The period in European History from approximately 476 AD to 1453. It began when the classical antiquity period ended (due to the fall of the Roman empire), lasting until the Renaissance.
Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?
Some factors in William's victory, which was not a foregone conclusion: Harold having to bring a good number of his troops on a long march from the battle of Stamford Bridge against the vikings (and some of the forces involved there staying in the north) Harold's possible impetuous commitment to battle, when another day's wait would have increased his numbers. The battle site was not badly chosen by Harold, and his lack of archers not a major problem. Mid-way through the battle, one flank of the Norman attack (The Bretons) had crumbled and retreated, but a counter-attack by the Saxons had left them out of formation and exposed, suffering very heavy causalities. It was this tactic repeated deliberately which seems to have turned the battle. A faked retreat (dangerous, in case it turns into a real one) tempted the Saxons from their shield wall and hill. Whether this was the ill-discipline of troops acting without orders or a terrible decision by Harold is not known. Apart from the immediate losses, against a disorganized formation the re-deployment of archers was more effective. The battle which need not have been lost, was. More Input: Harold Godwinson's army was tired. The English army had already fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge that day. They had to race down to the small village of Hastings. Williams army was rested. Part of Harold's army got left behind on the trip down. Harold's army did not cooperate well. Harold's army did have the right weapons. Harold got shot. When he heard the hiss of an arrow he had looked up and the arrow struck him right in the eye. The death of Saxon leaders. Harold's men saw Haley's Comet and they thought that it was a bad omen. William had organized his army better. William was clever and he used his talents in the right way. Williams army was stronger. He had good troops and better trained soldiers. They were better armed. William used cavalry and archers whereas Harold did not. Williams men believed in him and promised to reward them. William had been promised the throne by Edward. The Normans also had the Pope's blessing and banner. William was a good tactition. Williams Norman army played tricks on the English army. William pretended to flee so many of Harold's men turned to retreat but as they did William and his army turned back and fired. Here is more input from others: Duke William was victorious at Hastings not because of any superior armour, weapons or tactical ability, but simply because his forces were the more flexable of the two. Once the English had decided to stand behind their shield wall and allow the Normans to gradually wear them down, the outcome was inevitable. This tactic was too defensive and couldn't be be used effectively against a mainly cavalry army like the Normans had. Another myth about Hastings is that once Duke William had won he was completely victorious. In fact he spent the next 6 years fighting the remaining English forces before finally achieving success. Duke William of Normandy won the battle of Hastings is because At nine o'clock in the morning of the 14th, the Normans began to advance. Spears and arrows flew in all sorts of directions. Both sides fought on foot, although the Normans also used horses later in the day with a tremendous amount of effect. Suddenly, there was a rumour that Duke William of Normandy was dead. He wasn't really dead-and he took of his helmet and stood on stirrups to shout to his men. Then William and his half-brother, Bishop Odo, started a furious cavalry charge. Norman soldiers on horseback charged at the Saxons just when the Saxons thought they were winning. Time and time again the Normans used this technique to break through the Saxon shield wall. Gradually the Saxon line broke up and the Saxons were pushed back. At dusk the Saxon army fell back into the shelter of trees. Harold's bodyguards' were left to fight on alone. They formed a semi-circle around him. The situation was very desperate. According to one tradition recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry, Harold was struck in one eye by and arrow and was hacked about so badly that only his mistress,Edith Swan-Neck could identify him. The main reasons were luck and numbers. If for instance it had rained (which was very likely in English October) the slope up which the Normans attacked would have been very difficult for man and horse. The English were outnumbered because Harold decided to take the initiative. Remember he had recently beaten Harald Hardraga the foremost soldier of his age. Harold was therefore confident. If he had only waited a day or 2 more, victory would have been almost certain. Here is a summary of what happened in 1066: King Edward dies Harold Godwinson gets crowned king Harald Hadraada attacks North and fights Harold Godwinson (Battle of Stamford Bridge) Harold Godwinson wins and next day William of Normandy attacks South Coast Harold Godwinson marches his army South Battle of Hastings begins The state of Harold Godwinson's army before