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50 Essential Facts About Medieval Life

The 50 facts that you MUST know on your way to becoming a medieval expert!

England's population was around 4.8 million before the plaguePopulation
London was the largest city with a population of 40,000
The next largest cities had populations of 5,000-6,000
85% of the medieval population lived in the countryside
Most people were serfs, forced to work the land for their lord
Medieval society had three classes: aristocracy, clergy, and commonersSociety
Women had very few rights in medieval England
Only a small minority of people, mostly monks, could read and write
Medieval workers got about 215 days off a year. Today we get 132
Farming dominated the lives of most Medieval people
New Year's Day in medieval England was on March 25th Measures
The length of a medieval hour varied depending on the time of year
An acre, the amount of land 8 oxen can plough in a day, varied
A gallon of ale was larger than a gallon of wine
An old English mile was about 1.3 modern miles long
Medieval men wore "hose" rather than trousersFashion
Men wore "braes" beneath their clothes. They were similar to underpants
Married women were expected to keep their hair covered in public
Laws were made to govern the clothes people could wear
Men started wearing codpieces in the 14th Century
10,000 miles of Roman roads were still in use in medieval EnglandTravel
There were few bridges in medieval England. Fords were more common
Tolls had to be payed for roads, bridges, ferries, and to enter towns
A traveller could cover 30 miles a day in summer, or 20 in winter
Medieval world maps were not very accurate
Between 1314 and 1667, football was officially banned in EnglandLaws
Animals were tried for crimes, just like humans
Until 1215 guilt or innocence could be determined by "ordeal"
Peasants needed permission from their lord to get married
Jury trials began in England in the 12th Century
The main food of peasants was a vegetable stew called "pottage"Food and Drink
Plates (called "trenchers") were made from stale bread
Spices were expensive and only for the rich in medieval society
Sugar was expensive too, so most food was sweetened with honey
Meat was a common food for the rich, but not for the poor
Most people relived themselves in a chamber pot. The rich had priviesHygiene
There were no sanitary towels. Rags or moss were used instead
Failure to wash your hands before a meal was the height of bad manners
Instead of toothbrushes people used twigs to keep their mouths clean
The nosegay was a medieval form of deodorant
Medieval barbers were also surgeons and dentistsMedicine
Doctors believed illness was caused by the four "humours"
Bloodsucking leeches were a common treatment for illnesses
Another treatment was "trepanning", or cutting a hole in the skull
Wine was used as an antiseptic for wounds
Hunting was the main pastime of the upper classesEntertainment
Troubadours travelled the country, singing and telling romantic stories
Jongleurs performed conjuring tricks and juggling
Jousts were the highlight of medieval tournaments
People enjoyed a variety of strategy and board games

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