Historical resources

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The setting of The Dark Mod is fantasy (specifically, science fantasy, what with the magic and steampunk elements), not history. However, due to the nature of the society depicted and focused on in the game's setting, The Dark Mod still takes heavy inspiration from real history, primarily the society of late-medieval and early modern Europe. Though there is plenty of room for anachronisms and creativity, the setting's down-to-earth nature can be enhanced with bits of historical accuracy concerning the daily living conditions, working conditions and amusements of people from various social classes.

Consider this article a resource on historical topics related to everyday life, work and socialising of people from period societies. Feel free to take inspiration from the online and bibliographic sources provided, or to suggest and/or add useful sources you've found yourself.

General info

Internet Medieval Sourcebook (ORB) - At the Fordham University website.

Medieval Worldbuilding Information

The Viking Answer Lady

Library of House Greydragon - A multitude of articles on period clothing, cooking, dining, and even entertainment.

La Belle Compagnie - Medieval living history group (1337-1453). Be sure to check out the Medieval Matters resource section.

What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history?

What aspects of life in middle ages Europe do movies always get wrong?

LivingHistoryNetwork.com - Website on living history and old crafts, with a North American, 17th-19th century focus.

The Met Public Domain Images Collection - The Metropolitan Museum in New York has made a big part of its collections in the public domain available to the public. Various pieces of visual art, material culture, clothing, all from different periods. For those interested, here are the Terms and conditions.

PaleoPlanet Forums - A discussion board for enthusiasts of experimental archeology (mostly focused on prehistoric and/or primitive crafts and tools).

Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt - Useful if you want to incorporate a more believable ancient civilisation into an FM.

Project Gutenberg - Huge online archive of (mostly older) public domain books, fiction and non-fiction. "Offers over 57,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online."

Food, cuisine and cooking

Food timeline - A timeline overview of foodstuff and recipe introductions, from prehistory to the present.

Antique Roman Dishes Collection - Native Roman Ingredients and conversions, as well as recipes.

Roman gums 'healthier than ours'

Medieval Cookery & Recipes - Information, and notes about cooking in medieval Europe. Also has an extensive blog, which reviews non-fiction about medieval and early modern cuisine.

A Chaucerian Cookery - An examination of the foods found in the writings of the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Included is A Chaucerian Feast, which contains recipes and instructions for presenting a feast based on Chaucer.

History of Food - The histories of tea, coffee, cheese, chocolate and a compliation of medieval recipes from a variety of cultures.

Glossary of Medieval Cooking Terms

Lothene - A Short History of Porridge - A brief history of the traditional Scottish dish from Roman times to the present.

Middle Ages Food Preservation - Who food was preserved short-term and long-term with the more limited technology of the Middle Ages.

Glossary of Medieval & Renaissance Culinary Terms

Tudor era food, cuisine, cooking and dining topics - An in-depth look at the preparation and serving of food in the Tudor period. Includes an article on food preservation methods of the time.

Tudor period food and drink glossary - To go with the information provided above.

Food Storage in the 18th Century - More food preservation recipes, both similar and dissimilar, from several centuries later. A playlist of videos.

Historic Kitchens vs. Modern Kitchens

How to take care of your copperware

The use of horsetail (scouring rush) for cleaning and polishing purposes

History of spices, Spices reference library, Recipes involving spices

Resources on various spices and herbs

History of chocolate

A history of afternoon tea

Agriculture, forestry, mining and other resource gathering

Farming in the Middle Ages

Article with in-depth examples of traditional aquaculture from around the world

Multi-Use Management of the Medieval Anglo-Norman Forest - Forestry in medieval England. Article in downloadable .pdf format.

The Medieval Forest - The medieval history of woods and forestry in the modern day New Forest National Park in Wales. Article in downloadable .pdf format.

Pollarding and Coppicing - Two common historical forestry and wood management practices.

Forests in the olden days - A video by Lindybeige. Some notes on the appearance of forests, on forestry and economic use of forests throughout different periods of history.

Marcher Apple Network - A group of enthusiasts focused on researching, growing and preserving old and historical cultivars of apples. Their website includes a resources and research section.

History of white murlberry growing in mountainous central Asia

Horse breeds of the world

The Economics of Horses and Oxen in Medieval England - Article by John Langdon, published in The Agricultural History Review. Available in .pdf format.

