Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Friday, December 19, 2008

Indoors and out, medieval style

The weather around here has lately been frightful, but there hasn't been any delightful fire yet, contrary to the song. So I've been snowed and iced in. Of course, I did have to go out today, and, bundled up properly, I didn't feel terribly cold, though the temperatures today never rose above freezing. I had to go out to buy an "appreciation" Christmas gift for a friend of mine. It wasn't far, and I didn't mind, since I also was able to stop in the neighborhood Tully's(a local rival to Starbuck's, with, in my opinion, better coffee and free wi-fi. And I was soon back to a nice, warm home.


All this has gotten me to thinking about what people in medieval times did during the cold months. For example, as I was returning home(after slipping on hidden ice and fortunately not injuring myself or my purchase to any extent, I met a lady who was trying to walk a small dog. The dog was cold, despite being bundled up, and it didn't like walking on the partially-icy sidewalk. She mentioned she hadn't gone to work that day, because my neighborhood is at the bottom of a steep hill, and the buses simply couldn't get up and down. , People in medieval times wouldn't have had this problem. They probably wouldn't have had such a small dog, either, or at least they probably wouldn't have been carrying it around in a stocking or purse(I can't quite remember what she was carrying the dog in. Nor would they have had problems getting to work, whatever work was for most of them(most of them were rural peasants). But they probably wouldn't have spent much time traveling in conditions like these, although both in towns and in villages, people probably went out and threw snowballs or skated(there are apparently descriptions of these activities). During a snowstorm or windstorm, they simply would not have gone out at all.


Even in relatively "clement" weather, travel was hard, and roads weren't all that good. It was sometimes dangerous to travel, too, even in the warmer seasons because there were always outlaws ready to steal and even kill you. In England, roads on both sides were supposed to be kept clear of bushes and other obstructions so travelers could see miscreants coming. Whether or not this was effective is another question entirely. So people tended to huddle in their houses, just like we do today, but for entirely different reasons.


It wasn't that travel was impossible, and people did travel when necessary in inclement weather. It is just that travel, at the best of times, was a difficult enterprise, and it took longer to get from Point A to Point B than it does today. So people tended not to go anywhere unless it was important to them to do this. In any case, it's an interesting thought that, despite the different eras and "mindset", (yes, medieval people did think somewhat differently about some things than we do now, though I think this "mindset" can be vastly exaggerated), that people then, and people now, probably reacted much the same to snowy weather, at least in those areas where there is a chance of snow.


Happy holidays everyone,

Anne G

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