Medieval: Did You Know?

…that a paillasse is a thin mattress filled with straw or sawdust and was commonly used in the middle ages.

…that a garderobe was a medieval toilet. Usually nothing more than a hole in the outer wall of the castle which dropped into a cess pit or moat. It is also claimed to be a useful place to store clothes, as the smell deterred moths. This is where the modern word “wardrobe” originated from.

…that a barbican is a tower or other fortification defending the drawbridge, usually the gateway.

…that a coif is a type of armored head-covering made out of chain-mail and worn under the helmet for extra protection.

…that a joust is a type of armored head-covering made out of chain-mail and worn under the helmet for extra protection.

…that a heriot is a payment owed to the lord of the manor by a serf’s family upon the serf’s death; usually the family’s best animal, such as a cow or horse.

…that Great Domesday seems to have beem completed by a single English scribe, able to handwrite an amazing 3,500 words a day. A second man then made corrections. He was French, and may also have been in charge of the whole survey. Some have suggested he was Samson, William I’s chaplain and later Bishop of Winchester. Another candidate is Ranulf Flambard, who became chief finance minister to William II (Rufus). Several scribes helped to write Little Domesday.

…that before 1066, it was noted in the Domesday Book, if one Welshman killed another, the dead man’s relatives could exact retribution on the killer and his family (even burning their houses) until burial of the victim the next day. The king took one third of any plunder from this. Stealing a cow or a woman in Herefordshire meant a fine of 20 shillings after the stolen goods had been returned. A sheep cost less – 2 shillings.

…that buboes are pus-filled egg-sized swellings of the lymph glands of the neck, armpits, and groin; typically found in cases of bubonic plague.

…that laws passed in the late 1300s aimed at maintaining class distinctions by prohibiting lower classes from dressing as if they belonged to higher classes.

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