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.
You would have a 50 percent chance of dying from the Black Death
The Black Death has been recorded as one of the deadliest plagues in the history of humankind. According to historical accounts, the Black Death killed about half of Europe’s population in just three years, which means that if you lived in medieval Europe around the 1340s you had a 50 percent chance of dying from it.
People had horrible manners
Excluding most royalty and a few select noble people, the vast majority of the people didn’t know what good manners were. Most of them used profanity regularly, they considered kindness a bad thing, and had horrible table manners; to get a clearer idea, it was considered cool to burp out loud while dining and throw bones and scraps on the floor.
Architecture was awful and depressing
The castles, which are considered the best examples of architecture from that era, belonged to the wealthy, important, and powerful people such as kings, nobles, and knights. However, castles were designed to protect their owners from rivals and invaders and so what mattered most wasn’t how “beautiful” they were but that they be impenetrable to attack. This is the main reason most remaining castles in England look so depressing and gray.
Under medieval law, animals could be tried and sentenced for crimes, as if they were people. There are records of farm animals being tried for injuring or killing people. Not a nice time or place to be for animals or the people who love them.
Anesthetics were pretty much unknown to the masses
Today we take the use of anesthesia for granted, whether it be in a dentist’s office, or a hospital. However, this wasn’t the case in the Middle Ages. Surgeons had a very poor understanding of human anatomy, anesthetics, and antiseptic techniques to keep wounds and incisions from infection, which resulted in many deaths and lots of pain.