Medieval Monday: The Labors of December

winter-scene-2In the cold days of December, the fields were finally quiet, with the ground too frozen to work. Animals were taken care of, to ensure they would not only survive the harsh months to come, but that they would be healthy on spring’s arrival. After all, they would be needed to work. In bad weather, animals would need to be brought indoors and fed straw mixed with other nutrients such as corn stubble, or pea pods.  Other outdoor work consisted of mostly repair and reconstruction. Timber was cut, and fences and walls mended. If autumn rains had eroded the banks of the mill pond, they would need to be fixed as well.

cooking2

 

Most work had to be done indoors. Carving wood became a common winter activity–people made useful items like bowls, spoons, and cups. They repaired farming tools and household equipment. Baskets, nets, and harnesses were woven out of rushes or reeds. Women spent a good amount of time spinning thread, weaving, and sewing–making new garments and mending torn ones.

Women would also be carefully managing supplies of food; doing their best to feed hungry families even though the fresh foods gathered or harvested in autumn were now beginning to run out. Most peasant families were surviving on bread and pottage. The kettle was kept going over the fire day after day, the culinary monotony broken up by subtle changes to what was thrown into the pot. Common ingredients would have been beans, leeks, lentils, peas, onions, and herbs like parsley. Meat stock might be used for added nutrition, and possibly salted meat or dried fish on occasion. Eggs, cheese, and butter rounded out the winter diet on days when fasting wasn’t required.


Below I have two videos to share. One is very short and shows how bowls were carved using traditional medieval tools. He makes this look so easy, but I’m sure it takes a lot of practice to learn this skill. The other is December’s Tales from the Green Valley in which the team covers the topics of making preparations for Christmas, building a wood storage hovel, sewing, clothing, threshing peas, making mince pies and other Christmas foods, and decorating for Christmas. Some of the Christmas traditions (like the Yule log) are from a bit beyond the medieval period, but many of the other things they describe would have been the same. Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Keeping the Goliardic Spark Alive #amwriting #NaNoWriMo by Connie J. Jasperson

Medieval Monday will be back next week! Like Connie, I am also making a last push for my NaNoWriMo word count, so today I’m sharing a post instead of writing one. (Thanks to Chris the Story Reading Ape.)


This week has been a struggle, what with cooking a Thanksgiving feast for my extended family and trying to keep my wordcount output up for #NaNoWriMo, so today I am reprising an essay written in 2015, on irreverent humor, the Carmina Burana, and medieval frat boys. Enjoy!

Crazy humor at the expense of the establishment is nothing new. It’s part of the Human Condition. And to that end, I love goliardic poetry.

Carl Orff and his amazing cantata, Carmina Burana, catapulted me into the poetry of the Goliards. But who and what were the goliards?

During what we call the Middle Ages, noble and wealthy middle-class families had a tradition that the eldest son inherited everything, the second son went into the church, and the younger sons went to the crusades.

The old-fashioned practice of “primogeniture” or bestowing the rights of inheritance upon the eldest son, often leaving younger sons penniless, is responsible for some of the most ribald and hilarious poetry of the middle ages…

Keep reading at the source: Keeping the Goliardic Spark Alive #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

Black Friday Sale! Indie Christian Books

Looking for great gifts for family and friends this Black Friday?

Get discounts on both print and e-books from this huge Christian book sale that starts TODAY and ends November 30th. Choose from a wide range of genres and authors. Package deals offer even deeper discounts.

The Wind Rider Chronicles is included in this sale for prices too low for me to offer through Amazon or other retailers. Buy a print copy of both Journey to Aviad and Ancient Voices, and Into the Shadow Wood comes free! My e-books are on sale too. Check it out–there is no charge for shipping!

Journey to AviadPrint $9.99
Ancient VoicesPrint $9.99     /     e-Book $1.99
Into the Shadow Woode-book $0.99

Package Deal – Print $20.00 (all 3 books)

 

The Best Fantasy Novels You’ve Never Heard Of by Andrea Lundgren

I frequently get questions from fellow readers for fantasy book recommendations. I have well-known favorites (The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit) but then my list goes off to books that are less known, so I wanted to share the best with all of you. These have been picked based on the quality of writing, world-building, characterization, and the fact that…well, I love them all! 🙂

Check out Andrea’s list of The Best Fantasy Novels You’ve Never Heard Of  
I’m happy to say that my Wind Rider Chronicles series made the list! 


