Eli5 How did travelers/crusaders in medieval times get a clean and consistent source of water

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Eli5 How did travelers/crusaders in medieval times get a clean and consistent source of water

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Anonymous 0 Comments

By carefully planning their movements, from one source of water to another. Destroying the water wells (e.g. by throwing rotten meat into them) was an early example of scorched-earth strategy.

They often carried alcohol (beer or light wine), not to get drunk, but because it did not go bad (or at least not as fast as water)

Also, people had tougher stomachs back then, and much higher rate of disease despite it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

That is why mead/ale were so popular I was told. The process of making it purified the water. Liquid bread I have also heard it called.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There were a lot fewer people in the medieval times. And a lot less problems with agricultural runoff and industrial pollution. Cities were almost exclusively near the coastline or at least along huge rivers. Even things like well water being salty is just a problem after we drained the aquifers. So most running water were potable. And in some parts of the world with low population density this is still the case.

That being said there have been a shift in what is considered clean water. This again have to do with population density and globalization. An infected stream making a small village ill is not that big of a problem compared to an infected stream making a large city ill. And it is far more common now to get infected from drinking infected water and then travel far away, even to different countries and end up infecting the water supply there. So making sure the water is clean have become a much higher priority both because we can and because the consequences of not cleaning the water is so greater.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Crusaders didn’t voyage all at once.

Think of it more like a migration. They made stops in many ports and coastal cities to replenish.

This was necessary especially for the many entourage of families, support, horses etc that traveled with.

Also they traveled in waves, meaning by the time the entire army was arriving, the first wave already lived for months there, gathering information or setting up fortifications, livestock etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A lot of times, they didn’t get clean water and either got very sick or even died.

Guillaume X of Aquitaine, Henry the Young King, Baudouin III of Jerusalem, Amaury of Jerusalem, Sibylle of Jerusalem, Louis VIII of France, Geoffrey of Briel, Louis IX of France and his son Jean Tristan, Philippe III of France, Rudolf I of Bohemia, Edward I of England, Edward the Black Prince, Michael de la Pole, and Henry V of England all died of dysentery or another stomach ailment acquired from bad food or water and the majority of them caught their ailment during war or travel.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Beer and tea!!!

Most historic beers were less than 3% alcohol. So you didn’t really get to drunk on it. But it was enough to keep the nasties at bay!
Making beer also had the added benefit of making food more calories dense. 1 gram of carbohydrate is 3 calories, but 1 gram of alcohol is 7 calories! There are also a lot of micro nutrients created during fermentation that don’t otherwise exist in a bowl of barley or oatmeal.

I believe tea came about because boiled water, although safe for consumption, tastes funny, and if you added some fancy herbs to it. It tastes way better! So now you have a safe and delicious beverage that also provides a few calories and some bonus micro nutrients.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Towns and cities would keep clean water sources as an attraction for the business of passing pilgrims/merchants. And for themselves, because even Middle Easterners need water to live.

Worst case, people boiled their drinking water if they knew their water source was polluted. They didn’t understand germ theory, but they knew this made water safer.

Non-Muslims might produce beer, which would be safer since it’s technically pasteurized. But no one was drinking wine or beer as regular hydration. That’s a tired old myth.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It would depend on where you were, but generally, anywhere you want to go will already have water: large armies would have found it difficult to carry more than 5 days of food, so an army would either need to split up enough to forage, or create depots along planned routes to hold supplies.

Either way, an army will have access to water, but that water could easily be tainted in unfamiliar regions.

Anonymous 0 Comments

On ships they drank grog which is alcohol fortified. On land when traveling they were constantly sick until they built up a localized tolerance or died. That’s why to this day IMO in Europe restaurants don’t serve water unless you ask for bottled.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Some time in the 630’s (so way before the crusades) a roughly 800 strong Arab army lead by Khalid ibn al-Walid marched through the Syrian desert. They forced a large number of camels to drink a lot of water, then tied their mouths shut to stop them eating and spoiling the water in their stomachs. Every day they would slaughter some of the camels and drink the water that was ‘stored’ in them. Might not be as palatable as lightly fermented beer but hey, it worked.