Middle Ages Unveiled: 50 Unusual and Fascinating Events – Part 2

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1Plague Resistant

Plague Resistant

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.

2. 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.

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

4. 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.

5. 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.

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6Salamander fur

Salamander fur

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.

7. 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.

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

9. 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.

10. 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.

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11Women's Hairstyle

Women's Hairstyle

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.

12. 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.”

13. 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.

14. 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.

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

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16Book Owners

Book Owners

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

17. 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."

18. In the Middle Ages, Knights in full harness (full plate armor) could contrary to popular belief, move quite well and were still agile enough to climb, run, roll, and wrestle with little difficulty.

19. In medieval times, there was a real fear that some people would kill holy men and women to sell off their body parts as relics. Guards even had had to watch over mortally ill holy men and women to prevent their body parts being sold soon as they died.

20. Middle Age courts sometimes called on a "fool", or court jester, to criticize masters/mistresses. In a court composed largely of yesmen, the fool was the only one who could criticize without fear of reprisals.

21Medieval Salve

Medieval Salve

A medieval salve made out of wine, garlic, onion, and oxgall was put in a brass vessel for nine nights to become an antibiotic. The resulting solution has been found to be potent against MRSA.

22. Virtually all Middle Age scholars believed that the Earth is spherical. The myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth is flat appears to date from the 17th century as part of the campaign by Protestants against Catholic teaching.

23. In the Middle Ages, a psychiatric disorder existed among the upper class causing people to fear that they were made of glass “and therefore likely to shatter into pieces.” One famous sufferer was King Charles VI of France, who wore reinforced clothing to protect himself from “shattering.”

24. The average male medieval peasant ate between 160% to 200% more calories than the average male now.

25. During the Middle Ages, wild wolves lived in forests near Paris. During the harsh winter of 1450, a pack of hungry wolves managed to enter the city and ate 40 people.

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