Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
My teacher-brain immediately jumped to The Dark Ages, also known as the Medieval period of the history of Europe.
While we often romanticize the castles and the knights, the lords and ladies, even the serfs and peasants, the reality of life was harsh from a.d.500-1500 or so. Education belonged mostly to the clergy. Some of the nobility were well-educated, but the rest of humanity lived, worked, found what pleasures they could, and never learned to read.
Superstition abounded. Many of the superstitions we smile at today developed during this period of history.
Hygiene wasn’t exactly a priority. Those castles were drafty, smelly, and very cold if that was their climate. The floors were often covered with long grass brought in from the fields. When people ate, they tossed bones and scraps onto the floor. Sometimes these scraps were snapped up by dogs. Otherwise, they just sat there and rotted, contributing to a pervasive aroma of ickiness until the grass was gathered up and changed for fresh stalks.
Childbirth was a high-risk event, for both mother and baby. Women died young. Of course, so did the men. If they got hacked up in battle, and didn’t die right then and there, they probably would die from infection later.
I visited Chepstow Castle in Wales over 20 years ago.
My son and I were poking around the ruins when we found a little staircase. Curious, we climbed it and found a room that hung out over the river far below. There was a sort of bench, stone or brick, that had two circular holes in it. The holes had been covered with wire mesh so people wouldn’t fall through or, worse, use them for their original purpose.
Fellowship in the latrine, I guess. I’ve always been a bit puzzled by two-holers. And thankful I didn’t live back then.
Well, that’s all, folks. A little peek into the joys of living in the Dark Ages 🙂