Did people in the middle ages exercise?

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Bram
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Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Bram » Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:48 pm

Interesting reddit thread:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/ ... _exercise/

And another one on what would the physique of a medieval knight be:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/ ... e/eu4kdjy/
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Fat Cat
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Fat Cat » Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:20 pm

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They had all kinds of sports as well as deliberate exercise. As you've found, there are all kinds of LARPers that are into reviving various aspects of it.

There used to be some people that were into HEMA on this board like wildgorillaman...not sure if he's still around tho.
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Bram
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Bram » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:32 am

Haha, why do I know about LARP'ers? I've been once, and found it disquieting, but maybe it was just the creepy old dude that made me his "ghoul."

What's HEMA?
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by SubClaw » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:46 am

Fat Cat wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:20 pm
There used to be some people that were into HEMA on this board like wildgorillaman...not sure if he's still around tho.
Man... I sure miss andro Fridays...
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Dunn
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Dunn » Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:49 pm

HEMA= Historical European Martial Arts

I believe it was De Charny who wrote about some of the physical exercise of the knights of the time. I could be mistaken. Maingre also wrote about performing basic skills such as ladder climbing, stone lifting, and equestrian skills while armored.

Some of the old fencing masters, Silvers, were fond of simple skill practice such as pell work with potentially weighted wasters to build the body. Combined with a wrestling, Fabris mentions this, and other stuff I doubt they were weak. If you have never sparred in armor, I can tell you even light bouts become ridiculously taxing.

If I was home I could dig through my treatises but they definitely had training regimens. The whole “success leaves clues” is pretty apt here.

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Fat Cat
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Fat Cat » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:40 pm

This book spans the late Medieval and Renaissance periods and has a scholarly treatment of the subject of the physical training of the European warrior class.

https://www.amazon.com/Martial-Arts-Ren ... 0300083521
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Bram
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Bram » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:13 am

That book looks quite good.

While investigating came across another well reviewed book:

https://www.amazon.com/Historical-Europ ... 741YBEVCU7
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Shafpocalypse Now
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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Shafpocalypse Now » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:05 pm

So, warriors/knights/soldiers exercises

Joe Average Middle Ages didn't. He starved and worked manual labor to keep his svelte figure

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Re: Did people in the middle ages exercise?

Post by Fat Cat » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:05 pm

Shafpocalypse Now wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:05 pm
So, warriors/knights/soldiers exercises

Joe Average Middle Ages didn't. He starved and worked manual labor to keep his svelte figure
Image

It's an important point. For the most part, the average person didn't do any deliberate exercise, but was still very active engaging in the farmer or pastoral peasant lifestyle. They did have all manner of rural games though that were played seasonally, and some of the work they do is brutally hard. I tried cutting hay with a big scythe (srp) and I couldn't do it for more than 15 minutes, but the peasants I was with could do it all day long.
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