Dark Ages & Medieval Times – Myths vs Reality

Medieval Era, life in the 5th to 15th century was even stranger that you thought! From shocking superstitions to the preventable plague, here are the most bizarre customs, traditions and mythical creatures during the medieval period you would not believe.

11 Sword Fighting & Driving Skills

The Medieval Era

Why do some countries drive on the left side? The practice comes from the medieval England were valiant knights would ride their horses on the left side of the road in order to have the right hand, their dominant hand, free to grab their swords in the off chance they encountered enemies.  When you travel notice that the many countries that still drive on the left side where once English territories and colonies.  What side do you drive on?

10 No PDA Please!


How would you like to be born in the dark ages? If you are going on a date, you are more likely to go and see a chi flick than an action movie.  But the representation of what love is now, does not look anything like how it was in medieval times.  If for any reason a man was caught kissing a girl, automatically the couple had to be married wherever they both wanted it or not… sorry, expressions of affection were seen as “sealing the deal.”

9 Bring Your Own Knife To A Party


Eating habits have definitely changed over time.  If you were in England during the dark ages and got invited to a dinner, I am sure you are not thinking of eating utensils as a must item to carry with you. You will be surprised to know that during medieval times in England it was expected of you to bring your own knives to the table… wooden spoons and even eating with the hands was a practice that eventually transcended to eating exclusively with tools.  The forks where ridiculed for the longest time but eventually became a must have eating utensil.

8 Origins of The Military Salute


The way we say hello to people has adapted through time to fit the etiquette of the region or the community habits of the time.  But the military salute still carries the elements of the medieval era.  The reason the right hand is raised and placed over the right eyebrow comes for the way armored knights would salute one another.  Due to the complex head pieces the armored knight wore, in order to reveal their identity, they would raise their visors.

7 The Medieval Japan


Medieval times did not only happen in Europe. Japan also had its dark ages, although the conditions where different for the Japanese.  One major difference with Europe is that Japan did not have peasants as lower class and they where actually respected. Hygiene standards were very different Europeans bathed few times in their lives, while Japanese bathed regularly and were very clean in may other aspects of their lives including sewer systems.  And to keep their teeth looking healthy, Japanese would use charcoal to blacken their teeth and protect them from decay as well as have dentist pull teeth using their bare hands!

6 “Medieval” Religion With 21st Century Equality


The Dark ages are best known for the loss of education of the masses and the raise of power of the very few. But The Cathars in medieval Europe were so forward thinking that they were forcefully eradicated as heretics.  The Cathar was a fragment of Christianity.  Their core believes included equality of women and men as well as an open and tolerant view of love regardless of the gender of each partner, and as a pacifist religion, the Cathar were also vegetarians.  All those “heretic” beliefs made them a target of a full-scale crusade called against them. If you go to France, few Cathar castles can be seen.

5 Mythical Creatures in Daily Life


Medieval art was bizarre, they have unique paintings and tapestries that included mythical animals such as unicorns.  It was later discovered that the gorgeous unicorn horns were actually from Narwhals sold by the Vikings as real unicorn horns. If unicorn scenes are not enough to make us wonder what was really happening during that era, it was common to see monsters pained on maps. So, any unexplored territory had a monster on it. But an even crazier scene commonly found in medieval manuscripts, and for still unknown reasons, are knights fitting snails. What do you think that was all about?

4 Shocking Superstition & Horrible Jobs


Thunderstorms can be scary! Sometimes it feels like the house is rumbling and will collapse at any moment.  If you were living in the dark ages, you will believe that the rumbling was caused by demons, not nature! So, in order to protect the village, a bell ringer was sent to the top of the bell towers to ring the consecrated bells in an effort to scare the demons away.  You and I know that demons where not the culprits of the thunders, but can you imagine being a bell ringer and have to scare the thunder away? I am sure those who got zapped where not happy at all.

3 The “Entroido” Of Spain

By Sunnyorange - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87214415
By Sunnyorange - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87214415

No everything during the middle ages was dark, they had castle parties and court jesters were hired and knights participated in tournaments displaying strength for a price. The common folk had festivals. A popular festival during the middle ages in Spain is the “Entroido” and it’s still celebrated today in several parts of Galicia. This medieval carnival was celebrated before Lent, the 40 days of abstinence in preparation for Easter.  Where medieval tax collectors take to the streets carrying burning hay as people try to stop the fire by throwing sand. Entroido had evolved to a more colorful festival with many more characters added.

2 The Preventable Plague… You Idiots


We cannot ignore that the reason most of us know about the dark ages is due to the black death or the “plague.” For some reason they had it against cats thinking that they consorted with witches. To solve the threat of witches, most cats, especially the black ones, where eradicated. so, the non-hygienic conditions mentioned earlier and the fear of cats spread the plague more easily since the plague spread from fleas carried by rats… No cats… More rats… anyway an expression we still hear today after sneezing is “bless you.” One of the first symptoms of the plague was sneezing. And saying bless you may save them from an imminent demise. According to their beliefs, covering the mouth when sneezing would stop the spread and prevent their souls from escaping the body.

1 A “Moment” In Time


You are called to the table for dinner but are not ready to head there yet. So, you would request a “moment.” According to medieval Europe a “moment” is a measure of time that equals 90 seconds. So next time you request a moment, you have a 1.5 minute to get there. But how they measured the rest of the day was unique too. The day was divided into 7 hours. Despite the length of time of a day during the summer compared to the winter, an hour during the summer was 150 minutes while in the winter, each hour was about 60 minutes.

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