Sure, catapulting cattle, head-smacking monks, and a knight willing to fight until he is limbless are all elements played for laughs in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but there’s a bit of truth in each. In fact, there are kernels of historical accuracy where you might least expect them.
Considering the Pythons' academic backgrounds, it's no surprise that some truth underlies much of Holy Grail's absurdity. With the exception of the American Terry Gilliam, the performers hail from Oxford or Cambridge University. Terry Jones would even go on to write several works of medieval history.
In the Middle Ages, counting was often difficult for even the high-born; a great vowel shift in the 12th century affected the way people pronounced seemingly simple words; and convicting a witch was as simple as acknowledging that a person was different. And those aren't the only instances of Holy Grail's surprisingly accurate history.
Medieval Clergy Needed Very Little Evidence To Convict A Witch
Knights Were Thuggish And Found Any Reason To Fight
Medieval Peoples Used Livestock As Biological Siege Weaponry
Grave Diggers Collected Cadavers En Masse During The Black Plague
Knights May Have Had Trouble Counting Since They Were Not Educated
Peasant Life Was Dingy, But They Did Have Plenty Of Free Time