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Medieval Myths Dispelled

Going Medieval's very own Mike Loades takes us through five myths about the Middles Ages dispelled in this fascinating two-hour special.

1. Medieval Europe was a dull, grey and gloomy world.

NO it wasn’t! It was a vibrant gaudy, colourful world. Textiles with sumptuous colours don’t last for 700 years but if you look at the art of the time, you can see that people wore richly colourful clothing. Castle walls and church walls were originally plastered and gaily painted – it's just that the colour has washed off after 700 years of being exposed to wind and rain. How would your house look if you took the roof off and left it to the elements for 700 years? In Going Medieval, we see how castles were built and we see how textiles were dyed.

2. Knights were lumbering creatures in heavy armour.

NO they weren’t – they were agile fighting men, protected by cleverly designed armours that distributed the weight evenly over the body. In Going Medieval we see men sprinting and doing other exercises in authentically weighted armours – both mail and plate.

3. Medieval food was probably bland and tasteless.

NO it wasn’t. They had a varied diet and very tasty recipes. In Going Medieval we see some delicious dishes being prepared and tasted.

4. Medieval people were dirty and smelly.

NOT NECESSARILY! In Going Medieval we see how they cleaned their teeth, washed their clothes and learn about the sort of soaps they had. Personal hygiene, then, as now, was a matter of personal choice, not a question of what products were available. A journey on the London tube will confirm that, despite a varied product range available, not everyone chooses to be fragrant.

5. Medieval battles were all about swordfights and longbows.

NO – although in Going Medieval, there are some pretty interesting insights into both these aspects. However from as early as the mid 1300s gunpowder weapons were a major presence on the battlefield. In Going Medieval we see just how sophisticated medieval canon were from a very early stage.