May 21, 2024

Life in a Medieval Village



Published May 24, 2023, 8:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles


Life in a medieval village was very different from life today. There were no cars or planes, and people didn’t live in big cities. Most people lived in small villages, and their lives revolved around the church and the lord of the manor.

The lord of the manor was the most important person in the village. He owned the land, and the villagers worked on his land. He also had a say in what went on in the village. The church was also very important in medieval times. The villagers went to church every Sunday, and the church played a big role in their lives.

The lord of the manor lived in a big house called a manor house. The villagers lived in small houses made of wood and thatch. They were very simple houses, and they had no windows. The lord of the manor had a lot of servants, and they lived in the manor house too.

The villagers grew crops on the lord’s land, and they also kept animals. They grew wheat and barley, and they raised chickens and pigs. The villagers also made cheese and butter. They used the milk from the cows to make these things.

The villagers traded with other villages. They traded their wheat for other things that they needed. They also traded with towns. The towns were bigger than villages, and they had more people.

Life in a medieval village was hard. People worked long hours, and they didn’t have much time for leisure. But they were also very close to nature, and they had a strong sense of community.

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life in a medieval village western

europe

during the middle ages the majority of

people lived in rural villages rather

than urban cities or large towns

but what was everyday life like in a

medieval village

the truth is like many periods in

history medieval life differed from

village to village and from person to

person

life in a medieval village depended on

someone's class and role in society

generally speaking though the medieval

village was the domain of the peasant

peasants were the lowest class of

society but they actually made up the

majority of the entire population

for this majority the village was the

center of their universe

they were born lived worked attended

church were married had children

and died all within the same area

today we might imagine a medieval

village as a line square

or several little rows of houses with a

tavern and a church

but the medieval village actually took

on many forms

it could be several houses clustered

together but a village could also be

several scattered hamlets and farmsteads

far apart but under the control of a

lord most villages would have been

houses concentrated around a lord's

manner

that is an administrative device by

which a lord charged rents and taxes

from peasants

by far the most common villager was the

surf

serfs were the lowest class of peasants

an old fealty to the lord of the matter

though they were legally free therefore

being different from slaves

they were nevertheless legally bound to

the land where they lived and worked

and they were not allowed to move away

the lord of the manor would barely if

ever be in the village instead he would

be away fighting in wars or performing

acts of royal service

manners would be surrounded by huge

fields usually three of up to a hundred

acres each which would make up the land

for the village

in exchange for living on the land surfs

were expected to pay rent and be

responsible for working the land

in northwestern europe much of the work

revolved around farming cereal crops

such as wheat

barley or rye fields surrounding the

manor would be worked in rotation

and each would be divided into strips to

be worked by individual peasant families

village fields that weren't fit for

growing crops would be used for grazing

animals

such as sheep for wool beyond the fields

would often be woodland which gave

fuel and building materials or where

wild animals could be hunted for food

but only for a privileged few resources

cultivated in the countryside villages

would feed and provide for the village

residents

but would also be transported to those

living in nearby towns and cities

for the village surf daily life was

difficult backbreaking and a constant

struggle for survival

from starvation to the plague it seemed

as though the threat of death was always

on the horizon

the average village house might have had

a low stone wall and a thatched roof

and would have been built mostly out of

timber and wattle and daub

a lattice of wooden strips clung

together with a mix of wet soil clay or

animal dung

the majority of medieval villagers would

wake at sunrise in order to make the

most of the working day

they would work extremely hard from dawn

to dusk with meager meals of bread and

pottage a thick soup made from porridge

peas and beans

most villages kept communal cows so milk

butter and cheese would also make the

menu

with meat being an extremely rare treat

until the 15th century

ale was part of the payment that the

peasants received for working the lands

of the manor

the peasants received portions of

everything produced on the land although

more expensive items were given in

smaller quantities

villagers were highly religious due to

widespread catholicism at the time

they would go to church daily if not

multiple times a day

however unlike the nobility or richer

folk living in cities and towns

village peasants weren't expected to do

more than the bare minimum when it came

to their daily prayers

it was thought that if you performed

your duties by working hard

plowing the fields and providing for the

realm then you would be rewarded in the

afterlife

daily life in a medieval village would

also change depending on the time of

year

the necessary work for villagers

depended on the month whether that be

harvesting wheat in july

or slaughtering farm animals for food in

november

medieval time was also heavily governed

by the church with every month bringing

new saints day

and the hours of the day being tracked

by the church bell

while village life was extremely hard

work the sheer amount of religious feast

days meant that there was always cause

for rest and celebration

however not all those living in the

village would spend their days as serfs

working the land

some would be a higher class of peasant

in the

lord's absence the village manor would

be run by a steward

the highest ranking village official

each village would also have a bailiff a

man appointed to supervise over the

agricultural work done by serfs

understandably they were not very

popular amongst the villagers

there would also be trade workers such

as bakers millers

blacksmiths each village would also have

its own priest

to be the village priest was to be in a

position of power and respect

as they were considered to be absolutely

necessary for the salvation of

everyone's souls

the medieval village was remarkably

self-sufficient with an immense sense of

community

villagers would produce everything they

needed themselves in contrast to those

in urban areas

which in the 12th century were starting

to grow and relied on resources sent

from villages

villagers would make their own clothes

from leather linen or wool

they would grow their own food using

farm tools made by the village

blacksmith

they could grind grain for flour at the

village mill and there would be communal

bakers where villagers could bring their

loaves to be baked

villagers were also practically

self-governing

in medieval england a law system called

frank pledge was put in place

which meant that all villagers were

equally responsible for the behavior of

their peers and neighbors

between 1346 and 1353 the bubonic plague

known as the black death claimed 30 to

60 percent of europe's population

in the wake of the plague so many

peasants had died that there were fewer

villagers to work on the land

peasants therefore realized they were a

valuable commodity playing an important

role in providing for the realm they

were able to demand

higher wages better working conditions

and lower taxes

these demands led to revolts and

uprisings and eventually led to many

peasants rising into higher roles within

society

the lower population also meant that

fewer crops were needed

driving the price of grain down villages

that had initially thrived through the

growing of grain in large

open fields fell into disrepair and over

time

many were deserted until the 16th

century

all in all after the devastation of the

plague and the changes in social

structure that followed

medieval village life was never quite

the same

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