What springs to mind when you hear the phrase “Medieval England”? Peasants? Witches? Chivalrous knights? If so, these facts might surprise you. Thanks to The Time Traveller’s Guide To Medieval England for inspiring some of the entries.
Men wore figure hugging clothing (and corsets).
Forget suits of armour: by the 1390s male clothing had become extremely vain, saucy and revealing. Fashionable young noblemen paraded around in tights and ‘courtpieces’: very short tunics that showed off the wearer’s – er -front bottom. Basically, England briefly turned into a nation full of Labyrinth-era David Bowies. They also wore tight corsets to give themselves a nipped in waist.
Medieval bread could get you high. Or kill you.
Summer was a particularly difficult time for villagers as they were running out of grain but the new crop wasn’t ready to be harvested, so they’d often have to use old rye to make bread. Unfortunately, stored rye was frequently infected with ergot, a fungus with LSD like qualities that caused hallucinations, gangrene and – in extreme cases- death. Thank goodness for Warburtons, eh?
Via Maid Marian and Her Merry Men/ CBBC
A monk called Roger Bacon predicted the future.
Roger Bacon was a Franciscan friar who lived from around 1214 to 1292. In his Epistola de Secretis Operibus, he wrote: “Cars can be made so that without animals they will move with unbelievable rapidity,” and “flying machines can be constructed by which artificial wings are made to beat the air like a flying bird.” He also predicted steamships, submarines and diving suits.
There were no peasants in Medieval England.
The people we tend to refer to as medieval peasants wouldn’t have recognised the word “peasant” at all: it was a 15th century French term. Land workers were actually quite hierarchical and split into distinct groups. The 1086 Domesday Book states that the English countryside comprised 12% freemen, 35% serfs or villeins, 30% cotters and bordars, and 9% slaves. Villeins, cottars, bordars and slaves lived in a perpetual state of bondage and effectively belonged to the lord of the manor: they couldn’t leave his service- or even get married- without permission.