The Kings Word Giving Orders He could have you thrown into jail or have your head chopped off. The Lords took orders from the King. The Lord gave orders to the Knights. Everyone could order around a peasants. KING LORD KNIGHT
Learning a Trade
Craftsman made goods.
Merchants bought and sold goods.
Peasants worked the land for the Lord.
Young boys were sent to live with a family of a craftsman to learn a trade. After 7 years as an apprentice, he could go out and work on his own.
Girls stayed in the home and worked along side their Mother. The wealthier girls would also be taught in the home by tutors. They would learn to read and to do simple arithmetic .
Becoming a Knight
At the age of 7 a boy would leave his parents and go to live with a Nobel Family. As their Page he would serve food, help the Lord dress, and learned how to ride and fight with a sword.
When he turned 14 he became a Squire. He would follow his master into battle and look after his horse and armor.
Most would become knights by the time they turned 21.
At times of conflict a King would call upon the Lords and Knights for protection. The lords and Knights would sometimes send the King money to get out of his responsibility.
It could take up to an hour for a knight to dress for battle.
The armor was about 55 pounds.
It was made-up of many parts but the most important pieces were the helmet (a hard metal covering for the head), the chain mail (interwoven links of iron to help deflect slashing wounds), breastplate (large metal covering to protect the vital organs in the upper body), and the gauntlet (a glove that protected the hands and wrists).
Knights at Play
One favorite sport was hunting. With bows and arrows, hunters tracked wolves and fierce wild boars.
Another popular sport was hawking. Knights and Ladies tamed hawks and then taught them to catch small birds.
The most fun of all was the tournament, a series of mock battles that lasted many days. Knights were sometimes wounded or killed in these activities.
The first castles were made of wood. They stood on a mound called a motte . The outer enclosure was called a bailey .
The term moat was first developed to define the dividing of a waterway to enclose a living area as a form of protection.
To enter a castle one had to pass over the moat by way of the drawbridge (#3 in the picture). The portcullis was a sliding iron gate used to block passage through the castle gate (4). Armed guards stood behind battlements (2) which helped protect them during an attack.
The castle relied on walls, towers, and strong gatehouses for their defense. The outer wall surrounded the whole castle, and the inner wall surrounded the keep.
The largest stone structure in a castle was known as the keep . This was the strongest tower where the Lord would make his last stand during a siege when all the other castle defenses had failed.
Castle Residents and Visitors
While the Lord was away the constable (a commander) was in charge of the castle. The constable would appoint others to look after finances and supplies.
When Lords visited other castles they would bring them priest, soldiers, and a host of servants, swelling the number of residents from 20 to around 200.
Entertainers, such as jugglers, jesters, minstrels, and traveling actors called mummers, would come to entertain the guests.
No One could enter the Castle without going through the heavily guarded gatehouse.
At night a bell was rung and the doors of the town were shut. No one could leave or enter until daybreak.
The bell was also a signal for the townspeople to cover their fires with the dome-shaped clay pots called curfews (from the French word meaning to cover fire).
Royal Home Life
The top room of the Lord’s tower (in the keep) was the wardrobe (1), a place where linens and clothes were kept.
The master bedroom (2) had rush mats to warm the floor and rich tapestries on the walls to keep the cold out.
The solar (3) was the Lord and Lady’s private living room. After meals they would retire here to play games like chess.
A trapdoor from the solar led down to the basement (4). Weapons, coins and other valuables might have been kept here.
Toilets were sometimes built on different floors, one above the other. The topmost one was often in the open air.
Waste from the toilets dropped down into the moat or into a special pit.
Bathing was so costly, only the rich could enjoy it. King John bathed once a month and it would cost him five pence (a worker had to labor for a whole week for this amount).
What problems could occur due to these unsanitary conditions?
Food was often prepared with many spices which helped to disguise the taste of rotten meat.
Food was also very sweet because it was often cooked with fruits.
Food could be colored with vegetable dyes and sometimes gilded with gold to make a richer presentation.
Cauldrons were used to cook many things at once, shown here; eggs (1), chickens, (2) and fish (3), in sealed pottery jars, puddings in cloth bags (4), and slabs of bacon (5).
Pots and pans were cleaned with sand or soapy herbs.
Kitchens were not the cleanest places and attracted all kinds of pests. Rats were everywhere, in kitchens, cellars, and stables. They spread many diseases including the plague.
Fun and Games
Religious festivals were very important to everyday life. People took off work for these public holidays.
Many plays based on biblical stories were performed in the streets by traveling entertainers.
Other entertainers, like this bear trainer and traveling puppeteers, would try and lure the audience away from the shows.
How would you have survived in the Middle Ages?
What would have been your trade or rank?
What do you think would have been the most difficult part of the Medieval life style?
What is the one modern thing you could not do without? Is it life saving or just a luxury?