Mid 14th Century – The Miracle Maker
Most people were poor and lived in wooden houses built right next to each other in the towns and cities. Country folk lived in huts or crude wooden houses. Roofs were made of straw and this was the perfect place for rats and insects to live and breed. Aristocrats lived in castles which had their own communities built within the castle walls. These communities were made up of the servants and their families. Many people shared their homes with animals in the winter because of the cold and it would not be uncommon to find a family living with the pigs and chickens in just one room. At least you wouldn’t have to go very far to get your eggs and bacon in the morning!
To say that you could smell someone coming would be an understatement! People really stunk in those days! Quite apart from sharing their homes with animals, Medieval people rarely washed and were pretty itchy with fleas and lice. They emptied their chamber pots into the street or else they had privies (toilets) that hung out over a stream or river. Eugh!
The Black Death
This plague started in Sicily and spread like wildfire throughout the world. Infected fleas would travel on black rats and would then transfer to humans. The bites would infect the skin and the person would develop flu like symptoms. The lymph glands in the throat, thighs and armpits would swell and the person would start to get really sick and develop black boils on their skin which is why the Bubonic Plague or The Pestilence as it was known is now called the Black Death. This was a really bad time as more than a third of the population of Europe were lost to the plague and it took a long time for countries to recover form the loss of so many people.
The Medieval times were filled with fighting. Fights for land, fights for titles, fights for just about everything. Paupers would travel with their noblemen to fight their battles for them and would be away from their families for many years at a time. In fact, one war between England and France went on for so long that it was called the Hundred Year War!
People wore pointy shoes, maybe to hide their long toenails! And they wore bells on the ends of their shoes to keep evil spirits away – like the smell of rotting cabbage breath wouldn’t have worked!
Medieval People were pretty dodgy actually. This was probably because they were obsessed with death (life expectancy was 45 years) and filled with despair after losing so many of their friends and families due to the Black Death. There was lawlessness about them as they kicked up their heels with plenty of ale in their bellies.
Top Five Medieval Proverbs (spot the fake one)
1. A live dog is better than a dead lion.
2. All’s well that ends well
3. It’s too late to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.
4. Be what you would seem to be.
5. Put the rat bait out before the flea bites.