the Battle of Hastings: Harold Godwinson's army wasn't in a great state for the battle. The weaknesses in Harold Godwinson's army were that they had all just marched 226 miles (363 km) so they were tired, they didn't have as many soldiers as William, they had just fought so some soldiers were down and some were wounded, their weapons weren't as good as Williams army's weapons and some members were giving up. The state of William of Normandy's army before the Battle of Hastings William of Normandy's army was in a good state for the battle. The advantages in William of Normandy's army were that they were well relaxed (they'd been waiting in the South for 9 days), they had around fresh soldiers who were all ready for battle. There are a number of various reasons why William Duke of Normandy won the Battle of Hastings. William and his army had landed on the South Coast expecting the enemy there, waiting for them. But they were over joyed to find out that nobody was there to meet them. William and his troops were expecting Harold Godwineson and his army to be there, waiting to meet them and start the battle. But instead, Harold and his army were at the North, fighting Harald Hadraada and his army. No wonder they were over joyed. So they decided to have a feast and get a good night's rest. They now knew that Harald Hadraada and his army had attacked Harold and his troops and were fighting a battle, so they knew that Harold couldn't reach them quickly. So they had the feast and had a good night's sleep, and woke up the next morning, fresh and ready to fight the battle. Meanwhile Harold and his army were up at north, fighting Harald Hadraada and his troops, and then, very luckily, Harold gave his enemy, Harald, a blow that killed him. He sent his army home. Then, on this very triumphant day, Harold received very bad news: the William and the Normans had reached the South Coast and were getting ready to fight Harold. So Harold had to gather his army again, just as they were all tired out from fighting the battle and winning it for him. And he still had to pay them taxes. Harold's army weren't at all happy when he sent for them. He and his army got ready to fight William, and they set off, marching, to get to the South Coast. So Harold and his army were tired out from all that fighting and now they had to go and fight another battle, which was just too bad luck! When Harold and his army reached Hastings, and stopped there to rest for a bit, they found out that William and his troops were there. So they met William and fought the Battle of Hastings, and, very luckily for him that was, William struck Harold in the eye, which made him stumble around in pain for a while before he was killed. William had been promised the throne by Edward, or so he claimed. After Harold beat the viking army of Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge, he had to march to Hastings to meet William. The Saxon shield wall of Harold held strong, but Williams men feinted a flee. Harolds men followed to route the Normans, breaking their shield wall. The Normans turned and caught the Saxons off guard defeating them. Another important issue was the Norman mounted knights. The development of steers for the Normans gave them a superior advantage over the unmounted Saxons. Harold had to march his men to Stamford bridge near York and battle the vikings then take them south again. Harold lost some of his best men at Stamford and he was just unlucky. William had more and better men. Harold's men were not disciplined. Harold was killed in the middle of the battle. The area Hastings was fought in was very different then to now, being almost entriely Fenlands. William landed in a cul de sac and it was important for him to break out. Harold rushed down from Stanford Bridge to hem William in. At the only exit to the Fenland was a high hill, Harold won the race and occupied it. Harold had 6000 troops arriving the following day if William waited a day he had lost the campaign so he chose to attack Harold at a huge disadvantage. It was one of the closest battles in history, for six hours the Normans attacked and the Saxon shield wall held. Until at dusk the Normans launched one last desperate assault on the Saxon left flank. It enjoyed a little success and Harold was forced to commit his reserve, Huscarls led by himself. It was during this assault he was struck by an arrow and killed. Effectively a lucky shot not only won the battle and the war but saved the Normans from annihalation on the following day. William won the battle of Hastings because his troops were well prepared. Wiliiam used clever and well planned tactics to fool Harold's army. Part of the victory was down to luck. While Harold Gowinson was up near York At Stamford bridge, The Normans were able to cross the channel. This meant that Harold had to march his troops down to the small village, Hastings to fight the battle against William. This put Harold at a disadvantage, because some of his best fighters had died at the battle of Stamford bridge, and all Harold's troops were tired. My uncle who used to work as a tour guide at battle abbey said that William had an idea for some of his army to look like they were running away from the battle, so a large chunk of Harold's