12 Facts About The Middle Ages That Will Make You Pleased To Live In The 21st Century


Anyone who knows anything about history will be aware that the middle ages weren't the most pleasant times to live in. Sure, it might have been okay if you were part of the aristocracy, or at least came from a wealthy family, but even then, there were hazards galore. If you're interested in the darker side of the past, we've got just the thing for you. These twelve facts about the middle ages range from the different to the disturbing to the downright disgusting, and will surely make you glad that you live in modern times! Check them out!


Women with pale white skin was seen as attractive, but makeup wasn't very advanced back then and the powders they used to achieve this look often contained lead, which contributed to premature death.

National Portrait Gallery


Another thing that clearly wasn't advanced back in the middle ages was birth control. It was thought that you could prevent pregnancy by wearing weasel testicles around your neck. Cruel and ineffective!



Time was also different back the the middle ages. Not only did different areas (even those extremely close by) have their own time zones, the period between sunrise and sunset was divided into 12 equal portions, as was the time between sunset and sunrise. So, this meant, except for two days a year on the equinoxes, the length of a daytime hour wasn't equal to the length of a nighttime hour. All very confusing!

Wikimedia Commons


Plumbing wasn't a thing back in the middle ages, so people did their business in chamber pots. Since the only sewers back then were those running down the middle of the street, people simply chuck the contents of their chamber pots out of the window, not paying much attention to the people below. Simply walking down the street would have been an extremely stinky affair.

History of York



It was fashionable for women to have no eyebrows during the time of the reign of Charles I, so ladies would shave theirs off and then use various lotions and potions to inhibit growth. When this eyebrow-less fashion ended, there were some women who couldn't grow theirs back properly, so they used mouse hide to make faux eyebrows.



Since you couldn't just pop down the shops and pick up a bottle of 'Tide', launderers washed clothes with homemade lye, containing ash and human urine. Nice!

Folia Magazine


Pretty much everyone, from paupers on the streets to kings in their castles, had lice! In fact, that's why there were various times during the middle ages when wigs were fashionable, so people could simply shave off their louse-ridden hair and wear a wig instead.

Wikimedia Commons


To show their god-given compassion, saints would visit lepers to lick their wounds and eat their scabs. We're all for helping the less fortunate, but we don't see how licking someone is being especially helpful.



There were no forks around during much of the middle ages, as a result, people either used a spoon or their hands.

V+A Images


A favorite poultice used by midwives to help with the pain of childbirth was made from eagle poop.

The Appendix


Barbers back in the middle ages sometimes carried out small surgeries and dentistry. To show that they offered these services, they would wrap bloody white gauze around a flagpole outside their shop. This is where the tradition of having a red and white striped pole comes from.



Animals were often put on trial for crimes in the same way that people are. We don't imagine these poor creatures would have had much luck telling their side of the story, though.


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