Anglo-Saxon Life in the 11th Century

!!!Warning some images and descriptions in this post may be disturbing to some individuals, please be advised!!!

 

Questions I Wanted Answered

Life was much different in the 11th Century from what it is today. Obviously people did not have computers and cars like we have now, but what else did they go without? What kind of clothing did they wear? How did they get around? What did they eat and drink? How was their health? All of these are questions I asked before learning about what life was like in the 11th Century. Sometimes, in our everyday lives, we do not realize how good our lives have become. People who lived in this time period struggled and it was because of their struggles and the generations to follow that we are able to live with the comforts we have today.

 

Health

Thinking back in time this far, one may think that Englishmen were taller than what we are today. However, in reality most were about the same size. Bones have been excavated from graves of people that were buried in England from about 1000AD, and tell a tale of people who were strong and healthy.

Most people had lived in the countryside, with green pastures and unpolluted areas. They lived on a wholesome diet that would provide them with sturdy limbs and very healthy teeth. As time went on however, areas became overpopulated and overcrowding would begin to affect people’s stature and their well-being. Archaeologists who study this time period have said that they can almost see the devastation of the Black Death that was looming in our ancestor’s futures. Evidence shows that people’s bodies became increasingly frail and unhealthy. Famine would be a recurring problem and often caused poorly tilled lands and disease. Illness was caused by polluted water, tainted food and unsanitary living. All of the social classes lived in uncomfortable, unsanitary houses.

Most adults during this time would meet their demise in their forties or fifties. Living beyond this age, one would be regarded with great respect and thought to be wise. Many infants and children had died at horrific rates, some historians have said that up to 1/3 of all children died before the age of five. Another high rate of deaths were among women, most associated with childbirth. Around 5% would die from giving birth, and also died with their child. Another 15% would die from the infections that had followed giving birth due to poorly managed deliveries, this was known as child bed fever. If a person did survive to childhood they could be expected to live into their mid-forties, as long as they maintained good health and hadn’t been killed in war. Some field workers had unearthed some sixty burials from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in England dated from 400AD to 1000AD and had discovered that none of them had lived past the age of forty-five.

The life expectancy among people of this time had varied upon their diet, climate, location and wealth. An example of how different classes lived longer than others the mean life expectancy of a king between 1000AD and beyond our time frame of 1600AD were between forty-eight years and fifty-one years old. Their monks hadn’t lived as long. In Carmelite Abbey only about 5% of the monks lived past forty-five years of age. Due to people’s lifespans not being as long as they are today, boys were considered old enough to swear an oath of allegiance to the king at the age of twelve. Girls would be married in their early teenage years, often marrying men who were much older than they were.

People were often sick because of the conditions that they lived in. Some illnesses were dysentery, ergotism, gonorrhea, leprosy, malaria, measles, plague (of different forms), puerperal fever, smallpox, and typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever, was a bacillary infection that would be transmitted via feces. As people would bathe and drink the same water that toilets were drained into many people would become sick with typhoid fever. They were also exposed to feces because of their animals living within their homes. The fever would bring on diarrhea, abdominal pain, a fever up to 105 degrees, blinding headaches, cough, and exhaustion. Patches of red would show up on the abdomen. A person would be sick for weeks, and if they suffered from any complications they would include pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, and coma. The mortality rate for those who came down with typhoid fever was between ten and twenty percent.

Smallpox was also known as the red plague. It was a highly contagious viral disease that would be transmitted just by inhaling. A person would become ill twelve days after being exposed. They would suffer a high fever, chills, severe headache and backache, and general weakness. Bleeding may have occurred as well within the lungs and other

smallpox
Smallpox

organs. After four or more days a distinctive rash would appear with red lesions appearing on the face, arms, legs, and sometimes the trunk of one’s body. The lesions became pus-filled blisters and if a secondary infection didn’t occur, these blisters would begin to break and dry up in about nine days. Twenty-five to thirty percent of people that got smallpox in its severest form would die. Only one percent for those who came down with a mild form. Survivors of smallpox would have distinctive pitted scars and complete immunity to further infection.

