Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
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Right, nodding doesn’t work.
Yeah when we start getting those video podcasts, you’ll see how much nodding was involved.
That’s right, nodding will come to life. Yes.
So Barbara, Gary, how’s everything? It’s been 2 weeks.
Oh maybe so, but have you noticed that I’m supporting the social ribbon today?
I believe this is, who, Saint George or somebody?
Yeah it’s a George ribbon.
I know that the orange symbolizes the blood I think, and black the smoke.
I don’t know about orange blood, that’s kinda creepy.
That doesn’t sound perfect. I might choose red.
The fire! Okay, fire and smoke?
If that’s true, we would have orange and black flags and neither one of us, America or Russia has orange flags. I don’t think so. But who knows, I could be wrong, we’d better google it right now to settle it. But anyway, some kind of George, some kind of valued kind of medal to get. So it certainly does represent something.
Well it represents something, you’re right.
Yeah, I mean the victory over Nazis, I mean that was a huge achievement. Have you ever seen an interactive or an animated map of how Nazism started in a little tiny place and they grew bigger, bigger to the north of Africa, West Part of the Soviet Union.
So that’s my thing right now.
That’s amazing, that’s amazing. Gary, what have you been up to?
Well, it’s been… The weather has been good, right, have you noticed?
Ah, yes, yes! You know, what’s funny though is that it was nearly 30 degrees not long ago and yet the heating is on. It was still on.
Yes, including in this room I might add. Right.
The radiators were, you know…
To sweat the best output of each of us.
My apartment is so warm that I keep it off all winter. Maybe I might put it on a little tiny bit, but I turned it off. It’s hot.
I can’t really turn it off. I can’t control the radiator.
There’s a nod there and you just turn it one way.
On some, yes. I have very old radiators so you can’t do anything. You just suffer, you know.
I should be growing tomatoes above, you know. They love the heat.
Yeah. A lot of things, certain kinds of mold, wonderful in heating.
Don’t think I would love to grow mold. You’re like…
I’m trying to take a positive viewpoint.
Have you ever lived in a house so moldy that the walls actually… You wake up one morning and you go oh, the walls are now green. It’s true, it happens. I lived in Georgia.
Yes, yes. And you can’t get rid of it.
One day, and you woke up?
Yes. Just waking up and go okay, the walls are now green, okay. Let’s clean them. And then the next day – green again, horrible.
So the mold was trying to kick you out of the house.
Yeah, oh yeah, I had to throw so many clothes away throughout the years, yeah.
I don’t think that happen a lot in here in Russia, well, in Novosibirsk. I think it’s because we have dry air.
Yeah winters are really aerate.
So it’s not really humid, yeah.
Humidity is not a big problem.
But when you say 30 degrees, you are talking about Celsius?
Celsius. Yeah I’m not good at Fahrenheit. I know that 90F is really hot, 100 is unbelievably hot, so it reminds me of my several days in Arkansas, so I’m like okay, don’t want that. And then 0 is really cold. And then -40 is the same in Celsius.
It’s the same, it’s the same. I don’t know how that happens, but…
That concludes my knowledge of Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Okay, I’m glad we got into that. At least…
Oh I tell all my students because if they miss saying the C, they say 40 and then they might miss the little tiny degrees, and then they’ll just skip over the C, oh, no! Don’t skip over that capital C, that means this. And then I have to tell them about Fahrenheit.
And then I make them Google. Now you must convert.
Oh yeah, it’s like you know, an average… I still think that, you know, they say that an average immigrant spends a third of their life sleeping, a third of their life working and I’m pretty sure that the third third of their life is spent converting the Celsius into Fahrenheit, feet into meters.
Ounces! I mean, who on earth invented ounces?
I don’t know why we are outdated? But what about pounds? Lbs? What’s that?
That was my question when I first went to a supermarket. But then, there is a pound, you know, as a measure of weight, and then there’s pound as the currency. And then you would think, okay, I am counting that as roughly half a kilo, I know that’s not right, but… And then I remember being asked by a British person, like, how many stones is it? I’m like a what now?
Speaking of the Middle Ages which we haven’t yet, but let’s measure things in stones. You know, how many stones is it? Probably how many stone, right, how many stone? 3 stones it weighs.
Do you know much about the measurement in the Middle Ages?
I know nothing. Well, not.
Oh yes, yes-yes-yes, that brings back memories.
Some people say as a rule of thumb, you know. Do you know what a rule of thumb means?
Yeah, like the best rule or the best way to do…?
No, it means that you’re not supposed to hit your wife with something bigger than your thumb. That’s what the measurement meaning of that. Because women were property back then.
Wow Barbara, is that even a fact?
A metal nail is technically…
That’s startling, even for the…
Yeah it’s startling, that’s what patriarchy does to us.
Just send me back to the Middle Ages immediately.
So they had a rule like if it’s smaller than a thumb, then it’s okay.
So the rule of thumb, right, of course. Cause you don’t want to damage your property, right?
I mean yeah as a general rule no you don’t.
That’s a good start to the topic actually. So, dear listeners, as you might have guessed already, we’re talking about property… No, we’re not talking about property, we’re gonna talk about the Middle Ages. So what else do you know about the Middle Ages? In general, like, do you know much about it? Not much?
Well there were some things that I wanted to make sure I remembered when I took my course during my undergraduate years. I had a really fantastic professor. And the one thing I wanted to remember was buttress.
Yes, that’s what I wanted to remember. And this is this kind of long kind of support that facilitated higher roofs and thinner walls. So this is architecture that I’m talking about.
Right, this thing that kinda sticks out is the way that they were able to put this arch higher and higher and higher. That’s all because of the buttress. And so I did remember that part.
It led way for glass, stained glass, windows. For cathedrals, churches.
I think my first association would be gothic architecture. Which actually started in Middle ages.
Well actually it is called goth, but it was sort of like the detractors called it goth. Because it was a pull away from the Romanesque architecture which was at the beginning. And the -esque means it’s not really Roman but kind of an adaptation.
