Medieval Times Trivia

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Medieval Times Trivia 476-1453 (between Antiquity and Renaissance)

1. In medieval times, leftovers were continually added to the same pot for the next day’s meal. According to the nursery rhyme, how long was the pease porridge in the pot?

9 days. (Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days old. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot, nine days old.)

2. In the mid-14th century, an outbreak of the bubonic plague called the ‘Black Death’ swept through Europe. The plague was carried by fleas. Mainly, which animal carried those fleas?

Rats. (killing 30-60% of the population)

3. The complex of buildings where a community of monks might live together is called a what?


4. Kentucky’s bourbon industry employs this kind of craftsman. What did the medieval ‘cooper’ make?

Barrels, tubs, casks … [‘someone who makes wooden staved vessels … with hoops and … flat ends …’ Wikipedia]

5. St. Francis was a humble man of the early 1200s who lived a life of poverty and served the poor. What city in Italy was he from?

Assisi. (St. Francis of Assisi)

56. In the 13th century, plowing got faster. This was because traditional oxen teams were replaced with what kind of teams?

Horse teams.

7. Crusaders who reached Jerusalem received a cloth emblem to sew on their shirts. What symbol did this cloth patch depict?


8. Medieval peasants, who tilled the land for their lord, were called by this term, derived from Latin servus ‘slave’.


9. Legendary King Arthur held counsel with his knights around a table of which shape?

Round Table. (Arthur, late 5th, early 6th century)

10. This award-winning 1960 Broadway musical tells the story of the most famous love triangle of King Arthur’s court.

Camelot. (King Arthur – Richard Burton, Queen Guenevere – Julie Andrews, Sir Lancelot – Robert Goulet)

11. What is the name of the ditch, often filled with water, that surrounds a castle to protect it?


12. This part of a medieval castle is an underground room where prisoners are kept (and sometimes tortured).


13. Medieval banquet favorite, roast suckling pig, is often pictured with which fruit in its mouth?


14. ‘The noble Duke of York, He had ten thousand men … ‘ Where did he march them?

He marched them up to the top of the hill and marched them down again.

Oh, the noble Duke of York, He had ten thousand men

He marched them up to the top of the hill and he, Marched them down again

And when they were up, they were up,

And when they were down, they were down

And when they were only half way up,

They were neither up nor down

Richard, Duke of York (1411–1460), took his men to Sandal Castle in Wakefield on raised fortifications. He went down to fight Lancastrian forces losing much of his army. He died in battle.

15. In medieval times, few people could read, so signs with identifying symbols were hung over a shop. What symbol was typically on the farrier’s sign?


16. The word ‘smith’ designates a craftsperson. Name a type of ‘smith’ that would be a common medieval occupation.

Blacksmith, leathersmith, goldsmith, silversmith, etc.

17. A medieval tapestry might feature this mythical one-horned animal.


18. In the Middle Ages, people would often keep coins in pygg jars, where pygg refers to a type of clay. What is the modern name for such a coin container?

Piggy Bank (used by the 18th cent).

19. Crusaders brought Arabic numerals to Europe, which are the ones we use today. What kind of numbers did Europeans use before they switched over?

Roman numerals.

20. According to the 15th century proverb, what does ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ make one?

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

21. Besides wool, sheep produce two dairy products that were valuable for the medieval peasant. What were they?

Milk, cheese.

22. Name the medieval sport where mounted knights try to unseat each other using lances.

Jousting. (Tilting)

23. It was not uncommon for medieval physicians to bleed a patient to cure him. What animal was used to suck out the blood?

Leech (worm)

24. What is the formal name of the chess piece that’s shaped like a castle?

Rook. Also name of card game played by McCready residents.

25. Alchemy was a medieval science that sought to turn base metals into which precious metal?


26. Nowadays we use this word to describe an older unmarried woman. In the Middle Ages, this word described a woman’s occupation in the wool industry.

Spinster. Never been married, past menopause.

27. What was the predominant religion in Europe during the Middle Ages?


28. In the nursery rhyme ‘Sing a song of sixpence …’ How many blackbirds were baked in a pie?

Four and twenty (24)

Sing a song of sixpence, A pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds, Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened, The birds began to sing;

Wasn't that a dainty dish, To set before the king?

