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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.