When you think about the middle ages, what comes to mind? Disease, war, overbearing monarchs? Although many of the impressions we have of the middle ages are accurate, sometimes we get bogged down with false ideas of what medieval times were really like just by the way it’s portrayed in movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail or shows like Game of Thrones. In this blog, we’re going to talk about some common misconceptions about the middle ages.
Everyone was clueless
It’s a common misconception that people in the middle ages were less intelligent than modern humans. Although they weren’t able to make use of technology we have nowadays like computers and motorized vehicles, they were certainly able to make due with what they had. Many people are under the impression that people who lived in the middle ages didn’t know the earth was spherical, and instead thought it was flat with a dome around it that was the sky. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The large majority of the population, as well as all major scholars throughout the middle ages, accepted the Greek idea that the earth was spherical. But there were also a number of major inventions in the middle ages that paved the way for our modern, technology-filled world.
Think for a minute about how difficult it would be to live without a working clock. You wouldn’t be able to make it anywhere on time and most likely end up getting fired from your job. Clocks are essential for us, however, in medieval times they weren’t as useful for the common man or woman. Typically, people would just get up when the sun came up and work until it got dark. Although that worked fine in their time, in our time this wouldn’t cut it. Clocks make us as efficient as possible and allow us to make plans throughout the whole day.
There’s no way to understate the importance of the printing press, both during the time that it was first invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century and now. Of course, printing has come a long way since then, but the basic idea is the same which made mass-distribution of publications possible. Without it, we would never have newspapers, tabloids, books, magazines and more.
I know what you’re thinking: “those fancy designs on the side of cathedrals?!” Yes, but flying buttresses weren’t just an architectural design, they were an important part of the structure of these buildings. These pillars allowed cathedrals to have high ceilings, thin walls, and large windows without collapsing.
Everything was dark
Having been given the name the “dark ages,” it’s no wonder people think of everything in the middle ages as drab and colorless, but this is far from the truth. People in the middle ages loved color and tried to put it into everything they could: books, stained glass windows, clothing. Just about everything imaginable was colored in some way.
There was no diversity
Have you ever thought that medieval Europe was nothing but white Christians? During the early middle ages, Paganism was a major religion throughout Europe. In the middle and later medieval times, Christianity was pretty dominant. However, there were still small communities of Jews, Muslims, other sects of Christianity, and Catharism. There were also some African immigrants, mainly in southern Europe like Italy. Although there was certainly some diversity, it still isn’t really comparable to the modern definition of the word because most of the diversity came in the form of religious affiliation.
The middle ages are possibly one of the most misunderstood eras of human history, mainly due to the way it’s depicted in films and books. Although there were some catastrophic events of the middle ages, there was also a lot of progress made through the development of new technology and gaining a better understanding of medicine, science, and overall health and well being. If you want to experience medieval sword fighting exactly like a medieval knight would have, visit Baer Swords. Our medieval sword fighting training programs are safe and we can teach all ages and skill levels. Contact us to learn more.