Height in the Middle Ages

According to the report, “Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index (BMI) 1960-2002: United States,” from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the average height of a man aged 20-74 years increased from just over 5’ 8” in 1960 to 5’ 9 ½” in 2002.  At the same time, the average height for women increased from slightly over 5’ 3” in 1960 to 5’ 4” in 2002. If you visit houses built in the 18th century, however, door frames were much lower than they are now.  The obvious assumption, then, is that people were much shorter then, than they are now.  And they were.   But according to Richard Steckel, a professor at the Ohio State, it hasn’t been a steady change over time.  From his research, the average height of people who lived in the 9-11th centuries was comparable Read more…

Life in the Middle Ages not so Bad :)

We have a view of life in the Middle Ages as “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short”, thanks to the quote from Thomas Hobbes.  However, he wasn’t talking about life in the Middle Ages, though somehow that’s what his quote has become to mean. Instead, he is talking about a fictive moment in human history before the development of formal society, which he viewed as the natural state of humanity. He saw it as a “warre of every man against every man”. The cultures of Great Britain have maintained a formal society for thousands of years, and even then, as an anthropologist, what Hobbes might have called ‘primitive societies’ often had a strong social order and a way of life which was very far from his war of every man against every man. The majority of medieval people were ‘poor’ Read more…