Medieval Monday: A Knight’s Steed

A knight and his horse were a perfect partnership, the dominating force on the battlefield for many hundreds of years. How did this perfect partnership come to be and how did a knight work with his horse to cement their place in history? Jason shares his own experiences with horses – knights must have had similar relationships with their own steeds.

Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover other topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Monday: The Labors of April

Spring is here! Farm work really gets underway—harrowing and sowing are important chores for this month. Crops planted in April included grains, like barley and oats, and legumes like beans, peas, and vetches. Grain seed was planted by standing with one’s back to the breeze, and flinging a handful of seeds outward from the waist. This was a quick and easy way to create a dense growth of grain. It took four bushels of seed for each acre planted.

By contrast, legumes were more carefully planted. A hole was poked into the soil with a “dibbler stick,” and the seed dropped in. It took three bushels of beans or peas to plant each acre. The field was harrowed after all the planting was done by dragging a tool like a giant rake across the field. This covered all of the newly planted seeds with soil.

Flax and hemp were also planted in April. These had a myriad of uses, the most notable of which was fiber production. In addition to large crop fields, household gardens were cleaned up and made ready for planting in April as well. Herbs and coleworts would be the first things planted.

Calving continued, and the lambs were continually being weaned, which meant dairy work could begin for the spring. Cream, milk, cheese, and butter were back on the menu again. Pigs also began to have piglets, so any food leftovers were given to the pigs.

It’s time for another episode of “Tales from the Green Valley” which focuses on what daily life would have been like during the month of April. Subjects in this episode include spring cleaning (and other chores of a medieval housewife), calving, bedding, building/repairing stone walls, field work, and making food from early spring ingredients. Enjoy!

Did you miss last week’s post on medieval tower houses? Click to read and get a visual tour of one towerhouse still standing in Ireland. Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover more topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.



Fantasy Art Friday

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

This place has seen better days. There is part of a tower or castle looming in the background, but everything around it seems to be falling apart, including this entrance with gaping holes in the roof. It isn’t abandoned though–there is a guard on watch. Is that a gallows behind him on the other side of the wall? It adds to the sense of foreboding in this picture, along with the fog, the dead trees, and the crumbling structures.

Who lives in that castle? Is it a tyrant living lavishly on the backs of his or her subjects, while dishing out cruel punishments for any minor infraction? Or is this city part of of a kingdom that has fallen on hard times and is barely surviving? Maybe there’s a completely different twist to this story that only you can tell…

Keeping Watch over ruin



Be Still and Know that I Am God

Easter is upon us once again, and with it always comes a profound longing that stirs me to examine myself, and my walk with Jesus, a bit more intently. There is something about going from the horror of the crucifixion, to the despair of waiting, to the elation of the resurrection, that brings a sense of renewal.

This is an unusual Easter for many, who would typically be preparing for a week of church services, and celebrations with friends and extended family. The need for social distancing and quarantine have forced us to forgo many of our annual Easter traditions. But maybe that’s not entirely a bad thing if we view this as an opportunity to grow. We can turn our forced solitude into a gift of time, during which we can slow down enough to contemplate the full depth and meaning of Easter. Maybe we can even start some new traditions.

The most profound and memorable Easter I ever celebrated was not in a church. When I was a teenager living in Germany, I didn’t have a church, or even a Christian community to lean on. I had a Bible, a budding faith that was challenged and tested every single day, and a loving God who stood with me through all of it. One Easter Sunday I was invited by friends to take a hike in the grayness before sunrise. We ascended to the peak of a tall hill that had been entirely formed from massive piles of rubble leftover from WWII—a war in which my own grandfather had come overseas to fight.

The hill was green and forested by the time I went there in the late 1980s. You never would have known it wasn’t a natural hillside until you got to the top, where the rubble seemed to burst forth from the ground, and you suddenly recognized massive pieces of wall, and columns, and sculpted stone adornments. The hill rises 1,000 feet above the Nekar River, and is made of 530 million cubic feet of historic debris—that’s the Empire State building 14 times over.

As I stood there on the highest point in all of Stuttgart, my mind struggled to fathom just how much destruction was piled beneath my feet, and how many millions of lives had been lost during the war. It was stunning, and incomprehensible. Words failed and silence fell over everything.

Rubble Hill, or Birkenkopf as it is also called, is one of those places that seems to demand quiet reflection. From it you can see everything on a clear day, even the distant Black Forest and the beginnings of the Alps. Erected at its top is a massive cross. The one that is there now is made of steel, but I was fortunate enough to see the original wooden cross that had been there since the 1950s. Standing on that hill on a chilly Easter morning, and singing hymns to the heavens while the sun rose to illuminate that cross, was an experience I will never forget.

We’re all like Rubble Hill in a way—sometimes broken and scarred by life’s trials, burdened by sins that we try to hide beneath attractive greenery, yet cannot fully contain. In victory over it all stands Christ, whose death on another wooden cross over 2,000 years ago set us free. He keeps vigil over our souls day by day because we now belong to Him, and He alone can transform all of our inner rubble into something beautiful beyond imagining.

So take some time in the quiet of this Easter morning to pray and reflect—maybe even sing hymns of praise as the sun rises. Take comfort in the words of Psalm 46 as we continue to endure these challenging times together.

“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Hope you all have a blessed Easter!