Virtual Medieval Europe, a journey back in time through text and illustrations
February 8, 2012 12:02 PM   Subscribe

If you'd like to know a bit about medieval life in Europe, History on the Net has some information on life in medieval times, prepared as educational summaries for students. If you'd like to know more, Medieval Life And Times has a broader scope, and the surface links often have a number of subsequent links to even more information on sub-topics. If you want even more specifics, here is a list of medieval occupations, some information on buying, selling and bartering in medieval times, and a history of horses in Europe.

The occupations and bartering links are part of the Economics section of The Magic Jar project, "a magical item which gives glimpses of some other world." The site was put together as a part of The Crystal Obelisk project, a "virtual roleplaying soapbox" for hosting a variety of things for roleplaying games, like Don't Eat Them - A Guidebook to Companion and Work Animals (in which you can find the history of horses in Europe).

The list of occupations came from various sources, including this alphabetical list of occupations ( view of a now-dead site), that has apparently become part of Geneaology Knowledgebase, though the Old Occupations list doesn't show up for me.

History on the Net is a pretty broad site, too, and has been seen on the blue twice before, once on a post about various types of homes, and then on the marriages and reformation of Henry VIII.
posted by filthy light thief (19 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on February 8, 2012

The Whelk: So, Østgarðr?

AEthelmearc representeth!
posted by IAmBroom at 12:29 PM on February 8, 2012

History on the Net has some information on life in medieval times

They make those people live there?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:30 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a real wonderful trip to the medieval times, check out The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. Just like a modern travel guide he describes where to go, what to see, what to eat, where to sleep, how to get around, plus all the things you really should avoid. There are a lot of those. He likes to do "living history" where you get closer to what life was like at that time. A great read.
posted by njohnson23 at 12:31 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh, wonderful work, flt, and fitting perfectly into the medieval kick of I've been on of late: the BBC Crusades series hosted by Monty Python's Terry Jones, Weapons That Made Britain, and most recently, The Worst Jobs In History (hosted by, appropriately enough, Tony Robinson, the man who played perpetual dogsbody Baldrick in Blackadder.) Thanks for this!
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:40 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I second the Ian Mortimer book.
posted by painquale at 1:10 PM on February 8, 2012

Paul Halsall, a former colleague, has several massive medieval/crusades related sites HERE.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:17 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The history of horses is very poorly composed, and riddled with errors, often contradicting one another. (The Hittites invented the chariot.. and then conqered Egypt? WTF?)
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:24 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I expect in 1000 years time, there will be a website (or something) called "Life in the Modern Times" (or whatever they call our era) and it will not make much of a distinction between 1850 and 2050, all treated equally. I guess the point is, "Medieval" means roughly 500 to 1500, and within each century were unique conditions, outlooks, styles and so on.
posted by stbalbach at 2:25 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Medieval and Middle History Timeline, broken down into centuries, from 800 to 1599.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2012

Arg, botched link. Medieval and Middle History Timeline.

And Medieval Life and Times (therein defined as 1066 -1485) appears to nearly be mirrored at Middle Ages, though the latter has a timeline.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on February 8, 2012

stbalbach: I guess the point is, "Medieval" means roughly 500 to 1500, and within each century were unique conditions, outlooks, styles and so on.

"Good point" is what I should have said before my last two comments.

Also, I'd like to see really specific period re-enactment for medieval fairs, something like "Early 1200s northern France," where someone could be kicked out for wearing something too modern, or too British.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:55 PM on February 8, 2012

Wow this great! So... I dont know much about rpg, do they have historically accurate online medieval (and other) virtual reality tours and such?

GOSH that would be so cool. I want to visit the druids and cavemen and medieval villages. And you know, go visit the dairy farm and observe midieval cheesemaking and then go harvest vegetables with historically accurate farming techniques and, particularly interesting would be to visit poverty stricken areas of larger cities or rural areas and ask residents what life is like and why poverty and poor conditions are there at that particular time and place. And you know, perhaps visit the leaders of the time and ask them about their economic and polital policies and theoretical beliefs...

GOR. I want it. History alive on my computer! With cool graphics!
posted by xarnop at 4:45 PM on February 8, 2012

I'm sorry, but that history of horses is utter crap. There are so many absolutely elementary errors in it that I can't take the site, as a whole, seriously.

