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Life in a Medieval Village

Daily Life

Peasants, Serfs and Farmers
Peasants were the poorest people in the medieval era and lived primarily in the country or small villages. Serfs were the poorest of the peasant class, and were a type of slave. Lords owned the serfs who lived on their lands. In exchange for a place to live, serfs worked the land to grow crops for themselves and their lord. In addition, serfs were expected to work the farms for the lord and pay rent.

Everyday peasants could be educated and marry if they could afford it. Serfs, however, could do neither and were not permitted to relocated with out the lord’s approval.

Farmers were a bit better off than peasants, as some owned their own farms. Most worked the farm lands themselves or with the aid of peasants and serfs.

Farmers and peasants lived in simple dwellings called cottages. They built their own homes from wood and the roofs were thatched (made of bundles of reeds that have to be replaced periodically). The interior walls were generally made of wattle and daub – an arrangement of twigs weaved into a wall shape and coated with mud and straw to make a hard, plaster-like surface to keep out drafts. Often farmers, peasants and serfs brought their animals into their homes to protect them.

Carpenters were highly skilled and considered to be elite tradesmen. To become a carpenter it was usually necessary to join a guild as an apprentice and learn the craft. A knowledge of math, woodworking and the use of tools was required for all carpenters.

King and nobles often sought the finest carpenters and kept them retained on their staffs as specialists. Furnishing castles and estates was not only done for decorative purposes, but also to demonstrate prestige and status to visitors. Thus, a master carpenter was always in demand and could earn high wages.

The metalsmith, sometimes called blacksmith, had to first make his tools before he could make metal parts such as horseshoes, nails and door hinges.

The blacksmith would also work as an armorer for the king or count – making swords, shields and armor.

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