Everyday Life in the Middle Ages (short facts)

Europe experienced a transformation after the fall of the Roman Empire. This transformation was influenced by Roman culture, Germanic-barbarian culture, and early Christianity. Although daily life varied from region to region throughout the Middle Ages, certain common elements have been identified by historians and researchers. These include family life, the role of religion, an emerging legal system, and the eventual growth of towns and city-life, influenced by trade patterns and renewed contact with the East.
  1. Following the decline of Roman rule, Western European societies developed the feudal system. Categorizing this system is difficult, however. Historians note the influence of geography, the extent of Roman cultural impacts, as well as the role of leadership under kings like Charlemagne. Additionally, feudalism was influenced by other powerful forces like the Viking raids and new barbarian incursions that originated in Asia.
  2. Novgorod was an important link in the Hanseatic League of cities, connecting the Baltic Sea region with northern Russia. Medieval Novgorod facilitated the first dynastic leadership in Russia, representing on of the earliest pillars of power and influence.
  3. Viking interaction with expanding Christian Europe in the Early Middle Ages impacted the feudal system and, according to some historians, may have directly influenced the rise of feudal monarchies and military responses to the raids. Viking culture also influenced the rise of Western Civilization, blending religious beliefs and traditions with the Medieval Church.
  4. Medieval times gave rise to popular expressions and idioms still used today. Everyday life in the Middle Ages produced popular expressions that were rooted in the life experiences of this bygone society.
  5. The Church regulated the lives of people in the Middle Ages from when they awoke to when they slept at night. The Church of the Middle Ages developed out of post-Roman Christianity and Germanic-barbarian culture, taking over or modifying existing traditions and practices.
  6. Food in the Middle Ages may not have been prepared with many of the spices and ingredients a modern kitchen holds, but good eating relied on a diversity of tastes and preparation techniques. Here is a sampling of such diversity as well as an intriguing recipe.
  7. Tourists today stroll through the remnants of Medieval cities and towns, enthralled perhaps by the quaint buildings and inviting shops and cafes. But life in a Medieval town was perilous and harsh. When not confronting an enemy, townspeople contended with diseases and deplorable living conditions.
  8. The growth of towns and cities was influenced by emerging trade patterns. The emergence and expansion of the Hanseatic League helped to facilitate this process, providing a mutual benefit for member cities.
  9. The path to knighthood in the Middle Ages began early, associated with the role of squire. Training was arduous for young men focusing on one of the three orders of the Middle Ages: those that fought.