Monthly Archives: January 2013

Entering a guild

Boys entered the world of men most often by passing exams to become full guild members in their craft. They had spent their apprentice years serving in the shop, first with menial chores, and gradually with more skilled work. In … Continue reading

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Planning for an average wedding

It’s the late 13th century and you’re a prosperous cooper in a mid-sized town in Flanders. Your daughter, age 17, is getting married in the spring, and you need to put on a feast for 100. You live in/above your … Continue reading

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A wedding in Italy

Weddings in medieval Italy were a little bit different. The betrothal was a much bigger deal in Italy than in Northern Europe. The bride’s family prepared a lavish feast at their home. The bride’s male relatives met the groom and … Continue reading

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With this ring, I thee wed!

The medieval wedding ceremony itself was very simple. Of course, if you’re getting married outside on the church steps, you don’t want long personalized vows, a string of bridesmaids, and a tenor solo of “Endless Love.” Especially when umbrellas and … Continue reading

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Wedding on the church steps

The simplest medieval wedding was the informal private marriage, but it was not recommended. All that was truly required was that the couple must say to each other “I take you as my wife” and “I take you as my … Continue reading

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Will you marry me?

By medieval theory, they did not make arranged marriages. Marriages were contracted only by consent. Well, basically. There are many reasons to consent. Some girls consented to marriage after being locked in their rooms for six months. Some girls consented … Continue reading

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Dowries

Medieval children transitioned into adulthood with growing responsibility in their profession or with marriage. Girls, as always, married earlier, so we’ll start with marriage from the girl’s point of view. Aristocratic girls could be betrothed or married at very young … Continue reading

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Orphan children

Many medieval children became orphans, either full orphans or with only one lost parent. Ironically, becoming an orphan was less of a tragedy for children who were not going to inherit property. Children who already lived in poverty became wards … Continue reading

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Medieval girls

Meanwhile, what were medieval girls learning? Mostly fabric arts: spinning and sewing. Next to those chief occupations, herbal arts: ale brewing and home medicine. All classes and types of girls below the aristocracy could expect to keep a distaff and … Continue reading

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Kids’ war games

In medieval wars, the leaders and chief actors were knights, whose children were all in formal knighthood training. But there were always large parties of common men who used bows and spears; at times, their actions were more important than … Continue reading

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