So they’re moving in with some Romanesque architecture into this horrible thing that some people just thought… kind of associated with the ones who are the marauders. The barbarians, the goths and the vandals who penetrated the borders of the Roman empire and led to downfall.
I didn’t know that it had such a history.
Well it’s a thousand years long, right? So, there’s gotta be something happening.
Good point, actually. Let’s set the time frame for the Middle Ages.
Just a follow up on that that it goes from the fall of the Roman Empire. Which is in the 5th century, early 5th century, to kind of a flexible time, but maybe the 15th, 14th century, through the 14th century. And on one side you’ve got the classical world, you’ve got the Roman world, right? On the other side you’ve got what’s called the Renaissance.
And it was the Renaissance people who looked at what they’d just come out of or were coming out of… And they said that’s gothic, which it wasn’t gothic at all. It didn’t have anything to do with the goths, it was like a slender, it just meant that to them that was like darkness. Like, this was, you know, belonged to the world that they’re looking forward to leaving, right.
And creating a new world. They start rediscovering the ancients and such as that. So anyway, it goes between the time when the ancient world kinda felt apart and the time that the ancient world was sort of rediscovered. That’s the time.
Okay, so from there we were able to go back to this wonderful knowledge that the ancient world had put forth, and that was because of the Muslims. These Islamic scholars who protected this knowledge. Of course, with…
This is with the Muslim invasions, and they got this knowledge they didn’t burn these things from the Roman empire. So luckily after the Roman empire did collapse, then we had this great emergence with the Renaissance because gladly this knowledge was saved and it goes from there.
But it wasn’t like, my professor in the course, he wanted to make sure that he told us that it wasn’t a 1000 years of darkness because there was so much that happened. And we think, we call that the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages as though it’s like some kind of transition, or some kind of interlude between something great and another something great.
But I’m sure you’ve got your notes saying that we’re gonna go into the all of brightness of this period.
Oh yeah, oh yeah. But yeah, it’s interesting that on the one hand a lot of people say that oh, this time was so dark, which is in some way a misconception. And then a lot of people kinda romanticize the middle Ages.
They say oh if I could travel, you know, if I could travel in time, I would totally go into the middle Ages. I think I would love it. So why do you think a lot of people have this idea of the middle Ages as something great and romantic?
Well, part of that is that people who were immediately coming out of the Middle Ages, like I was just saying, they did not romanticize it, right. Because they knew what it was for one thing, and they wanted, they wanted more light than that and more freedom than that.
And breaking out of some of the shell that was involved in the medieval world. And so they were not nostalgic, they were not romanticizing. It took centuries until all of that progress reached the point where it was like too much. Just maybe the 20th century if not before.
And certainly by the 20th century and the people that we think were really popularizing it, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, they were already nostalgic. Scholars, and they were looking back at it because the 20th century, I don’t use the word that starts with S. I do not use that, but it was a bad… 20th century was pretty rough.
Okay, so we’ve lived through mini dark eras. And within this darkness emerges poetry and art. And so wasn’t that time of troubadours, right? With this romantic poetry. And maybe that’s where the romance came from, this kind of ballad.
You could find it there, yeah, it was there. Maybe that was even part of that… sort of, toward the Renaissance, right?
I think the reason for romanticizing might be different depending on the time, cause let’s say I read that in the 19th century there was the whole wave of medievalism, so people wanted, they were inspired by the medieval times and that was mostly due to the Industrial Revolution. So they thought oh, we don’t want this.
Everything new is usually, you know, confronted by a lot of people. So and they said we want to go back to the agricultural way that, you know, the nature the calmness. So medieval times were perfect in this way.
So for the 19th century people that was the Industrial Revolution. But I also thought about now, why now there are so many people who think oh, that must’ve been, you know, an amazing time. And I think that might be because of all the popular culture. Like, we have a lot of tv show that portray it as…
They’re not showing the diseases and the plagues and all. The lice. The insects.
They show the knights, you know, the honor and all the princesses and…
They don’t show people drowning in the rivers with their heavy dresses, trying to wash clothing. Yeah, they don’t show this.
Because their husband wasn’t keeping the rule of thumb.
And so forth. Those patriarchal, bad people.
Exactly, they do not show any of that. And that creates some kind of a picture that was never a reality.
Right. There seems to be a rule of thumb where we tend to… I think every 20 years we fall into nostalgia for 20 years ago. So now is 2021 so we’re talking about 2010. Are we nostalgic for 2010?
No. A lot of people are nostalgic about the 90s.
The 90s, okay. Maybe 30 or 40 years.
Somebody might be nostalgic for the 90s, I don’t…
I’m stuck in the 90s, but I’m not nostalgic for it. I’m actually stuck in the 80s I think.
I think I’m stuck… Don’t even wanna say.
What decade are you stuck in.
What decade I’m stuck in.
After that, I don’t know what happened.
Yeah, that… It’s too painful to think that. But anyway.
We should really be nostalgic now. Ah, the Medieval Times, what luxury.
The wonderful darkness. Yes.
So yeah and I mean even recently there was this popular tv show which is the Game of Thrones which showed beautiful castles and… Well, it did show the war, you know, well, the wars between people, between everyone it seemed. But it was…
Yeah that was probably romanticized also. Heroic? Was it heroic or no? I didn’t watch it.
No, it was not really heroic. But still, you know, people thought oh, look at this castle, you know, look at all the feasts they had.
And those castles, sorry, were very cold, right? They were very cold.
And we also do not think about that, yeah. Cause there were…
Cause if you’ve ever tried to be… Have you ever tried to be in a place that’s heated by a fireplace?
And the soot too! It has to have very good ventilation.
Which they didn’t have, yeah.
And also not only a fireplace, but it was also made of stone, there was marble in there and it’s impossible to… I mean, I remember, when was it? Like a couple of years ago I used to have different meetings, like tutoring in the living room of my dorm.
