Medieval Life

Medieval life was dictated by the feudal system, which was sustained by the rights and privileges that the upper classes were given. The way of living was based on wealth, power and status.

Code of Chivalry

Code of Chivalry in Medieval Life

The concept of Chivalry began around the 10th century in France as a way to reduce violence in medieval society. The medieval code of chivalry dictated many aspects of a medieval knights behaviour. Read more about the Code of Chivalry >>

Courtly Love

Courtly Love often took place in a Garden Setting

Courtly love was practiced in medieval times and was a gentle form of courtship and love that followed certain rules and standards of behavior love and courtship. Read more about the Courtly Love >>

Feudal System

The feudal system was brought to England by the Normans who had defeated the English in the Battle of Hastings, under the feudal the King owned all the land Read more about the Feudal System >>

Medieval Calligraphy

Maimesbury Bible Medieval Calligraphy

Medieval Calligraphy was used to ornament medieval writing such as letters and words. Read more about the Medieval Calligraphy >>

Medieval Christmas

Medieval Christmas Scene

Medieval Christmas times celebrated a mix of Christian and Pagan Beliefs and the birth of Jesus. Read more about the Medieval Christmas >>

Medieval City

Carcassonne French Medieval City

Medieval cities grew quickly with the advancement of building techniques and increased supply of food, goods and services. Most medieval cities had a good supply of shops and Medieval craftsmen and were well guarded. Read more about the Medieval City >>

Medieval Dance

Medieval Dance and Medieval Dancing Andrea di bonaiuto Italian Medieval Dance

Medieval Dance was very popular in all of the medieval period, there were many types of medieval dances but they were broken down into medieval court or medieval country dances Read more about the Medieval Dance >>

Medieval Diseases

Medieval smallpox diseases were common

Medieval diseases were common in medieval times due to poor hygiene. Death from medieval disease was worse in early medieval times and there were no cures for many medieval diseases like smallpox. Read more about the Medieval Diseases >>

Medieval Education

Medieval Education was the prerogative of the Church, especially during the early medieval period Read more about the Medieval Education >>

Medieval Fair

Medieval Fair In Medieval Town

Medieval fairs were a big part of medieval life, usually held in a medieval town once a year, medieval fairs attracted merchants and visitors to a medieval town and were good for the economy of a medieval town. Read more about the Medieval Fair >>

Medieval Farming

Medieval Farming Medieval Fields 3 Field System

Medieval Farming was central to medieval life for food and employment. Medieval Farming was based on a 3 field system where one field was left fallow whilst crops were grown on the other fields. Read more about the Medieval Farming >>

Medieval Festivals

A large number of festivals were celebrated during the medieval period Read more about the Medieval Festivals >>

Medieval Games

Medieval Games Alquerque

Medieval games helped to relieve the boredom of medieval life, medieval games such as Alquerques and Shuffle-board which were strategy games were popular. Read more about the Medieval Games >>

Medieval Health Cures List

Discover Medieval Health Cures available in Medieval Times for injuries and health issues such as Arrow Wounds Read more about the Medieval Health Cures List >>

Medieval Houses

Medieval Houses were poorly designed and built in early medieval times, however better Medieval Housing building techniques & design created much better medieval houses. Read more about the Medieval Houses >>

Medieval Jobs & Occupations

Medieval Serfdom Reeve and Serfs

Discover all the top Important Jobs of Medieval People in the Middle Ages

Read more about the Medieval Jobs & Occupations >>

Medieval Literature

Medieval Literature

Medieval Literature was usually written in French and Latin, in later medieval times Henry IV demanded that English would be the dominant laguage used in medieval literature. Read more about the Medieval Literature >>

Medieval Manor

Medieval Manor Estate Feudal System

A Medieval manor could be a country estate that was self-sufficient where peasants and other medieval people lived, or a Medieval manor house. Both manor estates and houses were owned and controlled by a Medieval Lord. Read more about the Medieval Manor >>

Medieval Medicine

Plants were popular medieval medicines either raw or in potions, there were no chemical medicines as there are today in medieval times, spiritual healing was also popular. Read more about the Medieval Medicine >>

Medieval Poems

Venerable Bede translates medieval poem for scribe

Medieval Poems and Poetry were a big influence in medieval times. Beowulf and Canterbury tales were just two famous medieval poems Read more about the Medieval Poems >>

