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Sponor Blog: ERMS Group taking care of your safety

A Perilous Period for Personal Safety Part 3/3

ERMS Group is taking care of the 2017 Abbey Medieval Festival

Hygiene and personal care: surprising Information on Medieval Period

The widely-held belief that cleanliness and hygiene was of no concern to medieval people is not quite true.

Though unsanitary living conditions contributing to disease often originated from lack of plumbing which meant human waste was discarded outside, not too far from one’s home and waste deposited in open street sewers was removed and often dumped into the nearest river (if it was removed at all), personal hygiene was not entirely neglected.

The Roman practice of communal bathing continued into the Medieval Period, along with personal hygiene practices such as cleaning one’s hands and face.

Despite bathing not being as frequently practiced as it is today, Vikings did bathe once a week and most German villages and towns featured communal baths frequented by craftsmen. By the 13th century Paris was home to over 32 bathhouses and Southwark, London was equipped with 18 hot baths!

Fire Safety Information on Medieval Period

Did you know the origins of our modern building codes can be traced back to the Medieval Period?

After the extinguishing of the 2nd Great Fire of London (aka the Great Fire of Suthwark), Mayor Henry Fitz-Ailwin banned thatched roofs. Yet, as timber framing remained popular in construction and city populations grew, housing storeys continued to pile upwards. By the end of the period timber houses overhung tight streets, leading to the 1666 Great Fire of London, an inferno which ravaged 80% of the city 3 decades after the Suthwark blaze. The tragedy prompted the instigation of the London Building Act of 1667 which prescribed using stone in housing construction as a fire-safety precaution in an attempt to curb the chance of another devastating blaze scourging the city.

These new medieval building regulations produced a raft of laws, such as distinguishing between commercial, industrial and residential zones, which to this day remain inherent to our cities. 

How Times have Changed…

Fast forward to the 21st Century and safety is a key watch-word of our times. The Abbey Medieval Festival 2017 brings all the rollicking action and mayhem of the Middle Ages to the modern era with great authenticity, save for one aspect – the lack of safety.

Today, care of public and personal safety is considered enormously important in all aspects of daily living.

Luckily for us modern day festival-goers, ERMS Group have been taking care of our safety on the Abbey site since 2005. Event operations are their forte, so you and your family can enjoy peace of mind when immersing yourselves into the medieval spirit and festival excitement of this unique event.

 

Want to read more?

Click the links below to read parts 1 and 2 on safety in medieval times and see how well we are taken care of at the Abbey Medieval Festival.

ERMS Group – Blog 1/3

ERMS Group – Blog 2/3

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Sponsor Blog: ERMS Group managing health and safety at our festival

A Perilous Period for Personal Safety Part 2/3

ERMS Group keeping managing health and safety

#5 Childbirth & Life Expectancy –

Safety during childbirth was very perilous during the Medieval Period. What we would now class as risky or unsafe birthing, in medieval times people simply didn’t know and a difficult labour could last several days. Some expectant mothers eventually succumbed to exhaustion, dying during the ordeal. Attempting to birth a baby in breech position often proved fatal to both the infant and mother-to-be. 

When a new mother did survive labour, she still risked a distinct chance of dying from various postnatal infections and complications. 

Infant mortality rates were very high as the immune system was still becoming accustomed to the threats of its disease-riddled environment.  About 20% of would-be mothers and 5% of babies died during childbirth, with an additional 10% to 12% dying during the first month according to statistics information on Medieval Period mother and infant mortality rates.

By the 2nd half of the 14th century, peasants were living 5 to 7 years longer than in the 50 years previous. However, average life expectancy for English ducal families between 1330 and 1479 was usually just 33 years of age for women and 24 for men. Laypeople in late 1420s Florence, Italy, could expect to make it to just 29.5 years (women) and 28.5 years (men)!

However, if a 13th-Century person made it to 30 they had a good chance of making it into their 50s and even 60s.

#6 Violence – and lack of safety

Daily life incurred the omnipresent danger of violence no matter whether you were high born or low born.  Staying safe was a big challenge for both rich and poor alike.

