Ninety per cent of the middle ages population lived in the countryside in small villages.
These peasants or ‘serfs’ were owned and managed by the lord on whose land they worked. The serfs farmed the lord’s land and raised livestock, dividing the produce between the lord and themselves. The lord resided in a large manor home, whilst the serfs lived in small wood homes with thatched roofing systems.
The crops grown were turned each year, rotating between: wheat, barley and being left fallow (unplanted) to make the soil more fertile for the year after. All the serfs might also use the common an area of land shared by everyone. They might graze their animals and collect wood and berries here.
Bigger villages might have also had their own: blacksmiths, carpenters, brewers and perhaps even their own shoe makers. Sometimes, villages would hold a reasonable for travelling merchants to come from everywhere to buy and sell things. Jugglers, acrobats, musicians and even dancing bears might concern carry out too.
It spread rapidly since individuals knew absolutely nothing about medication or the requirement to be clean. About someone in every 3 died from it, animals died as nobody lived to care for them and lots of towns ended up being deserted. Life span dropped to simply over 17 years. When the serfs were: hungry, felt over-taxed or felt their rulers needed to be challenged they might: group together, decline to do as they were informed, arm themselves and require to the streets.
According to legend, a rebel named Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest,
near Nottingham who liked to take from the terrible lords and rich priests. A popular revolt by peasants happened in June 1381 when countless serfs marched to London, burning lots of manor houses on their method, to protest to King Richard II versus the raising of a Survey Tax to spend for a costly, unneeded war with France.
For a lot of peasants in the Middle Ages, life centered around the town. The town was usually part of a manor run by a lord or someone of noble birth or a church or an abbey. Many peasants never ventured out of the village throughout their lifetime. Most peasants worked their land with either horses, oxen, or a combination of the two.
The following day, the farmer would turn his group around and rake back in the opposite instructions. Unethical farmers would often try to get a bit of valuable land by swiping a few of their next-door neighbors land in a procedure called furrow stealing. As a farmer raked the edge of his own land, he might move over into his neighbor’s land and plow a few furrows, claiming them as his own.
Not all peasants in the village farmed. There were blacksmiths, tapers, ale makers (typically females), potters, and well-rounded useful men. These residents of the village likewise owed costs and services to the lord but generally not as much as those who worked a big quantity of land. Free peasants also resided in the town.
Not all the services in the town were owed by the peasants to the lord. The lord likewise owed services to the peasants. The lord offered a mill for the villagers (for a part of the grain ground, of course), a bakeshop, a court of justice, protection, and in some cases a parish church.
Peasants and lords resided in a cooperative relationship, each offering something the other required. The lord received items, services, and some money to keep the manor running while the peasants got justice, security, and services that would have been too expensive for a peasant to supply himself.
We look after three of the most exceptional of England’s 3,000 or two deserted middle ages villages,
all locations where proof of structures deserted many centuries ago can still plainly be seen. All are remote: Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village on the edge of Dartmoor, Gainsthorpe Middle Ages Town in North Lincolnshire and Wharram Percy Deserted Middle Ages Village on the Yorkshire Wolds, where the shell of the middle ages church still stands.
At Gainsthorpe, a tale told that the village was demolished by irritated neighbours as a nest of thieves. In fact, there was most likely no single reason for their desertion. Various elements played their part, consisting of climate change which made farming at Hound Tor tough, the ravishes of the Black Death in the 1340s or, as at Wharram Percy, the systematic expulsion of the last occupants by property managers who found it more profitable to transform ploughed fields into pastures for sheep producing valuable wool.
But thankfully we don’t have to depend on imagination alone. Since they remained mostly undisturbed after desertion, deserted towns have shown a treasure trove for archaeologists. At Wharram Percy, the most intensively studied deserted town in Europe, they have developed up a brilliant picture of villagers’ every day lives over seven centuries.
Regardless of proof of damaged bones and deep cuts affirming to the difficulties of farming life, almost half of the village’s grownups lived to be over fifty, although already most were crippled by arthritis. One male, after being clubbed over the head, even sustained a delicate operation to alleviate pressure on his brain by cutting away part of his skull, and made it through for a number of years later on.
The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historical buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The HER determines 4 deserted medieval village websites which have actually been, at some time, in the civil parish of Pulloxhill.