The disease had varied in its severity from a mild case with few skin lesions to a highly fatal bleeding form. The majority of people that had died, died in the second week of the disease. It wasn’t called smallpox at the time but would later be called such to differentiate between it and the “great pox”, syphilis. It was also primarily a childhood disease, as most adults had already been exposed to it.

Puerperal fever was also known as child bed fever. A bacterial infection would set into the female reproductive organs following giving birth to a child. Women would get the chills, a high fever, abdominal pain, and nausea. It could have possibly spread from the reproductive organs and into the rest of the body. The chances of a woman dying if they had child bed fever would depend on what kind of bacteria had caused the infection. It could have been almost anything. Tetanus or gas gangrene would be especially bad bets for survival. Those that survived would possibly become infertile. A woman would be more susceptible to coming down with the fever if the birth was prolonged or the placenta had ruptured.

The measles were also prevalent. They were a mild but highly contagious viral disease that would be transmitted through respiration. After seven to fourteen days cold-like symptoms had developed, including a runny nose, dry cough, fever up to 105 degrees, aching and inflamed and sensitive eyes. Around the third day of the

Measles Rash
Measles

disease bright red spots would appear inside a person’s mouth. On the fourth day a red rash would appear, it would be raised and mildly itchy. The rash would first appear on the face and then spread over the rest of the body. The fever and the rash would start to dissipate after a few more days. The measles were survivable but complications could have included blindness and heart or brain damage. Those who did survive would be completely immune for the remainder of their lives. The disease would be most prevalent in the winter and early spring months. It is so ancient in Europe that most humans do survive. Mostly children would be afflicted, since most adults had already been exposed to it. Infants that were younger than six months had a temporary immunity from their mother.

As today, malaria, or the ague, was also around. It was a parasitic disease that would be spread through mosquitoes. People would get shaking chills, a fever up to 104 degrees, and severe headache. After several hours the afflicted would begin sweating profusely; then the headache and fever would disappear. Attacks would usually reoccur every forty-eight hours (a “tertian” fever) or seventy-two hours (a “quartan” fever). Some people would be weak and also have anemia. People could survive malaria but no one had become immune to it so they could get it again. Malaria was chronic in the southern and low-lying areas of Europe, including southern and eastern England. The name had come from the Italian word for “bad air”, which had been believed then to have been the cause for the disease. The only type of malaria that had occurred in England was rarely fatal.

Leprosy was also a concern for in the 11th century. It was a bacterial infection that would be transmitted by either respiration or contact, which would lead to disfigurement.

Leprosy
Leprosy

A person would not know that they had contracted leprosy until possibly up to a year from when the contact was made. Facial features would begin to coarsen and the voice would become hoarse. Eruptions of the skin and eyes would begin as pale spots that then turned red, raised, and then became firm nodules. Skin spots, with leprosy are insensitive to cold, touch and pain; hands and feet would lose their feeling and eventually there would be muscle weakness and paralysis that set in, usually starting in the hands and face. Secondary infections of the lesions or unnoticed wounds would become gangrenous. Blindness would often occur as well. The nose would then decay and the hands and feet would become clawed-like.

Eventually one would die of leprosy. It was a terrible way to go

Leprosy2
Leprosy

. A leper would have grown to be ugly and friendless. This death could have been prolonged for over twenty years. Most people were immune to leprosy. Individual resistance would cause variation in the form of the pace of the disease. It may have taken on its worse form among the upper classes, as the organism requires cholesterol as a means to grow. Lepers were forbidden to mingle with those that were untouched by it.

A lot of us (Americans) have heard of the influenza outbreaks in our own country in the early 1900’s and earlier, the Anglo-Saxons had dealt with the illness as well. Influenza, which most of us know a bit about, was an acute, extremely contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that was spread my inhalation. After one or two days a sudden onset of chills and fever would occur, along with a headache, backache, muscular aches, and general weakness. People would also experience nausea, eye pain, and mental confusion. After suffering these ailments for between one and five days, the respiratory symptoms would become even more prominent. A dry and sore throat, cough, and runny nose would be experienced as well. Serious complications had included bronchitis and bacterial pneumonia. A few months of repeated infection would occur as well and the body would become resistant.