army followed the people who were fleeing, but little did they no a trap was set. When the people who were following the fleeing people got to a point, some of Williams army surprised them and killed them. Leaving Harold's defenses small and out numbered. Harold had been waiting on the south English coast for William to make a move from Normandy, then amassing his multi-national army. William waited until Harold's army had almost depleted their food reserves, etc. But a huge Norwegian Viking army of '300 ships' (maybe 12-18,000 men)under the fearsome King Harald Hardrada('hard ruler') invaded northern England, with Tostig(Harold's own brother, still irate that his brother didn't help him keep his earldom a year earlier), advanced to near York and routed a Saxon army in battle, at ''Fulford Gate''(20th Sept 1066) Harold agonized, but decided to speed-ride north 190miles to beat the Norse, then dash back hopefully in time to defend the realm against William, who might invade anytime. This Harold did- he surprised the Norsemen and in a bloody and costly victory at ''Stamford Bridge''(25th Sept), the English slaughtered the Norsemen, Hardrada & Tostig. Harold dashed back south again, having just got word of the Norman's landing on the south coast(29th Sept), and made for London to arrange for battle. His messengers had already ridden ahead to the western and southern shires to raise another fyrd(farmer/soldiers owing 2mnths annual war service). Crucially, he had had to leave his archers and many infantrymen- who were marching the hard slog on foot, and would be weary/late for battle. On the 13th October, Harold uncharacteristically ignored the wise advice of his brother Gyrth(who said he instead would lead the half-prepared army, then Harold could lead a second)ordered every available man to follow him, and again marched, this time the 58m south to Senlac hill- originally intending to meet the fyrdsmen there(still coming in from the north/shires) before a possible night attack on the Normans then in their wooden stockade at Hastings harbor, 7m south. But William's scouts found the gathering English there, and William marched north quickly. Now the two armies would fight here(Senlac, wrongly called the battle of Hastings), the Normans/French/Bretons on the low, marshy ground and the English/some Danes tightly packed atop the narrow, steep ridge above, half-mile wide. Harold's men were in a great position, guarded on their flanks by marshes/woods, and a steep incline ahead- but they were exhausted after their recent marches and previous battle. King Harold of England had traveled to the far North of England to do battle with the invading Vikings, whom he defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He was making his return to Winchester (then the capital of England), and disbanding his army as he went, when he got news that William, Duke of Normandy had invaded at Hastings on the South Coast. Harold immediately recalled his men and made a forced march South. The speed with which Harold's army moved took William by surprise and as a consequence Harold was able to choose his ground to his best advantage. Harold had the high ground, but he suffered from two disadvantages; First, he had just fought a battle in the North and had lost many men that he had not had time to replace, and Second, having marched the length of Britain his men were exhausted. In spite of this he managed great discipline and fought off charge after charge from the mostly mounted knights of William. His shield wall proving impossible to break. William then made a mass charge with 75% of his cavalry, instructing them to break off quickly and appear to desert the field. This they did. Many of Harold's men, convinced they had finally won the day ran down the hill after them, on foot. By the time they reached the bottom of the hill Williams remaining cavalry cut them off while the 'retreating' horsemen turned back and slaughtered them. This seriously weaken Harold's position and he was no longer able to withstand the repeated cavalry charges. It is almost certain that the story of Harold being shot in the eye with an arrow is a myth. However, he was certainly killed on the battlefield that day in 1066 and William had his victory.
Asked in Medieval Religion, Middle Ages
Where does a clergyman live in medieval times?
Monastery. They were all priests since the Catholic church was the only church. 2nd answer: That is overly simplistic and not necessarily accurate. It is correct that monks lived in monasteries, but priests were not necessarily monks, and many monks were not priests. All but the smallest villages had a church and a priest in residence. The priest would have had a house in the village (and a fairly nice one, by village standards) and enough of a cash income to support themselves in considerable comfort (again by village standards). Most priests would have been able to afford a household servant for cooking and basic chores. This money came from the tithe, a mandatory contribution of 10 percent of agricultural products to the parish in which the crops were grown. Churches in towns and cities would have also had clergy in residence, with a more complex organization. This clergy would have obviously lived in town.