And the dorm was built like what, a 100 years ago. Something like that. So it is only heated by a fireplace. So and at some point they said it’s open fire, like, you can’t do that anymore. So it was impossible to be there even in a winter jacket, like wearing a winter jacket.
Okay, so that reminds me of you know these cap and gown that we graduate in? Well the university system was started during this time. And of course these cells, that these monks and educated people lived in were very cold and they wore these capes and gowns and caps and that is why we today wear these from the Middle Ages.
Oh I love that, I did not know that.
I mean that makes sense. Now that I think about it, wow. That’s cool. It’s very topical actually cause today and yesterday were the ceremonies, graduation ceremonies for a lot of people. In the US at least, cause I have several people who graduated and I saw the pictures with these gowns. How do you call the…?
We call these the aps on top.
Okay, so, this was the time, sometimes during this 1000 years that education used to be for the elite. But then because people were agrarians, they were toiling in the soil and then there was a time where this master apprenticeship evolved.
Where, if you were lucky, you could get under a master, and that’s our master’s degree. You know? Because when you have your master’s degree it means you’re a master at something. Underneath that you’re just a lowly apprentice, learning craft.
Yeah. And so I was inspired, I just remembered, I was inspired by this time. Because when I was writing my thesis for my master’s degree I wanted to combinate all my passions. And I wanted it to really reflect this master really being an expert on something.
What was the topic of your thesis?
Well I wrote a historical novella and it was called Ballet and the Pianet and it took place during the revolution in Saint Petersburg.
So it had history and political science and ballet and creative writing. So that was my master because that’s called the masterpiece. That is what it is. Once the apprentice can create the masterpiece, he or she is now a master. That’s what I wanted. A masterpiece.
So what you’re telling us is we are sitting now in the presence of a master and the author of a master…
Unpublished. Because so excellent.
Right, nobody dared read.
Right. So good. Such a masterpiece that it must be hidden for future generations to discover.
This is not an opportunity you get on a daily basis, Gary, you should…
It’s a rare thing, I feel elevated.
Strangely elevated. Or maybe just strange, I feel a little strange. Forget the… No elevation, just… I’m still on the same level, but just feel strange. I think it’s the heat in this room.
No no no, it’s not the heat, it’s the…
Actually, Barbara, you brought this up and I realized that I know nothing about education in the Middle Ages. Like were people literate? Could they read?
No, those agrarians could not. But when they expanded this system, then more people were pulled in. And I can’t remember the details, cause as I said I was only gonna remember only a few things, buttress. There are other things that I forgot.
Well you really nailed the buttress. It was worth it, all that hours of preparation. Buttress, buttress. It’s about the buttresses. High ceiling, buttress, buttress, buttress.
It worked, Barbara. Another masterpiece. A second masterpiece, a living masterpiece created before our very eyes. No I think that, well, one of the things about the Middle Ages, because it’s a long period, the university situation didn’t develop until like 600 years into the thing. It didn’t happen until about a 1000, right, it started in Northern Italy, yeah.
And then in England in the 11th century I think. Right. Something like that. Anyway, but before that there were just very few educated people. I mean, I listened to a Yale course which you can do. It’s quite accessible, I mean in a sense that the level is… You can see why professors nowadays they have popularity survey things, you know.
Where the students rate them. This guy was very good, he was… I mean, he was giving good information, but that was light and bright. I mean, that was informative. But anyway, he made the point that, he was talking about maybe the 7th century, 6th century that there were just a couple of names that we know.
That sort of were like the smartest people of their time. I mean, I just used the wrong word there but they were. And you know, he’d made the comparison of like tennis players now. That you could, you know, there’s a 1000 ranked players and if you’re in the top 100, you’re a tremendous tennis player, you know.
And it’s just when you get to the top, it’s the top. But then it’s like, you know, there’s a short lift of what, 5-6-8 people that are sort of…
Keeping the flame. And so it was that’s kind of the dark part of the dark ages is that they did really kind of lose literacy, they almost lost literacy in the course of this. Of course they didn’t entirely. And then there was the whole system that Barbara had described, of the monks and so forth, keeping, I mean, the written tradition alive. And probably even the ability to write and read aloud.
When you’re concerned about survival, you’re not going to be getting your education.
Yeah society’s fragmented and just the economy is broken down and you know, I mean, people were living in the Colosseum.
They were living in ruins, yeah.
Yeah, literally people were living, you know, looking for shelter in the Roman Colosseum.
So yeah, it was definitely… Education was not the main concern definitely.
Yeah, everything had broken down. I mean it’s the kind of dystopian, right, and it’s probably the basis for a lot of imaginings of what would happen if society, you know, if the bad thing happened. And the society broke.
Yeah, like wild Max. What was the desert? Max…?
Oh those were great. Wild Max. Mad Max.
I think there were several. But that was…
I don’t keep up with the movie industry.
Well I’m stuck in the 80s as I was saying. It was back in the 80s. I have some kind of recollection of Mad Max. Cause you’re talking about dystopia, and that was, yeah…
And that was 80s, dystopia. If you really went back there you’d say wow, man, I don’t wanna be here.
Well last time you said 1981 – man, that was the year you said.
Okay, direct quote. Oh, okay. Alright, that was a great year.
Yeah, that year’s engraved in my brain. 1981.
Yup, that was a year, wasn’t it, Barbara?
Yeah. 1981, okay, you don’t want to talk about 1981. But I moved to Las Vegas in 1981.
But I do wanna talk about the Middle Ages.
Nicely done. She’s a master after all. So many of these, it’s just you don’t even feel it. You just gently move back into place.
I’m a master puppeteer. No I’m not. But what about hygiene?
Cause I mean this is another stereotype that people have, so we think of the Middle Ages, we think oh, everyone, you know, was stinking, no hygiene. Absolutely none. So is that really so?
I think that’s actually not a stereotype.
