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Category Archives: Medieval

Archery Blogg – Archery Through the Ages.

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Glenribbeen Archery has moved on and while still offering 1-on-1 lessons in archery (and traditional Irish music) since the accommodation has closed I now have a new business teaching medieval archery and telling stories based on the 30+ arrows I have dating from Mesolithic to 16th century. Each different and each with a different story.

See more at: archerythroughtheages.bloggspot.com

Deirdre decided to be daring

 

 

All ages catered for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Families or individuals everyone gets 1-on-1 coaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chain mail and copper wrist-band, a handful of arrows and a bow – ready to go.

TripAdviser comments: Glenribbeen + Archery in Waterford Museum.

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Glenribbeen Eco Lodge – +35354499 or call Peter direct on +353866017176

Glenribbeen Eco LodgeTripAdviser comments

Glenribbeen:

“Friendly, Quiet, and Great Food!”

Reviewed 8 November 2011

We were greeted with a toasty warm wood stove going, and Els right away brought out some tea and cookies, which we enjoyed by the fire while reading their many books about Ireland and the local area. The lodge is very tastefully decorated, without all of that stuffy Victorian pink lace and doily decoration you can typically find in a B&B. Upon reading the other reviews, I have to agree that the breakfast was amazing. Our first morning we had Dutch pancakes with rashers and maple syrup. I’m still dreaming of it. Second morning we had the baked eggs, which were also fantastic. And the coffee was strong and delicious, a serious concern of ours in a country that drinks a lot of tea.

Peter is an incredibly interesting man and he would come out in the morning to talk to us while we waited for breakfast. I could have sat there all day listening to him (and eating Els’s pancakes). He recommended several things for us to see and do, while giving us mini history lessons in everything from the Titanic to why they drive on the left side of the road. I wish we made some time for an archery lesson with him.

The whole place is very clean and everything has been thought of in an eco-conscious way. Yes, the bed is creaky as are the floor boards. We got used to it after our first night. Once you convince yourself it’s all part of the charm, you start to roll with it. The surrounding countryside is totally quiet and peaceful. A squeaky bed is a very small price to pay for a fantastic stay in a beautiful location with great hosts and insanely delicious breakfasts. I’d go back in a heartbeat. Make sure you get a chance to feed the hens some grapes!

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple

 

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“Lovely would definately recommend Baked Eggs for breakfast!”

Reviewed 25 August 2011

I stayed at the Lodge as we were attending a wedding locally, our room was lovely clean and bright there was everything you need hairdryer, kettle, books, local guides etc right down to a chocolate snack biscuit on a tray and a carafe of water, we were asked what we would like for breakfast and as a I don’t eat meat I have gotten used to beans on toast with a tomato thrown in but as Els and Peter are vegetarians I received a wonderful plate of fresh fruit garnished with flowers, followed by the house special of baked eggs delicious! fresh orange, breads, cereals you name it the choices. I work in Tourism and I was very impressed with the hospitality and service received, B&B prices were very reasonable.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple

 

 

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“Wonderful hospitality in a beautiful place. Top notch!!!”

Reviewed 14 August 2011

Peter and Els are wonderful people and right from the moment we met them, I knew we made the right choice of a place in Lismore. Their home is in a beautiful setting a short distance from the town of Lismore and quite an experience with gardens, hens, two wonderfully friendly dogs and within an easy walk to a river where the salmon fishers are busy. The house itself has a wonderfully large and comfortable dining/sitting area where breakfast is served and where we often found ourselves spending time chatting with Peter and/or Els and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee after a day of sightseeing. We learned A LOT of history about Ireland and Peter let us read books from his extensive library…one of which we borrowed and will send back. I had thought the breakfasts were great up to this point on our trip, but Peter and Els really go over the top with beautiful presentation and extraordinary and delicious food. I guarantee that you will not get a better breakfast in Ireland!!! Peter and Els are very approachable and helpful. A couple of evenings, we picked up some meat to BBQ and Peter set up the grill and provided the dishes, etc… We never felt rushed in our time with them as they always seemed to have time for whatever need or question we had. The room was comfortable and clean and had a TV/DVD combo in it. I loved the snacks and waters! Overall a great experience and highly recommended!!!

