We know the Middle Ages was a transition period between the civilized “Classical World” of Greece and Rome; and modern civilization that grew from out of the 18th century “Enlightenment”. The Middle Ages was a period in which “civilization” was… well… shall we say a work in progress?
An example of this is a list of table manners from a 13th century French book on etiquette; a list of “do’s and don’ts” (mostly don’ts). Keep in mind the nature of Medieval castle dining, in which the guests at a given feast sat side-by-side, at long tables; often seated next to a neighbor they did not know:
- At table, do not blow thy nose upon thine neighbor’s sleeve. (One’s own sleeve, presumably, was acceptable!)
- Do not spit into the washing bowl when it is passed to you.
- Do not dip thy fingers into the gravy bowl past the first digit.
- Do not dip thine meat directly into the salt cellar (Note: a fancy salt bowl).
- Do not wipe thy hands upon the table cloth.
- Always swallow thy food and wipe thy mouth before drinking from thy cup.
- Do not pick thy teeth with thine knife.
- Do not feed the hounds beneath the table with thine hands.
- Do not throw thine knawed bones over thy shoulder, without first looking behind thee to avoid hitting a servitor. (Bad form!)