13 Eerie Facts About Life in Medieval Times

The Middle Ages was a period that extended from about 500 – 1500 CE in European history.

Interesting and Eerie Facts

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Knights, empires, religions, and more characterized the Middle Ages. But some amusing events occurred, too. Here are 13 interesting and eerie facts about the Medieval Era: 

1. The Black Death

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The eeriness of the Black Death was how it came to be. In the mid-1300s, a plague arrived in Europe from 12 ships docked at Messina.

1. The Black Death

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The sailors were either dead or covered with black boils. The Black Death plague ran its course by the early 1350s.

But this was after killing millions of people across the continent.

2. Doctors Tasted Urine

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Physicians would smell and taste urine to determine the patient’s health condition. There were drawings of different urine colors that guided them in diagnosis.

2. Doctors Tasted Urine

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The taste test was efficient for diabetic patients, and if urine tasted sweet, diabetes was diagnosed.

3. Torture Devices 

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Did you think ‘death by hanging’ was torture? Then you haven’t heard from the Middle Ages.

3. Torture Devices

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This era used gruesome torture devices, such as the Breaking Wheel, impalement sticks, Pillory, and more. 

The devices punished offenders by causing them grave agony. 

4. Animal Courts

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George Orwell certainly wasn’t far off in 1945 when he wrote the novel— Animal Farm. In the Medieval era, animals were accused and convicted in court.

4. Animal Courts

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Some of their crimes were chewing off body parts and, in some horrifying cases, consuming the flesh of children. Most of the animal offenders were pigs. 

5. Witch Hunts

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The late Middle Ages experienced a surge in witch hunts. Thousands of people, mainly women, were suspected of witchcraft. 

5. Witch Hunts

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The hunting involved brutal trials, executions, and burning at the stake, which inevitably led to death.

6. Perpetual Soups

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Perpetual soup was a large pot of various foods that would always be on fire. The fascinating method of continued simmering preserved food and flavor. 

Unlike modern times, where we have a meal choice, perpetual soups were constantly bubbling and the inn would toss in whatever food they had that day.

7. Memento Mori

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A surefire way to know you’ve found yourself in the Medieval era was by seeing artworks that highlight death. Artists created pieces and objects that depicted mortality. 

7. Memento Mori

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Some of these sculptures were of corpses, demons, dancing skeletons, and other spooky stuff. 

8. Fight, Not Divorce 

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There was no child support in the Middle Ages. Husbands and wives had to combat themselves in a ring, also known as Marital Duels. 

The parties used clubs and rocks to fight their marital battles. Whoever won the fight was declared right in the dispute. 

9. Medieval Surgery

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Medical progress during the medieval period was notable in the field of surgery. Innovative techniques —which can’t be termed innovative in the modern era— were created. 

9. Medieval Surgery

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Some of these techniques were trepanning, cauterization, amputation, and so on. Some patients didn’t survive it, but the techniques were still innovative, right? 

10. Love Magic

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There were many love potions in the Middle Ages. Love magic was common, and it was mostly women who indulged.

The use of menstrual blood proves the gender-specific aspect of love magic.

10. Love Magic

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Examples of some of the materials used for love potions were the Mandrake root, honey, human remains, and worms. A documented spell demanded both the bone marrow and spleen of a tragically slain boy.

11. Changelings

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In medieval folklore, it was said that fairies or elves would replace a human baby with a deformed fairy offspring. This absurd theory was used to explain developmental disorders in children. 

12. Hairline Plucking

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In the Middle Ages, women plucked their hairline to make their forehead appear bigger. There was a rave for s*xy foreheads, and big foreheads were preferred. 

Occasionally, women would go to the extent of plucking their eyebrows, too. 

13. Leper Colonies

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Alexandre.ROSA / Shutterstock.com

People saw lepers as ‘unclean’ or ‘morally corrupt.’ Consequently, between the 11th and 14th centuries, leper houses were established across Europe. 

The colonies were isolated from the rest of civilization. 

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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