Nursery Rhymes

Village Life in the Middle Ages

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Village Life in the Middle Ages
The peasants, including serfs, freeman and villeins, on a manor lived close together in one or more villages. Their small, thatch-roofed, and one-roomed houses would be grouped about an open space (the "green"), or on both sides of a single, narrow street. The only important buildings were the parish church, the parsonage, a mill, if a stream ran through the manor, and possibly a blacksmith's shop.

The population of one of these villages often did not often exceed one hundred people.

Village Life in the Middle Ages: Self-Sufficiency
Medieval village life during the Middle Ages was self-sufficing. Perhaps the most striking feature of  medieval village life was its self- sufficiency. The inhabitants tried to produce at home everything they required, in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense of trade. The land gave them their food; the forest provided them with wood for houses and furniture. They made their own clothes of flax, wool, and leather. Their meal and flour were ground at the village mill, and at the village smithy their farm implements were manufactured. The chief articles which needed to be brought from some distant market were salt, used to salt down farm animals killed in autumn, iron for various tools, and millstones. Cattle, horses, and surplus grain also formed common objects of exchange between manors.

Village Life in the Middle Ages: The Peasants and the Lords
Life in a medieval village was rude and rough. The peasants labored from sunrise to sunset, ate coarse fare, lived in huts, and suffered from frequent pestilences. They were often the helpless prey of the feudal nobles. If their lord happened to be a quarrelsome man, given to fighting with his neighbors, they might see their lands ravaged, their cattle driven off, their village burned, and might themselves be slain. Even under peaceful conditions the narrow, shut-in life of the manor could not be otherwise than degrading.
Under feudalism the lords and nobles of the land had certain rights over Medieval Serfs and Peasants which included the right of jurisdiction, which gave judicial power to the nobles and lords and the right of hunting. For more interesting information about rights in the Middle Ages click the following link:

Feudal System

The Positive points of Village Life in the Middle Ages
There were positive points of peasants and their village life in the Middle Ages.  If the peasants had a just and generous lord, they probably led a fairly comfortable existence. Except when crops failed, they had an abundance of food, and possibly a cider drink. They shared a common life in the work of the fields, in the sports of the village green, and in the services of the parish church. They enjoyed many holidays; it has been estimated that, besides Sundays, about eight weeks in every year were free from work. Festivities at Christmas, Easter, and May Day, at the end of ploughing and the completion of harvest, relieved the monotony of the daily round of labor.

Religious Festivals

Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Index

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