Bizarre Facts About Medieval Britain

#1 Archery Law of 1363

Edward III, also known as Edward of Windsor, stands as one of the more well-to-do monarchs of medieval Britain. His reign is particularly well remembered for a campaign of great military successes and for restoring law and order to England after the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Edward II. What is less known about the king, however very much a fact, is that he introduced a law that made it compulsory for every man in England to practice archery for two hours on Sunday, under the watch of the local clergy.

#2 Football Ban of 1314

After receiving several complaints from the merchants of London as to the wild behaviour of those who played football, Edward II made a rather controversial move to outright ban the sport in its entirety. While the ban was never upheld outside of London, it was technically country-wide. Can you imagine that? An England without football - such a thought seems impossible today! Considered one of the worst monarchs in English history, the decision to ban football was just one of many disastrous choices made across Edward’s reign.

#3 The people were very clean

Contrary to popular belief, the people of England were actually very hygienic and valued cleanliness above much. Indeed, they considered cleanliness to be next to Godliness, and as such, many English men and women bathed in public baths daily. However, the practice began to decline around the 16th century, when word got out that the public baths were convenient venues for prostitution - an illicit and highly frowned upon activity back then as it is now.

#4 Medieval bread could get you high

A well-documented fungal infection called Ergot ran rampant throughout the rye and bread storages of Medieval England and the rest of Europe several times during the Middle Ages. While it was for the most part relatively harmless, it had a curious property: any bread that was contaminated with the infection could actually cause delusions, muscle spasms and several other symptoms - some pleasurable, some painful. Historians have theorised that Ergot-induced symptoms may have been responsible for several bizarre happenings throughout the Middle Ages.

#5 Animal trials

An unusually common occurrence in Medieval Europe, animals could be and were put on trial for a vast range of crimes. Punishments ranged from imprisonment to death, and a great many animal trials were recorded.

#6 Knights were anything but noble

Though chivalrous values did exist and were observed in some shape or form by some knightly orders of the time, the reality of how most knights behaved is unfortunately something far closer to Game of Thrones. Back in Medieval England, knights were landowners, soldiers and often exempt from the law in many cases. During peacetime, there were many reported cases of knights and their underlings ransacking peasant hamlets, monasteries and convents, as well as engaging in general criminal behaviour that is too gruesome to even be named here.

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