9 facts about the middle Ages, proving that this story is more interesting than “Game of thrones”

The middle ages are considered to be one of the darkest times in European history: multiple wars, disease, and, to put it mildly, not the best hygiene (which, incidentally, is quite controversial) literally mows people. However, the middle Ages is not only darkness, but also a very interesting era, which, as it turned out, we know not very much. For example, do you know where is the border between the Middle ages and the New time and when actually in Europe ruled by the Inquisition? If not, be sure to read this article.

AdMe.ru have collected several facts about the middle Ages, which we hope will further expand your horizons.

When it started and when it ended the Middle ages?

The boundary between Antiquity and the Middle ages takes place in the year 476, the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. But on the upper boundary between the middle Ages and New time, the scholars are divided: some have dated the transition year 1492 (the year of the discovery of America), others the year 1517, which was marked by the beginning of the reformation.

According to some scientists, the intended date of transfer falls in 1453, when the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. There is another very popular among scientists chronological frame, according to which the Middle ages lasted exactly 1,000 years from 500 to 1500.

The term “Middle ages” was introduced by the Italian historian Flavio Biondo in the same 1453.

Is it true that there was a secret knightly orders?

It is considered that in the Middle ages there was a secret knightly orders. However, this is not true: belonging to the order were considered, in modern language, prestigious and not hiding, but rather strongly emphasized. Generally, the very concept of chivalry emerged only at the end of X century: Jacques Le Goff, one of the most famous and influential scientists of the middle ages, wrote in his book “civilization of the medieval West” that the title of knight appeared in 971.

Despite the fact that the knights, in the opinion of another well-known Medievalist Georges Duby, especially soldiers, knight orders differed little from monastic: joining them brought vows of poverty and obedience, and in the first order and even a vow of chastity.

The heyday of the Inquisition was not in the Middle ages

The concept of “middle Ages” and “Inquisition” are firmly linked in our minds between them. But a special Church court called the Inquisition and designed to investigate the Affairs of heretics, appeared only in 1215 by order of Pope innocent III. Its “heyday” this has become a punitive Agency reached only in 1483, when the post of Grand Inquisitor created 5 years before the Spanish Inquisition took Tomas de Torquemada special cruelty.

By the way, one of the most famous victims of the Inquisition, Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1600, was condemned to death not because of the claim that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Giovanni Mocenigo which Bruno taught mnemonics, wrote a denunciation in which he accused the philosopher of negation in conventional religious dogmas, that is heresy. Giordano Bruno was sent to prison, where he spent 7 years, and then was executed. The final sentence was not a word about his scientific beliefs.

Striped clothing is a bad sign

Wearing striped clothing in the Middle ages was unsafe. In 1310, the French cobbler of Rouen, was executed for the fact that one day dared to wear clothing with stripes. To wear such things legally not only could, but was obliged actors, musicians, street women, heretics, clowns, and other outcasts of medieval society: this sign allowed not to confuse them with decent people.

A clear opinion on the negative attitude to the striped clothes among modern scholars there. Some suggest that the prohibition dates back to a biblical quote from the gospel of Mark 6:9: “But put on shoes in simple shoes and not to wear two coats”. Others believe that striped clothes disguises the figure and therefore could be regarded as an attempt to hide your true form.

Why was the beak on the mask of the plague doctor?

Known to all plague doctors wore a special mask with a beak. However, this bill is needed not to frighten: it was various strong-smelling substances, for example fabric, impregnated with vinegar, flowers, herbs or camphor. It was believed that the plague spreads through the special “miasma”, and this kind of filter was supposed to stop them. By the way, there was this costume only in the XVII century, so irrelevant to the Ages, it has not.

The first known plague pandemic occurred in the mid-sixth century claimed the lives of over 125 million people in Europe and Asia. Raging plague in the XIV century: it was introduced from Eastern China and conquered the whole Europe, reaching Russia, where probably she died, the population of several cities. In Europe from the epidemic killed more than 25 million people, which at the time accounted for one third of all its inhabitants.

Why were holes in the walls of cathedrals?

In some cathedrals built in the Middle ages, when restoration work in the walls and I found a small hole — hagioscope through which it was possible to see what is happening inside the building. They were designed for those who for whatever reason couldn’t get into the Cathedral, for example, excommunicated or leprosy patients: in 1179 at the Third session of the Lateran Council it was decided not to allow the lepers to the service, however, not to deprive them of spiritual consolation.

Therefore, in the outer, and sometimes inner walls began to cut round, rectangular or slotted openings facing the altar, through which patients with leprosy could “attend” a Church service. They went out, usually either in the cemetery or in the sparsely populated urban areas. With the advent of the New time, in the XVI century, when the plague of leprosy is gone, most of hagioscope were bricked up.

Why spiral staircases twisted in a clockwise direction?

Spiral staircases in medieval castles were always twisted clockwise. This was done in case of a siege: the fact that such a ladder design castle defender could strike with the right hand, which is known to most people is the leading. The enemy, who was advancing from the bottom of the steps, to strike with the same hand was uncomfortable.

Had spiral staircases and another trick: the steps were of different heights and widths, and an opponent who was not familiar with the design, stumbled and fell, then as the owner of the castle and its inhabitants, who knew every step, climbed the stairs very quickly.

This rule is very rare exceptions: for example, in one of the castles kind of Waldstein of the ladder spun counter-clockwise, as nearly all the men of the tribe were left-handed.

As the Buddha became a Christian Saint?

It is interesting that the Buddha is actually a Christian Saint. In the Middle ages in Europe were a popular novel “Barlaam and Josaphat”, which tells about pagan Prince Josaphat, who was converted to Christianity by the hermit Barlaam. Adopting the new faith, he turned to her and his people, and then leaving him passed by inheritance the power went out in the wilderness. History Joasaph told in the novel, has many similarities with the Indian legends about the Buddha, so the researchers agreed that the European novel is recycling.

The memory of St. Joasaph in the Orthodox Church takes place on 2 December and in the Catholic – November 27.

Why knights fought with snails?

At the end of the XIII century on the margins of manuscripts created in Northern France, began to appear drawings with images of knights fighting snails. Scientists do not have precise data on why these creatures are so were not to the liking of medieval artists, but several versions still exist. One of them was made by bibliophile by the count de Bastardom, which suggested that snail emerging from shell, is the symbol of resurrection from the dead, and the drawing of Christian allegory.

According to another version, the snail is a symbol of cowardice and pusillanimity which artists were ridiculed in such drawings. However, the most probable seems the theory that the snail is the symbol of the Lombards, who in those years were enemies with the French. In favor of this version says also that fact that during the creation of drawings was the popular poem “the Lombard and the snail”, which main character has entered a “difficult” battle with the gastropods.

Interesting fact: the word “pawn” appeared thanks to the Lombards, who in those times were often engaged in usury, which, by itself, was not the last reason to dislike him.


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