Nursery Rhymes

Medieval Peasant

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Peasant
The Medieval peasant together with freeman and villeins, lived on a manor in a village. Most of the peasants were Medieval Serfs or Medieval Villeins. The small, thatch-roofed, and one-roomed houses of the Medieval Peasant would be grouped about an open space (the "green"), or on both sides of a single, narrow street. The population of one of these villages often did not often exceed one hundred people.

The Medieval Peasant shared a common life in the work of the fields, in the sports of the village green, and in the services of the parish church. But there was time for rest and entertainment in the life of a Medieval Peasant.

Medieval Peasant Woman
The Peasants Revolt

Medieval Peasant - Food
The life of a Medieval peasant changed with the seasons. Small animals required slaughtering during the autumn as it was not economic or practical to feed animals during the winter. The meat was then preserved in salt. Bread was a mainstay of the Medieval Peasant. Corn, grain, cabbage, ale or cider was obtained from the local area.

Daily Life of a Medieval Peasant on the Farms
The Daily Life of a Medieval Peasant who worked on the land was often hard. 
A Medieval peasant had to labor on the lord's land for two or three days each week, and at specially busy seasons, such as ploughing and harvesting. The daily life of a Medieval peasant can be described as follows:

  • The daily life of a Medieval peasant started at started in the summer as early as 3am
  • A Medieval peasant would start with breakfast, usually of pottage
  • Work in the fields or on the land started by dawn and the daily life of a Medieval peasant included the following common tasks:
    • Reaping - To cut crops for harvest with a scythe, sickle, or reaper.
    • Sowing - the process of planting seeds
    • Ploughing - To break and turn over earth with a plough to form a furrow
    • Binding and Thatching
    • Haymaking - cutting grass and curing it for hay.
    • Threshing - To beat the stems and husks of plants to separate the grains or seeds from the straw.
    • Hedging - creating boundaries
  • Outside work finished at dusk, working hours for Medieval Peasants were therefore longer during the summer months
  • Peasants made some of their own tools and utensils using wood, leather and the horns from cattle
  • Women generally ate when her husband and children had finished and had little leisure time

Medieval Peasant in a Castle
Servants and Medieval peasants had to provide meals and undertake menial tasks for their lord and his family. Many of the Medieval peasants who worked in the castles were women. Women worked in the kitchen and were expected to cook, clean and wait on the lord. Other occupations were carried out by the Medieval peasants within the castles as stable hands to help with the horses and kitchen staff. The horses were extremely important to the Lord and Knights - the horses had to be fed, groomed and their stables kept clean.

Medieval Peasant Clothing
The Medieval Peasant clothing was basic and practical. The Medieval Peasants clothes consisted of:

  • A blouse of cloth or skin fastened by a leather belt round the waist
  • An overcoat or mantle of thick woollen material, which fell from his shoulders to half-way down his legs
  • Shoes or large boots
  • Short woollen trousers
  • From his belt there hung a sheath for his knife
  • Medieval Peasants generally went bareheaded, but in cold weather or in rain he wore a woollen hat
  • Gloves were only worn by Medieval Peasants for their practical clothing value and were padded for use in tasks such as hedging 

Medieval Peasant - Holidays
The Medieval Peasant had their days of rest and amusement. Medieval holidays were in fact much more numerous than at present. During the era period the festivals of the Church were frequent and were rigidly kept by the Medieval Peasant, as each festival was the pretext for a forced holiday from manual labour. The Medieval Peasant therefore enjoyed many holidays; it has been estimated that, besides Sundays, about eight weeks in every year were free from work. Festivities at Christmas, Easter, and May Day, at the end of ploughing and the completion of harvest, relieved the monotony of the daily round of labor for the Medieval Peasant. 

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