Tag Archives: Medieval history

Hammering the Celts, 1272 – 1330

Hammering the Celts, 1272 – 1330


Henry’s heir was a swarthy giant of 6ft 2in, as Provencal  (through his mother) as he was Plantagenet. Edward I (1272 – 1307) first heard of his father’s death when stopping in Sicily on his way back from a crusade. Such was his lack of urgency that he spent two years in France before arriving in England in 1274. Now aged thirty-five, he had rescued his father from the barons’ rebellion, but he had been an early supporter of de Montfort and understood the need for kingly power in a constitutional framework.

London homes in Shakespeare’s time

London homes in Shakespeare’s time

Thanks to decades of peace, English houses are no longer made for defence but for comfort. The newly rich may still build turrets, battlements and gatehouses but these are only for show or to make a new place look venerable, implying an ancient lineage for themselves. Many a country house still has a moat, though the fact that it seldom runs right around it should tell you that it is not to keep attackers at bay – or for you to water your horse in – but to keep fish for the kitchen.

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

The production, processing, and consumption of foodstuffs were a primary preoccupation of the medieval population. In the earlier unsettled period, the production was strictly for the household; later, with the development of towns and more stable settlements, there was the growth of markets and trade in foodstuffs. Throughout the period, the most important social activity was eating in the company of others; usually this was family, but often it was lord and retainers.

John Hawkwood: An English Captain in Italy

John Hawkwood: An English Captain in Italy

The way in which armies and garrisons were recruited during the Hundred Years War ensured that when peace broke out in 1360 there were large numbers of soldiers, unemployed and without prospects, loose in the realm of France. These banded together, forming independent companies who made war on their own account, seeking to keep themselves fed and paid.

When the peasants revolted

When the peasants revolted

Medieval English peasants had a lot to be angry about. They weren’t slaves in the conventional sense of the word, but they were forced to work (without pay) for their lord in return for their small hereditary plot of land. They were not allowed to move away without their lord’s permission, which as normally not given. They were not allowed to marry without permission – and, when permission was granted, they had to pay their lord for the privilege.