Old crafts, industries, commerce

Medieval material culture links site

Middelaldercentret.dk - "Medieval Centre", a world-renowned Danish open-air museum, established in 1992, that focuses of experimental archaeology and recreating various medieval technology. These efforts include the creation of working replicas of technology that survived in records, but was lost to history for many centuries before being successfully recreated.

Index of old occupations (with definitions)

Berufe: Medieval professions and jobs - Detailed overview at Deutschland im Mittelalter.de, in German.

Occupations of Yesteryear - Similar to the previous link.

How to make a medieval lantern - The construction of a simple wooden lantern light source, with a candle-lifting device.

Making traditional wooden skis

Medieval Baltic Ships - Traditions and constructional aspects - Detailed science paper on medieval ship types and shipbuilding techniques used in lands around the Baltic Sea during the Middle Ages. Also available as a .pdf here.

British & Irish Clock and Watch Makers (c1600-c1940) - Online Archive Library, Trade Directory Lists.

African steel making - An article and a podcast episode on the subject.

European Route of Industrial Heritage

Housing, social infrastructure and architecture

Medieval Life - Everyday life during medieval times. A description of the history, literature, chivalry, commerce, customs, food and life of people living in Europe, Asia and Africa during the Middle Ages.

Life in a medieval castle - Brief account of daily life in a Medieval Castle. Touches on such aspects as religion, hygiene and water.

Guédelon.fr - Guédelon Castle project. The only authentic medieval castle under construction today, in France, using only period (13th century) materials and methods. Possibly the biggest experimental archaeology site in the world. Construction has been ongoing since 1997, and the castle is to be completed at some point in the 2020s.

Campus Galli - Guédelon's German cousin, an experimental archaeology project aiming to recreate a Carolingian era monastic community, at a rural building site near Meßkirch, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

A Glossary of Castle Terminology - Glossary useful for adding historically authentic terms to any plot involving castles and fortifications. Please note that the overview is spread across two pages, A-L and M-Z.

Fortifications terminology - Overview of various fortification-related terms and concepts, by form, era and local context.

List of open-air museums and period living museums

Historic house museums by country

Common architectural elements: Timber framing, Timber roof truss, Rafter, Log building

Box-bed - An interesting, enclosed style of bed that originated in late-medieval western Europe (in places like the British Isles, Brittany, France, the Low Countries).

A history of mattresses - Quick, brief overview, posted by stumpy after he had done some research on the topic.

How to make a medieval lantern - The construction of a simple wooden lantern light source, with a candle-lifting device.

Some thoughts on torches, torch alternatives, etc. - A quartet of videos looking at the advantages and downsides, and actual historical usage of light sources such as torches, lanterns, oil lamps, lit sticks of wood, etc. in the past. There's also a bit of a follow-up here, about lighting fires in the past.

18th century lanterns and lighting - Outdoor lanterns and old indoor lamps from several centuries later.

FlashlightMuseum.com - For any FM where you might want to include new-fangled electric lanterns. (Browse for "lantern" or "mini lantern" flashlights, there are lots of antiques among those.)

Clothing, garments and footwear

Clothing of the Middle Ages

Medieval Clothing Pages

Medieval Clothing and Fabrics

Peasants' Clothing

Medieval Underwear: Chosen Hosen

Medieval Clothing - Medieval attire. Men's clothing, women's clothing, children's clothing, sanitary napkins, diapers, wool, linen, silk, leather, fur, etc.

10th Century Scandinavian Ankle Boot: A Brief History and Method for Turnshoe Construction - Article available in donwloadable .pdf format.

Guide to making replica Viking turnshoes - Article available in donwloadable .pdf format.

Anglo-Scandinavian Shoes in the style of Jorvik’s Danelaw finds - Article available in donwloadable .doc format.

S. B Juniper - The website of a period footwear manufacturer. Includes late-medieval and 16th century era shoes and boots, as well as 17th century ones. Good for reference images if one was planning any changes to characters models or adding shoe items into the game.

Healthcare, medical science and chemistry

Alchemical and archaic chemistry terms - Glossary useful for adding historically authentic terms to any plot involving alchemists, mages and so on. Please note that the overview is spread across two pages, A-K and L-Z.

Phisick - Presents a collection of medical antiques grouped by specialty, with photographs and descriptions of each item.