I think we can finish our conversation. I think there’s no more to say on this.
Thank you for listening to our podcast. See ya next time!
On a hygienic note. Sitting a clean high note, no. But I think it’s as bad as the stereotype and probably even worse. And cause I think even into, cause that’s another thing… Middle Ages, but you take it even into you know, like the 18th century.
It was pretty rough, the hygiene situation was rough. And so people were using perfume and they bathed once a week. I mean you’re talking about aristocrats, you’re talking about people with money and everything in the world. But they just, the nature of the things was that you didn’t do that because there were ideas about health. This is the 18th century, right.
But that’s interesting though, because I was thinking exactly the same way and then I started reading on the topic of hygiene in the Middle Ages and it turned out that we’re all wrong in a way. Cause even though… Well most of the villages and towns…
Do tell. Do tell. I mean I see some revision of history here. Okay. That in fact…
I mean if you don’t have access to water, maybe they used hand sanitizers.
I think that was invented in 1981, if I’m not mistaken. Another reason what that year was so great. Purell was invented. At a tiny laboratory in Northern New Jersey.
So but no, at that time most of the villages and towns were made and people were settling close to the water. So and even though, well, there was no running water, I mean in the houses, but still they had some access.
And even though they didn’t take, you know, a bath or a shower cause they didn’t have any, every day or something but it was still, you know, necessary to wash every day, I mean at least, you know, the face or something. And then it was considered to be, well, not etiquette but a need to wash hands before and after eating.
Because at that time there were no forks, no knives, nothing like that, so people would still, you know, find some kind of a water source and wash their hands. And well, baths were a luxury, but they still existed. And monks for example were allowed to take a bath 2 or 3 times a year, I know it’s not much but.
Right, alright let’s see.
I’m now persuaded they really did have good hygiene.
People who were really well off, they could afford taking a bath up to every week because, of course, they were not the ones who would carry that all. And of course it was not a bath that we imagine it now, with hot water, it was warm-ish water, but still.
I mean they could make hot water if they wanted to make hot water. I mean, technically, right.
Well, technically, yes, but.
It would still burn back in those days quite similar, much as it does now.
Okay, so they had a huge problem with critters, rodents, insects like lice.
That was the problem, yeah. And that’s why it was considered a must to wash in the morning, you know, the face and… Because fleas and lice were a common problem, yeah.
That was when the fine tooth comb came into existence because you could comb your hair with a fine tooth comb and capture some lice.
Which is kinda makes your day.
living in the Middle Ages, man, I got a couple of lice today, wow, congratulations! Awesome! Right, yes.
I’m gonna remember that for a week now! What a day that was! But apart from, you know, washing their hands and washing their face they also used different herbs, you know, to mix with the straw that they slept on.
Because otherwise, you know, that was perfect for different kind of fleas and vermin and whatnot, so they mixed it with chamomile, with basil, flowers, lavender. Because that would, you know, scare off some of the bugs. So they were at least, you know, concerned about things. And about not having…
Well it still wasn’t good hygiene.
Well I mean if we compare it with now, of course. But… I mean, if we compare it with the 18th century when people were just stinking even when having access to baths.
The difference is that in the 18th century people were living in cities and you’re talking about towns.
Well, mostly rural areas, yeah, of course.
Small cities, agrarian, forget about towns even, towns…
But you know what’s interesting though to hear all about that. But then if we think about ancient Rome, they had baths.
They had, you know, the system of…
Well, that’s the part what they lost was that. Cause it takes, you know, you have to organize it, you have to… I mean, they had all that system for sure.
I read an article about how, you know, these Roman baths were made and the system of public toilets and I thought what? They had public toilets at that time? So you know… And it was an amazing system, what happened to all that in the Middle Ages?
Well those bad goths came in and Huns and vandals, all those people. Alemanni and all those…
Well not only that. But those Romans got very greedy about expanding territory. And they could not hold on to all that territory. There were a lot of reasons why it ended, but yeah we can definitely blame it on the goths.
I mean, in the immediate sense, right. Yeah. But yeah, I mean it was just… They were literally conquered, I mean, that’s what happened to it was that somebody stronger than they were came in, you know, broke through the walls… Did they build any?
They didn’t even build the walls in a lot of places until probably late if at all. I mean it’s a long story of… Takes two volumes by Given, Edward Given takes a couple of volumes of amazing description to describe how the Roman Empire fell.
So that would be, you know, episode on the Medieval times, you know, part 1. Then there’s gonna be part 2.
Just on the history of the Roman Empire.
I think we’re gonna shoot the one on this one, yes. And this will be it.
Well you almost have to be an expert on it, right? To discuss it.
Oh no, this is the Internet, you don’t’ have to be an expert on anything. All you have to do is..
Now to upload it, right, yes. All you gotta do is know how to push a button and up it goes.
Well, you have not won me over that they had good hygiene back then.
Well, yeah, but it’s good to hear a revisionist…
So let’s say the way I pictured it was…
People with violet and lavender.
They have to tote this water from the dirty stream into their house and they have to have some kind of a little tub, a tiny little dish.
A little, very small tub.
But it was still way better than later in the cities cause if we think about, you know, all the texts about let’s say Paris or different European cities where people would just, you know, throw a bucket full of things out of their windows…
And shout Gardyloo! Right? Gardyloo!
They did! Gardyloo! It means…
This is a term they used to get the attention of passer-byers. So if you yell out gardyloo, you look up and…
You’re better just run when you hear this. Don’t look up, just move!
It depends on the speed of sound versus your position and the fall of the dropping liquid. I mean, it’s a complicated thing.
I think, you know, the Middle Ages, compared to that were pretty hygienic, compared to things flowing.
Do you want to compare that to craning operators of 2021? Do you realize…
Do you realize that crane operators have their own bathroom up in the crane?
Well they’d have to, wouldn’t they?
I’ve never thought about that.
And that’s really civilization right there.
Well I mean 2020, come on! It’s..
