Medieval Life - Source Sheet Source A – A drawing of a Medieval family from a modern school History textbook in the 1990s


Source B – Two pictures from the 14th Century showing life on a Medieval farm.

Source C – A description of Medieval life from a school history website. The land that was owned by the lord was called the manor. A manor consisted of a village with land around it. The villeins lived in the village which was surrounded by three large fields. Each field was divided into long strips. A villein would farm strips in each of the fields. This made sure that everyone had a share of the good land and the bad land. The strips were divided by mounds of earth or by rocks. Strip farming meant that villeins had to work together. A whole field would be sown and harvested and each villein worked closely with his neighbour to get his work done. The other land around the village was also important. Villeins collected wood from the woodland, their animals grazed on the common land and fish could be collected from the river which was also used for washing and cooking. The land around the village supplied the villeins with nuts, berries and mushrooms. Villeins lived on the manor in cruck-houses. Their house would have a small garden where vegetables like carrots and cabbages could be grown. The villeins usually built their own house and had very few possessions. They would have some animals like pigs, sheep, cows and chickens but other than their day-to-day tools and equipment they owned very little., 2003

How many ploughs are there in the manor ? How many mills and fishponds ? How many freemen, villagers and slaves are there in the manor ? How much woodland, pasture, meadow ? What does each freeman owe in the manor ? How much is the manor worth ?

Source D: The Domesday Book forms a remarkable record of the state of England in the mid-1080's. A sample of the questions asked is found at Ely Cathedral

Master: What do your companions know? Disciple: They are ploughmen, shepherds, oxherds, huntsmen, fishermen, falconers, merchants, cobblers, salt-makers, and bakers. Master: What sayest thou ploughman? How do you do your work? Ploughman: O my lord, I work very hard: I go out at dawn, driving the cattle to the field, and I yoke them to the plow. Nor is the weather so bad in winter that I dare to stay at home, for fear of my lord: but when the oxen are yoked, and the ploughshare and coulter attached to the plough, I must plough one whole field a day, or more. Master: Have you any assistant? Ploughman: I have a boy to drive the oxen with a goad, and he too is hoarse with cold and shouting. Master: What more do you do in a day? Ploughman: Certainly I do more. I must fill the manger of the oxen with hay, and water them and carry out the dung. Master: Indeed, that is a great labour. Ploughman: Even so, it is a great labour for I am not free. Source E: The Dialogue Between Master & Disciple: On Labourers, c. 1000 The lives of peasant children would have been very different to today. They would not have attended school for a start. Very many would have died before they were six months old as disease would have been very common. As soon as was possible, children joined their parents working on the land. They could not do any major physical work but they could clear stones off the land – which might damage farming tools – and they could be used to chase birds away during the time when seeds were sown. Peasant children could only look forward to a life of great hardship. For all peasants, life was "nasty, brutish and short." Source F: From a school history website. 2007

Camlann Medieval Village, a living history project portraying rural England in the year 1376, is dedicated to interpreting our cultural and artistic heritage from 14th century Europe in all of its colorful complexities. Role-playing villagers, hand-craft demonstrators and skilled musicians present every day village life; medieval meals and festivals are presented in settings designed to allow visitors to experience firsthand this oft misunderstood period of history. 10320 Kelly Road NE Carnation, WA 98014 USA. Our phone is: 425 - 788 - 8624

Source G: Description of a commercial tourist attraction in the USA, 2007.

While noblemen and their ladies flounce around in sumptuous clothes and are entertained at court and tournament, an army of unlucky souls toils away in some spectacularly hideous employment. In this time of thanes and barons, the lowly peasant is in for a rough time. The worst jobs in the Middle Ages are pretty grim. Source H: From “Tony Robinson’s Worst Jobs in History”, a television series on Channel 4. "Being a peasant after the Norman Conquest would have been a pretty rough time, but by the 14th century, peasants would probably have been having a pretty good time," he says. "They had a lot more free time - 80 Holy Days a year, compared with nine now. I don’t think people realise how awful the Industrial Revolution has been in reducing the quality of life for people." Most peasants, he says, were required to work just 60 days per year, as their "feudal burden" to their landowner. In return, the lord would provide two banquets every year. The rest of the time, they lived off their own pickings, working the ten or 20 acres given them. Source I: Interview with Terry Jones, author of ‘Terry Jones’s Medieval Lives’, a book and BBC television series.