Where did the Black Death first start and how?
The black death originated central Asia and spread to Europe. It started because of unclean rodents (hamsters etc.) who had infected fleas. The Black Death or Plague bacteria multiply inside the flea, blocking its stomach (nasty!!) and causing it to become very hungry. The flea then bites a host and continuously feeds on its victim (because it is unable to satisfy its hunger). During the feeding process, infected blood carrying the plague bacteria flows from the fleas' stomach into the open wound. The plague bacteria then has a new host,which unfortunately includes Humans, and the flea eventually dies from starvation. ==== It is believed by many that the disease started in China, whose merchant ships brought it west, to Sicily. Near Italy. It was carried by fleas that were living on rats. Once in Italy, it soon spread throughout the rest of Europe. ==== It began in Asia, Merchant ships Brought it to Sicily, near Italy, Carrying the Bubonic Plague to many countries of Europe. Then spread through Europe and Asia killing about 50 million people in all. The Black Death or the Bubonic Plague and its Medieval World history and origins The deadly disease has been with man and part of world and medieval history for a very long time. It has claimed nearly 200 MILLION lives. The first recorded epidemic of the Black Death / Bubonic Plague was in Europe during the 6th Century. The disease truly became pandemic in 1328 - the medieval period of the history of the world. During this period a third of the world population died. We tend to associate the history of this terrible disease with Europe however it originated in the Gobi Desert. The Spread of the disease The disease spread throughout the Western world and reached pandemic proportions due to changes in lifestyle - people were moving from the country villages to highly populated towns. The formation of major cities and increased travel by various world civilisations, the disease rapidly spread throughout Asia. The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) followed the Trade Routes. The Trade routes provided access to all corners of the known world. The increased use of the trade routes ensured that the disease spread throughout the World. We should also remember that it was not just Europe and Africa that were devastated by the deadly disease. Countries such as China suffered horrendously from the 1328 outbreak with their population dropping from 125 million to 90 million during just the middle half of 14th century.
Asked in Menstruation, Middle Ages, Century - 1600s
How did women handle the menstruation in ancient and medieval times?
The last one to answer this was so wrong. Women were smarter than to just "sit in a hole for a week." So here's an improvement. Ancient Egyptians used a compress of linen with a sponge on top, like a pad. They also had internal menstrual protection of rolled cotton or papyrus. Yep, that's right: tampons! If the woman had strange pains of other indications that the bleeding was unnatural, there were many herbal remedies a doctor would blend, wrap in linen, and use as a suppository. Basically, a tampon filled with herbs and honey. How nice! The ancient Greeks invented tampons made from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood, recorded in writing by the famous Hippocrates in the 5th century B.C. Israelite women had a really hard time. They were considered "unclean," and anything they touched or sat on was unclean. When a woman has a discharge and the discharge form her body is blood, she will remain in a state of menstrual pollution for seven days. Anyone who touches her will be unclean. Anything that she lies on in this state will be unclean; Anyone who touches her bed must wash clothing and body. If a man goes so far as to sleep with her, he will contract her menstrual pollution and be unclean for seven days. Once she is cured of her discharge, she will allow seven days to go by; after that she will be clean. On the eighth day she will take two turtledoves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. The priest will offer one of them as a sacrifice for the sin and the other as a burnt offering." (Leviticus 15:19-30) Seven days unclean, then another seven days had to go by after she was "cured." In a cycle that took place every 28 days, that meant she was "clean" only half the time. Because of this, the women were secluded during their period. They didn't have much, so a couple yards of linen was used to absorb the blood, which then had to be washed out by hand. This horrendous hassle is what gave menstruating women a bad reputation throughout the Dark Ages and even up until the Age of Enlightenment. Women in the Middle Ages also made tampons. Cotton was easy to come by. They would roll these into a suppository with a string attached from the cotton "tampon" to their upper thigh, believing that if they didn't, the tampon would float up and lodge in their uterus. Here's an herbal recipe: Take half a drachma of triacle diatesseron, the same amounts of cockle flour and myrrh, and grind them together with bull's gall in which savin or rue has been rotted. Then cover the mixture with cotton and thereof make a suppository as large as your little finger and put it in your privy member, but first anoint it with clean honey and oil together, sprinkle powder of scammony on it, and put it in the privy member; one can do the same with lupin root, and that is much better. Of course, this sort of weird concoction made the woman bloat badly. Many cultures used different ways to help a women during "that time of the month," but usually the cure was the same as today: a tampon of cotton or cloth, or a dressing of linen like a pad, with herbs to take care of the pain. They did not simply "sit in a hole."
