Maybe I am a bit preoccupied with the middle-ages through my hobby as amateur-historian (reenactment, living-history, or a bit high-flying: experimental archaeology), but still I think I have a broad overview on how things in later epoques should look, as well.
The question thus is this: Why do people, particularly people producing movies, have good judgement about what is historically correct and what not as long as it doesn't come to the middle-ages?
There are loads of good movies out there playing in the 19th, 18th, 17th and sometimes even the 16th century, in which the regisseurs got the whole scenery together perfectly. Everything fits, people wear the historically correct shoes, have the correct weapons, the correct things of daily use, and so on. As far as I can tell, that is. Maybe they're terribly wrong too, but I really think with my knowledge I can tell that they're mostly correct. No really big mishaps. No Shoes from the 19th century in movies of the 17th.
So why the hell does it happen that all those things appear in movies which play in the middle ages? It would be understandable if the 13th and the 15th century get mixed up; it would be even understandable if the 10th and the 15th century would get mixed up. But how can people loose obviously everything they know about history (plus even the ability to do some days research or ask somebody who knows) when it comes to the middle-ages?
Instead we get a complete made-up fantasy-world, where everything apart from the date (like 1326) and some well-known facts (england at war with france) is complete, utter bogus. In contrast to the movies people didn't wear riding boots from the 19th century in the middle-ages. People didn't risk their houses by using torches indoors. People also didn't wear "Jute"-rags. Neither did they wear leather, apart from aprons. People also had houses which walls were as tightly made as possible, and not something where you could look through. Knights did take off their armour when not expecting a battle. And their gloves when tending the wounded.
And the list goes on and on. Just about every movie with a medieval setting (and I don't even mean the a bit more fantasy-ones like those king arthur-themes) makes itself guilty of historical inaccuracies in the magnitude of being 500 to 1000 years off. And that might be well 1000 years into the future if you take the haircuts. Do you really think william the conqueror had the same haircut as a bank-clerk in the year 2000? And funny enough, in movies playing in, say 1750, you don't see these, of course.
The question is now, where does it come from. Do all the people doing medieval-themed movies get their picture of the middle-ages from some other bad medieval-themed movie?
I really don't know. This is so weird.
Peter Keel, 2004