Medieval Monday: 14th Century Life

What Was Life Like in 14th Century England?

by: Brumafriend

1__S_39-gF6nJ5GVhvZLV6YQThe 14th century was, both worldwide and in relations to England, a century of social turmoil, filled with plague, famine, and an unprecedented desire for social mobility. By the end of the 1300s, the long-standing system of serfdom which had previously been the core of English socioeconomic and class relations had started to irreversibly deteriorate. The key turning point was the Black Death of 1348 (which began the year prior in Europe) and saw the foundations of English society shake. Therefore, it makes sense to look at the 14th century not as one unit but rather as two, with the plague as a divider.

Before the plague, English life for the peasant class remained fairly unchanged from what it had been for hundreds of years. Medical technology and practices had been slowly improving over time, although more so in the Islamic world than in Europe, and many afflictions — such as the Black Death itself — were explained as divine punishment or by superstition, rather than any biological cause. England’s population had grown rapidly from the year 1200, rising to 5 million by 1400. This increase was largely spurred on by, and subsequently encouraged, the prosperity of England’s agricultural economy — which still made up a very rural society — caused by the adoption of crop rotation techniques. This, in turn, led to an increase in the number of towns. Although many were small, others, such as Norwich, consisted of around 5,000 inhabitants and the biggest cities, such as London, neared 40,000 in population. This meant that society was no longer merely agricultural and other professions, such as in the exportation of wool and cloth, could be pursued.

The Church was also a prevalent force at this time as England was still highly Christian (as a result of, and certainly a cause of, scientific ignorance) and this constituted a significant part of a peasant’s life. A peasant was under an economic obligation to pay a tax (known as a ‘tithe’ to the Church), which came in the form of 10% of the value of the land that he farmed. At a time when peasants were struggling to get by, this tax was deeply unpopular, although it was rarely challenged due to the deep-set nature of religious faith. Indeed, the majority of the population were not even able to comprehend the words delivered to them from the Bible each Sunday, as it was not given in the vernacular and the vast majority of the lower classes could only speak English. Most were also illiterate, which meant that independent religious practice was difficult and possession of books was pointless as well as expensive. At this time, books were often as much a testament of wealth as an intellectual endeavour. Books were incredibly expensive, especially as the printing press would not be invented until 1440, and were often encrusted with jewellery to signify the wealth of its owner.

Whilst life was certainly hard for a 14th-century commoner, with a bad harvest being the difference between life and death, there was still time for pastimes. Such activities included gambling, such as dice games, and playing Chess. Alternatively, inns had, since their emergence during the 12th and 13th centuries, increased in number throughout the country, offering commonfolk an opportunity to relax and converse with others. The exact hobbies and feelings of peasants during this time remains somewhat unknown due to the lack of credible primary sources as a result of a high illiteracy rate and the gradual decomposition and deterioration of the few physical first-hand accounts, which were often lost or discarded.

Continue reading…


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

Advertisements

Inspiration Sunday

tree-3097419_1920You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:36-39

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.


No one had been here for hundreds of years. The narrow mountain road that had once wound its way up to the top of the peak now had wide and unstable gaps. He had taken the path as far as he could, but to get to the entrance of the ancient castle, the only way up was a grueling climb. The doorway he was trying to reach was still some distance upward, and he’d barely made it to the ledge he was on. His muscles were weak, and he was cold and incredibly hungry. The final leg of his climb would have to wait for morning.

He had no idea what would be waiting for him inside the structure once he got to it. The people who had once lived here were mysterious and reclusive. Rumors swirled about the strange powers and abilities they were said to have possessed. The greatest mystery was what had become of them. What would he find once he made his way inside? And could he manage to get the answers he sought without sharing their fate?

Corrupted Enchantment: When Fairy Tales Collide

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 3.57.29 PMFans of Once Upon A Time will be obsessed with this series!

WHEN FAIRY TALES COLLIDE
Welcome to Enchantia, where all your favorite fairy tale characters live happily ever after… That is, until a dark spell takes over the land. 

Robin Hood: Everyone at school seemed to be scared of me. What? Had they never met someone who’d been in jail before? Whatever. I liked it that way. I didn’t need friends. I just needed to be left alone so I could get back to what I was supposed to be doing… Stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Something was getting in the way of my usual goal though. There seemed to be a spell looming about, and I knew exactly who was responsible for it– Presidential candidate, Rumpelstiltskin. 
There was also the Peter Pan problem. Now that I was back, I could tell he wanted to approach me, but there was nothing he could have done to make me forgive him. He could bat his pretty little eyes all he wanted. The ultimate betrayal wasn’t something I took lightly.