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family

 

 

“BEST B&B in Ireland”

Reviewed 2 August 2010

From the moment we arrived we were in heaven, we were treated with such a warm welcome. Peter was always willing to chat and eager to make our stay as pleasent as possible.we ate amazing breakfasts- such good options on the menu with fresh fruit and amazing homemade brown bread on the side! the atmosphere in the lodge was very relaxed and we made the most of the amazing servies which the lovely couple provided such as use of their canoe, bikes, various fishing equiptment, instruments, books, garden hammock, kites and BBQ… Iv never even heard of such extras being provied in another B&B… expecially as its half the price!! we even had a 5 star hotel booked for the last night and cancelled becuase we would rathar the tranquil surroundings of Glenribbeen lodge!! they made our stay amazing, offering information, conversation and even lifts to and from the pub. would recomend it to absolutly everyone and cant wait to return.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple

 

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Experience Medieval Archery

Reviews from Museum of Medieval Treasures, Waterford.

TripAdviser reviews of Archery Through the Ages.

http://www.tripadvisor.ie/Archery & Waterford

Getting a strainght-line.

Demonstrating ‘Tip – nock – hand – elbow’ to create a straight line to enhance accuracy.

“Visit to the Medieval Museum of Waterford”

Reviewed 14 July 2015

I’ve had a delightful weekend in Waterford city and the Museum was one of the best experiences of all. However what really stood out by me was the archery lesson I got in the museum. The person ‘Peter’ who introduced me to archery was greatly animated which made it an altogether enjoyable experience for me. He managed to introduce me to some skills and I was able to shoot arrows successfully and this was all combined with his abundance of knowledge about the history of archery. His lesson was like a throw back into medieval times; no visit to the museum would be complete without an archery lesson!

Visited June 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r288682037-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

Reviewed 7 January 2015

Waterford’s Museum of Medieval Treasures has a great policy of bring things to life and getting enthusiastic people in to show some real crafts and skills as practised in 9th – 16th century Waterford (Ireland’s oldest city). A famous glass-cutter is working in the foyer and below are figures from history demonstrating coin-minting and archery (have a go!!) as well as displaying wood and leather work and tools.

Visited January 2015

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“wonderful museum”

Reviewed 19 July 2015

Interestingly laid out history of the area. Not just the usual dusty chronological arrangement. Best part for us was the medieval archery tutorial and lesson given just inside the door by a local savant, Peter O’Connor .

Visited June 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r290531037-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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“Peter, the medieval archer, was the best part!”

Reviewed 4 August 2015

Visited this museum in July 2015 and the best part was meeting Peter, the archer! He’s stationed right at the front door, ready to give you an amazing talk about medieval archery and teach you how to shoot the longbow. He’s an absolute wealth of information and very engaging to speak with. I enjoyed meeting him so much I’ve taken to following him on his Facebook page “Archery Through the Ages”, where he regularly supplies interesting historical points and plenty of posts of his daily visitors at the museum. It’s obvious he enjoys what he does!

The museum was fantastic. It takes approximately 45m to go through with the provided audio guide. The Cloth of Gold Vestments from the 1400s are the highlight of the exhibitions.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r295813650-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Medevial times bought to life”

Reviewed 23 July 2015

this is a great museum and shows what life in Waterford was like in the dark ages with great displays and live action such as the archery display with the long bow. well worth a visit. unfortunately we didnt give ourselves a lot of time as we were only intending to visit the Crystal factory and stumbled across this museum and teh viking quarter. I would recommend that you ive yourself a full day to visit these three attractions as well as Waterford city itself which is stunning.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r291686087-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Interesting day out”

Reviewed 9 July 2015

Fantastic fun. We had a 6 year old and a 2 year old with us and they both enjoyed it. We got a guided tour from the Curator himself and he made it very interesting and quite funny also. There was also a man in the lobby who was teaching archery and all about different types of bows and arrows….needless to say that the 6 year old LOVED that! It only cost €14 for the guided tour, and we were able to go back around as often as we liked on our own afterwards.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r287096441-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

House of Glass

“Thoroughly enjoyed!”

