Sometimes when I’m feeling ungrateful or like my stuff isn’t as good as everyone else’s stuff I try to remind myself how good I really have it. In reality we live better than kings! I think about what life was like during the Middle Ages. No running water, no electricity, no cars, no phone, no out of season fruits… I can’t even make a reasonable list of things we have that even the kings couldn’t get back in the day.

Just being able to bathe everyday was difficult. The king was one of the few people who could afford fire wood to heat their bathwater. No turning on the shower, even for a king. Light a fire and wait for your tub (which was also made of wood) to heat up.

The first floor of the castle was dirt and the second floor was wood boards. Sometimes the boards were covered by greenery which was replaced periodically. This left quite a dangerous mess when you consider the fact that the castle was heated by fireplaces.

The king’s bed was a wooden frame with a weaving of ropes or strips of leather supporting a feather mattress. No pillow top or memory foam here. Nighty night!

At a royal gathering only the king would have his own cup. Guests would share one cup that was brought around by the cup bearer. The food was heavily seasoned to disguise the fact that it was rotting. The food was served on bread and eaten with the hands. No plates and silverware, even for the king!

Communication was also difficult. Today we have several methods of direct communication. Back then a king would write a letter on parchment with a quill and it would be delivered by hand to the recipient. This could take days, months, or even years. Common folks had to rely on traveling salesmen to deliver messages. Think about that next time your texting a complaint about how you need the new latest and greatest phone.

Health care was hard to come by. Twenty percent of women died during child birth and 17% of infants died before they were a month old. Even the king couldn’t avoid these odds. Stitches were made by letting a certain kind of ant bite the edges of the wound together. When the ants had bitten down they would not let go. Once healed, the ants would be removed. Pleasant and sanitary!!

When you think of all the modern day comforts we have today it’s hard to not appreciate our lives. Next time your feeling down that your neighbor has a nicer car than you, think about the fact that you’re living better than kings could even dream of. At least you don’t have to be pulled in a wooden cart by a horse on a road full of potholes. You can take a shower, you can call a friend, you can sit on your couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie.

pic by: Shadowgate

Resources:

Kyrene

Medieval Life

MNSU

MNSU

Castle Wales

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