Medieval History: Peasants Life

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The life of a peasant was a hard one. They had to work long hours in their lords fields in return for a small cottage and strip of land near the manor house. Their health was poor due to bad diets and unhygienic living conditions. Most peasants did not live past the age of thirty. Peasants had very little freedoms. If they were born a peasant, they stayed tied to the land until they died. Peasants lived on farms on a lord's manor. The average peasant lived in a two room cottage that was constructed of mud plastered branches and straw or of stone and wood with a roof of thatch. The rooms had dirt floors and a few furnishings such as stools, a table, and maybe a chest to hold clothes in the common room. In the other room, sacks of straw served as beds for the entire family. A wealthy peasant might own a bed stand and a few iron pots. In the winter, the common room was shared with the livestock, who helped provide warmth. An open kitchen hearth was also located in the common room. Windows were small slits and didn't have glass in them. The interior of the cottage was lit by candles made of tallow. The clothing of the peasants and other lower class people was usually made of rough wool or linen. Peasant women spun wool into threads and wove cloth that was turned into clothing for their families. Peasants probably had only one set of clothing, two at most. Men wore coarse tunics, and long stockings or leggings. Women wore long dresses of coarse wool, and stockings. Some peasants may have worn linen undergarments to offset the uncomfortable wool clothing. The outer garments were almost never washed, though the undergarments were laundered regularly. Wood smoke permeated the clothes and acted as a kind of deodorant for peasants. The base for the cloth was usually a russet (brown), so most clothing was a fairly drab combination of browns, reds, and grays, with only small variations. Children were dressed as miniature adults. Both men and women wore wooden clogs or shoes...
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