The Reality Of Life In Medieval Castles Was A Lot More Grim Than You'd Think
Medieval Castles were seen as the peak of infrastructure at the times and were the homes of only the rich and famous which others could only dream of living in. Kings and Lords, along with their ladies and family and staff would live in these castles during the 10th to 16th centuries. The staff would include craftsmen, spinners, constables and servants to name a few of a large bunch (some up to 50) that would man the castle. Knights would also live in these castles, but they would never own it and would simply serve under the Kings or Lords. The way of living here has been portrayed as dreamy in many fairytale stories, but there is a lot that you don’t hear from the life here or see on screen, and it’s for a reason. You won’t believe what it was really like to live in a medieval castle, brace yourselves for the grim reality.
Floors Covered To Hide Faeces
We know that hygiene was not at its peak during this time period and was only a luxury, but it gets worse. You can imagine after a long day throughout the castles with people coming and going as well as animal roaming the castle, it can get messy. And messy it did, as floors would be covered with all kinds of liquid as well as faeces. These were covered by plenty of dry grass and herbs to contain and soak the liquids and then swept up each day, yuck! This explains this next problem.
After seeing the last item, it shouldn’t be too hard to believe that the castle wasn’t the most pleasant smelling place in the land. The reality was that it smelt really bad all of the time because of bad hygiene and lack of places to dispose of waste. The castles would smell like a toilet the whole time as most of the stench was coming from there. The people themselves weren’t the nicest smelling either and most carried a sickness with a lack of medicine at the time. You didn’t want to end up in this next place.
The Dark Dungeons
If you’ve watched any movie based during the medieval times, you will know that any prisoner or wrong-doer would be taken to the dungeons. Well, this was very accurate as they would be taken to the darkest depths of the castle to be tortured if deemed fit by the Lords or Ladies. The punishments are enough to make you never want to commit a crime in your life, their screams could be heard echoing throughout the castle. Brace yourselves for what’s next.
Dark, Damp and Cold
When you are at home tonight in your warm, dry bed with the heating on, spare a thought for the residents in medieval castles who had anything but this luxury. There would be no cover on the castles and any wet night would see the castles flooded with no heat for months on end. Fires were the only thing to keep you warm and the room lit in the dark and damp rooms. This led to many illnesses. We’d rather die than do this next one.
Bunking With Rats
We have all enjoyed sleepovers when we were younger, but the sleepovers during medieval times were not so pleasant. Instead of having pillow fights with your friends, you would be fighting off rats due to the dark, dull and cold rooms which they loved. It became normal to see the beady-eyed rodents roaming the corridors, but no less scary. If they weren’t roaming free, they were being used as torture forms. Have you wondered how they went to the toilet during these times?
The toilets that our bottoms have become accustomed to would have stood no chance back in medieval times as they have wooden toilets which were a long bench with holes in it for your waste. There was also no privacy so anyone could walk past and see you doing your business. Your waste would fall down into a literal cesspool that would fill up and stink after a full day’s use. If you think this is crazy just check out this next fact.
If you are a fan of having a lye-in, then perhaps medieval times would not have suited you. The day and work would start at the break of the sunrise as it was hard to do work once it got dark due to the lack of lighting, so time was precious. Servants would often get up before the sun to have the fires lit and breakfast ready to serve for when their Lords and Ladies woke. All of the jobs would start at this time. You need to see this next fact.
At the end of the day, castles were a form of defence and everything built in them was to counteract enemies’ moves. One of these was specialised stairwells that were all built clockwise to give their army an advantage over any enemy coming up the stairs. It was a disadvantage to right-handed swordsmen who could not draw properly coming up and limited their movement. The stairs also varied in size to trip up attackers unfamiliar with it. We can’t believe this next fact.
Some castles had a big problem with overcrowding, with as many as 100 people living in them at one time. These numbers included a large staff base as well as generations of families of Lords and Ladies. Chambers and quarters would be completely cramped, giving little to no privacy with almost double figures staying in the same room. This was definitely not a tie where you could be picky and avoid contact with others, it was rare to get any free time to yourself when indoors. We might be able to live with this next one.
Alcohol was the main form of drink during medieval times, and not just for enjoyment purposes at big feasts like you may think. It was drunk at any given time of the day due to the unclean nature of the water which would mean boiling it just to get clean water. This was seen as a big effort for a drink, so any drink lying around such as wine, beers and spirits would be drunk no matter the time of day. The booze would be constantly stocked up.
As you can see, the reality of life during medieval time is not as glorified as it has been portrayed. It was a very grim and miserable place to live, with the lower down your position, the worst your quality of life. We can be thankful we grew up in the century that we did.
Sources: ft.com, castlewales.com, dagangadil.com, edu.glogster.com, ancient-origins.net, imt.ie, thedetailedhistory.com, tradewindsimports.com, msn.com, culturacolectiva.com, io9.gizmodo.com