Weird History What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles  

Shanell Mouland
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Don't be fooled by all the films that portray medieval castle life as an embarrassment of riches. Living in medieval castles wasn't just about indulging in non-stop feasts and flamboyant jousts. Castle life, even for the upper class, would not have been all that glamorous. Dark and gloomy rooms, lit and heated by suffocatingly smoky fires, were par for the course.

While the upper class did indulge in some of the finer food and drink of the Middle Ages and were afforded a little more privacy than the serving class, there were still certainly very few creature comforts in medieval castle living. However, with such cramped and cold quarters, some castle dwellers did find comfort through chaste-as-heck medieval sex. Life during medieval times was no treat. Check out these facts about living in a medieval castle, and decide if you would have even lasted for one day.

Toilets Were Often Just A Benc... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles
Photo: Jose and Roxanne/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

Toilets Were Often Just A Bench With A Hole In It


In medieval times, you had to go do your business on a long bench with many holes for many bums. Your waste fell down below to a literal cesspool, and that was the end of it. Again, there were no partitions and no privacy, so you would likely be in full view of all your friends and neighbors while you were doing your thing.

Maybe it was nice to have someone to talk to while you used the bathroom, and maybe people even socialized at the ol' cesspool. Still, ew. It's hard to say exactly how people felt about the process, because today's standards for privacy and hygiene just didn't apply back then. At the time, people were just happy to be able to poop inside.

You Shared Your Home With Rats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles
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You Shared Your Home With Rats


Dark, damp, and cold environments are the perfect breeding ground for more than a few horrible things - and rats are one of them. Thus, if you lived in a castle, you by default lived with rats. 

While castle dwellers might have gotten used to sharing their home with rats - as they were rather ubiquitous in medieval times - they were still typically afraid of them. The beady eyed little rodents always struck fear into the hearts of their unwilling roommates; plus rats were one of the cheapest and most effective forms of medieval torture

Can you imagine befriending a furry little critter, only to find out later that he'll be front and center for your demise? Nah, it was best to just hate the dirty little buggers.

Booze Was Readily Available, A... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles
Photo: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Booze Was Readily Available, And Always Preferred


Alcoholic beverages (whether wine, beer, or ale) were the preferred drinks of choice during meals in the Middle Ages. The upper echelon of medieval society had their choice of wine, beer, or spirits, but the lowly peasants were more likely to take whatever they could get their hands on. Interestingly, alcohol was sort of a necessity during this time, because the water was often unclean and therefore undrinkable. While people knew they could simply boil water to purify it, it was still regarded as a low-prestige drink. 

So, just like today, the rich get Patron and the rest of us get whatever is on sale in the liquor aisle. 

There Was Little To No Privacy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles
Photo: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

There Was Little To No Privacy


Castles might appear to be fortresses from the outside, but the large and open floor plans on the inside left little room for privacy, especially if you were a servant. The lord and lady of the home would almost certainly have private chambers in which to dress and bathe, but all others who dwelled within the castle walls were forced to spend their days and nights in the constant company of each other. 

It was so dark and dingy in most areas of the castle that it might have been nice to have others close by for body warmth. Or perhaps they found other ways to stay warm; however, during the Middle Ages you could get it on with your spouse only for the purpose of procreation. This meant no new sexual positions, and even lusting after your own partner was considered a sin - that's what mistresses were for apparently.