Despite the fact that its alias, “Medieval Times,” is misspelled more often that it is spelled correctly, the Middle Ages are still studied routinely and reverently worldwide – at least in the parts of the world that lean west. Of course, given that they represent roughly 1,000 years of man’s collective chronicle, they probably deserve a good share of lovin’, so we’re going to love them here, with five facts – or at least, strong notions – that you probably didn’t know about the time period.
1. The Middle Ages Technically Aren’t in the “Middle”
Most historians count the 5th century through the 15th century as the official time frame, so now that we survived “Y2K” and made it to 2015 in the year of our Lord, the time period technically can only lay claim to the title “Almost Middle Ages.” But, then, considering that most people don’t live to be 100, their acknowledged middle-age years aren’t a precise assessment, either.
2. Two “ism” questions you missed on the history test are Middle Ages-based
Don’t worry. We’re not grading here. Just so you know, though, both manorialism and feudalism started in the Middle Ages. The former was the organization of peasants (the poor people) into villages that owed rent and labor to the nobles (the rich people). Meanwhile, the latter was a political structure whereby knights and lower-level nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent land.
3. Alas, he took a jousting stick to a gunfight
Practically anyone with a notion about the Middle Ages will recognize the joust as the signature form of combat. Indeed, we might still be jousting today, were in not for that technology thing that always seems to rewrite history. Those who chronicle it say the decline in jousting started with the invention of the musket firearm in 1520, which, of course, was eventually rendered obsolete by the lightsaber.
4. Castles weren’t an original concept of that time
Kings and knights traveled to the Crusades and who embarked on siege warfare in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages were influenced by architectural elements some had seen in the Far East. King Edward I of England liked what he saw so much that designed and built several of the massive concentric castles in England that people still visit today. The manner of warfare of the day – remember, “siege” was the key word -demanded that a castle was built considering the possibilities of both attack and defense – hence the advent of the moat.
5. All of our alma maters are really somewhere in Europe
Whether you hook ’em with the Horns or roll with the Tide, you’re really an alum of some campus in Europe. That’s because Europeans established the world’s first universities during the Middle Ages in the 1100s. Like the world outside the school walls in those days, the university could be rather violent. In fact, Oxford University in England had rules specifically prohibiting students from bringing bows and arrows to class.