Come on Barbara! Right, yes
Right, yes. It’s a different century, it’s up in the crane.
Well you’re comparing it to other things, I thought it was fair to compare it to Russia 2021. I don’t know about the United States, but in Russia they apparently have…
Yeah, in America they have a pipe, they have an air conditioned pipe going all the way down, it’s part of ocean regulation, right. They have to have a complete… It’s regulated, they come and inspect the pipe.
Next time you walk by a crane operator. Just look up.
But I mean let’s say the way that technology and everything was advancing, the speed of that was different and the pace of that was different compared to now. Now within 5 years the technology can change in such a way that is unbelievable, that wouldn’t have happened within 200 years before.
People won’t even need to use the bathroom. The crane operators of tomorrow will have learned self-control, self-mastery to a degree that they’re good for 8 hours. And they come down from there and it’s no problem.
Well it’s all about being… Maintaining relevance, right?
I was gonna say just that exactly. You took the words out of my mouth.
Okay. So and what about health then?
Alright, we’re talking about the lice, we’re talking about the plague, we’re talking about lots of horrible things that they made no connection between dirt and health.
So and could they have any kind of a medical help with that? Well, maybe not with the lice cause that was something that everybody had. But what if there was something more serious. And what kind of diseases were widespread anyway?
Well the black plague, the blue plague, the red plague. The plague plague.
All the plagues. All the colors of plagues. You name a color.
There was a plague. One after the other.
Superstitions and they relied on like witch-like people. Have you ever see the picture of like the crow?
I don’t know if that was a crow. This man would come in and do a dance or do something.
I think they would only… I thought that they only, you know, came and looked at a patient and said well, good luck.
Well they couldn’t look at the patient because they’re dying. Everyone’s dying and their bodies are piling up. Yeah it was horrible.
Did you know that in that beak they had some kind of you know essential oils so that they wouldn’t smell the rotten bodies?
Yeah, good luck with that.
So it’s back to the lavender baths.
It was good back then they had the lavender in their beaks.
Yeah they’d bring them in on wagons, lavender.
Doesn’t Russia have a lavender meadow or something?
A big lavender meadow in Russia. I’ve seen women posing in…
Well there is a lot of lavender, right.
I thought maybe just in Russia. Or maybe they just tote it in Russia.
Might be. I mean I don’t think it’s so widespread in Siberia for example, but…
There is some beautiful lavender flowers out there, field flowers I can say. But I wonder if that’s actually lavender. They’re probably lavender family. Lavender’s a…
If that’s purple or that lavender color then it’s probably lavender. Or lilac, cause…
Yeah lilac and lavender kinda get mixed up.
They’re not from the same type…
No, I mix them up. I have to regoogle it each time I want to differentiate.
It’s different but I wanna know what I think, I have to regoogle it. Having forgotten everything in between beginning with the black slate I return to google to find out what it was, I just looked up 3 days before.
Exactly. Okay, so when I was in the United states I used to have walls filled with sticky notes, things that I wanted to remember.
I thought you wanted to say lavender. Walls of lavender.
I feel so amputated because I live in somebody else’s apartment and I’m very afraid of this person walking in and seeing sticky notes so I don’t do that anymore. Although I do have some notes on my wall and I will remove them if anyone comes in. I don’t want them to see my sticky notes, things I wanna remember.
Now how many sticky notes..
How many diary entries do you have?
Yes, I’ve already confessed that here before. Let’s get into Barbara’s sticky notes.
Something like… Okay, like what…
Which followed by the way by an amazing use of stylus. Let’s not forget it’s the note keeping version of the stylus, it’s the permanent version of the stylus. Do you write on it with the stylus? Do you make…
Oh markers in the bathroom are the greatest thing. You an get a marker and write on a tile in the bathroom and you an easily take it off but then I was afraid… My daughter would think I was weird if she went to the bathroom and there would be these things to remember on the walls.
Cause nobody else will think that it’s weird.
No, it’s only your daughter. I don’t think that. Katya, do you think that? Andrew? No?
You can just google things.
We don’t think it’s really weird.
But anyway. I’ll try to stay…
Okay, I have a question – how did we get to this from, you know, the plague and everything else?
Probably because we don’t agree on hygiene, I think that’s…
Oh so you’re just sabotaging everything I said after.
Like you did not agree with me, so…
Right. Barbara’s working on her anger management. It’s not all there yet. It’s a work in progress, yes.
But later on it will become a masterpiece.
Right, yes. That’ll be the final masterpiece.
And I hope you know me by then.
So but what about… What about this medical care and what about the plague? I mean…
Would you wanna get sick in…
I wouldn’t even like to be in the Middle Ages, like, I would die the very same day.
Well that’s what gave way to the age of discovery. They were trying to…
They were trying to discover things. But they were trying to flee this plague-ridden old Europe and all the patriarchy. But unfortunately, on those boats…
Especially the patriarchy, that was worst…
On those boats they brought the ideology of patriarchy. And that my friends is why America is a patriarchal society.
That’s why we had to have four waves of women’s movement.
We still haven’t got… Still haven’t… I’m not even gonna…
Wait till we have an episode on feminism.
Gary definitely showed like not me, just please.
Right, yeah, I’ll disconnect my email. Right, yes.
So you proved my point Gary.
You proved my point. Right.
Okay, point… Touché Barbara. You really made your point, alright.
Alright. Well it’s interesting cause I was some time ago, I mean, when I was at university, we had a semester of history, so it was mandatory, of Russian history. And I remember that we were told that there was some kind of not medical care as we can picture it now, but there were a lot of people who would treat people with herbs, you know, with…
Well, I do not know, like flowers, dried flowers. They would make different things out of vegetable roots and something like that. So I was wondering whether that was also the casein Europe for example.
Yes, they had books written about that. And you’d have some kind of swelling on your inside elbow…
You’d need this type of plant.
And then if it’s on the outside of the elbow, you’d look in another… Next page, right.
