Murderous Middle Ages

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The Middle Ages were a dark and bloodthirsty period in our history. Maybe it was because alcohol was so readily available and people carried knives and daggers on a daily basis. Justice was not as prevalent as it is today and so if there was no threat of punishment, it was easier to act violently. It seems that more people were killed back then but of course, with minimal medical care, a lot of people who could have survived today, would have died from complications or infection.

Honour and violence also went hand in hand and especially in periods of weak royal rule. Violence was recognised as a means of communicating certain messages too. Hacking off a woman’s nose, for example, was a sign that that woman had been accused of adultery. There was also huge social divides between rich and poor and violence was often worse when these divides caused social unrest. When inequality rises then so does violence. This was particularly the case in Medieval England.

Gangs were also a big problem at this time in history and men in gangs caused mayhem maybe as a result as trying to prove themselves in front of their peers. Gangs would terrorise areas with theft, poaching, violence and offences against property. So with weak kingship, a lack of law enforcement and most men carrying weapons – it’s not hard to see why the period has a reputation for being gory and gruesome.

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So, imagine if you will, that Medieval England had tanks. Can you picture the sheer devastation that would have befallen the land? The War of the Roses would have turned out very differently. Feuds between nobles would result in tanks attacking castles and numerous attempts to blast the King out of his palace. The country would be changing Kings pretty much every day! For Midlands Tank Driving and a chance to test your skills in a real life tank, visit

However, there would be ways to stop the tanks, for clever Medieval minds. Covering your enemies tanks with oil, tar and peat and setting fire to it would be sure to melt the rubber on the wheels at least. Nobles would need to quickly dig moats or muddy tank traps around their manors. Medieval people did have enough technology to make chains with locks and so a tank could be locked to something. It would have to be sturdy though. Presumably if the peasants waited long enough, the tanks would simply run out of fuel.

Tanks were not a completely bizarre idea to the people of Medieval times. Armies often employed the use of war wagons. A war wagon could carry bulky gunpowder weapons and provided fortification that armoured knights couldn’t charge through. The wagons would form a square, protecting the cavalry in the middle. This was an early form of defence and attack and formed the early ideas that eventually led to Leonardo da Vinci creating his drawings of the first tank. He designed a vehicle that men could stand inside and fire outwards and with a mounted cannon on the front.