Society was drastically different over the course of the medieval era, here are interesting facts about medieval society. If you had lived during this time you would have been born into a completely different world then what exists today. In some aspect you might enjoy this society, while in a majority of others you probably would not have.
Here are 5 relatively unknown and interesting facts about medieval society.
- On average medieval peasants only worked between 20-25 hours per week.
- It took the average medieval monk around 6 months to 1 year to hand copy a book.
- Kings and queens hardly ever wore their royal crowns
- Medieval blacksmiths would build legendary reputations and get their metal from 3 main sources
- There were only 3 ways a medieval knight would fight with a sword
Each one of these interesting facts is discussed below. For each fact you will find a further reading section where I give evidence for the fact along with more information.
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Without further ado, here are the 5 most interesting facts about medieval society.
On Average Medieval Peasants Only Worked Between 20-25 Hours Per Week
|Further Reading||The Amount Of Hours Medieval Peasants Worked Per Week|
One of the most interesting facts about medieval Europe was that most of the peasantry worked very few hours.
During the early, middle, and portions of the late medieval era most peasants only worked around 20-25 hours per week. The reason for this lower work demand was because the European catholic church believed that it was important to keep the peasantry happy so that they would not cause problems.
Even though peasants would work a 16 hour day (from sunrise to sunset) they would be given numerous breaks. We know this from accounts given by medieval priests from local villages.
Medieval peasants would be given an hour break for breakfast, an hour break for lunch, a midday break for a nap, another hour break for dinner, and time to wind down at the end of their day.
Further, medieval peasants only worked around 120 hours a day depending upon the crops being planted on the lord’s estate.
Towards the end of the medieval era commercialism and markets would begin to rise across Europe. This would in turn lead to lords planting more valuable crops or investing in methods of farming that would give year round harvests.
At this point the hours of the average medieval peasant increased significantly. Towards the end of the medieval era the average peasant would work almost 70 hours a week.
However, for about 1,000 years the average work week of a medieval peasant was around 20-25 hours per week. As such, it remains one of the most interesting facts about medieval society.
It Took A Medieval Monk About 6 Months To 1 Year To Hand Copy A Book
|Further Reading||How Long It Took For A Medieval Monk To Copy A Book|
One of the most interesting facts about medieval society was the time it took for one monk to hand copy a book.
In reality the entire monastic life is fascinating. However, one of the most interesting facts was the economics of book production during the medieval era.
During the early and middle medieval era monks would be given around one year to fully read and create their own copy of a Latin book or manuscript. This task was given to the older monks of the monastery as it was believed that younger monks lacked the mental fortitude to hand copy in detail the books.
However, as the demand for knowledge grew over the course of the medieval era towards the Renaissance so did the demand for hand copied books. Towards the end of the medieval era book production increased drastically from 1 year to around 6 months.
The reason for this massive increase in time to hand copy an entire book was because of the monasteries opening up factory lines of monks hand copying books.
In the late medieval time entire societies of monks would pop up in buildings called scriptoriums which were under the leadership of a monk called the armarius.
This armarius would give each monk a couple pages to hand copy. As such instead of one monk hand copying an entire book now they would only hand copy a couple pages hundreds of times.
A whole fleet of monks would be required to operate a scriptorium but as a result an entire book could be hand copied and bound in a matter of 6 months.
As such the speed of monks copying books remains one of the most fascinating facts about medieval society.
Kings And Queens Hardly Ever Wore Their Crowns
Another interesting fact about medieval society was that kings and queens hardly ever wore their royal crowns.
Today movies and TV shows depict kings and queens as always wearing their crowns. This was a troupe and often a crown was hardly ever worn outside of 3 special occasions.
The most common place you would see a king or queen wearing their royal crown was when they were holding court. At this royal court the monarch would administer actions on behalf of their realm. The crown here served as a way to distinguish their authority to administer such actions.
Outside this monarchs would wear their royal crowns when holding a tournament to dignify themselves amongst the crowd. However, this was because most medieval tournaments demonstrated the wealth of their kingdom and as such the monarch would be representing their power by wearing the royal crown.
The third example of when a king or queen would wear their royal crown was on the rare occasion that they were leading an army in the field. Even then it was rare to see a monarch wearing a crown instead of royal armor.
Historians have very few surviving examples of this. Probably the most famous of this was King Edward III of England who had his armor’s helmet decorated with a golden crown.
However, if you were walking around medieval society you would hardly ever see a monarch wearing their crown. If you did it was a special occasion. This is one of the most important facts about medieval society.
Medieval Blacksmiths Would Build Legendary Reputations And Get Their Metal From 3 Locations
One of the most interesting facts about medieval society was the advanced network of communication that blacksmiths had.
A good medieval blacksmith would become legendary in his region. In some situations historians have accounts of monarch’s traveling to get the best metal work done by a blacksmith who was known throughout the kingdom.
However, what is really amazing was the advanced economic network that blacksmiths had. We have accounts of blacksmiths in towns requesting metal from specific mines throughout Europe.
These mining towns would be home to the metal mine as well as a smelter who would refine the metal ore into usable ingots for the blacksmith. If a blacksmith got particularly good at this craft he could start requesting ore from a specific region of Europe.
Out of all the regions of Europe modern France and Germany were particularly known for their mineral deposits. To this day you can still go visit ancient mining shafts where peasants would work to extract ore from the ground.
As such this advanced economic network and legendary status of certain blacksmiths in medieval Europe reflects on the amazing way in which this society operated.
There Was Only 3 Ways A Medieval Knight Would Fight With A Sword
|Further Reading||The 3 Ways Medieval Knights Fought With Swords In Combat|
One of the most interesting facts about medieval society was the way in which the medieval knights fought with swords.
Today historians have access to medieval “picture books” that outline how medieval knights would fight with swords. Of this, historians have grouped the fighting stances into 3 distinct fighting styles.
First, you had the sidearm sword. This sword was smaller and carried on the hip. As a last resort it could be drawn to be used against an unarmored or opponent who closed the gap between the Knight’s lance or poleaxe.
Second, you had the grappling sword style of medieval knights. Contrary to popular belief, when a knight had hand armor they could grab another knight’s sword. The goal here was to have the knight use their swords as an extension of their body and force the opponent to the ground where they could pierce the other knights armor. This style required substantial training but was effective when two knights were in close infantry combat.
Third, you would have a knight using a short sword and a shield. This style of combat was almost exclusively from medieval England where knights often equipped themselves with a small heater shield bearing their coat of arms. This style of combat was incredibly effective in small skirmishes with both mounted and dismounted knights.
These three ways medieval knights would fight with swords remains one of the most interesting facts about medieval society.
There you have it; an entire article that goes over the 3 most interesting facts about medieval society.
Medieval Europe remains a fascinating subject of study. Most historians will spend their entire life studying just one or two medieval cultures. Each culture differed so differently from others but did share similarities. If you’re looking for a subject of study look into medieval society and the concept of nation building.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the web.
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