1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Wreybies, Feb 19, 2015.

    io9 serves up some Fantasy writing advice again, this time talking about how Fantasy has (or may have) altered the general preconception of what life in the Medieval Period was like, since it is generally assumed that the former reflects or pulls from the latter. :)

    [​IMG]

    1. Peasants were a single class of people who were more or less equal to one another.
    Why would life be any less stratified then as compared to now?
    2. Inns were public houses with big common halls below and rooms above.
    @obsidian_cicatrix, looks like I'll be revisiting that scene I wrote so long ago. :)
    3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.
    Sisters are doin' it for themselves... (though they may have had to wait until widowed)
    4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.
    Elbows off the table, Ragnar.
    5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.
    Doesn't surprise (as a misconception).
    6. Men's clothing was always practical and functional.
    Period films always make me think that people had no soap back then, and the clothing looked heavy.... :( Stank!
    7. Servants were all low-class people.
    This one I knew. A king or a duke doesn't let commoners into his sphere.
    8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.
    Hm.. Seems like we could learn something here....
    9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.
    Ok....
    10. Only men's sexual pleasure was important.
    No comment.


    For the full story: http://io9.com/10-worst-misconceptions-about-medieval-life-youd-get-fr-1686799982
     
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  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree that a lot of fantasy books can give readers such misconceptions, but if they do it is more the fault of the reader than the author, unless the author is purporting to write historical fiction/fantasy and just hasn't done the proper research. When reading a fantasy novel where there is a medieval level of technology, the reader should not assume that the author is attempting to replicate many aspects of real-world medieval life. The world is a made-up world, and social aspects of the world can depart from the real world just as can aspects of magic or outlandish creatures.

    Sometimes, though, I think the author does have a misconception that gets incorporated under the mistaken belief that it reflects how life really was. Other times, it is simply expedient to use a shallow misconception as a sort of window dressing for the fantasy world, where the author isn't going to spend much time getting into the details of how these issues play out in the fantasy world.

    Whatever approach the author takes, there can be no harm in knowing the truth of these matters. The author can then decide whether her own world will be more aligned with how life really was on medieval Earth, or not.
     
  3. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    When you are talking abut a thousand year period from the 5th century to the 15th century then you are going to have a lot of changes in even 1 country. Using Britain as an example, since the Battle of Hastings in 1066 they have seen. Richard the Lionheart go on the crusades, the Black Death, the Great fire of London, the Renaissance, peasants become serfs, the Magna Carta, establishment of the British Empire, invented or developed trains, phones, television amongst other things.
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Didn't half of these occur after the medieval period?
     
  5. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    The point I was making was that he mentions a thousand year period. Using the last thousand years since the Battle of Hastings these are just some of the things that have happened. A lot happens in a thousand years whichever time period you use.

    If we were to use the 5th to 15th centuries then as far as Britain is concerned you have. The Roman Empire withdraws, Viking invasions begin, Christianity gains a foothold, Alfred the Great formulates a legal system and builds a navy, the Norman Conquest and England is united under 1 king, the Magna Carta and so on.
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    TV and films are probably the worst culprits. Fantasy novels are, well, fantasy.
     
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  7. Skaruts
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    Skaruts Member

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    I don't suppose women shaved back then.
     
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some things were better.
     
  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good medieval knight stuff
     
  10. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, Hollywood has a lot to answer for. If you managed to get through the first few years of life (the infant mortality rate in this period - and in fact well beyond - was near incomprehensible to modern minds) you could expect to live to somewhere in your mid thirties if you were lucky. During which time, if you were a peasant - which lets face it, most of us would be - you could expect a life of serfdom entailing unimaginable hardship, poverty and persecution at the hand of your overlord(s), under whichever guise that may have taken.
    The stuff of Disney, it most certainly was not.
     
  11. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you Disnae

     
  12. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    At least someone has their priorities in order.
     
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  13. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney?
     
  14. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wears the soap?
     
  15. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bing sings and Walt. . . Disnae.

    A somewhat dated Scottish joke. ;)
     
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  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Euff
     
  17. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you say so.
     
  18. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    This'll cheer you up on medieval, soz
     
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  19. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Looks a bit like the geezer that 'played' Gollum in LOTR.
     
  20. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's Eddie Tenpole, a famous punk from '78
     
  21. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know the tune, definitely. Would not have been able to name the band however.
     
  22. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was a punk nerd, better find more medieval...
     
  23. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you mean was?
     
  24. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you have skype, I got chainmail
     
  25. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nah man, this is about tech as I get. I've heard about you Brightonian 'swordsmen'. :D

    Edited to Add: I better watch what I'm saying, lest the pink unicorn commeth.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015

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