Many contemporary historians and schoolbooks portray the Middle Ages as a time of poverty, backwardness, and religious arbitrariness, from which the people were freed only by the Renaissance and later the Industrial Revolution. On the other hand, there have been a few historians who paint a much different picture and insist that the Middle Ages weren’t as bad as some claim, and that in some ways they were better than most other historical periods. Here are 25 facts about this “dark” and controversial era that will help you make up your mind concerning which category you belong to: the lovers or the haters of Medieval times.
Men wore corsets and other feminine clothes
If you happen to be one of those who think men aren’t too manly and tough nowadays and are allergic to the word metrosexual, you would have hated the way men dressed in medieval times. By the early 1400s all the fashionable young noblemen wore tights and corsets in a vain attempt to get the leanest possible waist.
The population was significantly lower
When we say the population was lower, we really mean it. To get a better idea of this, London and Paris had no more than forty thousand residents each, while the world’s largest cities at the time, such as Constantinople and Baghdad, had about a million people each. In other words, medieval Europe was virtually empty.
Life expectancy was ridiculously shorter than today
From what we’ve learned the average life expectancy for a male born in the UK between 1276 and 1300 was about thirty-one years. As for women things were slightly better since the average woman made it past childbearing age.
Football was illegal
Today it might be the most popular sport with thousands of fans filling the stadiums but this wasn’t always the case with the world’s most popular sport. Back then football not only was illegal but also a very violent sport mixing the rules of modern football and rugby. Due to its violent nature, King Edward II banned it in 1314, stating,
There is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls . . . we forbid . . . on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future.
The vast majority of people were drunks
Water was rarely drunk in medieval times due to the difficulties in obtaining clean water. If water had to be drunk, spring water was preferred, as it was less likely to cause disease than river water. Water was also believed to be bad for digestion, and for all these reasons people consumed large portions of wine, beer, cider, ale, etc., and being wasted or drunk in England was the norm.