Reviewed 2 July 2015 via mobile

We visited here on Wednesday 1st July and on arrival, we were greeted by an archer. What a lovely and knowledgeable man! Very much enjoyed our chat with him and my husband loved the small archery demonstration. Then we had the luck of being on the guided tour with the museum director….what a treat! A pleasure to view the museum with a man so truly passionate about it…full of interesting anecdotes and stories. My husband is NOT a fan of museums….he came purely because I wanted to go. But he loved it and really enjoyed the tour. I would highly recommend this to everyone…in my eyes, it’s a must-do in the wonderful city of Waterford.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r285035117-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Above expectations – better than Wford Crystal!”

Reviewed 31 August 2015

Was thinking about going to Waterford Crystal but realised how boring that would be. Ducked into the Medieval Museum and went on the guided tour. Found it highly informative and good fun. Archery lessons on hand for 5euro! Downstairs cave is great and the coin press is fun. Floors one and two have some interesting stuff but really do recommend the guided tour to get the most out of it. Our tour guide was really excellent, nice young lady, good humour. The shop is FANTASTIC with helmets and glass cutting live.

Visited August 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r305189201-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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And release…

“never knew waterford was so interesting .”

Reviewed 26 July 2015

we were met at the entrance by a chap in medieval gear who offered to demonstrate the intricacies and development of medieval archery . what followed was one of the most interesting and absorbing 45 mins in a museum ever . the guide , peter ,was a mine of fascinating and enjoyable facts and figures coupled with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject , all delivered in a witty and friendly manner. an expiring parking meter forced us to leave or we would have stayed much longer .
we returned the next day and spent several hours touring the rest of the museum .a well laid out series of exhibits explained by knowledgeable guides armed with lots of relevant background information meant we spent a thoroughly enjoyable and informative day .(still preferred the bows and arrows) . wonderful !

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r292614211-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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“A Must-Do Experience In Waterford”

Reviewed 10 September 2015

Notwithstanding that we have been in Waterford on a few occasions since the Medieval Museum opened in 2013, we just thought it would not be worth the time.

Then, earlier this week, we were invited on a tour of the museum and thought we would see what’s on offer.

Well, we were very impressed.

This is much more than a museum; more a series of living history experiences that is brought to life by a team of passionate staff. As soon as you enter, the experiences unfold in front of you with archery demonstrations. You can even get an archery lesson for an additional €5.

Being on a guided tour will make a huge difference to your experience. Our guide was excellent and contextualised the history of Waterford against the backdrop of Irish, British and European history.

All the exhibits are presented in an informative fashion. The piece-de-resistance must be the gold-braided vestments and the story about how they were uncovered. We won’t spoil it by revealing more on here.

In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed our experiences at The Medieval Museum. It is great value too at €7.

Visited September 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r309205371-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

sigtrygg-lord-mayor

Archery in Museum of Medieval Treasures, Waterford.

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Deidre decided to be daring

Deidre decided to be daring.

Have a go archery at the Waterford Museum of Medieval Treasures.

Learn - or die

Learn – or die.    I’ve found teaching medieval archery to be a great way to meet people and help develop their self-confidence.

Getting a strainght-line.

Demonstrating ‘Tip – nock – hand – elbow’ to create a straight line to enhance accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Knuckles and fingers.

Knuckles and fingers.

 

Experience Medieval Archery has been launched within Waterford’s Museum of Treasures. Workshops on medieval crafts and archery. A hands-on active-display where various and changing working-craft areas will be established and the use of longbows (warbows) will be demonstrated and various arrows from bone-head to flint to drop-forged to tempered armour-piercing warheads. After demonstration visitors will be offered the chance to pull a long bow and loose real arrows.And buy bows and accessories.
This will be facilitated by the Museum and supported by various other state bodies. The workshop will also continue to tour medieval (Heritage) days, folk-festivals, schools and corporate events that help senior staff bring focus and fun to their work.
The whole workshop can be easily moved and set up in an open space where a medieval tent will add colour and protection with professional archery netting to provide safety.

