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Part IV in a continuing series: Part I, Part II, Part III

  • that during a typical medieval siege, missiles thrown by catapults occasionally included human excrement, dead horses and even captured soldiers? Trebuchets, or medieval catapults, were usually fitted with stone balls weighing up to 400 lbs. However, during a weeks-long siege, desperate armies loaded the weapon with anything on hand. No pity was shown an unfortunate negotiator (see above) whose peace terms were rejected by flinging him back over the castle wall. Otherwise, 'instant' catapult fodder included dead or diseased animals, rotten food, excrement or even soldiers who died from the Black Death, a practice some historians believe helped spread the disease...


  • ...that a number of European advances during the Middle Ages were made possible by the Arab world? The Moors who occupied Spain brought with them their superior mastery in mathematics, science and medicine. The Mideast also introduced new words to Europe. Algebra, lute, magazine, orange, and tariff all have their origins in Arabic...
  • …that the antique dog collar museum at Leeds Castle in England spans five centuries and is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world? The collection has more than 100 collars that trace the history of canine neckwear from the Middle Ages to modern times. Many of the early iron dog collars, dating from as far back as the fifteenth century, were studded with fearsome spikes to protect hunting dogs' throats from attacks from wolves, bears, and wild boar…
  • ...that it may have been an Irish monk who first discovered America? The medieval manuscripts, The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot and the Book of Lismore both tell of an Irish priest who, along with some 17 other monks, sailed west from Ireland in the 6th century to reach the "Land Promised to the Saints." The journey was made in a curragh, a leather-hulled boat still in use in Ireland. Historian believe that the explorers visited Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland. Brendan returned to Ireland soon after, along with only a handful of men who survived the journey...

Did You Know?... Part I
Did You Know?... Part II
Did You Know?... Part III

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