9 Medieval Myths That Still Have Supporters
Today is 2021 and most of the information about the Middle Ages we get through documentaries, TV shows, and books. Therefore, often what we consider to be reliable facts are myths or ordinary fiction.
The period of the Middle Ages lasted for about a thousand years, during which many facts appeared that were recognized as reliable. To filter them, let’s debunk the popular myths perhaps a supporter of which you are today.
Technological progress stopped because of religion
Many people still believe that religion and diseases such as the plague badly affected or even stopped the technological progress of that period. But in fact, the medieval church had a positive impact by donating mathematics and other sciences to humanity. Over a thousand years people ago have invented not only glasses and the water wheel but also more complex mechanisms like windmills and the magnetic compass. Many other discoveries were somehow made with the help of the church.
The tradition of the right of the first night
Also known as “Prima Nocta”, this is a lost tradition that allowed an official or any other powerful person to take a bride’s virginity the night after the wedding. What? This tradition has not been confirmed in any document or historical book, and to be honest, it would look very strange. One of the few mentions of Prima Nocta occurs in the Sumerian tales of Gilgamesh, which dates back to 1800 BC.
People drank beer and wine because of dirty water
Sometimes novels and science fiction films lie a lot. If you also thought that Medieval people drank a lot of alcohol, you were wrong. Most of the cities and villages were built not far from freshwater reservoirs so that all citizens had access to water. Of course, industrial plants had a certain danger since they were working with dyes. The workers drank only a little beer to quench their thirst at the end of the day.
There were no professional dentists
Many people fear and hate dental visits. Maybe this tradition began in the Middle Ages? Our ancestors did not have a great need for professional dentists because they did not eat so much sugar and candies. On the other hand, scientists carried out many analyzes and found out that people of that period removed and treated teeth using professional instruments.
The medicine was insane
If they did remove their teeth, what painkiller did they use? Although, having watched another film, we imagine that Medieval people could easily saw off their hands and other parts of the body to get rid of the pain. In fact, their medical knowledge was advanced and so that you understand the scale: modern doctors use modified medieval practices because people have known for centuries how to fight viruses, for example.
Today, this theory is still disputed, although, in the 6th century BC, people assumed that the Earth was round, and it was spinning all the time. Thousands of years ago, people understood that the Earth did not have the shape of a disk.
The average life expectancy has not been more than 30 years
Many people call the Middle Ages the dark period because of the high infant mortality rate. In adulthood, mortality was not high and many people lived up to 70 or even 80 years. How did this myth come about? Imagine a family of two parents and two children. The first child died immediately after birth, and the second lived a happy life and died celebrating his 60th birthday. Therefore, their average life expectancy is 30 years, but this does not mean that everyone was doomed to die at this age.
Women gave birth to children, cooked food, and died young
Such scenes often appear in modern films when it comes to the Medieval family. Documents are indicating the important role of women in society. They gathered crops, took part in the founding of hotels, and even participated in the political life of the city/country.
Men forced their wives to wear chastity belts
Probably each of us has seen this strange device in films at least once. The meaning of this belt was simple enough: not to allow a married woman to sin with another man. The first image of chastity belts appeared in the 14th century, and it may have been a joke since no documents or data are confirming that all married women had such waist shackles in their wardrobes.