The Oseberg Viking ship burial

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The Oseberg Viking ship burial

Wexford archaeologist Colm Moriarty. Contact: colm@irisharchaeologyshop.com

Original article: http://irisharchaeology.ie/2012/09/the-oseberg-viking-ship-burial/

 

 

In 1904 a remarkable archaeological site was uncovered at Oseberg, Norway. It consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship that contained the remains of two women along with a wide array of accompanying grave goods. This vessel, which is widely celebrated as one of the finest finds of the Viking Age, had been buried within a large mound or haugr.

The burial mound measured approximately 40m long by 6.5m high and it completely covered the boat. The conditions within the mound were particularly damp and this meant that the ship and its contents survived nearly intact. Constructed primarily out of oak planks, the vessel measured 21.40m long by 5.10m wide[i]. Its bow and stern were covered in elaborate carvings, while it contained 15 pairs of oar holes which meant up to 30 men could row the ship as required.

Centrally placed on the ship were the skeletons of two women whose remains had been placed in a specially built wooden tent. One of the woman was in her eighties[ii] and this was reflected in the condition of her bones which showed that she had suffered badly from arthritis during her final years. The second woman was younger and had died in her early fifties[iii].The connection between the two women is unclear; it is possible that they were related or more sinisterly represent the remains of a noble woman interred with her sacrificed slave. Indeed, some have speculated that one of the women may be Queen Åsa, the grandmother of Norway’s first king, although this remains unproven.

Radiocarbon analysis of the women’s bones indicated that they died c. 1220±40 and 1230±40 before present[iv] and this ties in with the dendrochronology dates from the burial tent timbers, which indicate it was constructed in 834 AD[v]. Other skeletal remains found on the ship included 13 horses, 4 dogs and 2 oxen. It is likely that these represent animals that were sacrificed to accompany the female burials into the afterlife.

The grave was disturbed in antiquity and any precious metals that may have been present were stolen. However, a remarkable collection of wooden and textile artefacts were left behind by the grave robbers. These included four elaborately decorated sleighs, a richly carved four-wheel wooden cart, three beds as well as a number of wooden chests. More mundane items such as agricultural and household tools were also found.

This bucket was one of several found on on the ship. Made out of yew wood it is surrounded by decorative brass fittings and held together with iron hoops. A wooden ladle and 6-7 wild apples were found inside it.

 
 
 
The famous Oseburg ‘Buddha’. Sitting in the lotus position this stylised human figure is found on another bucket from the ship. This bucket most likely originated in Ireland as the decorative motifs on the ‘Buddha’ are paralleled in Irish art work most noticeably The Book of Durrow. This suggests that bucket may represent booty captured during a Viking raid on Ireland.
 

 
Five of these zoomorphic posts, all carved with different animal heads, were found in the Oseberg burial. They are fashioned out of maple wood and are of similar size. The posts contain slots for handles suggesting that they were originally carried and it is likely they had some sort  of  magical or religious significance.
 
 
 
 
Four wooden sledges were also uncovered, three of which, were covered in ornate carvings.
 
 

 
The Oseberg ship and its treasure trove of artefacts are currently on display at the Viking Ship Museum, Oslo, Norway.
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by Colm Moriarty
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Related posts
 
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Footnotes

[i] Nordeide SW. 2011. Death in abundance quickly! The duration of the Oseberg Burial. Acta Archaeologica 82(1):7-11.

[ii]ibid.

[iii] ibid

[iv] Holck P. 2006. The Oseberg ship burial, Norway: New thoughts on the skeletons from the grave mound. European Journal of Archaeology 9(2-3):185-210.

[v] Bonde N, and Christensen AE. 1993. Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway. Antiquity 67:575-583.

Websites: http://www.khm.uio.no/vikingskipshuset/oseberg/index_eng.html

 

Friends of St Declan’s Way.

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Friends of St Declan’s Way.

E-zine. Issue 1. Feb 2013

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For more details on Friends of St Declan’s Way contact Conor Ryan, Conservation and Trails Animator, South Tipperary Development Company. Phone 087 7378123 or email conorjryan@gmail.com.