Horses between 12 and 14 hands are called ponies, and they are absolutely rideable in every way. You determine how much a horse can carry not by its height, but by the circumference of its cannon bone. Prezwalski's and zebras are both short wild horses, but their cannon bones are sturdy and thick, making them suitable for riding, though Prezwalski's are temperamentally unsuited for it. Norwegian Fjord Horses and Icelandic Horses are primitive-type breeds, and easily carry adult riders.

Bits rest on the bars of a horse's mouth, where there are no teeth. Tooth wear would not be evidence of bit use. Snaffle bits put pressure on the horse's tongue as the primary method of control, though there is some interaction with the horse's lips in a way that curb or gag bits don't. Snaffles are considered to be the mildest form of bitting.

Horses do not 'need to eat oats', and in fact the lion's share of their diet must be in forage (either grass from the pasture or hay) or you greatly increase the risk of colic. As for having to grow oats especially for the horses, humans have been eating oats for thousands of years.

Horses do not need to be shod. Shoes are expensive, and regular trimming/rasping will keep their hooves in good shape. They certainly didn't need to be shod to protect their feet from rocks in the field, and the first nailed-on shoes were bronze, not iron.

And that's just basic horse care, not even getting into the timeline errors that Slap*Happy brought up.
posted by Concolora at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

While I agree with Concolora concerning the posted link on horse history, I seriously disagree concerning the evidence on bitting. Prior to snaffle bits, a single bar bit was used, and those bits do impact and wear on the lower premolers. Having worked with an equine dentist for several years, I can tell you that even a jointed snaffle will wear on the teeth, depending on the way the horse carries the bit and the pressure used by the rider. The current fashion is to create a "bit seat" by filing the premolars, something I suspect happened through natural wear and tear when a horse was ridden constantly. For more info see here.

Also, I won't get into the voodoo surrounding the barefoot horse theories. SOME horses can go barefooted on SOME types of terrain. Most can't be ridden daily, for hours each day, without some kind of hoof protection. There's a reason horse foot coverings were invented--every type of hoof protection has been tried, from hide wraps, to sandals, to full plate shoes, to regular horseshoes.

I kept a daily journal while I was conditioning for endurance riding. The best footed Arab I ever owned was able to complete a bit over 600 miles conditioning barefooted over a period of 8 weeks, and I was specifically targeting soft or sandy soils to ride on. He wasn't sore when he was shod, but there was hardly anything to put nails to. he would not have gone another 25 miles barefoot without stone bruising or soring. The received wisdom is to trim horses every 6-8 weeks. My grandkids' unshod saddle horses used to go for six to nine moths without any trimming by wearing their hooves naturally, but they would have to be laid off to regrow hoof. Now that the kids ride with me in the lava rock up in the hills, there's too much wear to not use shoes.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:46 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know little of the ways of horses, but I have just read David Graeber's book, "Debt : The Five Thousand Years" and he says that barter has never happened on anything other than the smallest scales. It just isn't practical, if you think about it. Two people need to have exactly what each either wants for a trade to be successful. There are no historical evidence of it. It just appeared in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" and everyone is still pretending that the story is true. But there's no proof of it.

So I only know one thing about medieval times, and this site is wrong about it.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:37 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, "barter tokens," really a way of keeping track of debt, go back 7500 years. If you're using coins, you're not really bartering...

And debt is kind of misleading, as often you had an obligation to meet - you would provide eggs ad milk on a regular basis, and receive bread and cheese in return down the line, as the baker and cheesemonger returned their obligation, with the noble class acting as a guarantor or even distributor (and taking their cut as the middle man... with a sword.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:46 AM on February 9, 2012

But what about medieval cookery? Isn't there anything on roasting animals, and then dressing them up in armor to look like they are riding into battle?
posted by Curiosity Delay at 8:30 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The spectacular Gode Cookery first appeared on the blue in 2004, then again in 2005, plus a bunch of specific links in the years before and after. And I imagine there's a lot more (weird) medieval/Middle Ages stuff on the blue that could be back-linked, but I got lazy.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on February 9, 2012

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