Medieval knights may have had their lives romanticized, but their reality was a lot less glamorous than conceived. Drinking and eating could be fatal, the life expectancy was short, and battling in bulky armor was as much of a death-trap as a duel. For the most part, knights were mercenaries for hire, and their assignments didn’t involve slaying mythic beasts.

Meat, drink, and song

One would think that knights would enjoy a varied diet to enhance their physical prowess, wit, and health. However, finding food and drink that was both feast-worthy, and not fouled by dangerous disease was difficult during Medieval times.

Cookit!

Knights would often drink alcohol, rather than risk illness or death from contaminated water. The diets of knights consisted mostly of meat and bread, making them the forerunners for the Paleo diet. While gathered together, knights would enjoy getting rowdy, drunk, and being entertained by minstrels at night.

About that armor

Although knights are widely recognized for their fantastic and decorative armor, it was pretty much eye candy. A knight’s armor was only useful for deflecting arrows, avoiding mere flesh wounds, and giving an impressive appearance.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Considering that a full suit of armor could weigh as much as 110 pounds, the chance that a knight was capable of running around dueling or jousting with opponents is unlikely. Knights would be too busy trying to catch their breath to manage slaying anything, except for Medieval fashion.

Known by their code and clothes

Knights are often recalled as being the ultimate gentleman because of chivalry. However, the code of chivalry was made to keep knights from assaulting women, robbing and kidnapping people, burning houses, and to generally behave themselves while on the job. Knights were often employed by lords as a private security force, so any bad behavior reflected poorly on their employer.

British Library

Dressing to impress was not only something done by the noble classes during Medieval times. Knights made sure to don embellished apparel to separate themselves from the serfs and lower classes. Wearing large codpieces was very much in fashion, and added to a knight’s attractiveness.