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See also Knockmealdown-Vee on Facebook; Facebook.com/KnockmealdownVee

Knockmealdown Active on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/knockmealdown.active

6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages Everyone Believes

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6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages Everyone Believes

By:Steve Kolenberg January 13, 2013 888,443 views

With grateful thanks to  https://www.facebook.com/MontagueHeritageServices?ref=stream

When you think of the Middle Ages, chances are you picture gallant knights sitting astride brilliant destriers galloping through a sea of plagues, ignorance, and filth. And you can hardly be blamed for that, when everything from the movies you watch to your high school history teacher (who was mainly the football coach) has told you that …

#6. Scientific Progress Was Dead

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The Myth:

They call it the Dark Ages for a reason. Any scientist who dared to actually study the universe would be shut down by the Catholic church, which thought all that bullshit was immoral and that the Bible was all the learnin’ anybody could possibly need. They even thought the Earth was flat, for crying out loud.

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“No, we can’t cross the ocean there, don’t you see that sea monster in the way?”

The Reality:

Aside from the fact that, as we’ve already explained, most people in the Middle Ages did not think the Earth was flat, the church wasn’t responsible for killing science — to the contrary, it was largely responsible for saving it.

After the barbarians invaded Europe and Rome went the way of the dinosaurs, the Catholic church was the last remaining aspect of Roman culture in Western Europe. The church went about setting up monasteries across Europe, and along with the monks came the monks’ massive libraries. Monks were just about the only educated people in the early Middle Ages, and pretty much everything we know about this entire time period was written by them.

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“Look, the monks’ scroll clearly says that all monks had 12-inch dongs, so it must be true.”

As time went on, the church stepped it up a notch and started establishing universities to foster the preservation of knowledge. You may have heard of a few of them: Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Paris (not to mention pretty much every other top school in Europe). At these universities, students studied more than most college kids do today, with an average bachelor’s degree taking up to seven years to earn, and a master’s or doctorate taking several more. The universities were also big on translation, having successfully translated into Latin guys like Aristotle and Plato, which effectively made the Renaissance possible. All of this despite the fact that beer bong technology was still in its infancy.

Around the same time as universities were popping up all over Europe, the Crusades were bringing Europeans into contact with advanced Muslim ideas of science and technology. Ideas like the compass and the astrolabe came to the West via Muslim Spain and came in handy during the later Age of Exploration. Italian merchants came back from trading in North Africa and gave us another innovation: Arabic numerals.

Sju
Pfft, like people are going to want to learn a whole other set of characters.

Medicine also made massive advances thanks to the university system. Contrary to popular belief, dissection of corpses was actually fine and dandy with the church, and medieval universities often did it in the basement (OK, so maybe it wasn’t totally fine and dandy). By the 14th century, there were functional hospitals, and doctors had learned how to use antiseptic when lopping off people’s body parts.

And that’s a good thing, because everybody was encrusted in filth back then, right? Well, about that …

#5. Everyone Smelled Like Complete Shit

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The Myth:

Even if we know nothing else about the Middle Ages, we know that everyone was absolutely filthy. Medieval peasants looked like something straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail …

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But not nearly as whimsical.

… and the upper classes were hardly any cleaner. People back then took baths with about the same frequency as we go to the dentist — a couple of times a year for the obsessive ones. Just getting to a person’s genitals required a stiff wire brush and a chisel.

The Reality:

They were way into bathing for much of the Middle Ages. Maybe too into it — they continued the Roman practice where a bunch of strangers got naked together for communal bathing, and most towns and even villages in medieval Germany had a communal bath where craftsmen would hang out and bathe together after a hard day’s work. Just sitting there, probably washing each other’s dongs while having loud conversations about how incredibly not gay they were.

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“You see my new pickup wagon with a bunch of tools in the back?”

Meanwhile, not only was it common for medieval folk to wash their hands before and after eating, it was also customary to offer to bathe with guests when they entered your home, something The Man has repeatedly reminded us is no longer acceptable in modern society. Medieval demand for soap (usually made from animal fats, with a variety of oils and salts added) was so great that by the 13th century, soap was being made on an almost industrial scale in Britain, Italy, Spain, and France.

So why do we picture everyone as wallowing in their own filth back then? Well, things changed all at once. If only an act of God could change Europe’s epic bathing culture, they got one — in the mid-14th century, the Black Death strolled up and kicked Europe right in the teeth with its pestilence boot. Suddenly, smart people were telling the previously washed masses that bathing was a surefire way to open your body’s pores and invite in all the bad spirits or gremlins or whatever (they weren’t too savvy on what caused illness back then).