Andrea Lundgren is a Book Coach, Editor, and Author who enjoys books and all things writing–why we write, how we write, and what we read to write better.
Visit her blog at https://andrealundgren.com/into-the-writer-lea/

Fantasy Art Wednesday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Wednesday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


Warm, golden sunlight spills onto this hidden city. Its location a well-guarded secret, you will not find it on any maps, nor does any road lead to it. Sheltered by the branches and roots of ancient trees, it seems untouched by time and the cares that plague the rest of the world. This is a city of light, of wisdom, of beauty…or so the legends say.

Many have lost themselves seeking it, both in body and mind. Some believe the desire to find it becomes a curse–one created by its inhabitants. Those who persist in their search become obsessed to the point of insanity, leading themselves ever further away. Whether or not anyone has made it to the golden city is a mystery that cannot be solved by anyone beyond its borders. Once there, it is impossible to leave. Only you can decide if that a blessing, or just an extension of the curse.

Concept Art by Snow Skadi

Medieval Monday: Boots, Shoes, and Walking Medieval

Early in the period, footwear was still influenced by the Romans and nomadic European tribes that came before. They were largely stiff, poor quality, stitched leather wraps with laces to hold them to the ankle—not much better than walking barefoot. In colder regions these might have been lined with fur for warmth. As the Middle Ages progressed, and trade increased, higher quality leather became available, and the crusades exposed Europe to Byzantine styles. Shoe and boot makers might be called cordwainers (12th century on) or chaucers, and as was the case with most other medieval trades, they were regulated by guilds. Cobblers, however, did not make brand new footwear. They were only permitted to repair shoes that had been made by someone else.

The types of shoes worn would be different depending on your trade, where you lived, and your social status. They might be made of leather, wool, fur, or wood. Peasants often wore poor quality knee-high boots that laced up the front. English peasants also wore a heavy shoe made of undressed leather with the hair on the outside. They were called revelins or slops. The nobility wore a high quality close-toed slipper, the design of which changed with the fashions of the day. Early on, they remained relatively plain, but in the high and late Middle Ages they may have been elongated, pointed, and/or decorated with elaborate designs. Leather shoes could be stamped, tooled, or decorated with cutouts. Shoes were not always necessary, however. As hose became fashionable for men, soles were often sewn directly into the hose.

Turnshoes were the most popular type of medieval shoe, particularly in the northern regions. These ankle-high shoes had a triangular flap that folded over the ankle and stayed attached with a latchet or thongs.  They were very plain, with no embellishments and flat soles. These types of shoes were made inside out, then soaked in a bucket of water until they were soft enough to turn them the right way. This would have been done very carefully to prevent over-stretching the leather or tearing it. Once completely dry, the shoe would be stiff again. It might have a sole added at this stage, but it could also be worn without one.

In the 14th century, clogs or pattens also became common. They were an overshoe that offered protection from wet and muddy streets. The bottoms were made of wood or cork, with a leather strap to hold them to the foot. Some had a hinged heel to make walking easier. Techniques that allowed a heavier sole to be attached to a regular shoe were not developed until the 15th century. Stacked heels did not come about until after the Renaissance period.

While some shoes were tailored specifically to the wearer’s feet, ready-made shoes in several different sizes were also available as the trade began to boom. There was little to no distinction between a right and left shoe such as there is today. Shoes might have been padded for comfort, or to correct the fit as the material stretched with wear.  Padding would have been made from materials like wool, fur, hair, or moss.

One of the most interesting aspects of this topic is that medieval shoes required a different style of walking than we are accustomed to today. To comfortably wear a medieval style shoe, one would need to point their feet forward, rather than at an angle, take a shorter stride, and land on the front of the foot rather than the heel. Roland Warzecha, who teaches historical European combat fighting, made a video explaining the body mechanics of how medieval people walked. It is less than 7 minutes long, but very informative!

 


Want to know more about the Middle Ages? Check out the Medieval Monday Index for additional topics.