Myths about the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, 9 out of 10 people died before they reached 40

Of course, we do not have exact data on the average life expectancy in the distant past, but historians say that in the Middle Ages it was somewhere around 35 years. (In any case, 50% of those born survived to this age). But this does not mean that people died only after reaching 35 years. Yes, the average life expectancy was approximately this, but many died in childhood. We do not know exactly what percentage this is, but assuming that somewhere 25% died before they even reached five, we would not be far from the truth. About 40% died in adolescence. But if a person was lucky enough to survive childhood and adolescence, he had a good chance of living up to 50 and 60. In the Middle Ages, there were even people who lived to 70 or 80.

In the Middle Ages, people were much lower than us

Not true! The people were slightly lower. Based on the skeletons found in the Mary Rose karakka, the sailors were somewhere between 5'7 "and 5'8" (about 170 cm). Burials from the Middle Ages and other periods also show that people were slightly shorter than our contemporaries, but not much.

People of the past were very dirty and rarely washed

The facts clearly show that people tried to keep themselves clean. It is absolutely certain that most people washed and changed their clothes very often. They also tried to keep their homes clean. The opinion that people were dirty and smelled bad is a myth.

It may have arisen because people rarely took a bath. Until the 19th century, it was difficult to heat large quantities of water at once. Imagine that you have heated a pot of water and poured it into a tub. While you heat the second serving, the first will cool down. The Romans solved this problem with public baths that were heated from below.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, it became easier to wash naked. In hot weather, people washed themselves in the rivers. It is also known that people washed their clothes quite often.

Pope John was once a woman

It is unlikely that this is true. According to legend, the Pope-woman was on the Holy See for 2 years - from 855 to 858. In fact, Leo IV held the papal throne from 847 to 855, and Benedict III from 855 to 888. The gap between them is only a few weeks.

According to legend, the Pope-woman was disguised as a man, and no one suspected anything strange until the head of the Catholic Church gave birth to a child in front of the amazed surroundings. It's amazing that no one even noticed the pregnancy.

The first mention of the Pope-woman appeared 200 years after her supposed existence. If that's true, why didn't anyone write about it at the time? It was supposed to be a sensation for the whole of Europe, so why didn't anyone do it?

Probably because the story is fictional.

King John signed Magna Carta

No, he didn't sign! He put a wax seal on it, but did not sign.

During the Middle Ages, scholars spent hours debating how many angels fit on a pin head

There is no evidence that anyone in the Middle Ages asked such a stupid question. People who lived in the Middle Ages were far from stupid.

Some medieval armor was so heavy that knights were hoisted onto their horses with a rope

It is not true. The armor, of course, was heavy, but not that heavy.

Ahead of 1000 A.D. people all over Europe panicked. They were afraid that Jesus Christ would return and the end of the world would come

There is no evidence that such a panic has occurred. Not a single chronicler of that time mentions anything unusual. Only centuries later, writers began to claim that this was the case before the onset of 1000. This is part of the broader myth that the people of the Middle Ages were stupid and gullible (even more than we are!)

The Vikings wore helmets with horns

There is no evidence that the Vikings wore horned helmets to battle. Just like there is no evidence that they wore winged helmets.

Yew grew in most churchyards because men used yew to make bows

This is almost certainly a myth. Records indicate that bowmakers preferred yews from Southern or Eastern Europe (English yews were not quite suitable for this purpose). In fact, yew trees grew in churchyards because their leaves are poisonous. Villagers could allow cattle to graze in churchyards. Yew trees were a good way to stop them.

Joan of Arc was burned as a witch

It is not true. She was burned for heresy (because she dressed like a man).

Before Columbus, people thought the earth was flat

In fact, in the Middle Ages, people knew well that the earth is round.

Columbus discovered America

Not. It is known for certain that the ancestors of today's Americans came to North America thousands of years before Columbus. Moreover, Columbus was not even the first European to discover America. The first European to see the continent was Bjarni Herjulfsson. He sailed to Greenland in 985 AD when he saw a new land (he did not go ashore). After about 15 years, a man named Leif Erickson led an expedition to a new land. He gave names to some areas of North America: Helluland (land of flat stones), Markland (land covered with forest) and Vinland (land of grapes). Erickson spent the winter in Vinland. He never returned there, other Vikings returned, but they never managed to create a permanent colony there.

Centuries later, Columbus decided he could sail directly from Europe to China across the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus underestimated the size of the Earth. He did not know that North and South America and the Pacific Ocean existed. Columbus made 4 Atlantic voyages and, although he landed in several Caribbean islands, he never set foot on the continent of North America.

Blackgit (Black Wasteland) in London gets its name because the victims of the London plague (the so-called "black death") were buried there

This is definitely not the case. This place was named the Black Wasteland during the Cadastral Book (land register of England, produced by William the Conqueror in 1086), almost 300 years before the plague of 1348-49. That the Black Wasteland got its name because black slaves were sold there is also a myth. It is not known where this name actually came from. Perhaps because of the black soil. In any case, it has nothing to do with the plague or black slaves.

Golf is an English acronym that means ‘gentlemen only ladies forbidden’.

The word "golf" comes from the old Danish word "kolf" which meant "club". (In the Middle Ages, the Danes already played clubs, but golf itself originated in Scotland). The Scots changed the word to "head" or "goff", over time it turned into the "golf" we know.

Archers carried their arrows on their backs

Only when they rode horses. Usually, archers carried arrows in containers fastened to a belt (it is much easier to get an arrow for a bow from the belt than from the shoulder). Robin Hood is usually depicted with a quiver of arrows on his back. If Robin Hood ever existed, chances are he carried arrows on a belt.

In the Middle Ages, spices were used to hide the spoilage of meat

This is not true for one simple reason - spices were very expensive and only rich people could use them. They certainly didn't eat spoiled meat. They ate only the highest quality meat! Spices were used to enhance its taste.