Medieval Religion

Medieval Religion Prayer Book

Medieval religion was important to people in medieval times and there were Churches in most medieval towns and villages. Different Medieval kingdoms had their own religions. Read more about the Medieval Religion >>

Medieval Schools

Medieval Schools were mainly controlled by the Church in Medieval Times Read more about the Medieval Schools >>

Medieval Sports

Medieval Sports Wrestling

Medieval sports were usually aimed at improving soldiers and knights fighting skills, there were however many other medieval sports available to medieval commoners, peasants, nobility and royals. Read more about the Medieval Sports >>

Medieval Theatre

Medieval Actors in Theatre

Medieval Theatre was popular throughout the medieval world, travelling performers called strolling players were popular actors. Medieval theatre centered on religious subjects in early medieval plays. Read more about the Medieval Theatre >>

Medieval Towns

A Medieval Town

The Norman conquest of England led to the creation of many outstanding towns under feudalism Read more about the Medieval Towns >>

Medieval Village

Medieval Village

Medieval Lords ruled Villages in line with the rules of the Feudal system. Medieval villages were well run and self sufficient operations Read more about the Medieval Village >>



Feudalism and the Feudal System

The feudal system had been operating successfully in mainland Europe for some time before it was brought to England by the Conquering Norman nobility in the 10th century.

Norman-Flag

Norman Flag

Medieval life was organized by the feudal system, in this system a high ranking noble such as a Duke was granted the use of huge areas of land by the King, often this high ranking noble would in turn divide up the land into smaller plots and grant lower-ranking nobles and often knights the use of this land in return of their loyalty and services rendered which were commonly the provision of a standing army or individual military service.

Medieval Vassals postion in the Feudal system

Feudal System

This land often became what is called a manor estate controlled by a lord or other high-ranking noble who lived in a manor house within the manor estate. The lord was known as ‘The Lord of the Manor’.

These manor estates had to be productive to create wealth for kings and nobility and were commonly self-sustaining operations, so workers worked the land to produce food and other produce in the fields and in other areas of the manor estate, these lower-class people were called peasants and were the most common type of people in medieval society.

The most common peasant, the medieval serf would often be found plowing the fields and cultivating the land.

Medieval Peasants & Medieval Reeve

Medieval Peasants under the watch of a Medieval Reeve

Manor estates were commonly found in rural areas and the peasant workers either lived on the manor estate where they were tied to the land and could be sold with it or they could be within another class of peasantry such as freemen who lived in the surrounding areas of the village and often commuted to the manor estate, these peasants were not tied to the land and often received payment in some form for their labor. This system was called ‘Manorialism‘.

Medieval-Manor-House

Medieval Manor House

Interesting Facts

  • The land granted to a lord by a king or by a noble to a lower-ranking noble was called a ‘fief’ or a ‘fiefdom’ and these tracts of land could include heritable rights that meant they could be passed down from one generation to the next.
  • Peasants such as Serfs were tied to the land and had little freedom, however, they were granted the use of small plots of land on which to grow their own food and a modest home in which to live.

Medieval Daily Lives

Daily life in medieval Europe was typically hard and involved a lot of work. Most of the population comprised of the peasantry who toiled on the agricultural land. The towns were centered on castles and were home to tradesmen and other skilled professions.

Medieval Peasants Clothes

The towns boasted large populations. They were hubs of trade and commerce. The overall population was divided into several sections. These include peasants, the nobility, and the tradesmen. Movement across the classes was rare but became frequent as the middle Ages proceeded.

A Medieval Town

Gated Medieval Town


Life of Nobility

The noble classes in medieval Europe enjoyed a life of abundance and plenty. That being said, they also had many challenges. On one hand, they had to manage large sections of land and ensure that the land remained productive. On the other hand, they had to keep in favor of the king and be ready to participate in any wars that the king decided to fight.

Medieval Nobility and Medieval Nobles

The daily life of a nobleman comprised of participating in highly elaborate court etiquettes, having meals with a large number of people, playing games, and listening to music. Many noblemen also had to routinely attend to the monarch, king, or nobleman who was above them in the social hierarchy.

