Middle Ages Daily Life

During the Middle Ages most people lived in the country and worked as farmers. A local lord lived in a large house called a manor or a castle. Local peasants worked the land for this lord. They were called the lord's servants. They worked hard all year, growing barley, wheat, oats, vegetables, and fruits. Sometimes they raised chickens for eggs and cows for milk. Peasants were not allowed to hunt on the lord's land. They could be put to death for killing a deer.

City life wasn't much easier. The cities were crowded and dirty. Craftsmen were members of a guild. Young boys served as apprentices for seven years to learn a craft. Other jobs included servants, merchants, bakers, doctors, and lawyers.

Most people lived in small one- or two-room homes that were very crowded. Usually everyone slept in the same room. In the country, the family animals often also live inside the house. The home was usually dark, smoky from the fire, and uncomfortable.

Most peasants wore plain clothing made from heavy wool. The wealthy wore nicer clothes made from fine wool, velvet, and even silk. Men generally wore a tunic, woolen stockings, pants, and a cloak. Women wore a long skirt called a kirtle, an apron, woolen stockings, and a cloak. Laws were passed stating who could wear what types of clothes and what materials they could use, In order to separate the nobles from the peasants.

Peasants during the Middle Ages mostly ate bread and stew. The bread was gritty from the millstones used to grind the grain, so the people's teeth wore down quickly. The stew had beans, cabbage, and vegetables flavored with a bit of meat or bones. Meat, cheese, and eggs were saved for special occasions. Since there was no refrigeration, meat could only be eaten fresh. Leftover meat was smoked or salted to preserve it. The nobles ate a wider variety of food including meats and sweet puddings. People mostly drank ale or wine. The water was unhealthy to drink.

Very few people attended school in the Middle Ages. Most peasants learned their job and how to survive from their parents. Some children learned a craft through apprenticeship and the guild system. Wealthy children often learned through tutors or lived in the castle of another lord where they would learn how to run a large manor. The church ran schools where students could learn to read and write Latin. The first universities also began during the Middle Ages, teaching writing, logic, math, music, astronomy, and public speaking.

Medicine was very primitive at the time. Sometimes doctors would "bleed" sick people by putting leeches on their skin.

Source: Middle Ages Daily Life
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