Young Girls from the Middle Ages


maryburg-If you were born the child of a king or nobleman during the Middle Ages like Gisela, Adele, and Isabelle,you would have had a much happier life. Children of the nobility lived in castles and were, in general, much safer than children of the lower classes. Because the living conditions were better, noble children had a much greater chance of survival. Over half of the children born during the Middle Ages, did not live to be ten years old.

Children of the nobility were also likely to be educated and able to read. Very few people in medieval times could read, and books were very expensive. The printing press had not yet been invented, so books had to be written by hand. It took a long time and cost a lot of money. Children who lived in the castles also learned skills to help them manage the kingdom when they became adults. Girls often learned the skill of needlepoint, and sewing occupied much of their day.

Eating in the middle ages would have been done in the great hall on the second floor. The hall would have been very large and not well lit. There would have been lots of food: meat, fish, cabbage, turnips, onions, carrots and beans, along with pastries. You also might have found bread with cheese and fruit. Sometimes, at a feast there might be roast swan or peacock. Wine, ale, or mead would have been drunk. Water would have been suspicious because the people weren’t sure what was in it and water was also used for bathing. Fruit juices and honey were the only sweeteners. Spices were not known until after the crusades. Eating was done with the fingers and scraps were thrown on the floor for the dogs.

medieval_dressNoble women and girls wore dresses made of wool. They also wore linen undergarments that were changed and cleaned often. Their outer dresses were rarely cleaned. Ladies typically wore some sort of headpiece. As the Middle Ages progressed, some of these head pieces became rather large; like the ones with the cones and the long trains on them that are associated with princesses. Shoes for the ladies would typically have been a slipper-type shoe made of leather. Only the nobility had leather shoes. A chatelaine was a chain or ribbon a girl wore around her waist or neck that held a pair of scissors, a thimble, and a needle for sewing, doing needlepoint, and making tapestries. Pins were very expensive because of the fine metal work required to make them.

chateaudechateaugironDuring the middle ages, children were considered adults around the age of ten. Most children were married before they were teenagers. A young boy was considered a man around the age of seven. Even though they became adults at an early age, there is still evidence that children played. Some children were even buried with their toys. Girls played with dolls called poupees. The word “doll” didn’t come into the language until the 17th century. They also played with rattles and noise makers. Mazes eventually became popular outdoor activities.

noblebabeFalcons were very popular with the nobility. These birds were very well trained. Often times, there was a servant whose only job was to take care of the birds!

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