Eight Fun Facts about Medieval Times
During my extensive research for Beleaguered, and all the books of Time Enough to Love, I have come across a plethora of information regarding the times, people, and customs of the Middle Ages. Some of these facts found their way into the books in one form or another. But I couldn’t use everything without sounding like a history book rather than a romance novel. So I thought I’d share some of these little know facts about Medieval Times.
- During the Middle Ages people bathed a lot more than people today give them credit for. In noble households they might have private baths with servants to assist. For the masses, there were public bath houses that often also served meals to the bathers.
- Weddings were held outside the doors of the church. No priest was needed to officiate and if there were no witness, the marriage was still deemed valid as long as the couple had spoken their vows and had given and received a token (such as a ring).
- Marriages were usually arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, who were often very young indeed. The age of consent during the Middle Ages was 12 years for a girl and 14 years old for a boy.
- The Bubonic Plague that hit Europe in 1348 was actually three strains of plague. The bubonic plague is the classic disease of the lymphatic system, carried by fleas from rats, that manifested itself in large buboes or swollen lymph nodes in neck, armpit, and groin. The second strain was septicaemic plague was an infection of the blood and pneumonic plague was an infection of the respiratory system. The latter two strains had almost a 100% mortality rate. The Bubonic plague was closer to 50%. During the mid-14th century pandemic nearly one third of all people in the affected areas died of it.
- During the Middle Ages women rode horses astride for travel and hunting. Sidesaddles did not become fashion until the 15th century and then only for ceremonial occasions. Women rode astride into the 16th century.
- Royal banquets lasted for many hours and consisted up to six courses. Courses consisted of such dishes as civet of hare, a quarter of stag, sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar covered in powdered ginger, chickens covered in yolk of eggs and sprinkled with spice. The point was to serve many intricate dishes from which guests took only a bit and then passed it on.
- Archery was one of the most popular sports of the medieval period. Also popular were bowls, colf (forerunner of golf), hurling (forerunner of hockey), horseshoes, and stoolball (a forerunner of cricket).
- During the Middle Ages, when a woman went into labor, she was shut into a room with the doors closed and the windows covered until a month after the baby’s birth. She was attended by a midwife, her assistants, and several of the mother-to-be’s friends and relatives.
BOOK BLURB: When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?
Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna. Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.
During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.
Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives. Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves. But which love will survive?
The men continued to talk, but she paid them no heed, caught in a private hell from which she had believed herself safe. She would have to be vigilant to ensure neither she nor Thomas were burned by the fire that had been kindled months ago between her and Geoffrey Longford. She could not trust any of them now—neither her husband to keep his jealously in check, nor Geoffrey to cease his pursuit of her, nor herself to keep him at bay.
She had believed she loved Thomas enough to lay the ghost of Geoffrey to rest in their bed. But from the moment she had seen him on deck this morning, her beloved still, she knew deep in her very core that Geoffrey had been right: it would never be over between them until they were dead and in the tomb.
This realization frightened her beyond all reason. It was as though she had been two people in one body all day, each belonging to a different man. As long as they lived that would never change. She played with fire each time she met with or spoke to Geoffrey, and one day the banked embers would flame up and consume them both.
There would be hell to pay one way or the other. The only question was how much damage would be wrought. Immortal souls hung in the balance, waiting for Judgment Day.
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AUTHOR BIO: Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She is currently finishing revisions to her fifth full length novel, To Woo A Wicked Widow, set in Regency England and the first book in her five part series, The Widow’s Club.
Only Scandal Will Do is Book 1 in her Georgian House of Pleasure series and Only Marriage Will Do, second book in the series is with the editor. Her medieval trilogy, Time Enough to Love, is being published by Rising Phoenix Publications. Book 1, Betrothal is currently available. Book 2, Betrayal, will be available later this fall.
Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.