We had a lot of fun in 2014 writing about all things medieval. Among the dozens of features that the we wrote about the year, we answered some fascinating questions, creating some weird top 10 lists, and discovered some intriguing facts about the Middle Ages.
What did our readers really like? Here are ten most popular features this year:
1. 15 Myths about the Middle Ages
People have some very wrong ideas about the Middle Ages. Here is a list of fifteen of the strangest misconceptions about the medieval period – they often portray the people as being ignorant, cruel and unsophisticated.
2. Top 10 Most Famous Swords of the Middle Ages
Our list of the top 10 swords – real and fictional – from the Middle Ages
3. Girls’ Names from Medieval London (not the usual ones!)
Looking for that great ‘medieval’ name for your newborn daughter? Here are ten names from medieval London that you may never had heard of!
4. Ten Medieval Kingdoms and States that No Longer Exist
The map of the medieval world was constantly changing, as various kingdoms, principalities and states fought each other and redrew borders. In Europe and western Asia there were many states that rose to power and then later fell. Some of the most well-known ones include the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Abbasid Caliphate. Here, we take a look at 10 of the lesser known kingdoms that no longer exist.
5. Did people in the Middle Ages take baths?
It is often thought that medieval men and women did not care too much about personal hygiene or keeping clean. One nineteenth-century historian writing about daily life in the Middle Ages commented that there were no baths for a thousand years. However, a closer look shows that baths and bathing were actually quite common in the Middle Ages, but in a different way than one might expect.
6. Medieval Images of the Human Body
By the later Middle Ages there was great interest in anatomy and how the body worked. Medieval people made illustrations to explain medical and anatomical issues of human body. Here is a list of medieval images of the whole or parts of the body, which offer a fascinating, unique and strange views from the Middle Ages.
7. Top 10 Scandals of the Middle Ages
What are the scandals that made headlines in the Middle Ages? Kings and Popes would be involved in some of the craziest stories of sex and corruption that would make today’s news seem quite tame. From a cross-dressing prostitute to the trial of a dead Pope, here are ten almost-unbelievable medieval scandals.
8. Top 10 Strangest Deaths in the Middle Ages
You may have heard how medieval rulers have been killed in battle or died from an assassin’s blade. But did you know about the king who died from uncontrollable laughing or the emperor who was dragged 16 miles through a forest by a deer? Check out our list of the top ten strangest deaths from the Middle Ages!
9. Viking Nicknames
Of all the various cultures of the Middle Ages, it was probably the Norse who had the best nicknames. Ranging from the Eirik the Red to Ivar the Boneless, the Viking Age has hundreds of interesting and strange nicknames.
10. Did people drink water in the Middle Ages?
One of the oddest myths about the Middle Ages is that people did not drink water. Many books and articles have repeated the notion that water was so polluted during this period that medieval men and women would only drink wine, ale or some other kind of beverage. However, there is plenty of evidence that people regularly drank water.
We also have a few personal favourites we wanted to include:
Why the Middle Ages are called the Dark Ages
How did the term ‘Dark Ages’ become synonymous with the Middle Ages, and why do we still refer to it like that?
Sutton Hoo at the British Museum: New directions for the new display
A fascinating talk about the new Sutton Hoo display at the British Museum, given by curator, Dr. Sue Brunning.
Medieval DIY: Five Easy Projects
The Five-Minute Medievalist brings you five simple medieval do-it-yourself projects you can try out to impress your friends.
Using Gems in Medieval Spells
David Porreca examines how the magical spells found in the Picatrix made use of precious gems.
Get Interactive: Teach the Middle Ages for Ages 5 to 25
Danielle Trynoski provides a list of activities, discussions, and assignments to support teaching the Middle Ages.
The Most Dramatic Moment of the Middle Ages!
An evil king versus a good king. They are half-brothers. It’s a fight to the death. In a tent!