In the 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 not change your status. Your clothing,
food, marriage, homes, etc., were determined for you. After
the rank of king, the hierarchy was the nobles, the knights,
the clergy (religious people), the tradesmen and the peasants.
peasants, life was hard. They worked long hours every
day just to ensure that their family had a roof over their
head and food to eat. If your parents were peasants,
probably would be a peasant as well. Most of the peasants
were farmers, but some were tradesmen, such as millers
or tavern owners. The farmers leased their land and also
paid taxes to the lord and to the king. Most farmers
were not free, but rather were serfs. They were required
stay with the land and had to work several days a week
for the lord of the manor. There were some free peasants,
but most did not leave their lord.
Because they were poor, their
clothing was usually rough wool or linen. The women
wove the fabric and made the
clothes. Peasants generally had only one set
of clothing and it
almost never was washed.
Men wore tunics and long
Women wore long dresses and stockings
made of wool.
Some peasants wore underwear made of
linen, which was washed “regularly.”
common colors for peasant clothing were brown, red
Both men and women wore clogs made of
In cold weather, both men and women wore
cloaks made of sheepskin or wool.
They also wore wool
Children basically dressed
in the same style as the adults.
Peasants generally lived off the
land. Their diet basically consisted of bread, porridge,
vegetables and some
The main crops were corn, wheat and beans.
Near their homes, peasants had little
gardens that contained lettuce, carrots, radishes,
tomatoes, beets and other
vegetables. They also might have fruit
If the peasant was wealthy enough
to have cows or goats, the family would have cheese
Many peasants died when the weather
was too wet or too dry. If their crops didn’t grow,
have food to eat.
Peasants lived in towns on the lord’s
Houses were constructed of stone or of
branches covered with mud and straw.
The roofs were
There were generally two rooms in the
The rooms had dirt floors and a few furnishings
in the common room, such as
stools, tables, chairs and
The second room contained
the beds for the whole family.
Often in the winter, the
animals also lived in the common room.
An open fireplace was in the
There were small
windows without glass.
Candles were used to light
the inside of the
Often, children were named after
a close relative or a saint.
In a peasant household, everyone
was needed to work in the fields. Often children
as young as
age 2 were
alone. Many accidents happened.
children were poor and did not have many toys.
did not go to school or have tutors, so few knew
how to read.
Virtually all marriages were arranged by the parents.
generally married people from their own village.
were the head of the household and the wife was
his property — to
be treated in any way he wanted.
were allowed to divorce their wives, but women were
not allowed to divorce their husbands.
Adultery and divorce
were less common among the peasants.
Religion was very important to the peasants.
that faith could take them to a world that was certainly
easier than the one in which they lived.
observed the Sabbath and celebrated church holidays.