Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode I – The Middle Ages

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by Treadmarkz

Announcing a new segment here at treadmarkz.wordpress.com…”A Time Machine with Hand Controls” in which I explore living conditions for the disabled throughout history.

I have written about my thoughts on what my life may have been like had I grown up on a farm and not in a small town, and exploring that possibility has lead me to want to explore another dimension.

Time.

What kid hasn’t wondered what his/her life would be like if they’d been born in another time? My favorite place and time period is Europe in the Middle Ages (between the years 500 roughly, to about 1300-something, when brains became important again in Europe.

I love to read about the Middle Ages. The wars, the struggles for survival, and even the schmaltzy fictitious legends of knights in shining armor. But living in it? First off, without the use of my legs I would have been useless in the Wars for the Holy Sepulchre (the Crusades) unless I was able to come up with a way to hold fast in the saddle while wielding a sword and fighting off “infidels”.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the law of the land was feudalism, which means you were “allowed” to work the land in exchange for protection from your lord (usually some fat guy who got someone to do all his fighting for him). Incidentally this is where the modern term “landlord” comes from.

There was no place to buy your food unless you wanted to travel miles to the nearest market place. If not, you were to grow and raise and graze your own food. Traversing the land to get to said market would be a chore in and of itself for someone without use of their legs, as their was no Quickie wheelchairs in the Middle Ages. There is record of wheelchairs being used in China in the sixth century but in Europe not until well after the Middle Ages and even then their use was restricted to the Royals. And anyway, a wheelchair certainly would have done little good for a disabled peasant who worked the fields.

Most European-based surnames are rooted in the trade of those in the Middle Ages who were lucky enough to be self-sufficient and not to be dependent on a lord. Tanner, Smith, Shoemaker, and Miller are all examples that come to mind.

But let’s be honest. Technology did not allow the disabled the freedom we enjoy today. There was no ADA protecting the rights of the disabled in the work force. And there was no social security. Most disabled people scraped a living together however they could, and this was hard, as other folk saw them as witches or bad omens, the blind often seen as some kind of oracle with inner vision that the rest of us did not possess. Again, stereotypes can be used to one’s advantage! Much in the same way that the eight-limbed girl from India has been recently doted on as a reincarnated Vishnu. Can you blame them for running with it? I would!

In closing, it has come to my attention that in the Middle Ages, everyone had the middle name of “the” – Alfred the Great, Harold the Bold, Henry the Unready, Philip the Goofy. Whatever. Well, I would be Forrest the Lame, of course. But I digress.

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