So I can survive the middle ages, but would I want to?

One of the great things about smartphones is that there is always something available online when you’ve got a few minutes to kill somewhere. My favourite time-killer activity is taking those silly quizzes on Buzzfeed, particularly the ‘Can we guess your <insert attribute here> by the kind of houseplants you have?’ kind of quizzes. According to my lack of houseplants, I am 23 with killer abs…

A few years ago, I took a quiz to decide whether or not I would survive the middle ages. The questions were actually not bad and ranged from ‘would you be able to be subservient to your lord?’ to ‘can you bake your own bread over a fire?’. As it turns out, Buzzfeed thinks I’d be rather good at living in the middle ages… but I don’t really believe them.

Yes, I know how to build outdoor shelters and I know how to ride horses and cook over campfires and all that malarkey. I grew up in South Africa where that kind of stuff is taught in primary school (seriously, they sent us off into the wilderness for a week to learn this stuff). But I feel the makers of this quiz are overlooking one rather glaring fault in their system. As a woman a) I wouldn’t be able to go to school to learn to read and write, and b) I’d have to be a dutiful and obedient wife, and I’d probably be dead by now (either from disease or giving birth to one of the 11 children dear husband would demand I bear him).

Setting the latter aside for now, it is the former that really sticks in my craw. As an educated woman of the 21st century, I enjoy being able to use my noggin. I also revel in filling it with lots of lovely knowledge. In the middle ages, I would not have been able to do this unless I passed myself off as a boy or found someone to teach me in secret. Even then, I would not be able to use that knowledge publicly. I’d have to marry a man who was willing to be my cover. He’d be dumb as two posts, but through him I could let loose all the crazy and interesting thoughts I might have.

This is of course assuming I would want to travel back to the middle ages. For the longest time I entertained fantasies of living in a medieval castle… don’t we all at some point… and being the wilful and stubborn daughter of a lord who read medieval books and swanned about the battlements practising sword fighting with one of the more intellectual guardsmen (I fear I may have been unduly influenced by some chick lit that snuck into my reading pile somewhere – possibly the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon). But now I am not so sure.

After a short but intense internal philosophical debate (in which my beta side beat my alpha side into submission with an old serial port keyboard), it turns out I rather like living in this current technological period. Yes, I also love going off into the natural green surroundings and living in a tent for a month, and climbing mountains in Scotland is still preferable to living the city life, but I still hope that nature and technology are going to find a happy medium at some point (hopefully before we hit the Tipping Point). So I’ll stay here, thanks, where I can climb my mountain and blog about it too.

4 thoughts on “So I can survive the middle ages, but would I want to?”

  1. Oh this did make me chuckle, Jo. Yes, medieval castles are dreamy, but that’s it. They are the stuff of dreams. I cannot imagine enjoying the reality of medieval life. So restricting! And even worse the smells and lack of means to keep myself clean…miserable!

  2. INteresting…. and how lovely to see a link to my book, too – that was unexpected, thanks!

    Maybe we could be travellers, never settling, begging and working at farms and castles…. strikes me that it might be a better life!

    1. Yes, I think I could quite enjoy the life of a travelling bard, or some such. We’d probably have to dress as men though. Not that I would mind. All those skirts and laces seem like an awful lot of frippery!
      And you are welcome! It was actually the mention of ‘going back to the middle ages’ from a few of your characters that reminded me of this old post and prompted the update 🙂

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