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Life in the Medieval Period

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Life in the Medieval Period

The Medieval Period is also known as the Middle Ages, and began in the 5th century and ended in the 16th century in Europe. Medieval means old-fashioned and primeval which is why this is the word chosen to describe our history. As you can imagine, it was a very different life during the medieval period with many different aspects and difficulties. There was disease and the horrible handling of the mentally ill as well as the mistreatment of women. Even smaller matters such as manners and fashion were very different from today. Overall, it was a time that was harder, dirtier and a great deal more difficult than life today.

Epidemics were common in the Medieval Period. Explorers and voyagers would bring back foreign diseases to Europe. The diseases were difficult to treat because medicine was not as advanced as it is today and many of the diseases brought back were new to the Europeans. "The discoverers and their crews had carried European diseases to distant lands, infecting native populations. Then, when they returned, they bore exotic diseases which could spread across the continent unchecked" (W.M. pg 34). No one was able to find the source of the sickness so it was never stopped from spreading through the towns. Those who were sick were not treated properly, but that did not even compare to the treatment of the mentally ill. They were seen as weaknesses by society and were often burned, killed or thrown into dungeons. The practice of medicine was often cruel and unsafe during this time period.

During the Medieval Period manners were not important. This applied to everyone and did not depend on their social or financial status. "In all classes, table manners were atrocious. The men behaved like boors at meals" (W.M. pg 57). To begin with, everyone eating was filthy because hygiene was not considered important. There were no napkins, so while dining, people would wipe their faces and blow their noses into their dirty clothing and then continue to eat. Cutlery was not developed until later on and it was used only to serve the food, so everyone ate with their hands. People cut their food with knives that they carried around in their belts. They also ate with their elbows propped on the table. An eating experience during the Medieval Period would be loud, smelly and occasionally violent because it was permitted that a man could beat his wife at the dinner table.

Women were not respected during the Medieval Period. They were expected to be married at the age of twelve and if they were not married by the age of 21, they were considered "spinsters" and became useless. Also, women could also not express their desire for sex for it was frowned upon. "Another 5 centuries would past before young women would be so open in their pursuit of sex" (W.M. pg 68). They were not allowed to look for true love;



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