Saturday, October 16


Top Ten Myths about the Middle Ages

A great article here. One myth, number eight, "Starving Poor," reminds me of a comment made by, I think, one end of our friend the Chesterbelloc (I forget which), who noted that poverty in England can be traced to the year 1536, the same year the monasteries, which acted pretty much as the English poor-relief system, started getting trashed by Henry VIII. Hmmm. I wonder if there's a connection?

Another thought springs to mind. Myth number one, "People of the Middle Ages were crude and ignorant," is of course easily refuted by Chartres Cathedral, chivalry, and the Medieval period's superb contributions to the field of millinery, but I'm also reminded of a throwaway line in C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength: When Merlin wakes up from his epochal slumber, everyone is impressed by his elegant table manners: admitted, he's eating with his hands but he's doing it quite neatly and daintily. Presumably if you had only a knife and only occasionally a fork or spoon, you'd get to be quite good at eating without making a mess of yourself (or, one hopes, looking like this fellow). Heck, I'm told a figure as late as Louis XIV ate stew with his hands and clearly the man was no Oscar Madison, though by that point the Renaissance prejudice against bathing had set in and perhaps he did smell a bit whiffy.

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