Whether writing historical fiction, a tale of time travel, or medieval fantasy, there are many myths about medieval times that have been grossly propagated over the decades. In this Writing Tips article, Xlibris Publishing addresses 6 Medieval Misconceptions, to better educate you for when you write a story within a medieval setting.
The ‘Dark Ages’ Misconception
One of the most prominent misconceptions about the historical medieval period is that of it being ‘The Dark Ages.’ A supposed time when knowledge and its pursuit (the metaphorical ‘Light’) were heavily discouraged, even outright punished- both by ‘crude, ignorant’ masses and religious authorities. This is in fact an exaggeration, a caricature of the period, propagated by 17th and 18th century thinkers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods. In truth many important works of art and literature, key scientific discoveries, and great institutions of learning (universities), came to be during the Middle Ages.
The ‘Filthy Peasants’ Misconception
Almost as widespread as the Dark Ages Misconception, is the idea that the peasantry of Medieval Europe were filthy and unhygienic, barely bathing if at all. Actually, most towns had public bathhouses of some form or another. Bathing, even if not regularly every day, was a common and expected practice.
Everyone Thought ‘The Earth was Flat’
Well before Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage, medieval scholars and writers already knew that the Earth was round, not flat. While no known person had circumnavigated the globe, mathematicians and philosophers had deduced the Earth was round by studying the movement of the sun and its effect on shadows over the course of the day.
Xlibris Publishing will return with the rest of 6 Medieval Misconceptions in Part 2.
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By Ian Smith