Fresh sweet flag plants, incorrectly termed "rushes," were periodically spread on medieval castle floors as a floor covering. These reed-like plants were inexpensive and plentiful and, when mixed with fresh herbs, were a good way to cover dirt while sweetening the air.Know More
Sweet flag is a tall, smooth, fragrant plant that grows well in wetlands and boggy areas. In medieval times, bundles of these plants were gathered up and spread across some castle floors and the dirt floors of many medieval churches and cathedrals. Fragrant, often medicinal herbs were sprinkled among the rushes partly to sweeten aging rushes and partly to discourage bugs and molds. Fresh rushes were sometimes spread on top of the old rushes, and at other times, the entire floor was swept clean of old rushes and debris and scrubbed first. This practice served to disguise dirt and debris while insulating rooms from the cold.
In the late Medieval and early Renaissance periods, loose rushes gave way to woven or stitched rush mats on floors, which provided similar benefits but wore well and were easier to replace. By the time of the English Tudors, floor coverings in castles were mostly purchased rush mats. Carpets were used as well, but these more expensive floor coverings were often layered over rush mats for special occasions and removed for everyday use.Learn more about Middle Ages
In medieval times, castles were home to nobility or high-ranking clerics, defense forces and a large household staff. In times of warfare, the population of the castle would swell as peasants from the lord's domain flooded in for protection.Full Answer >
A number of superstitious and pseudo-scientific beliefs arose around the causes of the spread of the bubonic plague, known to historians as the Black Death, and people ended up barricading themselves from society, flagellating one another with whips, and enacting several other stratagems to try to keep from contracting the disease.Full Answer >
The Moors, who were ascendant during much of the Middle Ages, were northwestern African Muslims of Berber and Arab descent. They successfully invaded and conquered most of the then-Visigothic Iberian peninsula in the 8th century but were driven out by the Christian Asturians in the 15th century.Full Answer >
Ichabod Crane, the main character in Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,"' may have escaped and never returned to Sleepy Hollow, or the Headless Horseman may have got him. At the end of the tale, the characters as well as the readers are left to guess at what happened.Full Answer >