[Ansteorra] Short or tall? was Sleeping sitting up vs lying down

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace sirlyonel at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 17 14:53:57 PDT 2007

Salut cozyns,

The doorways were made short so that you had to stoop to enter. It's a 
defensive design element. Invaders would find it hard to rush to the attack 
while bending over to get through the door.

I think I saw this question of height in the Middle Ages come up at least 
once in every medieval lit class I ever took. The height differences through 
the ages typically end up getting blown out of proportion (no pun intended). 
Here's one of the more succinct summaries of recent findings:

>From http://www.heightsite.com/4_tallest/4_tall-history.htm

Tall Medieval Men

There's a frequently-encountered assumption that the average height of 
humans has grown steadily taller as the centuries have progressed. However, 
studies have shown that the average height of a population is related to 
general health and economic well-being, which is affected by such factors as 
climate changes, the growth of cities, war and population cycles. Thus, 
average height fluctuated throughout history.

And it turns out medieval men weren't a whole lot shorter, on average, than 
men of the new millennium. A recent study conducted at Ohio State 
University, based on skeletal data from 30 previous studies, reveals that 
men living during the 9th to 11th centuries had an average height of about 5 
feet 8 inches.

Average height then steadily declined until it reached a low point of 5 feet 
5.5 inches in the 17th and 18th centuries, rising again through the 19th 
century and only reaching prior heights in the first half of the 20th 
century. An article on the study by Richard Steckel appears in the Social 
Science History journal.

According to the feature by Jennifer Warner at WebMD, Dr. Steckel noted that 
"Average height is a good way to measure the availability and consumption of 
basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and 
exposure to disease." Frequent wars and a rise in the spread of deadly 
diseases impacted population health and height, as well.

Today, average height in American men is about 5 feet 9 inches and in 
American women 5 feet 4 inches. According to a study completed in 2002 (see 
the article by John Carvel at the Guardian), Britons have similar average 
heights, while most Europeans are an inch or two shorter. The exception is 
the Dutch, who are about three inches taller than Brits and Americans.

En Lyonel
Impedimentum via est
(The obstacle is the path)

>From: April Page <alpage1225 at sbcglobal.net>
>Reply-To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." 
><ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>
>To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>
>Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Short or tall? was Sleeping sitting up vs lying 
>Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 14:09:15 -0700 (PDT)
>When I was in high school (eons and eons ago) the Museum of Natural Science 
>in Washington, DC had an exhibit on the differences in height between 
>ancient and modern man.  I remember this because being the short person I 
>am, according to the exhibit I was considered average/tall for a Roman 
>woman at exactly five feet.
>   That is not to say that there were not tall people long ago.  My 
>great-great-great-grandfather, who came to the States from England in 1850, 
>was seven feet tall (and obviously passed along a recessive gene for 
>height).  When he was buried, his grave threw off the next row in the 
>   Ly. Elizabeth Seale
>Chelsea Durham <baby_sis_83 at hotmail.com> wrote:
>   If the medieval doorway at the Cloisters in New York City is any 
>I would have to say that they were shorter than their modern counterparts.
>I'm 5'4" and I was taller than the doorway. If in fact it is true that the
>Medieval people were shorter than modern people, it's likely because of
>malnutrition. The women were short if they had children at a young age. If 
>woman has a child before she stops growing, her bones will fuse and growth
>will stop. (That is something I learned in biology so don't shoot me, shoot
>the book) however it's something I've also observed in dogs and cats.
>-Lady Grainne Kathleen NicPadraig MacDaniel
>None is deceived but he who trusts too much.
>Ansteorra mailing list
>Ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org


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