A bacterial infection of the genital tract, which would be transmitted by sexual contact can still be passed about today. This disease was known as gonorrhea. A male would experience, after two and eight days of incubation, the urgency and a burning sensation upon urination. A profuse discharge of pus would also occur. Inflammation of the prostate and seminal vesicles could possibly have led to fever and urinary retention. A female, after two to eight days of incubation would experience mild urethritis, but may also remain totally asymptomatic. If the infection spread to the upper tract, acute fever and abdominal pain would occur. Bacteria could also have invaded the bloodstream and produce infections in other parts throughout the body, most commonly causing arthritis. The sufferer would develop a fever and hot, swollen, and painful joints.

A man’s symptoms would subside in several weeks, but a female’s would continue on for a month or two. More serious infections of the disease could result in infertility for either of the sexes. Those that had contracted the disease may have remained infectious for months after an attack.

Ergotism, also known as St. Anthony’s Fire, holy fire, evil fire, devil’s fire, or saints’ fire, was a poisoning from a fungal infection that would start in grain or rye. There were two types of this disease. A convulsive type, which would cause degeneration of the nervous system, causing anxiety, vertigo, aural/visual hallucinations, and the sensation of being bitten or burned, stupor, convulsions, as well as psychosis. The other was gangrenous type. During this type the blood vessels would constrict, causing a reddening and blistering of the skin, then blackening, itching and burning feeling, and finally necrosis. Nearly 40% of those that fell ill with ergotism would die. Those who had survived would have lingering symptoms including mental impairment.

Holy fire was more of a rural disease, particularly affecting those in marshy areas and one that had followed crop damage or famine; especially after a severe winter or a rainy spring. Children were more susceptible to coming down with it, due to their smaller body weight. Since England hadn’t relied as much as some places in Europe on rye it would suffer fewer cases of the convulsive type.

Dysentery, also known as bloody flux was another nasty illness people would often get. The infection which was caused by either bacteria or amoebas was spread through the contamination of food and water by infected fecal matter. Bacillary strand of dysentery would have a one to six day incubation period and then cause people to become ill with watery stools, fever, cramps, and dehydration. In its advanced stages people would also suffer from meningitis, conjunctivitis, and arthritis as well. The amebic strand in its acute form would suffer watery, bloody stools, along with cramps, fever, and weakness. The chronic form of amebic dysentery would cause intermittent diarrhea and mild abdominal discomfort. After being ill with dysentery people would be suffer from a generally weakened condition. It was an endemic in the 11th century armies and pretty common through city areas. Infantile diarrhea was a leading cause of death for babies. After the Black Death, which we will get to in a moment, caused many urban areas to institute public health reforms so as to improve sanitation and prevent these enteric fevers.

The Plague. Most people have heard of the disease before, as it was so devastating to the population during this time and on into the 15th century. It was known by other names as well, such as The Black Death. At the time many people thought that the plague was caused by dogs and cats, and so in places, such as London, England, entire populations of the pets were killed, but still nothing got better, the plague still existed. In reality it was a bacterial infection that was transmitted by flea bites who were getting it from rats. Rats were everywhere at the time, making it very easy to spread, and we know now how quickly flea populations can expand. Another way the plague would spread was by respiration. It came in several different strands.

The Bubonic Plague, which I think is most well-known, would begin to show symptoms after two to six days of exposure. Necrosis of the flea bite and heat and swelling in the nearest lymph nodes, such as in the neck, groin, or armpit, would be the first signs. Some swelling would become the size of an orange and extremely painful. Other symptoms people would suffer from were headache, fever and delirium. Twenty percent of people would go on to develop the pneumonic plague as well. There would be no getting better from the bubonic plague, as a one hundred percent mortality rate was recorded.