Asked in History of England, Middle Ages
Did medieval peasants have any privileges?
They had the right to live and work on the land to which they were bound, and they had a right to protection. This might not sound like much, but if you think of it, this means these things: They had a guarantee of a job. They had a guarantee of a place to live. They had a guarantee that they would be fed in a famine. They had a guarantee they would be protected in a war. The feudal lord might have owned the land, but the serfs had a right to be on it. The lord could sell the land, but he could not sell the serfs, and he could not make them move away. If he sold the land, the new owner had to respect their right to be there. There is a link below to an article on serfdom.
Asked in Renaissance, Middle Ages
Did they have potatoes in the middle ages?
It depends who you mean by "they". Potatoes are native to the Americas and were not available in Europe until long after 1492, when the Middle Ages had ended. Native Americans had both sweet potatoes and standard potatoes, but just like tobacco neither of these were seen in Europe until the Renaissance era - the beginning of modern times.
Where can you get a plague doctor mask for cheap?
Asked in Middle Ages
Is it true the the serfs were not able to own the land they farmed?
Yes, that's true. Serfs farmed the lands owned by the nobility. =================================================== Answer: All land was owned by the king or by the Church. Nobody else could own land, they were simply holding it by virtue of the feudal system. This involved the king apportioning large sections of his land to his Earls in return for taxes, military service and loyalty. The Earls in turn gave out sections of land to knights of different ranks, in return for the same obligations. The knights did not have any desire to work their own land-holdings, so they parcelled it out to peasants in return for rents, work obligations, military service and so on. This idea of land-holding was the basic foundation of the feudal system; everybody was governed and controlled by someone else and the king (or the Church) had the right to confiscate any land they wished at any time and give to to another land-holder.
Asked in Middle Ages, Birthdays
In the middle ages did they celebrate birthdays?
Most of the medieval people did not have any idea what their birthdays were. The data we have about the births of members of the nobility often say such things as that they were born "in the end of May or the beginning of June." For many people, even important people, we have no record of the years in which they were born. The earliest person crowned king of England whose birthday is known was Henry II. Before him, we do not know even the years for the births of most kings. Information about a person's birthday was crucial to casting that person's horoscope, so the information was kept about princes and other important people. But high born people, such as kings and emperors, who might have been exposed to the rumors that astrologers might spread about their futures would not want that information to leak out. In the later Middle Ages in England, church registers have information about the births or baptisms of everyone in the parish. But even after them Middle Ages, the baptism was often considered more important than the birth. We know when Shakespeare was baptized, but have no record of his birthday. There were doubtless people who did celebrate birthdays nevertheless. The Middle Ages covered a continent for a thousand years, and there was a lot of variation in custom. Also, birthdays were celebrated in some ancient cultures, so the celebrations are not purely recent. There are a couple links below.
Asked in Conditions and Diseases, Autism, Middle Ages
What was autism like in the Middle Ages?
Autism is a modern term and concept and only in the last 15 years or so has been really considered a condition. Medicine in the middle ages was mainly based on superstition and anyone who was autistic would/could have been considered possessed or a witch. If we could go back and analyze the behaviors of many people who were accused of witchcraft my guess is that many would have been autistic or mentally disabled. Historians have been able to look at later witch trials in Salem, Mass and found that the people accused were considered "different". Even today we do not know what causes autism and are still struggling to educate and help those who suffer from it. So, in the middle ages they would have not known what to do with people with disablitlites or how to help them.
