Sunday, July 6, 2008

Middle Ages in Bern

My two younger boys are wild about the Middle Ages, and the Berner Historisches Museum has a Middle Ages park during its exhibition of Charles the Bold. They have three different areas where you can learn about how things were done in the Middle Ages. Of course one of the areas has to do with the military, but the others are clothing and building.

Here you see Jill and the boys using a Middle Ages crane. The power was supplied by people walking in a wheel like a hamster, and they would then lift heavy objects for constructing the great cathedrals of the time. It was quite amazing but to be in the wheel made me dizzy. Not something I would want to do all day. They also demonstrated building arches.

In the other you see us unsuccessfully using a battering ram. We had to give it another try. They also had a catapult that sent soft balls flying. Again I was amazed by the ingenuity and just what was possible before petroleum and electricity became king.

In the third area on clothes we got to wear armor, something the boys liked doing. I also learned something new and interesting. Men and women used to all wear robes, which all of us know from Bible pictures. According to the textile woman at the museum, men began wearing pants as a military innovation. They allowed men to wear armor and to battle more effectively. Eventually, as sometimes happens, this military innovation passed into daily life as well. This makes sense to me, and it would also explain why men wore pants and women did not, since women were not supposed to fight in military battles. So today we might see pants now as a sign of the military. But I suppose I'll stick with them because they are more effective and efficient for a whole number of activities besides battling.

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