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“The academy is divided down the middle, between Jews and forest pixies.”

As a result, by the early modern period of history, bathing had become obsolete. So it’s entirely possible that George Washington rated higher than Richard the Lionheart on the smell-like-shit-o-meter.

#4. Knights Were Honorable, Chivalrous Warriors

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The Myth:

Knights were gallant and brave warriors, charging into battle to slay the dragon and rescue the fair maiden.

The Reality:

Knights often had less in common with this:

 Wikimedia Commons
“We shall die for the glory of our randomly assigned piece of land!”

And more in common with this:

 Johan Ordonez/NBC News
Wessex side.

Remember, knights were professional warriors, and when there wasn’t a war to fight, they had to findsomething to do with their war-boners. Most of these guys were relatively young and didn’t have Call of Duty to satisfy their violent urges, so they tended to take it out on the local population. Toward the 11th century, many of the local lords started bickering over who would get a slice of the Holy Roman pie that Charlemagne baked, and the knights were at the forefront of these petty wars. These “wars” were less Braveheart-style epic battles and more knights rolling up into villages and slaughtering everybody.

The church tried to curb these conflicts, because frankly, they were nasty and threatened the stability of everything. First they tried to gather up all the knights and shake various body parts of dead saints at them, but when that didn’t work, the Pope called the First Crusade and exported all these assholes to the Middle East, where they chivalrously ate babies and massacred the entire population of Jerusalem.

 Wikimedia Commons
“Hey, the Pope said we wouldn’t go to hell! No backsies!”

Later attempts were made to get these young ‘uns under control, one being the chivalric code that was adopted around the 13th century. Examples like Sir Lancelot and Edward the Black Prince were raised to show knights how to behave in battle and in peace. Knights were encouraged to “defend the weak,” but “the weak” was commonly interpreted as noble women and children, not peasants. So noble-on-noble violence may have decreased, but it was still totally cool for knights to kill and rape peasants, since, like those beers you had for breakfast, they didn’t really count.

#3. Everyone Was a Prude

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The Myth:

Casual sex, and even knowledge of how sex works, is a modern invention. During the heavily religious Dark Ages, sex was strictly forbidden outside of marriage, and every single person of consenting age (a term that was very loosely defined back then) led a life that was a never-ending squelch through a pool of their own sexual repression.

The Reality:

You know those really goofy-looking shoes that men wore back then? The extra pointy ones, like something an elf would wear?

 Ziko
We’d still wear those over Heelys.

Well, those points are called poulaines, and apparently they were meant to directly represent the wearer’s dong. And in a revelation that will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the intricate relationship between a man and his wang, these points were sometimes so big that dudes couldn’t walk up stairs. Good thing they were all wearing those elaborate codpieces to protect their actual dongs when their shoe-dongs tripped them up.

And the sexy didn’t stop with their fashion. Prostitution was a big friggin’ deal back then. Although technically against the teachings of the church, everyone collectively agreed that if there were no hookers around, men would be out raping, just, everyone, because some of what you’ve heard about the Middle Ages wasn’t a myth. In most medieval cities, prostitution was completely legal yet confined to certain districts and licensed by a town’s mayor. The church even got in on this deal andlicensed some holy brothels of its very own.

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“She’ll tickle your schmeckel for only a shekel!”

But let’s not leave out the married folk. Since most upper-class marriages were political arrangements and the people getting married didn’t necessarily like each other all that much, extramarital affairs were where it was at. And man, did these people get down — if you’ve ever watched a show like The Tudors and thought it was all sexed up for a modern audience, you were wrong.

One of the reasons that Eleanor of Aquitaine usurped her husband Henry II was because Henry II apparently had more mistresses than Tiger Woods. Seeing that getting in bed with the king was a good way to get ahead in life, daughters of lower nobility basically became escorts and tried to become the king’s favorite mistress, which worked out pretty well for Anne Boleyn when she married Henry VIII and became Queen of England. Worked out pretty well, that is, until she was beheaded for allegedly banging too many people who weren’t Henry VIII.

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The Bible is very clear that you’re only allowed three affairs at a time.