Asked in Middle Ages
What enabled freer artistic expression during the Renaissance period?
The understanding of linear perspective, which had been lost during the time of the Roman Empire, was rediscovered during the Late Middle Ages. The understanding of human anatomy, and in fact the understanding of the anatomy of animals and structures of plants, were likewise learned in the Late Middle Ages. These technological accomplishments made it possible for Renaissance artists to create more realistically represented scenes. In addition to this, there were new media that had been developed, and the most important of these was probably oil based paints. Other important developments for artists were the inventions of printing and engraving, both of which meant that artworks could be copied in large quantities for mass distribution. These, however lead to new restrictions on artistic expression, because they meant that it became important for the church and governments to control what artists produced in ways that were never before important. The inquisitions which had been largely absent during the middle ages, became powerful forces during the Renaissance.
Asked in Middle Ages
What is a medieval shoemaker?
There were two kinds of shoe makers in the Middle Ages. One was the cobbler, who made and repaired ordinary shoes for common people. The other was the cordwainer, who made luxury shoes. Cobblers were often itinerant workers who travelled through the country from one manor or village to another doing whatever work they could find. Cordwainers were likely to be established in cities and were likely to be members of trades guilds. There are links to articles below.
Asked in History of England, Music, Middle Ages
What does a medieval music entertainer do?
He sang and played a lute amongst many other instruments, such as a hurdy gurdy, dulcimer and cittern. He or sometimes they also were like a newspaper (which hadn't been invented) and took stories from one place to another, and put the story to music. This way Lords and Ladies as well as the common folk learnt about the scandals of the day, an entertainer had to be very careful though what was said as they could be arrested for what they said.
Asked in Middle Ages
What was Medieval European Manorialism?
Manorialism was an economic and sociological system in which the majority of the people, serfs who farmed, lived on a manor, a large estate owned by a lord. It might be said that the manorial system was defined by the relationship the serfs had to their lords, and more particularly, to the land they lived on. Serfs were people who had specific and important rights and duties. Their duties were to farm the land and to pay their landlords rent, in labor, a part of the crop, or money. They were not allowed to move off the manor without permission of the lord. In return for their work, the serfs were guaranteed a place to live, fields to farm, and protection against crime, war, and famine. The lord owned the land, but he did not own the serfs. The serfs' right to the land was views as inalienable, and the lord could not take it away. If the land was sold, the serfs went with it, and the new lord was expected to respect their rights to work and live there. The manor was as self sufficient as possible. There were often craftsmen living on a manor, perhaps a blacksmith, for example. Manors usually had one or more hamlets on them, and possible a village. If there was a village, it had a church. The manor might have a mill, and possibly there was a baker. If no baker, then there might be an oven the serfs could rent to bake bread. The manorial system was an essential, basic, part of European life in the Middle Ages. It was derived from the very similar Roman villa, and the serfs were very much like the Roman coloni, who lived on villas. There is a link below to an article on manorialism.
Asked in Middle Ages, Castles
Where in the medieval castle would the cook work?
Medieval castles often had one or more kitchens. When they had more than one, the different kitchens were used for preparing different kinds of food. Most of the cooking was usually done outdoors, except in inclement weather. The kitchens were usually in buildings that had relatively low roof lines, and often in separate building that were only used as kitchens. This is because the chimney was not invented until the 11th or 12th century, and was not as fast to catch on as one might imagine, the result being that most castles did not have chimneys or fireplaces. The indoor kitchens had to have ventilation for the smoke they created, and though this often went out through a hole in a wall rather than in the roof, if there were rooms higher in the building, they were likely to have smoke blown into them. Sometimes kitchens were put into basements anyway, so they could stay cool and have access to cooler storage. Most outdoor cooking and separate kitchens were in the castle ward, which was the large courtyard in the middle of the castle.
Asked in Middle Ages
What utensils did middle age people use to eat with?
