will never meet.
Public baths and saunas were social in nature while at the same time giving you a chance to clean up a bit. But there was also fresh fish and shellfish to be had, rabbits kept, doves, chickens, geese, ducks, wild fowl, wild boar, venison. And speaking of women, women had many opportunities to better themselves, though it usually involved marrying well.
If you ever had to make a hasty departure, grabbing your plates was a convenient way to carry your wealth away with you.
The poorer folk actually ate healthier bread, made with husks and oats and other dark products (that we pay more for today in the supermarket. But before that, in the heyday of the Middle Ages, they were speaking Chauceran English, or Middle English. Love, betrayal, friendships, deaths, disease, ambitions, desires—the array of the human condition.
In London they were also part of brothels (depicted in the picture) so you get clean clean while you were getting dirty. The common man who kept a few pigs would wait to slaughter the family pig in the winter when all the other preserved meats were consumed, which would in turn supply a great deal of preserved meat to last throughout the winter: hams, sausages, hocks, etc.
You mean those things Jesus was depicted holding in paintings to show his Christian dominion over the world, a global world?
A servant could certainly gain in rank if she married her master (and likewise male servants who married their mistresses—that is, their bosses). Women could be brewsters (brewers of beer) and run alehouses, though mostly if they were widows to men who were in these professions. This upper crust notion comes from 1460, “Kutt e vpper crust [of the loaf] for youre souerayne”—in other words, serve him first. Washing hands before meals was always the custom, and though full immersion in a tub of heated bath water was strictly for the rich, the common folk took spit baths often, a little like camping. If you lived in a market town or in London, for instance, you shopped daily where fresh, aged meat was available at market. And don't forget, there are folks in living memory of the Saturday night bath, that once a week affair where the family shared the bath water one after the other. The spices that were used in certain dishes are a bit different than what we’d expect today for European cookery. Many spices that we would only employ in desserts—Cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg—would be used with meats, along with dried fruits like apricots, figs, raisins. It's what was available at certain times of the year, how much of a certain ingredient was stored and used.



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