Middle Ages, there was a definite structure in society.
You were born into a class of people and generally stayed
in that class for your entire life. Working hard did
change your status. Your clothing, food, marriage,
homes, etc., were determined for you. After the rank of
the hierarchy was the nobles, the knights, the clergy
(religious people), the tradesmen and the peasants.
During the Roman Empire, the people were ruled by a
government that had a civil system. One of the duties
of this government
was to protect the people. When the empire collapsed,
there was a king, but there was no formal organization
the people safe. The nobles filled this role. In turn
for service to the nobles, either through farming the
doing duties the nobles prescribed, the peasant people
were given protection. The nobles offered this protection
the use of knights, who most often were the sons of the
Clothes were made of silk, velvet and damask.
Fur was used for linings or trimming.
Linen or silk was
used for undergarments. In the winter, women wore
undergarments of fur to keep warm.
Undergarments were covered by a gown. Women also
wore high headdresses
shaped like hearts, butterflies, etc.
trousers covered by long coats called tunics.
and women wore jewelry. Stone cutting had not yet
been invented, so whole gemstones
were the most popular items.
were a status symbol. Laws were passed that forbade
Nobles ate rich and fancy food prepared by the servants.
Many spices were used to make the food tasty.
did not have forks, spoons or even cups. Only a knife
was used to cut meat or bread. When
wanted a drink,
the servants brought them a container that
was used by everyone.
Flat pieces of dry bread called trenchers
were used to hold the food and were shared by several
you were, the fewer the number of people
who shared your trencher.
Having babies in the Middle Ages was dangerous
for both the mothers and the babies. About 20 percent
and 5 percent
of babies died during childbirth. An
additional 10 percent to 12 percent died during the first
month. Healthy children
were highly valued during this time.
families wanted sons to carry on the family name.
Having a daughter meant that
a dowry was
paid to the
groom at marriage,
so having female children cost more
money. Because having healthy children was so
happy about any birth.
If the child survived,
he or she was baptized and cared for at home by the
by nurses until
There were plenty of toys and games.
Medieval children had dolls, spinning
whistles and puppets. Little girls
had glass jewelry for dress-up, while little
soldiers, whips, toy horses and
Royal children learned a few
manners, a little reading, writing and dancing.
7, boys were sent to another castle to begin learning
If they were
for this, they
were sent to a monastery to
become a monk.
At age 7, girls were sent
to another castle to learn to become a lady.
manage a household,
children, weave, sew, play
an instrument, dance and sing.
Marriages were never based on love. They were
arranged by the parents and often involved
land issues and
Girls as young as age 12
were married to anyone who met the requirements
of the girl’s
parents. Grooms could be from 20
years to 50 years old.
A man was the head of
the household and the wife was
his property — to
be treated in any way he wanted.
allowed to divorce their wives,
but women were not allowed to divorce
Within the castle was a building called the
keep where the nobleman and his
The castle consisted of a great hall
that served as an office, dining
room and dance
The upper floors contained bedrooms
for the lord and his family.
had sitting rooms called solars
where the family
to play games
and listen to music.
There were stables
and a large kitchen, both of which were staffed by
were generally quite smoky. A central fire area with
a hole in
roof was standard.
tapestries, hung on the walls,
but the floors were often dirt-covered
and reeds, or
of stone. Dogs generally were
allowed to go anywhere.
By today’s standards,
we would find the cleanliness
to be very bad.
Men spent much time with hunting and
falconry. Men were hired to capture
and train hawks.
Knights gathered for “jousting” tournaments.
sewed, took care of children and ran the estate.