The Smell of the Middle Ages

Medieval Diseases

The Gross 18th Century: Calling bullshit on hygiene myths

Eye Antiques and Collectibles - Eye antiques display items from the ophthalmic past including glasses spectacles, ophthalmoscopes, microscopes, and eye exam items.

Historical Eye Glasses - A video on authentic replicas of early modern eyewear.

Weights of an Apothecary - A resource site for the antique weights formerly used by apothecaries, chemists, druggists and pharmacists. Most British weights of the 19th and 20th centuries illustrated and described. A forum for exchange of information and discussion.

Scales and Weights - A collection of all types of historical scales and weights from different periods of the past 3000 years.

Scientific Medical & Mechanical Antiques - Complete articles are posted from the journal, American Artifacts, on early microscope makers, hand corn shellers, early surveying instruments, a variety of quack medical devices, as well as information on early patents.

The Medical Humanities SIU PRESS series - Bibliographic overview of the non-fiction book series of medical history monographs.

Hair Care Recipes from Medieval/Renaissance Sources - Women and men alike, especially more affluent ones, had a thing for hair care already during the time period TDM takes inspiration from.

Writing, literature, arts

German medieval songs - Period songs for different occassions. Includes complete lyrics.

Early Music - Classical Guitar Ensemble - "Free Early and Renaissance Music. Recordings of 2, 3, 4 and 5-part songs and instrumental music from the 14th through 19th centuries."

Biographical Dictionary of Organists, Composers for Organ and Organ Builders - This site list biographical detail for organists, composers and organ builders. It includes birth and death details, places they have worked (lived) etc. Note quite a lot of these people were also teachers; the entries are world wide.

Late-medieval and Renaissance era music - Plenty of useful info, including a detailed article on the nature of sacred music in this period.

List of medieval musical instruments

List of period instruments

Info on historical musical instruments - A downloadable .zip with some relevant scans. (For private study purposes only, do not spread or copy.)

Traditional African musical instruments

Early music ensembles - Music ensembles focused on researching and recreating pre-18th century music, i.e. ancient, medieval and early modern music.

Sociology and customs


Tudor era architectural and religious glossaries

Victorian Slang Glossary - For the more steampunkish/noir aspects of The Dark Mod. Rather detailed, loads and loads of period cant and other argot expressions.

The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang

A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries - Volume III: 1859-1936

Sumptuary law - Examples of laws set up to regulate (or even limit and stigmatize) the dress codes and consumption of various goods by people of certain social classes. (These laws were mostly biased in favour of the nobility, and to the disadvantage of townsmen/bourgeoisie and the peasantry.)

Historical hairstyles - Detailed videos on hairstyles from antiquity, the medieval and early modern period, and their authentic recreation, by professional historian and archaeologist Janet Stephens.

The people who think they are made of glass - Article on a unique historical psychiatric disorder (which coincided with the more widespread manufacturing and availability of glass).


See also: Names

The following are some sites that could help you with choosing convincing given names and/or surnames for characters:

Old Names - A website with a list of old-fashioned names if you need to pick something quickly.

Medieval Names archive - List of medieval and Renaissance era names.

Database of names in early Germanic languages - Courtesy of the University of Duisburg. Well worth taking a look at.

BehindTheName.com - The largest database of given names and surnames/family names (and their etymology) on the Internet.

Church topics

Christian saints of Late Antiquity - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional saints for the Builder Church.

Christian female saints of Late Antiquity - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional female saint for the Builder Church.

Christian saints of the Middle Ages - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional saint for the Builder Church.

Christian female saints of the Middle Ages - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional female saint for the Builder Church.

A database of Roman Catholic saints - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional saint for the Builder Church.

A database of female Roman Catholic saints - Useful for inspiration when coming up with a fictional female saint for the Builder Church.