Rumpelstiltskin: I didn’t care what the three fates said about that filthy little brat, Robin Hood, being my undoing. I would spill her blood to change that destiny. Now that I had the power of the Presidency in my palms, I wouldn’t let anything stop me from achieving what I set out to do.

Purchase Today for $0.99!


C. Penticoff

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 3.58.10 PMC. Penticoff has always considered herself a dreamer in a world with a million opportunities.

She recalls her dream of being an author starting at the ripe age of nine years old, when a published author visited her school and empowered her to reach for the stars. It was then she realized her ability to write a great story could be something that made her shine in a world full of bright lights.

C. Penticoff began writing her first full length novel when she was 12 years old, and finally published the new and improved story September of 2017.

C. Penticoff lives in the Pacific Northwest with her two sons and husband. They are in the process of building a tiny home for their family.

Connect with C. Penticoff!

Website | Newsletter | FB | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 3.57.44 PM

 

Medieval Monday: Executioner

What Was It Like to Be an Executioner in the Middle Ages?

by: Emma Bryce

Forget the image of the hooded executioner swinging an ax; much of what we think we know about these medieval figures isn’t true.

8xCuScaVhawKbLfWGRPeAP-1024-80

One afternoon in May 1573, a 19-year-old man named Frantz Schmidt stood in the backyard of his father’s house in the German state of Bavaria, preparing to behead a stray dog with a sword. He’d recently graduated from “decapitating” inanimate pumpkins to practicing on live animals. If he passed this final stage, Schmidt would be considered ready to start his job, as an executioner of people.

We know the details of this morbid scene because Schmidt meticulously chronicled his life as an executioner, writing a series of diaries that painted a rich picture of this profession during the sixteenth century. His words provided a rare glimpse of the humanity behind the violence, revealing a man who took his work seriously and often felt empathy for his victims. But what’s more, Schmidt wasn’t necessarily all that unusual; historical anecdotes reveal that the prevailing stereotype of the hooded, blood-spattered, brutish executioner falls far short of the truth.

So then, what was it like to do this work hundreds of years ago in Europe? And how did “executioner” become a legitimate job title in the first place?

Continue reading…


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

Medieval Monday: Bizarre Trends

12 Bizarre Medieval Trends

by: Frances White

From pigs on trial to hairless faces, discover what went viral in the Middle Ages.

Every age has a tendency to look back at older generations and judge the customs, beliefs and traditions of the time. However, it is fair to say that there are few periods in history that we regard as strangely as we do the Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages have been stamped an unlucky time to be born and popular consensus is that people were poor, food was dull, everything was dirty, and for the vast majority of it the population was dropping like flies. What we don’t hear about is that people created some of the most peculiar, bizarre, hilarious and astounding trends in human history. Let’s take some time to embrace the medieval period and all of its lovable eccentricities.

1. Animal court

Life in medieval times could be tough, and this didn’t just apply to humans. Just like their two-legged owners, all manner of animals from livestock to insects were put on trial if suspected of breaking the law. There are records of at least 85 animal trials that took place during the Middle Ages and the tales vary from the tragic to the absurd, as described in the book “The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals,” by E. P. Evans (E. P. Dutton and Company, 1906).

Xwz2RHePinM3PrYac2bnpB-650-80

By far the most serial offenders were pigs, accused and convicted of chewing off body parts and even eating children. Most were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging or being burned at the stake. In 1386, a convicted pig was dressed in a waistcoat, gloves, drawers and a human mask for its execution.

It wasn’t just pigs that felt the sting of the law, though, In 1474 a court found a rooster guilty of the “unnatural crime” of laying an egg; unwanted rats often found themselves on the receiving end of a strongly worded letter, asking them to leave the premises; and curiously enough, there was a trial of dolphins in Marseilles in 1596.

However, not all of the trials ended in brutality. One donkey, which found herself the victim of unwanted sexual advances, was proclaimed innocent after a strong recommendation from a convent’s prior, declaring her to be a virtuous and well-behaved animal.

Continue reading…


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