The king was in his counting house, Counting out his money;

The queen was in the parlour, Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden, Hanging out the clothes;

When down came a blackbird And pecked off her nose.

29. By what means was French national hero Joan of Arc executed for heresy?

Burned at the stake. (1412-31)

30. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Christian Europeans waged a series of military campaigns to save the Holy Land from the infidels. What were these military campaigns called?

Crusades (1095-1291)

31. In 1054, the Great Schism occurred, dividing Christianity into Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Rome was the religious capital for Catholics. What was the religious capital for Orthodox Christians?

Constantinople (Byzantium)

32. This type of colorful window might adorn a medieval cathedral.

Stained glass window.

33. What is the name of the medieval occupation of foolish entertainer for the court.

Jester (joker, fool) [clown, a later development] Typically pictured wearing 3-pointed hat with bells. A deck of cards pictures two.

34. Probably used less than people think, this uncomfortable fashion accessory would prevent a lady from being unfaithful to her lord.

Chastity belt

35. What type of material was it the medieval tanner’s job to handle?


36. When the castle bell was rung, people were supposed to cover their fires for the night. From the Old French term cuevrefeu ‘cover fire’, we get this word meaning the time when our children are supposed to come home.


Originally, this term, meant ‘cover fire’. early 14c., "evening signal, ringing of a bell at a fixed hour," from Anglo-Fr. coeverfu (late 13c.), from O.Fr. cuevrefeu, lit. "cover fire" (Mod.Fr. couvre-few), from cuevre, imper. of covrir "to cover" (see cover) + feu "fire" (see focus). The medieval practice of ringing a bell at fixed time in the evening as an order to bank the hearths and prepare for sleep. The original purpose was to prevent conflagrations from untended fires. The modern extended sense of "periodic restriction of movement" had evolved by 1800s.

37. What is the name of an upper-class family’s unique crest, typically including symbols of power like a lion or eagle.

Coat of arms (displayed esp in mid-12th cent on battlefield, displayed on banners or shields.)

38. Legend has it, in the 13th century a knight sat on an oatcake cooling on the hearth. His chainmail made dents in the cake that held butter well. This fanciful story explains the origin of what popular breakfast food?

The waffle.

39. This English king was famous for having six wives, two of whom he had beheaded.

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547). Anne Boleyn was his second wife.

40. This famous religious reformer posted 95 theses protesting the sale of indulgences at Castle Church in Wittenburg, initiating the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther. 1483-1546. Lutheran.

41. The cruel Transylvanian prince, Vlad Dracula, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous novel about what kind of monster?

Vampire. 1431-1476. Dracula.

42. Type of bridge that could be raised up, for example, if the castle were under attack.


43. This revolutionary invention of 1450 led to the production of 180 copies of the Gutenberg Bible.

Printing press. (Johannes Gutenberg)

44. During the Middle Ages, which heavenly body was popularly believed to be the center of the universe?

The earth. Copernicus proposed that the sun was in 1543, ushering in the Scientific Revolution.

45. In medieval warfare, this weapon was used to hurl objects like stones, excrement, dead bodies, over castle walls.

Catapult. Like a giant slingshot.

46. Medieval royalty enjoyed hunting hart with their hounds. What kind of animal is a ‘hart’?

Male red deer.

47. In the Middle Ages, this was the most common textile for making clothing.


48. According to the 14th century proverb, what does a rolling stone gather?

No moss. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

49. Legend has it, this forest outlaw of the early 1300s stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Robin Hood. Sherwood Forest.

50. How many silent letters are in the word ‘knight’?

3 (k, g, h)

51. Hopefully rust-proof, this kind of medieval suit could weigh about 60 pounds.

Suit of armor.

52. The original London Bridge dates from 1176. It’s deterioration from age and fire may be the inspiration for which popular nursery rhyme?

London Bridge is Falling Down. Experienced the Great Fire of London in 1666.

53. Who is the worldwide leader of the Roman Catholic church?

The Pope. (Now, Pope Benedict XVI)

54. According to the nursery rhyme, how many bags of wool does Baa Baa Black Sheep have?

3 bags.

Baa baa black sheep have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full.

55. This 14th century Swiss hero is said to have shot an apple off his son’s head.

William Tell. William Tell Voerture, from Guillame Tell by Gioachino Rossini.

56. What was Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous work?

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