Violence abounded in many forms – from the not uncommon street and tavern brawls, assault, murder, accidental homicide, through to blood feuds, domestic violence, local and regional land disputes, urban unrest, revolts against lords by their vassals, and citizenry uprisings (such as England’s 1381 Peasants’ Revolt), amongst other violent incidents (not to mention warfare violence and larger-scale crusades).

Even trials were not free from violence with combat ordeals often thrust upon the accused to reach a verdict of guilt or innocence.

#7 Heresy

Heaven forbid you disagreed with the Christian Church! Those who held theological or religious opinions/beliefs which didn’t fit the Christian narrative were considered unorthodox – posing a threat to the Christian Church’s stranglehold and a danger to the established status-quo. Any perceived threat to Christendom was ruthlessly dealt with for to deny Christianity was to blaspheme it, and blasphemy was a crime against God.

Heretics/dissenters (Muslims, Jews, Cathar’s, and freethinkers, amongst others) were persecuted and killed, or silenced through threat of death. It was not until the flourishing of humanism during the Renaissance which brought about more temperate conditions in which these voices could begin to be heard. 

#8 Safety while hunting

Hunting was a favoured pastime amongst the aristocracy and royalty of the period, but it came with great risks to personal safety. Accidents such as falls from horseback, friendly fire from arrows, mauling and bear attacks could easily be fatal. 

 

Interested to read more about Safety in Medieval Times? Stay Tuned for Part 3.

Thanks to ERMS Group for their support of the Abbey Medieval Festival 2017.

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Sponsor Blog: ERMS Group – keeping you safe at our festival

A Perilous Period for Personal Safety Part 1/3

ERMS Sponsor keeping people safe Unlike the innumerable protocols, laws, rules and regulations and standard practices revolving around ‘safety’ of all kinds which we follow and practice across the globe today, by and large, keeping people safe was of little concern to the people of Medieval Europe and Britain.

On average, a person’s life was lived perpetually on a knife’s edge, regardless of their station and staying safe was not easy. Danger lurked around every corner, risk lay in wait during every waking and sleeping hour, for there was no rest and no reprieve from the many abundant threats and risks which plagued people of these perilous times.  

Information on Medieval Period Threats to Survival, Personal Safety and Health

#1 Famine

Famine was an ever-present risk for peasants. Anything from bad weather to poor harvests could spell disaster for ill-equipped families and even whole populations. Meagre rations could only stretch so far. Malnutrition rendered people more susceptible to disease, and those who did not starve to death often succumbed to the repercussions of famine – the aftermath of tuberculosis, typhoid, sweating sickness, smallpox, dysentery, influenza, mumps and gastrointestinal infection epidemics.

Famine statistics information on Medieval Period points to 15% of European deaths during the early 14th century’s Great Famine.

#2 Staying safe in bad weather

As most medieval people lived rurally, bad weather could kill and poor weather could result in famine. For example, a wet and cold summer could destroy grain crops entirely, and as grain was the period’s main food source, hunger, starvation and disease were all serious and probable eventualities of such a scenario. 

By 1550, there was an expansion of glaciers worldwide as the ice pack grew between the 14th and 16th centuries, bringing with it devastating wetter and colder weather than had ever been experienced by the people of medieval times.

#3 Staying safe during ‘The Plague’ (aka Black Death)

The Plague was one of the biggest killers of the period, arriving in Europe in 1348 it decimated between a third, to half the European population of the 14th and 15th centuries. Caused by bacterium and carried by fleas most often found on rats, the Black Death wiped out thousands – from Italy, France and Germany to Scandinavia, Spain, Russia, England, and Wales, nowhere and no one was safe.

In England, out of every 100 people, about 35 to 40 died from The Plague!

#4 Staying safe while travelling

A warm bed to sleep was often hard to come by for the average person when traveling. In winter, freezing to death was not uncommon, as was the possibility of being robbed, and/or murdered by strangers, or if you were unlucky enough, by fellow travellers.   

Food poisoning caught from unscrupulous inns, monastery or other lodgings was also a possibility, as was becoming unwittingly caught up in regional or local disputes, or even full-blown warfare which could result in injury or prison time (amongst other travel risks).

 

Interested to read more about Safety in Medieval Times? Stay Tuned for Part 2.

Thanks to ERMS Group for their support of the Abbey Medieval Festival 2017.