The Pneumonic Plague was a less common strand of the disease, but was more infectious. A lung infection with coughing and sneezing would occur. There was no coming back from this form as a one hundred percent mortality rate is recorded.

 

Septicemic Plague
Septicemic Plague

A third strand was the Septicemic Plague. This strand was pretty rare. The infection would spread throughout the body through the bloodstream. Death would have occurred too fast for any swelling of the lymph nodes to have occurred. Fifty to seventy percent of people afflicted with this strand of the plague would die.

There was no immunity to any strand of this disease.

The plague was truly horrific. Records from after the eleventh century can show how terrible it really was. After the European pandemic of 1347 until 1351, twenty-five to forty percent of the population of the continent would be dead. Further attacks had struck England in the years of 1361 until 1362, this was known as the “Children’s Plague”, killing twenty percent of the population of England, mostly the young. In 1369, ten to fifteen percent of the population of England was killed. There were other breakouts of the plague from 1375-1379 in the north country, 1381-1382 in the Midlands, 1383 and 1387 in the southeast, 1390 and in 1399 to 1400 over ten percent of the national population died. In 1426 London specifically was afflicted with the plague. It would take until the 19th century for the population levels to rise to what they had been back in the 14th century.

 

Housing

Anglo-Saxon homes were far different than the houses we are used to today, but not too far off from what our ancestors had built, if they had come to America when the colonies were first being inhabited by Europeans. The people of 11th century England had made their homes out of wood and had thatched roofs. The houses were more like a hut, unless you were rich. Could you imagine sharing one room with your entire family? These people did it. The poor would have also shared their huts with their animals as well, the only “wall” being a screen. During winter the animal’s body heat would help to keep the hut warmer.

Thanes, who were better off than peasants, and their followers, would sleep on beds. But the poorest of people would spend their nights sleeping on the floor. There were no window panes nor glass to keep cold, hot, rain, wind, any of the elements outside. There were however wooden shutters that were kept closed at night. Even in a thane’s hall. Remember how the poor slept on the floor? Well these floors were made out of the earth, at times being dug out and wooden floorboards placed over top. At times the dirt floor was covered in straw so one could keep warm while sleeping. The peasants also didn’t have pillows, but instead would rest their head at night upon wooden logs. There were also no carpets. The rich used candles to give their homes light, but for the poor even these were too expensive for them. They would use a light called a rush light, which was made from rushes that were dipped in animal fat.

There was no indoor, or outdoor plumbing really. Toilets were just pits dug in the ground and then surrounded by walls of wattle. Wattles were strips of wood that was woven together. The toilet seat was a piece of wood with a hole in it.

The rich homes were very rough, crowded and uncomfortable as well. Even a Thane’s hall was just a large wooden hut, but it usually had rich tapestries that hung around the walls. The thane’s also enjoyed showing off any gold that they had owned. Any of their furniture would have been simple and heavy. The rich had also kept falcons, for what reasons I didn’t come across.

11th Century Village
An example of an 11th- Century Village

As stated before, the peasant homes were just simple wooden huts. They had wooden frames that were filled with wattle and daub; which were strips of wood woven together and covered in a ‘plaster’ of stone. The peasant hut was either whitewashed or painted in a bright color. Although most peasants lived in just a one room hut, slightly better off ones had one or two rooms. A hut would have a fire that was placed in the center of the one room, which was used for heating as well as cooking. There were also no chimneys, at least for most people. Imagine how many people would have died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Any furniture for a peasant was kept basic. Chairs were too expensive for them, and most had sat on benches or stools. They would also have a simple wooden table and chests for storing their clothes and other valuables, if they had any.

The wife or mother of the family would have cooked in a cauldron that would have been hung over the fire. The peasant family would have eaten from a wooden bowl.

The Norman’s at first had built their castles out of wood, and a rich man and his entire household would have, like the peasants, lived in one great hall. The great hall was still the center of a castle at this time but the lord would have had his own room, which would be above the hall.