Because everybody knows the inside of the elbow is very different from the outside.
Well I wanted to think of a neutral place, not very odd.
Thank you for doing… That was very well-chosen.
What about dental care? I mean, what if their teeth hurt? Did they just pull it out?
Well they didn’t have sugar! They didn’t have sugar.
So you think that they had perfect teeth had no cavities.
They had perfect teeth, right!
Another revisionist moment.
Yes, they had perfect beautiful teeth. Fighting dragons, you know they’d open their mouth and just gorgeous…
You just go blind from the…
Well that’s why you don’t find dragons cause the teeth were so good.
Wait what do you mean there was no sugar? We had an episode on sugar.
We did. And these were the poor people. These are people who did not have things.
They didn’t have sugar. That was in London in the industrial revolution. Okay.
You need to relisten to that episode.
I know, I remember I was into another era. And you set me straight into earlier, so now this is the earlier of it.
Back to Google. Wikipedia page.
Okay tell us about the teeth because.. I’m saying they didn’t have sugar, but you might know something else.
They did actually have some… Well, the elite did have some kind of dental care, you know. They were, again, given some herbs. And sometimes they would even, you know, oh god, I don’t know the name for this machine, you know, that makes holes in teeth now.
But they had some kind of a prototype of that. And actually I was shocked that… When I was at a museum in London I was shocked to see that dental care existed actually starting with like ancient Egypt times. So they would basically tie the teeth together. They would make holes in teeth and tie them together so they don’t fall out.
Well, they were very clever. The way they would get in there and tie those teeth.
Well it’s better than having no teeth at all.
Right, well, that’s true.
But you know what? If you look up different, you know…
Not to offend our ancient Egyptian listeners right by the way.
Oh be careful with those, they knew some dark stuff.
They were a testy group, they were a testy lad.
I was gonna say something and I forgot.
Look what we did again. How she can even manage to keep a thought…
You can see that I can’t.
Yeah we’re just wild unruly rebels. We always have a cause.
Little barbarians who were once taught how to behave.
Well I’m not saying that. You know.
Right, you just don’t need to. It’s just all over the place. Just open your ears.
Wait and what about religion then? So we’ve talked about health, hygiene, what about religion? What do we know about religion in the Middle Ages?
Well religion they had a plenty. It was kind of a religious culture to put it mildly. Not kind of a religious culture, it was a religious culture. And so it was the catholic church formed, right, became an institution, became actually the institution that sort of kept culture together as the political institutions fell apart.
Christian element, Catholic elements specifically which had allied itself with the Roman emperors, right, they continued as the Roman emperors fell. They converted the barbarians, the famous goths and so forth to Christianity, to a form of Christianity or different forms of Christianity.
And sort of kind of Christianized the culture, sort of. In a sense. So the dominant way that people thought was religious in a Catholic way. Okay, so that was people’s worldview.
Yeah this is where the patriarchy started was with these male heads of the Catholic church and then of course the mayors and the governors of the towns were men.
Yes. And then of course the head of the household was a man. And so this was very strong in their culture of this male domination.
I don’t even have anything to add to that. I can just nod.
I don’t think I’m gonna argue that. It’s… I mean, it’s…
Well also… And then, if you don’t believe me, there is evidence of this.
You’re like you don’t look convinced right now.
You don’t look quite convinced. But in order to…
You were very persuasive.
In order to support this ideology there would be clergymen who would write things telling the world, their community, that women were not as smart as men, that they were fickle and so when you have this down in paper and then disseminate it and this is the culture, then women were not protected by the law. And domestic abuse.
But that goes back farther than the Middle Ages. I mean I’m sure in the classical literature I suspect you can find the same idea.
Well you just said that the Roman empire fell and the Catholic church continued.
That’s true. That’s what I said. That’s true.
And that was specifically about the Middle Ages.
That was both something I said and true, yes. Not in every case.
I’m just listening to you.
Alright. If you need to learn a lot, which you don’t need to do Barbara.
Specifically Middle Ages cause that’s what this podcast is all about, not about anything else.
Katya, just in case… Just to remind you in the middle of it that this really isn’t about feminism or the patriarchy.
I feel attacked right now.
Right, yes. That’s a little bit of a side turn, right. However…
I thought you were gonna say crane operators.
Right, crane operators. Not to mention.
And what about the inquisition? Cause this is closely connected with religion.
200 years of this, right.
So what can you tell us about this?
Well this inquisition was also a Catholic institution shall we say, it was a way of punishing… Catholic church, as time went on, it felt its grip on the culture weakening. And there were historical factors going on and it’s hard to keep a monolith culture together for any length of time.
And they were trying to do that and of course people were discovering, you know, there was mini Renaissance in the 12th century and all of this… It wasn’t so dark as we were saying, it started really dark, but it did… There was a lot going on, there was a lot of change, including some I suppose technology and knowledge.
The universities, everything else. And so the Catholic church was feeling its grip being threatened. And so it cracked down. And it just announced this inquisition was one way of dealing with that and these were like a court. Of course, you have, what, Dostoevsky and the grand inquisitor, right, which I haven’t read and I know that it’s a fact.
So what was the point of the inquisition then?
It was to punish so called heretics and to purify… It was a threat, these people were… It’s hard to tell what they even believed because the inquisition was so thorough in destroying them.
Very convincing they were.
Well, they were convincing by torturing and killing. I mean it was you know no holds barred, we’d say, just using every means possible to root out these elements which were in the south of France initially. And in other places. So it became… It was this kind of a court and an investigation and to just try to get people in line in their thinking.
I would like to describe the process. Well, how all of that went cause again, I had not known much about the inquisition. I mean, I was one of those people who had a lot of misconceptions about that. But apparently when the inquisition came to some kind of area. So the local bishop assembled the people on some kind of a square.
