Dear sir on this History Channel Program:
No, you are not “going medieval.”
You are not doing things just as the regular folks did in the Middle Ages.
You are wearing Polar Fleece.
As for that authentic recreation of a medieval castle… Yes, the workmen are using historically accurate materials. They are using historically accurate procedures.They are also using triangular steel bladed mason’s trowels, and modern spades with wooden handles and formed steel blades. Not too many of those in the thirteenth century.
The huge wheel you are walking in has its outer side covered with wire mesh. This is clearly a safety measure, but still… You do not have to worry about falling to your death. Men in the 13th century would have.
I have no problem with “recreations” for teaching purposes, I don’t. But there is no way for anyone living today to completely relive what the medievals did, for one important reason: for us, living that way is a choice. For some people it’s a job. If it gets to be too much, there are options.
For the people in the Middle Ages this way of life was all they had. Living this way knowing no other way to live is a very different mindset.
We have vaccines, and antibiotics. Re-enactors do not, as far as I know, have to worry that if they get a cut they will develop tetanus or gangrene.* Women who get pregnant do not generally have to contend with often fatal puerperal fever. The medievals lived with a fear of death around the corner that for many of us is almost incomprehensible emotionally.
Role-playing is all well and good, as long as you don’t try to pretend it is more than it is.
*In 2008, as part of a family trip to Europe, we visited the reenactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury, from the Wars of the Roses. “Okay, so they’re all dressed up, armor and everything,” I said. “They have a paramedic,” stated the Red-Headed Menace. “That’s not authentic.” “So how is he dressed?” “In a blue uniform with a yellow vest that says ‘Paramedic’ on the back. He’s standing by the ambulance.”