The room of a lord was called the solar. He would sleep in a bed, which would have been surrounded by curtains. The curtains would give him more privacy and would also keep out drafts.

Home
Richer Homes

Other members of the lord’s household would sleep on the floor of the great hall. At one, maybe both ends of the room was a fireplace, as well as a chimney.

Furniture in a lord’s home was still very basic. A rich household didn’t exactly expect to have chairs, in fact most people still would sit on stools or benches. The rich would have tables and large chests to keep their belongings in, and would also serve as beds as well. Wool tapestries or painted linens would hang upon walls of these homes, but they weren’t for decoration, they too helped to keep out drafts.

In a castle a toilet, or garderobe was a chute that was built into the thickness of a

Medieval Castle Garderobe
A castle garderobe (toilet)

wall. The seat would have been made of stone. At times this room would have emptied into the moat. Yup, that’s right. Right into the probable drinking and bathing water for the rest of the town.

A knight’s home was smaller version of a castle. He would live in a fortified type of manor house that was often surrounded by a moat as well. It was usually divided into a great hall with at one end a kitchen and a solar above.

A rich merchant’s home was similar to a knight’s, but it hadn’t had any fortifications built around it.

Most of us would probably think that anybody’s living quarters had not been ideal for us today. I know for me I would definitely not enjoyed the rats that probably

Medieval Castle Toilet outside
A castle garderobe from outside

lived in homes, and as we know from history and the plague they had. Nor would I have enjoyed smelling animal poop while I was eating or sleeping. I also prefer my toilet to flush and not into my drinking or bathing water. If I was a person who would have come through time to today and had to go back I would have definitely been taking a pillow and some nice, flea free blankets back with me, as well as flea bombs, among other things.

 

Clothing

The people living in the 11th century wore very different clothing to what we wear today. They were very simple in their clothing designs, wearing sack-like tunics with leggings. They had some chemical dyes that were made from natural vegetable coloring, and colors of clothing were strong and cheerful in their hues. If you did have colored clothes they were probably bright red, green, or yellow. There were also no buttons, for they hadn’t been invented yet. Clothing was fastened with clasps and thongs.

In England men were wearing a shirt and a tunic. Trousers were like garments called breeches. Sometimes they would extend down to the ankle but other times they were just shorts. A man may have worn leggings that were held in place by leather garters, and they also wore cloaks that were held in place by brooches.

Norman Clothing
An example of what women may have worn at the time

English women would wear a long linen garment with a long tunic over top. They had also worn mantles. Both males and females had used combs that were made from bone or antlers.

 

Work and the Julius Work Calendar

During the 11th century, when asking where a child’s mother or father was an answer you would never hear was that the parent “went out to work”. There is evidence that Anglo-Saxons did have arthritis, which would indicate that they had done hard manual labor, meaning they didn’t have office-like positions as we do today. They had jobs that consisted of farming, blacksmithing, etc. You will read about some of their jobs here, but first we will discuss farming, because it was so important to the people at the time.

Most of the Anglo-Saxons had made their living by farming. They’d make a calendar, different than what ours is today. There’s showed different forms that labor could take. An example would be in the month of January. It would show a moving plowman, slicing open the damp and clay-ridden crust of the English soil with a heavy iron blade that had been the start of the country’s farming landscape. The Englishmen would use a plow to break open and till up the soil. These plow were pulled by an oxen train.

AngloSaxon Farming
A depiction of Anglo-Saxon Farming

Compared to other techniques for farming in the world at this time the wheeled and iron-bladed plow of northwestern Europe was supercharged. This would enable just two men to break up and till a whole acre of soil, along with the help of oxen, which would give meaning to the word “horsepower”. Up to eight oxen would be used to plow the fields, of which there were usually at least two sometimes three huge strips to work. One, sometimes two, would be plowed and sown with crops while the other was left to fallow. Not only did the use of oxen to pull a plow help with breaking up the land but their use was also good for fertilizing as the manure from them would enrich the soils. The use of the wheeled plow was a foundation of life for the English people. The method of harvesting grain would remain nearly completely unchanged for another eight hundred years. Farmers would grow crops of wheat, barley and rye. Even though they had their own farms there was still not enough that grew to keep their animals alive through the winter, so as it had approached most of the animals, which will be talked about later would be slaughtered and then salted to keep it through the winter.

