Fun Medieval Facts!

Here’s a collection of fun facts floating around the internet about medieval times! There’s some funny ones, some gruesome and some that are completely left field crazy!

Leave us a comment or question and we will have our Medieval History experts help you clarify truth from fiction!

  • To brush one’s teeth, burnt rosemary was placed on a cloth and then one would scrub their teeth with it. People desperately tried to keep their teeth since tooth extraction was extremely painful what with no anesthetic and all.
  • People believed that diseases were spread by foul odors.
  • The elements of the Universe were considered to be water, air, fire, and earth. These elements directly corresponded to the body, so the elements were thus linked; phlem-water, blood-air, yellow bile-fire, and earth-black bile. The bodily elements were called humors.
  •  Pilgrimages were more often made to cure ailments than for spiritual fortification.
  • Scientific achievements in Medieval times may seem laughable at times, but the fact is that many commonly used appliances and tools today came from this time period: the pump, the hydrostatic balance, the pendulum, the sector, the thermometer, the telescope, and the lodestone.
  • Medieval alchemy produced very useful concoctions; nitric acid, sodium carbonate, and hydrochloric acid.
  • Water was an unreliable hydration source, so ale was the beverage of both choice and neccesity.
  • The Barber Pole – The peppermint candy cane strip appearance of a barber’s pole dates back to the Middle Ages when most barbers also performed the tasks of surgeons and dentists in their community. The red and white colour scheme actually refers to blood and bandages. In those days, bandages soaked in blood were washed and then hung from a pole outside of the barber’s shop. The wind would cause the bandages to twist, which created the spiral pattern that is still used today.
  • The famous Battle of Hastings did not take place in Hastings! It was actually waged at Senlac Hill – which is about 6 miles (10km) north-west of Hastings. “The battle at Senlac Hill” certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Battle of Hastings”!
  • Berengaria of Navarre was the Queen of England by her marriage to King Richard The Lionheart. Little is known of her life – but what is known is that she is the only Queen of England never to step foot in England! The entire time that she was married to Richard, she lived in Europe. In fact, Richard himself only spent about 6 months in England as he was so busy traveling on crusader business.
  • The Middle English term “pygg” referred to a type of clay. In the middle ages, people would often keep coins in jars or pots made of pygg – these were called “pygg jars”. By the 18th century, with the evolution of language, these came to be known as a “pig bank” or “piggy bank”.
  • One bizarre recipe for a medicine to protect against the plague involved drinking ale that has had crushed roasted egg shells, leaves and petals of marigold flowers, and treacle added to it. Needless to say this was not particularly effective.

What do you think of these? Are there any you want to add to the list or think should be taken off?