Getting into the medieval mind-set

In researching for the medieval period, I work hard to learn as much as possible about the life led at that time. I have a lot of research about how the basic society functioned, the attitudes toward men and women, etiquette rules, clothing, how the hair was worn, the political environment, common jobs, basic lingo, and many other pieces of helpful information. All of this is needed in order to create a believable and fairly accurate presentation of the period.

I also enjoy finding trivia things for different time periods. Today I'm sharing some interesting items I learned about the Middle Ages.

Animals could be put on trial for crimes against people. The accused animals, believed to be servants of the devil, were brought to court, a lawyer was appointed, and they were tried for their crime. Rodents, birds and insects were tried in absentia. Larger domestic animals, including pigs, bulls, cows, sheep and dogs appeared in court. Some animals were found innocent, granted pardons or reprieves. Some wild animals were excommunicated by the church. If they were found guilty, they could be sentenced to death. Hundreds of animals were executed by hanging. ;

Bathing in medieval times: Medieval English people actually bathed regularly in public baths, in contrast to the belief that they rarely bathed. ;

Sex in medieval times: The Church dictated the accepted positions for having sex, believing that anything beyond the “missionary” position was unnatural and a sin. A woman using the woman on top position could receive three years’ penance. Oral intercourse and having sex from the rear could also involve being punished with three years’ penance. ;

Symbols of virility in fashion: The codpiece was a flap/pouch that could be attached to the front of the crotch of a man’s trousers to exaggerate the genitals. They were often stuffed with sawdust or cloth. And a shoe called the poulaine , with long, pointy-toes, was supposed to have suggested the size of the man’s penis. Clearly, the longer the point, the more virile the man.

Condoms in the Middle Ages: The preferred method of contraception was practicing coitus interruptus, but some men used a condom more to prevent venereal diseases. It wasn’t until the 1600s that they were used for contraception. Early condoms were made of animal bladders or intestines, snakeskin, or sheepskin tied with twine, and they were reused. ;

Spermicide for women: Women would make a “pessary” of ground dates, acacia bark and a touch of honey. The moist paste would be soaked up by wool or cloth and inserted inside the vagina.


Penny Rader said...

Poor animals. They must've been so confused.

Cracks me up that they'd try some of them in absentia. Did they hang 'em in absentia, too?

Thanks for sharing with us, Starla!

Rox Delaney said...

Great stuff, Starla! A few I knew, but most I didn't. Stones were also used as spermicide, although I can't imagine using any of the ones you listed! You've obviously reminded us of how lucky we are to live in the times we do.

Melissa Robbins said...

I'm still laughing at the men's attire. Some things never change.