Picture of Medieval Baron Medieval Nobility Medieval Baron Oliver St John

Medieval Nobility *Baron Oliver St John

At a Glance:

  • Nobility enjoyed a life of abundance and plenty
  • They also had many responsibilities and challenges
  • They managed large pieces of land
  • They also ensured that they had good terms with the king and remained ready to join the king in any new wars
  • They had large feasts often, performed elaborate etiquette, listened to music, and played games

Life of Peasantry

The life of the medieval peasants was one of the continuous toils. They primarily worked on the agricultural land, with their duties assigned by the local lord. Each peasant family received a parcel of land. The family was then responsible for tilling this land, planting and harvesting the crops, and paying the bulk of their produce to the lord. They received food and other necessities to help them survive in return.

Medieval Peasants & Medieval Reeve

Medieval Peasants under the watch of a medieval Reeve

Daily life typically involved waking up early in the morning, having a meal of porridge, and then attending to livestock animals. The men and older children would then work on the land. The women would work at home or be a part of the household of the local lord where they performed various tasks.

Medieval Peasants Castle Life

Peasants *Serfs Ploughing Fields

At a Glance:

  • Peasants lived a life of hard work
  • They worked on the agricultural land assigned to them by the local lord
  • They planted and harvested crops, and looked after livestock
  • They lived in simple houses and ate meals like pottage (Stew) and vegetables

Life of Women

The responsibilities of medieval women depended on the class to which they belonged. Noblewomen typically enjoyed a life of comfort. They would look over the household, ensure that the servants performed daily tasks, and could occasionally handle estate affairs as well. Some noblewomen also engaged in business activities.

Women from rich families in towns and cities often engaged in trade, money lending, and other business affairs. Women from less affluent backgrounds would engage in various forms of work such as brewing, inn-keeping, and weaving. Peasant women worked on the land, tended to the livestock, and also sometimes worked as the domestic servants of the more well-to-do families.

Medieval Women work in the fields

Medieval Women at work

At a Glance:

  • Women of the noble class managed the servants of the household
  • They also sometimes managed affairs of the estate or business
  • Some women in cities and towns engaged in trading and money lending
  • Less affluent women worked at inn-keeping, brewing, and other similar tasks

Life of Children

The life of children in the medieval period also depended on their social background. A noble boy learned sword fighting, shooting with an arrow, and other combat skills. The boy would also learn courtly manners and etiquette, music, and other arts. In many cases, a boy from a noble family would go on to serve a higher lord as the cup-bearer.

The girls of noble families learned domestic skills from learned tutors at home. They would also learn various arts such as playing music and singing.

Children in towns and cities often moved out of their homes after a period and became attached to masters, teachers, or employers. The peasant children remained on the strip of land assigned to them or they enrolled in the domestic service of their respective lords.

At a Glance:

  • Boys from noble families spent their days learning combat skills, music, art, and court etiquette
  • Girls from noble families learned basic domestic skills
  • Children in towns and cities became apprentices or employers at a young age

Life of Monks

Monks lived lives of isolation and devotion to knowledge. They abandoned their homes to live inside monasteries. The everyday life of a medieval monk comprised of reading religious scriptures, performing religious activities, and engaging in the reading and learning of other texts.

Medieval Monks at work in a Monastery

The monks spent a lot of time reading and writing. They would translate older texts, write new books, and ornament the manuscripts. The monks also remained in touch with the religious authorities and the local lords.

At a Glance:

  • Monks lived in monasteries, away from families and other people
  • They spent their daily lives practicing religious teachings, reading, and writing
  • They would translate and write books, ornament manuscripts, and develop various arts

City Life

The city life in medieval Europe was centered on major castles. The castles were first built to defend the lands against attackers. Towns then grew up around the castles, eventually growing into cities.

Medieval London Image

Medieval ‘London City’ *Tower of London

The town or city life was one of activity and commerce. People in the towns and cities would work every day at inns and shops. Many townspeople were part of some form of trade such as brewing, weaving, or mining. Unlike the rural regions, life in the city was relatively cramped and people lived in small, unsanitary homes.

At a Glance:

  • Life in the city was busy
  • Everyone engaged in some form of trade or offered services
  • Inhabitants of cities typically lived in small homes

Village Life

Peasants mostly occupied the villages and engaged in various activities. The daily village life involved people tending to the livestock and going on their various duties. Some went to till the land, others performed specialized tasks such as spinning yarn, yet others would make candles or do other tasks for the lord.

Medieval Village Life

This medieval village picture shows the layout of a medieval village

At a Glance:

  • Village life mostly involved performing various duties
  • Most people tilled the agricultural land
  • Others would daily tend to livestock, make candles, spin yarn, or performed other specialized tasks
Feudalism The Feudal Pyramid Image

Feudal System


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