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10 Interesting Facts About Medieval England – Part 2

By Yona Williams    8/24/12

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Throughout the centuries, home remedies have played a significant role in the health and medicinal world of the past. In this article, you will learn about an interesting recipe that dates back to medieval times, as well as information on other traditions of the Middle Ages.

6.    Home Remedies of Medieval Times

During medieval days, the plague posed a serious threat. One of the home remedies to protect against the plague was to drink ale with added eggshells that had been crushed and roasted. The concoction would also include leaves, marigold flower petals, and treacle, which was an uncrystallized syrup made with refined sugar.

7.    An Illiterate Bunch

During most of the Middle Ages, few people learned how to read or write, and this included members of royalty. This meant that kings and emperors could not read proclamations and write a letter to their subjects. In medieval England, the clergy were primarily the only ones who possessed the ability to participate in this elevated level of communication.

8.    Early Trial Methods in Europe

During the Middle Ages in Europe, people from medieval days followed a practice called 'trial by ordeal.' During a trial, the accused may have to undergo a painful task. Sometimes, they were burned by a hot iron or endured another pain-filled activity. If the accused survived the trial or their wound quickly healed, they were found not guilty. Why? They held onto the belief that God performs miracles to assist the accused. The Catholic Church made it forbidden to participate in the trials, and favored the use of what was known as compurgation. This practice involved the accused taking an oath of innocence, where 12 peers must believe.

9.    Origin of the Barber Pole

The peppermint candy cane strip appearance of a barber's pole dates back to the Middle Ages when most barbers also performed the tasks of surgeons and dentists in their community. The red and white color scheme actually refers to blood and bandages. In those days, bandages soaked in blood were washed and then hung from a pole outside of the barber's shop. The wind would cause the bandages to twist, which created the spiral pattern that is still used today.

10.    First Names Only

It wasn’t until 1066 that surnames emerged in England. Before then, everyone was given only one name when they were born. When the practice of surnames started to catch on, they often included a nickname. For example, if Tom had dark colored hair, then he would be named Tom Brown or Black – depending on the shade. It was not uncommon to see surnames change over time , according to the changes of an individual's life. The system would eventually see people taking the same last name as their father, which led to the modern surname system that we use today.

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