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Facts vs Fantasy or Myth in Medieval Times

Article by: Coletta Daniel

The mention of Medieval Times brings about visions of Knights in Shining Armor, often saving a beautiful young Maiden from the flaming jaws of a great Dragon...Or possibly, a mentioning of the times brings about thoughts of beautiful Castles gleaming in the sun...while I just KNOW that in one of those tall towers dwells a Sleeping Princess..just waiting for the kiss of her true love to wake her. As the fairy tale would have it, the couple would then live "happily ever after" and the kingdom would flourish in the wake of such magical love and utter happiness.

Did I say "Fairy" tale? Oh YES! We dare NOT forget the Fairies of yore and folklore. There were Fairies of the forest who, I believe, were guardians of all things natural there. There were also Fairy Godmothers, or simply "good fairies", who, on occasion, were called forth to help a deserving human..usually in matters of the heart once again. Let me not leave out the Wizards and Witches of olden days also. It was all about MAGIC!...(or was it simply slight-of-hand and a few herbal remedies?)

It seems that the Middle Ages held just the right combination of romance and scientific knowledge...or "LACK OF".. to be a backdrop for the creatures of Imagination and Magic that we, today, have as treasures of legend and myth to keep forever.

Of course, many things that we assume are absolutely from the realm of fantasy, myth, or legend are based, some more loosely than others, on fact. Consider for a moment, the "dragon". It is becoming known, through scientific discovery, that there may indeed have been dragon-like, winged creatures, at least in prehistoric times. It is known definitely that there were VERY large, swimming serpents. The question is: If certain species had been left to evolve, would they...could they... have been the flying, dinosaurs that, in our minds, are the Dragons of Medieval Fantasy?

Wise Authors knew how to dress up a story of Good vs. Evil based almost solely on Fantasy and Myth. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table for example. King Arthur himself is mainly a fictitious in Character...although a man named Arthur DID exist. Debating the good mans mere existence is something that still keeps historians quibbling. He was not a king, but may have actually been a chieftain living in Wales in the 6th Century. No matter though, the stories thrived like a living thing..they grew and they changed per each Authors personal ideas. A look at King Arthur's kingdom of Camelot might give us a hint as to why these legends are so popular, everlasting, and often accepted as truth. The many-towered Camelot, in it's essence, stood for values that we all hold dear, and that is that GOOD should always fight EVIL. "Might for Right", as described in one or the other of the stories. The Arthurian Tales of the Middle ages have been driven by romance and heartbreak, ongoing human conditions that we all can relate to. The stories are woven together with just the right touches of fantasy...beginning when Arthur was only a lad and he pulled Excalibur, the mighty sword, from it's stone...to the very end when, upon Arthur's demise, the creature "The Lady of the Lake" rises to retrieve Excalibur and return it to the safety of her arms at the bottom of the lake. The story, in most forms, also encases the search for the Holy Grail. Some see it as the search for God...others as the search for the Meaning of Life. In either case...I think it is very meaningful in most of our lives as we do our own searching.
It is especially in this part of the story of King Arthur that the use of Fantasy and Symbolism bring the stories idea across to us in a way that we can take from it what we wish.

A Myth is history that has been touched by emotion, and altered a bit in it's telling over time. I guess it's safe to say that it COULD be rather hard to get an absolutely accurate telling of stories passed down from the Middle Ages..it WAS quite a while ago and the stories have been told and REtold too many times to count.

One thing that I know as FACT is that people of today, who dress in Renaissance Period, Medieval Costumes, and attend the Festivals or Fairs of the same time period, have SO much fun that they will be chatting about it until they attend the NEXT one! It is a chance to live out a fantasy of your dreams. Not only are there things available to buy and see...but you can also participate in things like jousting, bow and arrow target shooting, or simply attending court. Be sure to check online for scheduled Renaissance Festivals and have your fantasy's come true.

I don't know about you, but at my age of 52, I prefer a little Fantasy with my Fact wherever and whenever I can get it. Medieval Times is just NOT the same to me without it's Wizards, Tiny Fairies, and Dragons-Breath Fogs.
Although I used to believe the stories of the "little people" that my Grandmother from Ireland told me as a child, I now, as a "reasoning" adult, must believe it as just a story of "fantasy", although, between you and me, I'd rather NOT.

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