Book title Author Publisher Country of origin Pages, edition and cover ISBN Description
Open Air Museums: The History and Future of a Visionary Idea Rentzhog S.
(eng. transl. Airey, S. V.)
Carlssons Bokförlag (Stockholm)
& Jamtli Förlag (Östersund)
Sweden 1st edition 2007
ISBN 978-91-7948-208-4 A comprehensive book on the history and development of open-air museums and their depictions of housing, work and life in previous historical periods.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bryson B. Doubleday (London) United Kingdom 536 p.
1st edition 2010
ISBN 978-0-385-60827-5 In the words of the author, "homes are not a refuge from history, they're where history ends up". The author goes through his house room by room and discusses the reasons why they are like they are. For example, why do we have salt and pepper on the kitchen table ? Why not salt and cumin ? He then delves into the historical reasons for this. It focuses mostly on Britain with a bit of America thrown in too.
The Building of The Green Valley: A Reconstruction of an Early 17th Century Rural Landscape Peachey S. Stuart Press
& Heritage Publications
United Kingdom 210 p.
1st edition 2006
2nd edition 2010
ISBN-10: 1905223137

ISBN-13: 978-1905223138
Recreating rural housing, work and life from the early 17th century Welsh borderlands (Monmouthshire), on an authentic farm from the period.
La Ville au Moyen-Âge
(The City in the Middle Ages)
Heers J. Fayard/Pluriel France 560 p.
1st edition 2010
ISBN-10: 2818500230

ISBN-13 (EAN): 978-2818500231
Life in medieval cities. A very complete piece of non-fiction, if one with a dry approach to the topic. It covers urbanism, social management and economy, and it covers period politics only when it touches upon these topics. A Spanish translation exists, not sure about an English one.
La ville médiévale
(The Medieval City)
Boucheron P.; Menjot, D. Editions du Seuil France 544 p.
1st edition 2011
EAN 9782757825471 Life in medieval cities. Takes a more political approach than Heers' book, not only on inner urban dynamics, but also their relation to increasingly bureaucratized feudal states. Probably no English translation.
The Growth of the Medieval City
(A History of Urban Society in Europe series)
Nicholas, D. N. Routledge United Kingdom 432 p.
1st edition 1997
ISBN-10: 0582299063

ISBN-13: 978-0582299061
A good summary of medieval urbanism and its evolution, in two English-language volumes.
Power and Imagination: City States in Renaissance Italy Martines, L. Johns Hopkins University Press United States 400 p.
1st edition 1988
ISBN-10: 0801836433

ISBN-13: 978-0801836435
Analyzes the development of the great city-states of Italy from the eleventh to the sixteenth century, as small market towns grew into independent centers of power and culture. A general work that provides excellent info on social organization, etiquette, and political processes in the various republics, oligarchies and principalities.
Cities And The Rise Of States In Europe, A.d. 1000 To 1800 Tilly, Ch.; Blockmans, W. P. Routledge United Kingdom 290 p.
1st edition 1994
ISBN-10: 081338849X

ISBN-13: 978-0813388496
"Charles Tilly, Wim P. Blockmans, and their contributors document differences in political trajectories from one part of Europe to another and provide authoritative surveys of urbanization in nine major regions; they also suggest many correctives to previous analyses of state formation. They show that the variable distribution of cities significantly and independently constrained state formation and that states grew differently according to the character of urban networks in a given region."
Dark Ages Economics: A New Audit Hodges, R. Bloomsbury / Bristol Classical Press United Kingdom 176 p.
1st edition 2012
ISBN 9780715636794 A study about the development of towns and trade around the North Sea in the early medieval period. Clearly a scholarly book, altough the author writes with clarity, and introduces the basic theories behind the topic fairly well to an average reader.
A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries Coleman, J. Oxford University Press / Academic United Kingdom 272 p. (vol. I)
352 p. (vol. II, hardback)
354 p. (vol. II, paperback)
514 p. (vol. III)
536 p. (vol. IV)
ISBN: 9780199254712 (vol. I, hardback)
ISBN: 9780199557097 (vol. I, paperback)
ISBN: 9780199254705 (vol. II, hardback)
ISBN: 9780199557103 (vol. II, paperback)
ISBN: 9780199549375 (vol. III)
ISBN 9780715636794 (vol. IV)
An examination of historical British cant, slang and argot from the 16th century to the recent past. Consists of four volumes.

Some recommended viewing

Aside from reading non-fiction books and other publications, or reading online non-fiction articles about these topics, there are certain television documentaries worth checking out. The ones recommended below are mostly British, and cover topics related to daily life, from later prehistory to the heyday of the industrial revolution.

