Wherein I express myriad incredulities

Pillars of the Earth

with 2 comments

This is what I spent most of Sunday doing:

I still have a couple of episodes left, but I’ve been hooked on the miniseries screen adaptation of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.  But I’ve been pretty much a bum glued to the television screen.  It’s good stuff.

It also reminds me of why I don’t understand people’s infatuation with all things medieval.  Well, not ALL things. People romanticize some of the “quaint” parts.

What “quaint” actually means is that no one had the leisure time, education, and money at the same time to innovate anything. So technology stalled. For a long time. Thus the candles and the vellum and the homemade soap you buy at Ren Fair (because there were no supermarkets in which to buy soap, and most people didn’t bathe anyway).

Seriously, the Dark Ages stunk. And I don’t mean that in a half-assed “oh that sucks” kind of way. Things literally SMELLED AWFUL. EVERYWHERE.

Why did explorers explore? Why were spices so prized? BECAUSE IT STANK AT HOME.

And every time you eat a turkey leg at a Renaissance fair, just remember that the culture you are celebrating could not afford meat on most days, and the odds of a medieval peasant ever getting their hands on a turkey leg were … pretty much nonexistent.


(I’m really just annoyed because we don’t have a Ren fair here – we have Zozobra where they burn a giant effigy made out of people’s old tax forms.)


Written by fudgebudget

October 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

2 Responses

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  1. As a medievalist, I am going to have to call you out on the technology comments. I have one word for you: buttons. Oh, and the compass, the clock, and hard liquors like gin, brandy, and vodka are pretty cool too.

    This is actually a pretty good article about the High Middle Ages (the time period that I studied):

    However, I agree with you on one point: the Middle Ages were stinky, especially in the cities. 🙂


    October 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    • Thank you, I welcome expert corrections 🙂 Liquor was probably really useful when you wanted to not care about how smelly everything was for a little while. I can imagine those would be some NASTY hangovers, though.


      October 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm

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