Ale was made with grain, mainly barley. The barley was “malted”, that is, left to germinate or start growing in water. The grain was then roasted slowly to stop the seed from growing further. This malt was crushed and boiled in water. After the liquid had cooled, yeast was added. As the yeast reacted with … Read moreBrewing Ale and Making Wine
Open fires provided the means to cook food as well as a source of heat for most people. Peasants and less wealthy people cooked on the fire in the centre of their houses. There was little ventilation and there were no chimneys, so it could get very smoky inside. Food was also cooked outside, as … Read moreMedieval Cooking
Most wealthy men married when they were over 30. A son came into his inheritance on marriage, so parents often delayed the ceremony as long as possible. Women married earlier, usually when they were about 20, but were sometimes betrothed (promised in marriage) as young as seven. For the rich, marriage was the alliance of … Read moreMedieval Betrothal
One of the major reasons for the spread of plague in fourteenth century Europe was the generally wretched and squalid conditions in which most of the people lived. The vast majority of people were serfs or poor peasants. They lived in small villages of windowless thatched wooden huts. People knew little of sanitation. They dumped … Read moreGeneral Conditions and Sanitation
Introduction When we think of chivalry, the most likely image to spring to mind is one of the perfect gentleman – an impeccably mannered individual who displays gentle and courteous behaviour, especially towards women. The word ‘chivalry’ has its earliest roots in the French word for horse, cheval, and a knight in that same languare … Read moreChivalry
The Knight Knights – After the lord on the social ladder came the knight. The path to knighthood began at the age of seven, when a vassal sent his son to the lord’s house to become a page. For seven years a page was cared for by the women of the house, who instructed him … Read moreLords & Ladies
There were many ways of attacking a medieval castle, and almost as many means of countering such attacks. Ways to Attack The first step was to batter the walls with a variety of “engines”, the most common being the catapult or mangonel. Its throwing beam would haul a massive stone, a pot of flaming “Greek … Read moreCastle under siege!
The horse was an essential part of the knight’s equipment. Although the knight sometimes fought on foot, he was mostly considered a horse-soldier or cavalryman. He took the greatest pride in the breeding, training and skill of his war horses or destrier. His horse was the knight’s pride and joy. It was carefully chosen for … Read moreThe Medieval Horse