Programme title Period Topics covered Production &
First broadcast Episodes Links
The Ötztal Man and His World Neolithic / Chalcolithic (alpine Europe) Farming, housing, forestry, crafts ZDF Enterprises, ZDF, ORF, Channel Four, Discovery Channel 2000 1 x 93 min. (theatrical)
1 x 75 (TV cut)
Article on the film
Living in the Past The Iron Age Farming, housing, forestry, crafts BBC Bristol & BBC2 1978 10 x 30 min. or 2 x 50 min. IMDb
2008 retrospective (1)
Retrospective interview
The Worst Jobs in History Roman era to present day Particularly difficult or unpleasant historical occupations Spire Productions & Channel Four 2004, 2006 12 x 60 min. IMDb
C4 site (1)
C4 site (2)
Legal viewing link (playlist)
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives Middle Ages Debunking myths and clichés about eight different social roles/occupations of the medieval period Oxford Film and Television Production & BBC Two 2004 8 x 30 min. IMDb
Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death Middle Ages About the significance of a person's birth, marriage and death in the context of medieval culture and society and the rituals surrounding them BBC Scotland & Matchlight 2013 3, 177 min. total BBC
Secrets of the Castle... High Middle Ages, 13th century Castle construction and maintenance Lion Television & BBC Two 2014 5 x 60 min. BBC
Lion TV
Legal viewing link (eps follow each other)
Medieval Fight Book Late Middle Ages, 15th century A look at unique late-medieval military and civilian inventions, and some medieval combat techniques, documeted in Hans Talhoffer's Fechtbuch Wild Dream Films & National Geographic Television 2010 1 x 60 min. National Geographic
Legal viewing link
Let's Cook History Middle Ages, Renaissance period, etc. Period cuisine and feasting ? ? ? x 52 min. Legal viewing link (Medieval Feast episode)
Legal viewing link (Renaissance period)
Tudor Monastery Farm Early Tudor era, 1510s Farming, housing, crafts, mining, trade Lion Television & BBC Two 2013 7 x 30 min.
(incl. Christmas special)
Lion TV
A Tudor Feast at Christmas Tudor era, 16th century Christmas feasts of the nobility Lion Television & BBC Two 2006 1 x 60 min. BBC
Lion TV
Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home Tudor era Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Tudor period Modern Television & BBC Four 2015 1 x 60 min. BBC
Legal viewing link
Tales from the Green Valley Stuart era, 1620s Farming and housing Lion Television & BBC Two / BBC Cymru Wales 2005 12 x 28-30 min. BBC
Lion TV
The Victorian Kitchen Garden Victorian era, 19th century Gardening, cooking and housing BBC & BBC Two 1987 13 x 30 min. IMDb
The Victorian Kitchen Victorian era, 19th century Cooking and housing BBC & BBC Two 1989 8 x 30 min. IMDb
The Victorian Flower Garden Victorian era, 19th century Gardening and horticulture BBC & BBC Two 1991 8 x 30 min. IMDb
Victorian Farm Late Victorian era, 1880s Farming, housing, crafts, celebrations Lion Television & BBC Two 2009 9 x 60 min. BBC
IMDb (1)
IMDb (2)
Lion TV
Victorian Pharmacy Victorian era, 1840s-1890s Pharmacology and drugstore history Lion Television & BBC Two 2010 4 x 60 min. BBC
Lion TV
Legal viewing link (playlist, first 3 eps)
Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home Victorian era, 1840s-1890s Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Victorian period Modern Television, BBC Wales & BBC Four 2013 2 x 60 min. BBC (1)
BBC (2)
IMDb (1)
IMDb (2)
Legal viewing link
Full Steam Ahead Victorian era Railway history and steam power Lion Television & BBC Two 2016 6 x 60 min. BBC
Lion TV
Edwardian Farm Edwardian era, 1900-1914 Farming, fishing, housing, crafts, mining, trade, tourism Lion Television & BBC Two 2010-2011 12 x 60 min. BBC
Lion TV
Hidden Killers of the Edwardian Home Edwardian era, 1900-1914 Design flaws and unexpected threats of domestic housing in the Edwardian period Modern Television & BBC Four 2013 1 x 60 min. BBC
Legal viewing link

See Also

Related articles

  • Food - Article with some examples of cuisine from The Dark Mod's setting.
  • Jobs - Article with examples of what sort of occupations people would have in The Dark Mod's setting.
  • Letter Writing - Article with examples of how letters would be written in The Dark Mod's setting.
  • Rooms and Furniture - Article with examples of typical furnishings in the housing of various social groups.
  • Wealthy Household - Article with examples of the infrastructure, staff and functioning of a wealthy household.