Living History Lectures ~ Tames Alan

Historical, educational, hysterical. One costumed woman tells you like it WAS.

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Random Historical Facts: Medieval

In 1477, when Mary of Burgundy married the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, he gave her a diamond betrothal ring for their engagement; this is the first time diamonds were used for an engagement ring.

Posted 06/01/2018

The tall cone-shaped headdress called a hennin first appeared in France in 1428 and could reach up to 18 inches tall.

Posted 10/15/2017

William the Conqueror, the Norman king who invaded England on October 14, 1066 and fundamentally changed the course of British history, was descended from Viking raiders. His ancestors received the French duchy of Normandy in the early 10th century in exchange for promising to stop pillaging France.

Posted 10/01/2016

In the Middle Ages, Londoners frequented the bathhouses at Southwark, where they were attended by Flemish women in steaming hot tubs. The men among them were normally treated to more than a wash and a rubdown, so when syphilis arrived in England in 1500, it spread rapidly through the bathing community. In short, people who bathed fell ill. So Henry VIII shut down all the bathhouses in Southwark.

Posted 01/15/2016

The word husband comes from Hus (house) and Bunda (owner). Under feudal law, serfs could not own a home. For their military service, yeomen were given a house and a few acres of land. By the 13th century, scheming mothers wanted their daughters to marry a house owner—husband. Later, the word came to mean any man joined in marriage whether he owned a house or not.

Posted 06/01/2015

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when one entered the eating hall after church, someone would be standing there with a bowl of bread and a bowl of salt. Each diner ripped off a piece of bread, dipped it in the salt and ate it to turn away any bad spirits that might have followed them from the church graveyard.

Posted 10/15/2014

Until the mid-15th century, handwriting remained a specialized vocation mostly reserved for the church and the aristocratic classes.

Posted 09/15/2013

During the Middle Ages, the nobility had to have their overlord’s consent to marry. If they didn’t get permission they could be accused of being “disloyal to the crown,” which meant execution.

Posted 06/15/2013

During the Middle Ages, it was thought that bathing opened the epidermal pores and encouraged deadly vapors to invade the body, thus causing the spread of plague. They thought the best way to combat the plague was to cover the pores with dirt, so for the next 600 years, most people didn’t wash or even get wet.

Posted 01/01/2013

Due to the physical aspects of marriage, the Medieval church felt it unsuitable to exchange the wedding vows inside the sacred building, thus marriages took place at the church porch.

Posted 06/15/2012

During the Middle Ages anyone caught adulterating saffron was burned at the stake.

Posted 09/01/2012

In pre-Medieval times sheep were not shorn. The hair was plucked from their bodies.

Posted 05/15/2012

During the Middle Ages, one lb. of pepper could pay an English laborer for 2 weeks of work, bribe an official, or secure a bride. It was a very good dowry.

Posted 04/01/2012

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance a salt cellar, which was a big bowl of salt, was placed in the center of the table. If one was of the nobility, one sat above the salt, and if one was of lower class, one sat below the salt.

Posted 12/15/2011

During the Middle Ages monks were given 7 lashes for singing out of tune.

Posted 04/15/2011

During the Middle Ages you could buy 7 oxen with 1 pound of nutmeg.

Posted 11/15/2010

Under Constantine in the fourth century, those Christians and Jews who intermarried faced the death penalty, which was usually burning at the stake.

Posted 06/15/2017

Richard the Third was the last English monarch to die on the battlefield.  He died at the battle of Bosworth Field, which ended the civil War of the Roses on August 22, 1485.

Posted 08/15/2018

The Magna Carta, signed June 15, 1215 was important because it laid the foundation for legal concepts such as trial by a jury of your peers and a ban on cruel and unusual punishments.  There were also a few less-than-important issues addressed in the charter, including details on how wide the bolts of cloth should be when making monk’s clothes.  The clauses within the Charter were whittled away over the centuries, and by the middle of the 20th century, there were only three of the original clauses left in British law.

Posted 06/01/2019