60 Surprising & Peculiar Events that Happened in Middle Ages – Part 2

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1Battlefield Warriors

Battlefield Warriors

In medieval times, it was a common practice on the battlefield to not kill warriors who wore particularly strong armor. Such warriors were captured instead, and then a ransom was demanded because only 'well off' warriors wore such good armor.

2. During the Middle Ages, members of guilds were referred to as “masters.” Artisans who wanted to join a guild were required to prepare a “master piece” to be judged for qualification. If the masters approved of the piece, that artisan would be accepted into the guild.

3. In medieval castles, stairwells ran clockwise, so attackers coming up the stairs had their sword hands (right hand) against the wall's interior curve which made it hard for them to swing their swords. Defenders had their swords on the outside wall, which meant more room to swing.

4. During the middle ages, saffron was so expensive some traders would try to increase their profits by bulking up the herb with yellow marigold petals. When authorities in Nuremberg, where the herb was mainly traded, found out about these tainted parcels of saffron, the traders were burned alive.

5. Lice were so prevalent during the middle ages that delousing became a social activity. People would sit down and have a chat or gossip while removing each other's lice.

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6Scholar Rhazes

Scholar Rhazes

When the medieval scholar Rhazes was tasked with choosing the location of a new hospital in Baghdad, he hung meat at points around the city, and chose the location where it rotted the slowest.

7. The “ill Week” was a kind of late medieval version of “The Purge.” When queen Elizabeth I died, there was a popular belief that the laws of a kingdom were suspended between the death of a sovereign and the proclamation of the successor. This event was confined in the notoriously lawless Anglo-Scottish border region. Lowland Scots and North English horse riding clansmen and river pirates known as 'reivers' had little regard for the rules in normal times but with the excuse of the dead queen they took advantage of the popular myth and crossed borders en masse to settle rivalries, or simply in search for profit.

8. Many medieval manuscript illustrations show armored knights fighting giant snails. No one knows the meaning behind these.

9. The plagues of the Middle Ages have made around 10% of Europeans resistant to HIV. These individuals carry a genetic mutation (known as CCR5-Ä32) that prevents the virus from entering the cells of the immune system. The plagues of the Middle Ages played a part in creating these mutations.

10. The "Jews are money-hungry" stereotype can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when Jews were allowed to lend money with interest, but Christians were not as it was against their religion.

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11Venetian Glassmakers

Venetian Glassmakers

Medieval Venetian glass was so successful and secretive that glassmakers were forbidden from leaving the city. Punishment for those who defied orders was death.

12. In medieval games of chess, pawns that had been promoted to queen would be given the title of an "advisor," so as to not imply that the king had more than one queen or was unfaithful.

13. A convent of nuns in the Middle Ages began to meow like cats and others followed until all would meow together at a certain time for several hours together. This continued until the surrounding village called soldiers to force the nuns to stop their meowing.

14. In the middle ages, some kings had clothes made from "Salamander fur" which were completely fire-proof and bright white. The name likely comes from the common belief that Salamanders were "born from fire". The clothes were actually made out of asbestos.

15. In the Middle Ages, Catholic women were prohibited from having sex on Sundays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, on feast days, while fasting for Lent or Advent, or while "impure" (menstruation, pregnancy, 40 days after giving birth and while nursing). Everything but the missionary position was considered sodomy.

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In the Middle Ages, a rose hung from the ceiling of a room meant anything said in that room became a secret.

17. The origins of driving on the left side goes back to Medieval England where Knights rode their horses on the left side of the road so that if they encountered an enemy their sword hand would be on the correct side. Nearly all countries that drive on the left now were once English colonies.

18. In medieval times “cat-burning” was an accepted practice which was thought to bring good luck. It was custom to burn a barrel full of live cats over a bonfire as people shrieked with laughter while they singed and roasted. French Kings often witnessed it and even ceremoniously started the fire.

19. In medieval times women's hairstyles showed if they were single or married. Married women would have kept their long hair tied up in braids beneath a head covering of some sort. Single women would allow their hair to fall freely over their bodies signaling that they were available for marriage.

20. Christman Genipperteinga was the most prolific serial killer in medieval Europe, and possibly ever. He was executed by having all of his limbs broken and threaded through the spokes of a wheel. He was kept alive and conscious on the wheel for 9 days by a daily dose of a “strong drink.”



There was a religion in medieval Europe called Cathar. It was a splinter of Christianity, and they considered women and men equal and homosexuality was tolerated by them.

22. Whipping boys existed in the English court in the middle ages. King’s aides were forbidden to punish the prince, so they would give the prince a normal friend and then take it out on him if the prince misbehaved.

23. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts.

24. In the medieval ages, book owners would chain their books to the shelves and curse them to prevent theft.

25. When Medieval monks would fast for religious reasons they would sometimes drink lots of beer instead of eating food since drinking did not count as "food."

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