And he would announce a grace period of up to a month for heretics to confess their guilt. Or to inform on others. So and then during this period the inquisition would collect all the accusations and if two witnesses under oath named or accused one person of heresy, this person would, well, get summoned, I would not say arrested, but…
And then there were two options. Either the person would confess or he would be tortured until he does. So sometimes though, you know, the thing is that if you inform on somebody but you lie, you would also be punished for that.
So that’s why if you are accused of something but you think that you know somebody did that on purpose, you might name the person. And if it’s true, if you guess right, then you might be left to go. But of course, you know..
It would only depend on the, you know, on the inquisitor. Where is the stress in this word?
Inquisitor. So yeah, but since you know, these people were not very kind as a rule, they would not really believe…
Qualifies as today’s understatement, yes, the inquisitors were not known for their kindness.
Definitely not. And then there were also situations where the inquisitors would torture and they would confess yes, you know, I do not believe. The next day they would be asked the same question. And of course they would deny everything cause, you know, they were not being tortured anymore.
So then the torture would start again. So only the confession not under torture would count. And the thing is that technically the inquisitors were not allowed to torture a person multiple times, so that’s why all of that was considered one torture that was just paused for some period of time. And only once in history as far as I remember there was a situation when the inquisitor was…
I don’t know how to say that actually, when the Pope I think or the bishop told him like, you can’t do that anymore because you are way too cruel. So because there was a person who killed way too many people and that started to be suspicious that, you know, are you really fighting for the belief, for the faith? Or are you just enjoying the torturing?
I mean the popes had initiated it and depending on the pope they could be sadistic like the inquisitors.
Well if the… Yeah, it was known that the church was very corrupt and the pope would probably reprimand this punisher or this torturer only because this benefited the pope or benefited… Probably wasn’t because the pope decided to…
That or it was iso utterly extreme in some way that it, you know… There was still some element of conscience there. Even in those days, in the popes and… It was generally unrestrained. I ran across a website, it was… It ended up being about… It’s a French website in English that was about the first inquisition, the French inquisition which was in the South of France.
And this entire, it’s like a tourist thing, the group were called Catars, Cathars. Like we have an English word Catharsis which is a Greek word I guess, which means purging or cleaning. And I mean it’s just as live as life can be. And there were just thousands of victims in these places in the South of France that you can go I guess as a tourist.
And maybe, you know, all these people had descendants, they had people, groups, who would identify with that which would include even my group. Because my group would have been persecuted by the Catholic church if it existed.
In some times we identified even with those groups. Cause we don’t know really what they believed. You know, the Catholic church totally destroyed their writings, you know, cause they were heretical, so they just burned it.
And so what they actually believed is really hard to discern. But anyway, so it was bad. And it was… You know, French that was one part. Then of course a Spanish inquisition, right, with Torquemada. And you know, it just went on and on and was terrible.
A lot of people also, you know, associate the Middle Ages with witch hunting. So do you know anything about that?
interestingly, well, I do in a sense that those same… One of the accusations that I think may even have its sources, the original of it, the accusation of witchcraft was against… Was associated with the inquisition. These were the enemies that are totally evil. So if you wanna make them absolutely the worst, you identify them as witches who were basically worshippers of Satan, right.
And servants of Satan. And that was part that these groups that were prosecuted. They were prosecuted in Italy also, and they were… They were basically you would say как бы иноверцы, right. Just people that didn’t believe like you were supposed to. And but if you’re going to want to wipe a people out, then you have to just say the most outrageous thing about them, right.
And so that they’re witches and that they’re flying on their brooms to do their satanic evil immoral vulgar horrible things, you know. And why not? And that’s why we’re destroying them. And then the different mentality develops around that.
But it’s interesting that we associate it with the Middle Ages. However, it was not in the mediaeval time at all. Cause it started in the 17th century which was not the medieval time already. So there’s a bit of a misconception about the time frame.
Maybe that’s true. Yeah, it was…
In the Middle Ages, the Middle Ages it was not that the witches should be persecuted or something, there was belief that they did not exist at all. So it was not that the Church was teaching like oh, they are evil. They just did not believe in them. Like, they do not exist, so why bother hunting someone who does not exist?
So that was the situation at the time. And only later, at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the… The middle of the 16th century and later the witch craze began.
Yeah the witch craze actually rose out of the conflict with the protestant when it was already… It was later. So that was when that became part of the rhetoric against the other side. Well they are just so evil, they’re not just protestants, but they are devil worshippers and not just Catholics cause it also went the other way. It was on both…
So what you’re describing is just this same thing, just holding onto power. Holding on to control.
Yeah it was about power, sure was.
Isn’t it always about power? I don’t want to end on such a sad note, so let’s talk about something more positive and more, I do not know, inspiring. So let’s talk about art. So what do we know about art in the medieval times?
The buttress. That was the time…
All I know about that, yeah. I don’t know.
Yeah, well, the gothic cathedral, that’s where the buttresses were as, you know, Notre Dame, you know, it burned recently unfortunately.
Well not burn, like, it did not urn down, it’s just the roof that…
Oh and all the gargoyles. Oh aren’t those beautiful?
They are beautiful or they were beautiful. I think it kind of… it was really very destructive.
It was. Cause the gargoyle fell down.
That’s right, a really bad fire, the gargoyles… How are the gargoyles?
So do any names come to your mind? Of the middle ages? Artists? Sculptors? Writers?
No, my mind is a complete blank.
Well it’s… It was more of… Not the cult, the tendency to make a lot of the individuals is kind of a modern thing, right. Like we would. Now there were great, there were individuals, there’s people like Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic theologian and this guy names Abelard, another theologian of the time.
There were the Dante, I think it’s still medieval. And in somewhere toward the Renaissance it’s kind on a cast there. But it was because of the collective, the collective was very powerful. Now, who built Notre Dame? Well the people.
Yeah you wouldn’t be able to name one name. Yes.
Now the people built it. Now there were actually architects and you know, that if you are a student of that, you might know that. And as somebody who read or listened to a book about it recently, I can’t remember a person’s name, anybody’s name that was involved in it.