Medieval people used spoons and knives, but usually only used forks for cooking. The fact is, however, that they ate a lot of foods with their fingers, including foods we would not eat that way, like stew and soup. They often went without a bowl for the soup, spooning it instead onto a thick piece of stale bread used as a trencher. They took what soup they could off the bread with a spoon, and then ate the rest, soup and bread, together. Wealthy people had plates, many poor people did not and ate directly off the table. Cups and knives were considered common to the people at the table, so two or more people might share the same cup. There is a link below.
Asked in Religion & Spirituality, Middle Ages
Did religion affect medieval medicine?
Yes! religion definetly affected medieval medicine. Monks believed that god was punishing people, making them ill and to suffer for being a bad person. They also believed that only god could cure the illness/disease that god, himself had given to these people. Monks and nuns would Mildley treat the ill people with natural remadies, such as herbs and crushed up plants to create medicine. Hope that answered your question, im 14 and i have got an exam next week about black death, wondered if you knew anything about 'How women contributed to care of the sick in the middle ages' ? cheers. :)
Asked in Middle Ages, Knights
How were medieval knights treated by other groups?
Knights were members of nobility, and so common people treated them with respect. Unlike members of the nobility who had inherited their titles and lands, knights had earned theirs through years of training, including training with weapons. This also earned them respect from other members of the nobility. Their superiors could treat them any way they liked, of course, but it was unwise for a king or high lord to treat his knights badly, as they were his protection. Some knights were landless, for one reason or another. They had to make their livings as mercenaries. During and after wars, knights were often put on hard times, and had to resort to some unsavory or illegal acts just to stay alive. When such problems became widespread, local people got really angry at them and could turn on them.
Asked in Middle Ages
How did they punish people in the middle ages?
There was a lot of variation according to time and place. Early Germanic law was clearly intended to compensate victims or their families, and most crimes were punished with fines. In Anglo Saxon England, there was even a prescribed fine for killing a king. On the other hand, some dynasties of kings were known for torture. The Plantagenet kings of England were known for this. Theft was usually punished by fining the criminal a multiple of the value of the thing stolen. The court divided the payment with the victim, with the court getting a quarter or a third of the total. There were places where people were exiled for committing theft, and there were places where they were confined to a neighborhood; in either case, being found where you were not supposed to be could result in death. Some crimes were not punished. In Wales there was a law saying that if a poor person stole food, if he could show that he had begged for food at a certain number of houses unsuccessfully, he could not be punished for the theft. People were put in stocks. When this punishment was used, the people being punished had to sit in the stocks for a certain number of hours on different dates in different seasons. Certain crimes were punished in some places by allowing duel to be fought. We should bear in mind that forced confession, trial by combat, torture, and such things were opposed by the Church. Such opposition was not always of long standing effect, but sometimes it was. There were also people who were notoriously cruel, and some of these are legendary. Vlad III of Wallachia, known as Vlad the Impaler, is an example.
Asked in Middle Ages, Castles
Why did they cover castle floors with straw?
There is some question as to whether floors were covered with straw. Supposedly, it absorbed odors and covered over filth, and was gradually added as needed until it was cleaned out once per year or so. Part of the problem with this idea is that we have many pictures of medieval people in their homes, and none show straw on the floor. Part of the problem is that the dresses women wore would have been very impractical, dragging straw all over the place and getting really filthy. The problem I have with it is that the only source for the idea I can find comes from a letter Erasmus wrote a friend long after the Middle Age ended. It was describing the conditions in English inns, and in my opinion was a comic comparison making the inns to be like badly kept stables.
Why are most swords shaped like a cross?
Actually, many swords are not shaped like a cross, but swords like scimitars and sabers are curved. As for straight swords, many are shaped like very elongated crosses. The hand-guard at the top, by the handle, is intended to keep your hand from sliding down the blade from sweat, injuring you, and it prevents the other man's blade from hitting your hand. The blade and handle make up the large part of the sword with the hand-guard near the handle end. The shape of a cross wasn't entirely intentional, it just happened to be the most convenient shape to mass-produce, while keeping the hands of the wielder safe.