Men were not the only ones who would work outside of the home, women too were active as shopkeepers, artisans, and workers in the production of textiles. Women would produce the textiles while at home, and while controlling household affairs. They’d also engage in activities such as weaving and producing detailed embroidery. The embroidery was a greatly sought-after export. Women would also be singers, musicians and dancers. Most of the women in these occupations were trained slaves and were sought after to bring up the spirits of people at courts of the Muslim world. Women had also been seen working the fields alongside their husbands in the Byzantium Empire. Both slave men and women were used extensively on the lands and in the cities to do work.

Now, back to the then new Anglo-Saxon Calendar and a little bit more about it. Their calendar was originally made to record numerous holy days that the monks were required to observe. I think, but am not sure that the other names for the months, are probably the names as they were known in the Anglo-Saxon language. January was known as Wolf-monath or Aefter-Yula; after Christmas. February was known as Sprout-kele from the word kelewur. Kelewur was a vegetable that was used in the making of brother. March was known as Rhede-monath. This month was to honor the goddess Rhoeda. It was also known as Illyd-monath; stormy month. This month was a holy month as it was when Lent would begin. April was known as Oster-monath. It was named as such because the wind would blow from east at this time of year. May was called Trimilki. It was named this because sheep could be milked three times a day during this time. Sheep were very important to the people and will be talked more about later. June was known as Weyd-monath, which we do not know where this name came from, but it was also known as Midsummer-monath. Hey-monath was the name for July, and could be translated into modern English as hay month. Hay was needed to feed animals throughout the winter. August was Barn-monath, which meant harvest month. As you can imagine this month was very important for the people of this time. Gerst-monath, or barley month would come to be known as September. Cold-monath or Wyn-monath was October. Wyn was a word for wine. November was Wint-monath or wind month. The next month would be a very important month for Anglo-Saxons even before Christianity. December, or Heilig-monath; also known as the holy month was when they would celebrate the feast of Thor, and after Christianity had arrived it was still important due to the celebration for Christmas.

Some other jobs that Anglo-Saxons had were as blacksmiths, bronze smiths, and potters. At first the potters had made vessels by hand, but that was old school at this point. In the 7th century the potter’s wheel was invented so it was more likely to have been used by the 11th century. Other craftsmen had made combs from bones, antlers or horns. There were also many people who were leather workers. Craftsmen were also good at making elaborate jewelry, often selling it to the rich.

 

Laws

During the 11th century kinship (family ties) had been very important in the Anglo-Saxon society. If someone in your family was killed you or your relatives would avenge their death. The law had provided somewhat of an alternative. If someone had killed or injured someone, the murderer could pay the person or their kinship a compensation. The “fine” was called a wergild and it had varied according to the person’s rank. A wergild for killing a thane would have been much more than one for killing a churl. Thralls or slaves didn’t warrant a wergild. If the wergild hadn’t been paid the relatives would be entitled to seek out their revenge. Trial by jury was first introduced to society in about 1000AD.

At first Anglo-Saxons were mostly a free people. There were however some slaves, but most of society was at least free peasants. In time the Anglo-Saxon churls would begin to lose their freedoms and became more and more dependent on the Lords and more under their control.

 

Weaponry

Even through battle, your different classes would have had different weapons and armor. A thane would have worn chain mail, and any ordinary Englishman had worn an iron helmet and held a round wooden shield. They had fought with spears, swords and battleaxes.Battle of Hastings soldier uniform

The usual tactic, which had almost won them the Battle of Hastings in 1066, was a ‘shield wall’. This was when men would stand side by side holding their shields in a line. It was very effective but obviously not effective enough.