So there were architects, but they weren’t like now, like Frank Gary, you know. Where you got super star architects. Wow, man, how does he live? And what is he thinking? You know, all of this. It’s just the cult of the individual here.
Well, that’s a modern thing. And you know, the other people were toiling within the church, toiling was just part of their cities to build a great cathedral to God. And so the medieval, the individual wasn’t so important. There was kind of a collective thing.
Yeah I was trying to remember some names of the medieval times and I realize that I can remember the names that belonged to the end of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance period like Giotto di Bondone or, let’s say, Brunelleschi who is considered to be the founding father of Renaissance architecture.
So. But he was living and working right at the edge, you know, of these two periods. So I’m not sure whether to include him to the Renaissance times or to the Medieval times, so it’s…
Right, the real deep medieval people would, you know, would… They would be within the church or there were some great popes in their own way. And you know…
But I think we can say that even if we can’t name people most motifs and the topics of art were still about religion.
Well that’s because they were under contract. I don’t think that’s because they cared about the religion at all. It was the church who paid them.
Well we do not know what the motives were.
I don’t know, I think that the general, that… The culture then was sincerely, I mean, it’s mixed of all kinds of fear and things that we don’t love and that aren’t necessarily beautiful in themselves, but there was a lot of sincerity. Especially over time like in like…
That would be 12-13th century, there were movements even within the Catholic church that were toward more of a personal relationship with God and you know people were yearning for that. I mean, really. And that’s part, one of those forces toward, you know, coming out of the Middle Ages. And toward more of the protestant things.
I disagree. I think they were there for the job, definitely.
Whatever the reason, we see the result.
Because they knew about the corruption, because all thorough the Middle Ages it was known that the church was corrupted.
I’m not making any comments on that.
I do not know much on the topic to comment.
I think there was… It would… Yeah. It’s hard for us to imagine a culture as steeped in religion as that was and the, you know, the way of life and the holidays of it and the rhythm of life and the agrarian rhythm of life and, you know, just the whole… I think it was just part of their world. And it isn’t for us, it’s… It all broke down long ago in that form.
And so… I’m sure that there was a lot of sincerity, a lot of formalism… And maybe the people, maybe the architect, the star architects were already just the contractor. The star architects. Maybe that was.
But probably for the people that were sitting there, you know, carving those gargoyles, famous gargoyles, maybe they were doing that as something onto God. I don’t know. They certainly did a beautiful job, right?
Yeah, they were paid probably good money.
Wow, Barbara, okay. Alright.
Would you like to live in the Middle Ages? If you had a choice to go back in time, would you?
No, I don’t wanna be property.
Okay, I wanna be a property owner, yes, I wanna go back, right. I wanna have property under my thumb. Well, I’m using a fine tooth comb if I had anything to run the comb through. It’d be nice, but that’s okay. It would be tough to go back. I mean, it would be tough to go back even a hundred years.
Let’s not remember a year ago, that did not happen.
What is it? That Latin phrase, seize the day… Carpe Diem.
See, that’s Barbara’s… I’d say seize the ancient, seize the ancient spirit.
And I wanna tell you what gave an idea for the podcast, for this episode actually, for the podcast. Cause a month ago I had a birthday and I got a birthday gift which was a boardgame called Medieval Suffering.
It’s a whole boardgame based on the Middle Ages. So you have the cards of the plague, the lepra, you know, and the epidemic that goes from city to city. Then you have different, you know, knights, maids.
This is the perfect 2020 gift!
Some guy’s sitting in Chicago and goes, you know, I got an idea for a game!
I think it’ll sell, right. And put it on Russian…
Oh and hell it will. But you know what? Actually this whole topic of the middle ages has become quite popular recently. There are so many memes and there are podcasts I think, there are boardgames, books. And all of that comes under the name of Medieval Suffering.
So it has become a part of the popular culture now. So. I’m not sure they’re popularizing it, but they show you, you know, all the horrible things of the Middle Ages. And you know what? While we were talking I’ve realized that in that board game there’s a card which says witch.
But we know that they were not connected with the Middle Ages, so. There’s a little bit of a inaccuracy.
I think the witchcraft thing goes back to the inquisition that I referenced there.
Well if you’re talking about pagans, I mean, pagans were before Christians, so.
And they were constantly, you know, that element was always under…
So was that to end on a positive note? Right, yes.
On a fun note, I had boardgames… it’s a cool boardgame!
That was jolly! I’m glad we didn’t end on whatever that other note was that wasn’t as cheerful, chipper as that one.
Katya pulled it out of the fire for that one. Right, yes.
Again, I feel a little bit attacked, but fine. So if you could summarize this episode in one phrase then for our listeners… We need to advertise it, you know.
Suffering. Medieval suffering.
Medieval Suffering, right. That’s two words.
That’s now… Well I said in one phrase.
Well, hyphenated, so you won’t be stepping on anyone’s copyright toes.
Or you can make it one F instead of two. This will be the Middle Ages way of doing it. Irregular spelling.
So that would be yours. Barbara, how would you summarize this episode?
How do you call the thing about the architecture? I
That would be your summary.
Buttress, back to the buttress, yes, right. We’ve backed our way into…
Oh you know there’s a movie, back to the future, we can have back to the buttress. That would be the name of the episode I’m telling ya. Alright. Well thank you very much for this interesting conversation and constantly attacking me, but fine.
Okay, so that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed the Middle Ages and all the fantastic things of the time. Thank you for listening and remember if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to our website which is…
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And it’s also bigappleschool.com/podcast.
Google. Google is so smart.
We’ll get there, we’ll get there, you know. And you can find full scripts of each episode there, so you can read the script while listening to the podcast, so that’s amazing. And if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can always follow us on the social media such as Instagram, vk, Youtube, Telegram. Just search our name which is…
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Stay tuned and we’ll see you around.