5 strange facts about Medieval England

1. Everything could kill you, even bread. During summer, grain shortages forced people to make bread from old rye infested with a fungus called ergot. This could cause LSD-like hallucinations and even death.

2. Medieval farm animals were far smaller than their equivalents today. Bulls were a little larger than a modern-day calf, and sheep were a third of their size today.

3. An early version of football played with a pig’s bladder was deemed so violent and destructive that King Edward II banned it in 1314.

4. Before the Catholic Church forbade it, trial by ordeal was very common. The innocence of the accused would be determined by whether they were able to survive the trial, such as being burnt by a hot iron, or if their wounds healed quickly.

5. Barbers doubled as surgeons and dentists. They would hang the bandages stained with blood outside their shops; the sight of these rags twisting in the wind inspired the modern-day red and white barber’s pole.

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