At this point, the Middle Ages are far enough in the past that whatever sweeping generalizations we make about them might not immediately be refuted. If you say, for example, that everyone loved to joust back then, your group of friends probably won't erupt into a lively debate about the actual prevalence of jousting during the era (unless, of course, your friends are medieval scholars).

However, as is the case with most sweeping generalizations, ours regarding the so-called Dark Ages aren’t necessarily true. In this episode of Misconceptions, Mental Floss host Justin Dodd is investigating some of the most misguided ideas we have about life from the 5th century right up until Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in the early days of the Renaissance. (When Columbus did set sail, by the way, not everybody still believed the Earth was flat.)

By the end of the video, you’ll no longer believe that medieval people feasted always, bathed never, and generally lacked an appreciation for truth and beauty. And the next time your friend mentions anything about jousting, you can spearhead a lively debate on the subject.

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