7 Common Myths About the Middle Ages

  • October 14, 2013
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5.

Plate Armor Was Too Heavy

Plate armor was widely used in the Late Middle Ages and has become synonymous with the image of knights. They are also remembered for being extremely clunky, often preventing evasive action or even preventing a knight from mounting without some sort of assistance.

plate armor

The idea that plate armor was too heavy to be effective most likely comes from visual comparisons to chain-link armor. Chain-link is somewhat flexible in that it isn’t totally restrictive. However, it simple weighs more on average than plate armor. A full set of plate armor would run you up to one-hundred and twenty pounds at most, and was assembled and worn in such a way that it really only prevented you from swimming. Knights would be able to rise after they fall as well as jump or run while fully equipped.

6.

Liberal Use of Chastity Belts

Before knights would march off into battle they would first make sure everything at home was secure by locking their wife up in a chastity belt.

chastity belts

This myth implies two things: first, that woman had virtually no rights (strike one!), and that the chastity belt even existed in the Middle Ages (strike two, maybe!). There are currently zero documents from the period describing it. It’s most likely a Victorian myth used to perpetuate a romantic image of knights and chivalry. Chastity belts alleged to be from the period are now thought to be intentional fakes or anti-masturbatory devices from the 18th century, a time when masturbation was thought to be linked to everything from blindness to outright insanity.

7.

Burning Witches

Question: what’s the best way to tell someone that God hates them?

Answer: you set them on fire.

burning witches

Jesus loves you.

Popular culture tells us that witch burning was the preferred pass-time of several European societies throughout history, so it only follows that the Middle Ages, being kind of uptight on religion, wouldn’t care much for witches and would execute them in the most anguishing way possible.

Witch burning in Europe wasn’t a common occurrence until the Reformation period, and even then it was more of a looming threat to be feared rather than a practical means of execution. Heretics were burned in certain cases, but it was never a common practice. Even with witches the preferred method of execution was hanging.

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - The Iron Maiden Was Invented in the Middle Ages: http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqzcs94VmW1r2dipzo1_400.jpg
  • - Executions Everywhere: http://images.stanzapub.com/readers/2009/06/24/elsp2_1.jpg
  • - Columbus Discovered America: http://funnycrave.frsucrave.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/cd_400x300_image.jpg
  • - People Knowingly Ate Rancid Meat: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRv_7bntmOcL6ZKulCqnFIyLXfhVfYqPcjUmHtdIbOErnp7HLr-GKsgIMzP
  • - Plate Armor Was Too Heavy: http://preachan.tripod.com/icons/german_knt.gif
  • - Liberal Use of Chastity Belts: http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/misc/torture/31a.jpg
  • - Burning Witches: http://endofcapitalism.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/witch-burning.jpg?w=490
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