Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Die Young in the Middle Ages

If food in the Middle Ages was deadly, I shudder to think of what the medicine was. The Arab doctors were all right. They were having their golden ages when the Europeans were having their dark ages. Arab doctors treated things with similar treatments to what we use today. One particularly terrible doctor from Europe used to treat lung infections by taking the brain out of the skull and rubbing it with salt. That didn't cure the patient. In fact, it probably gave them more sodium than they needed per day. (:

The medicines were fairly unpleasant. The cure for a stuffed up nose was to stuff mustard and onions up the nose. For bruises, they would apply a bandage of bacon fat and flour. That couldn't have been too bad, but then again, I've never tried it. Fainting was treated by having the sufferer inhale the smoke of burning feathers. Nowadays we don't recommend this. Ginger was used to treat loss of memory. I don't suggest you try this. Some spices, like nutmeg, are poisonous in large doses.

These cures were for simple things, at a time when the black plague was going around. The doctors weren't even close when it came to treating that! Some remedies included sitting in a sewer, drinking ten-year-old treacle, and eating arsenic powder. The powder would have killed you anyway. It's highly poisonous. One particualrly dumb cure was to walk from town to town beating yourself. I don't think that was such a great idea. It's very painful.

Be glad you don't live in the Middle Ages. You would probably have died from plague or cures for your sore throat long ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Foul Food

Food during the Middle Ages was deadly. You could die from drinking a glass of water. Bread was often stretched with sand or cobwebs. The cabbages were so tough you had to boil them all day to make soup. The church did not allow people to eat meat on Fridays, only fish. This is still true for Catholics. Unfortunately, in the Middle Ages, people cheated. They ate large birds called bustards. They also ate beavers, because they could be a sort of fish. (Actually not.) Sugar in the Middle Ages was only for the rich, who ate so much their teeth fell out. (In truth, sugar does not rot your teeth. It's bacteria on the sugar.) Rose flavoring was popular.

The church was not strict when it came alcohol, however. They ran taverns themselves, and used the money to pay for church repairs. Of course, it wasn't really all that nice. Ale was so thick it was like soup. (One king had his brother drowned in a barrel of wine. Ug.) Ale was actually safer than water, so a lot of people drank it.

Well that's all for now. Just be glad you don't live in the Middle Ages!(Or that your mother doesn't stretch her flour with cobwebs.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Being a Woman in the Middle Ages

People have this idea that women in the Middle Ages were weak, delicate, damsels in distress, etc. Yeah, right. The women worked hard, just as hard as the men. They were also considered less important than men. A woman's "duty" was to get married, have kids, be a loving wife, and help her husband even if he abused and beat her. If they wanted to remain single, they could be nuns or midwives. If they lived in town they could run businesses, though. Women could also be artists, writers, or tradeswomen. Peasant women worked alongside their husbands, although they did different jobs. She sewed, wove, cooked, cleaned, and took care of the children. She also had to have more children to take care of. This was dangerous because the midwives had no concept of hygeine. Twenty percent of the women who died in 1424 (between the ages of twenty-five and thirty) died in childbirth. Most of them had bled to death or suffered infection. According to many religious books, children were nothing but a bother. Having them ruined your figure, you had to clean up after them, etc. These arguments were used to try to get women to become nuns, which you usually couldn't become unless you had money.(You had to pay to be a nun, because nuns were the brides of heaven, and you had to give a substantial dowry.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Being a Kid in the Middle Ages

Being a child in the Middle Ages would not have been much fun. First, you probably wouldn't have lived too long. Only one child in ten lived to their tenth birthday. The food in the Middle Ages was so bad you could die from drinking a glass of water. It was poor nutrition that killed the kids.(Of course, the sand in their bread might have helped a little.) Children were also more susceptible to the plague. Unfortunately, the priests blamed the children, saying it was because the children occasionally skipped church or disliked their parents.(Why did adults get the plague then, if God was punishing the kids?) Some parents who were beggars would break their children's limbs to help gain sympathy. People would give generously to beggars with twisted, suffering children. It was considered wrong to be too kind to children. One boy would greet his father with, "My right reverent and worshipful father, I praise your good fatherhood in the most humble way possible and humbly beg your good fatherhood for my daily blessing." That might get a little old after a while.(But if you're planning to ask for an increase in your allowance, go ahead. It can't hurt!) And these above treatments were for boys. Girls were forbidden to swear (which I do have to agree with) jerk their shoulders around, or laugh too loud. A poem said that if girls were disobedient they should be whipped. And if you survived long enough, you had to attend school.

Some of the things about school weren't so bad. You didn't have to go if you were a girl. It was thought girls who could write would spend too much time writing love letters. They didn't give out homework, and there was no such thing as a poor speller - you could spell things any way you wanted to.(Or should I say "Anny wae u wantd too"?) But school was, in most ways worse. If you made a mistake, you were beaten. If you knew Latin, you had to speak it. Every word of a different language would earn you a lash. The rules were mostly the same, except for a few things about being punished for ripping up your schoolmate's pillow or throwing the school into disorder.

Well, that's all for now. Be glad you didn't grow up in the Middle Ages!