I received roughly half the response on Historical Enigmas #2 that I did on #1, so I have decided to proceed to #3. I do not consider this punitive. I considered PBS repeating Riverdance until they met their donation goals punitive. Fifteen years ago I knew a guy who lived downstairs from Riverdance and he can't hear so good now. This is different. It is history. If you don't learn your history, not only are you doomed to repeat it but you cannot expect to repeat it with any authority or accuracy.
The remedy is contained in an old Sam Cooke song, What A Wonderful World: "Don't know much about the Middle Ages; looked at the pictures and I turned the pages". And although that line was excised, probably to shorten the song for more frequent radio play, it's the one that thematizes this blog entry, which deals with the Middle Ages. They went on for a very long time, from the Late Antiquity period of 300 AD to Renaissance 1200 years later. I'd like to shorten it, like the song, to the middle Middle Ages but there isn't any. So this essay will address the High Middle Ages--AD 1000 to 1350. Historically speaking, this is when people began saying "Hi!"(shortened from "High!") to each other.
The Crusades were endorsed by the clergy. They told the knights: "You know, you really ought to go barging around other peoples' countries and get them to wearing pants!" And they did.
Since nobody in these countries had ever seen three armored warriors riding a single six-legged horse before, they immediately complied. Thus, the High Middle Ages gave onto the Late Middle Ages, in which everybody had pants but no accurate timepieces. Dinner engagements, board meetings, prom dates and everything one wears pants to were ruined by hordes of latecomers. So they quit the Middle Ages for an era of invention and refinement, especially of accurate clocks and watches. This was called the Renaissance and I hope you all know it's still going on.