 

Food and Beverage

The people in the 11th century definitely didn’t have much of an option in their choices of what to eat for dinner or drink when they were thirsty. There was no cranberry/apple juice, Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola, or Red Bull to give you wings on days you were tired and didn’t want to get up and work. There was no McDonalds, Subway, or Taco Bell to stop by after work and pick up something quick for dinner. Nope, these people had to work to eat every day.

Most peasants owned cows, goats and sheep. This would provide most of their meats. Cows and goats would provide milk and cheese. They also had chickens as well so they could have eggs, as well as pigs, but in autumn the pigs would go roam the woods to eat acorns and beechnuts. Sheep were also very important as they provided mutton, as well as milk, and their fleece could be used for many things. The milk however, mainly came from sheep and goats, rather than cows. People were allowed to have left their animals to graze among the common land. Imagine seeing a cow or pig in the middle of your path on the way into town and just thought it was an everyday occurrence. Although people enjoyed eating meat, only the rich could afford to eat it frequently. Most peasants had more of a boring diet, mainly only eating bread, cheese and eggs. Eggs didn’t only come from chicken and meat didn’t only come from cattle. People also ate duck, geese and wild bird eggs, and hunting was also practiced by everyone. The Normans though would make hunting into a sport, eventually restricting it to only the nobility. Hawking was a favorite past time as well for the rich. The large bird that was hunted was probably the European Crane, which was common at that time, but would be hunted so much that five hundred years later they’d become extinct.

Wheat, barley, and oats were mainly used for cereals, which formed the majority of what people ate all year around. Most of the barley was used to make ale or beer. Farmers would also grow peas, cabbages, parsnips, carrots, and celery. They also ate fruits such as apples, blackberries, and raspberries.

It was a woman’s job to ground the grain and bake the bread, as well as to brew beer. Another Anglo-Saxon drink that was enjoyed was mead, which was made from fermented honey. Honey was very important to the people in this time period as well as there was no sugar for sweetening any food. Bees were kept in every village. The upper class was also able to afford to enjoy drinking wine. Women were also in charge of making butter and cheese.

People ate from wooden bowls and there were no forks, only knives and wooden spoons. Cups were made from cow horns. Apart from eating, sometimes feasting in the evenings, the rich were also able to drink. They would also enjoy storytelling, riddles, and games like chess. After feasts minstrels or gleemen would entertain the lord and his men with music, usually from a harp or by singing.

 

Conclusion

Life in the 11th century was like a battle, people struggled to survive. We have come so far from this time period in our advances in clothing, plumbing, our laws, and medical advances. No longer do people in most societies die from getting the flu, there are even treatments so most people don’t die from the plague, though it still does exist. In fact most of the diseases of the 11th century that I’ve written about are curable or manageable today so people no longer die horrible deaths because of them. We have ways of preventing the spread of them, though some would say we are due for a pandemic to occur. Homes are now built with safety precautions taken. Most do not live with their cows, chickens, pigs, or sheep living within the same dwellings as they do. Fleas no longer dwell in most people’s homes, and if they do they are soon exterminated, and carry a lower risk of carrying the plague then they did in the days of ole. Though women and children still die at birth, there are far less deaths than there used to be, and most people don’t even worry about death when having a baby anymore. In order for any of our advances mentioned here to have occurred, our ancestors had to deal with this things, and selfishly I am glad I did not live during this time and have to deal with the illnesses, loss, and struggles that they had to. I for one and quite grateful for these people, and they are one reason I write this blog so there lives and their stories are not forgotten and for generations to come more people can be thankful for them as well.

 

 

Works Cited

“The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective”

History Magazine

localhistories.org

Sarah Woodbury

Wikitree

Women In World History

 

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Published by: csiceloff85

Hello, my name is Christina Siceloff. I am 31 years old and grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I've been doing family history of my own since 2002, but have started doing it for others as well in the past few years here and there. I love history, and also like music, movies, and video games. I have an associates degree in general studies with concentrations in humanities and social sciences. I also went to school for my EMT certification and plan on one day completing that as well, that darn written exam lol. I also was a volunteer firefighter and plan to join back up with that sometime too.

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