Life in 12th Century: 20 Captivating Facts For the History Nerds


1The Green Children of Woolpit

The Green Children of Woolpit

Several 12th-century British historical sources report the mysterious appearance of “The Green Children of Woolpit.” A brother and a sister were discovered to have green skin, spoke an unknown language, and were capable of eating only green food.

2Philip of France

Philip of France

In 1131, crown prince Philip of France died while riding through Paris when his horse tripped over a black pig running out of a heap of dung.

3Ancient sunglasses

Ancient sunglasses

In the 12th century China, sunglasses with lenses made from smoky quartz were used by court judges to mask their facial expressions and appear impartial.

4Yellow badge

Yellow badge

There is a surviving text of an 1121 law in Baghdad requiring all Jewish women to wear at all times: 1 yellow star on their head, 1 yellow star on their neck, a necklace with a lead plaque that said "Dhimmi" (ie "non-Muslim"), 1 red shoe, 1 black shoe and a bell on their neck or their shoes.

5Philip II of France

Philip II of France

In 1193, King Philip II of France married Ingeborg of Denmark. On their wedding night, he decided not to let her be crowned the Queen of France after he discovered she had such a horrible breath.

6King Richard I of England

King Richard I of England

In 1187, King Philip II of France and King Richard I of England (whilst a prince), shared a bed overnight in a symbol of unity between the two countries.

7Sigurd I of Norway

Sigurd I of Norway

In 1107, King Sigurd I of Norway launched a crusade that fought in Spain, the Mediterranean, and the Holy Land. They won every battle they participated in.

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In the 12th century, Bologna [Italy] had up to 180 towers as high as 97 meters [318 feet] which made it look like a medieval manhattan.

9Sigurd King

Sigurd King

In 1123, the people of Greenland asked King Sigurd of Norway to send them a bishop along with a polar bear as a gift to accompany their request.

10Baldwin I

Baldwin I

In 1102, Baldwin I was defeated in battle by an Egyptian army, was besieged at Ramla, escaped with 5 companions, was taken to Jaffa by an English pirate, and then returned to battle to defeat the Egyptians.


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