But the whole situation was still bad news for women, right? Because women were basically property back then? Well …

#2. Women Were Treated as Cattle

  Nino Mascardi/Getty Images

The Myth:

Europe during the Middle Ages is right up there with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the Top 5 Places It Would Suck to Have a Vagina. Women were horribly oppressed and were treated as second-class citizens — their only responsibilities were to cook, clean, and squeeze out (male) babies on demand.

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“Sweetie? You get that new male heir I asked for? It’s been like an hour …”

The Reality:

Up until about 200 years ago, Europe was a largely agricultural society. And the funny thing about back-breaking and often dehumanizing labor is that it has a weird way of equalizing people — when literally every member of the family is out busting his or her ass every morning just to fend off the very real threat of starvation, gender roles and sexism suddenly don’t seem all that important. Thus, when it came to household responsibilities, women and men were equals by default, since the women had to do all the same bullshit their husbands had to do. So should time travel ever become a thing, never tell a medieval peasant woman to go make her husband a sandwich, because she’ll probably cackle her plague-breath all up in your face before snapping you in half like a twig.

And the story wasn’t much different in the cities. If dad owned a shop or a tavern, his daughters were the ones helping out. Sometimes a daughter would actually take over the family business and run it herself if her father became unable to, something that wouldn’t really happen until much later in modern society. Women also generally ran the taverns in the Middle Ages — in fact, women once ran England’s entire beer industry. It’s not quite clear when that changed, but we have to assume that at some point men realized they had allowed women to become all powerful by letting them be in charge of both beer and vaginas.

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“Well, at least we still have sports … Oh Christ!”

Women who weren’t busy running taverns or growing crops to survive could join a convent, which may not sound all that impressive until you realize that this gave them access to education in a time when that was extremely rare — nuns could read and write in an age when the most powerful kings couldn’t. And if they stuck with it long enough to become the abbess of a convent, they were in a position of power very similar to a male lord — only, you know, maybe even a little higher, seeing as how they technically reported directly to the King of Kings and all.

#1. Life Was Horrible and Everyone Died Young

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The Myth:

Life in the Middle Ages has famously been described as “nasty, brutish, and short.” The food sucked, the housing sucked, the work sucked, everything sucked. Luckily, people didn’t have to endure all the perpetual suck for long, since they only lived to see 35, tops. Today, if you see a character older than 60 in a movie set in the Middle Ages, he’s also a wizard.

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“A wizard dies precisely when he means to. Or when the giant eagles show up late.”

The Reality:

As for lives being short, while it may be true that the average life expectancy was 35 years, we tend to overlook one very important word there: average. Infant mortality was brutal, since vaccinations against childhood diseases didn’t exist yet and medicine was still in its “Here, chew on this root and stick some leeches on your junk” stage. So that skews the average way down. But if a male living in 1500 managed to see his 21st birthday, he was expected to live around 50 more years from that point.

The typical perception of the medieval peasant is someone breaking his back doing nonstop labor for lords who gaveth not a single fuck as to his well-being, but your typical peasant actually workedaround eight hours a day, with long breaks for meals and naps. And did you know that peasants got more time off than you do? Sunday was an automatic day off, and when you factor in long vacations at Christmas, Easter, and midsummer, plus all the saints’ days (considering the fact that the Catholic church has even more saints than it does scandals), and medieval peasants were on holiday for a goodone-third of the year. And since much of that time was accompanied by epic festivals, they spent it getting shitfaced on various varieties of medieval ale. So not only did they work less than you, they also partied harder.

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“Hey, you guys coming to the after-orgy?”

And it turns out they weren’t exactly living lives of “bare bones subsistence,” either. By the late Middle Ages, your average English worker was making around $1,000 a year — significantly better than people in some of today’s poorer nations. And while no one will argue that that level of income would provide lifestyles that would inspire rap song lyrics, it did allow them to afford varied diets, the occasional luxury item, and plenty of ale to cover all the partying they were virtually required to do. Hell, you could get a rap song out of that, right? Quick, what rhymes with “dick shoes”?


For more things you’re totally wrong about, check out 6 Things from History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly and The 5 Most Overrated Jobs of All Time.