That's what medieval knights faced everyday in the great (and small) battles and wars we hear and read about nowadays. In movies, medieval knights are usually portrayed as courageous and loyal heroes who will fight to the death without fear or regret. But, according to a new research by Thomas Heeboll-Holm, a medieval historian at the University of Copenhagen, this wasn't the case. In reality, he claims, the lives of knights were filled with a litany of stresses much like those that modern soldiers deal with. Which could indlude Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other related illnesses. People who are diagnosed with the disorder, often suffer from uncontrollable and intense stress for at least a month after a horrifying event. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, depression and hyperactivity.
When soldiers go to war in modern times, Heeboll-Holm said, psychologists now recognize that the stresses they encounter can lower their psychological resistance until they finally succumb to anxiety disorders. Since medieval knights faced as many and possibly more hardships than modern soldiers do, he wondered if he might be able to find references to signs of trauma in warriors who fought during the Middle Ages.
To get an idea of how things worked in that time, we can look at this excerpt by the 14th-century French knight named Geoffroi de Charny:
After so many centuries, though, it can be challenging to interpret old texts. Part of the problem is that knights never psychoanalyzed themselves, at least not in print. Instead, they either offered advice to other knights about how to act in various situations or they simply recounted events. One of the biggest differences between now and then, researchers add, is that medieval knights were usually born into their elite and noble order, and they were trained from a young age to think of themselves as warriors who fought in the name of Christianity. Modern soldiers, on the other hand, often leave a very comfortable life for one of violence and trauma.