Housing and household utensils in medieval Europe

The general appearance of housing and household utensils indicated the occupation and the status of the owners. The type of housing was influenced by geographical conditions.

People then lived predominantly in the countryside. The villages, large and small, were located near the castle. In the mountainous areas, peasants could settle in hamlets. The peasant houses were mostly wooden, and the roofs were thatched. Often they built houses on a wooden frame, filled and smeared with clay. In southern Europe, peasant housing was built of stone. The poorest peasants huddled in dugouts. In the peasant’s house there were two rooms and an attic, where, usually, the hay was built. The doors opened directly into the single living room, and the other was used as a barn. In the rooms there were no windows, and therefore there was always a twilight in them. Most huts were smoke-filled and heated with open fire and smoke. Often under the same roof with people wintering and cattle.


the XIII century, in the cities are built narrow stone houses from two-story to four-story, which was explained by the limited territory of the city itself. It was in such houses that most of the citizens lived. On the first floor there were shops or workshops, a hall or a room for work and rest. Bedrooms were on the second floor, so that the personal life of the owners would not strike strangers.

Sometimes artisans set up a workshop on the second floor: jewelers for security reasons; weavers to use maximum illumination. The rooms were small.

The houses of the urban elite differed in size and luxurious finish. During their construction, the architecture of the feudal castle was repeated; the presence of a festive hall and a round tower was compulsory. In addition, the house was equipped with a chapel. The house was surrounded by a courtyard with a garden and utility rooms. The hosts were at home depending on their status and way of life.

The windows in the houses were considered a luxury item. As in the palaces of the nobility, and in the dwellings of the townspeople, they were narrow and consisted

of many small windows, because the glass was made in small sizes. In addition, it was also very expensive, so in winter, the window hole was tightened with a stained cloth or covered with carved shutters. Poor people, window openings were covered with ordinary boards.

Inside the houses there was always a semi-darkness. In rich houses, the central hall, except for the hearth, was also illuminated with metal or clay scraps. In small rooms on the walls torches burned, giving more smoke than light. Candles were used only in the premises of rich feudal lords, churches and monasteries. Because the wax was very expensive, candles were often made from unfit for eating animal fat. They were horribly smeared, so the walls and ceilings in the medieval houses were black from soot. This, however, at that time no one paid attention.

Furniture in the houses of peasants or poor townspeople was a little: a chest, a rough wooden table, two benches, a cradle. From kitchen utensils – kazan, clay, wooden and even pewter utensils.

In the houses of wealthy townspeople and feudal lords the furniture was more refined: tables of different sizes, made not only of wood, but also of stone and metal; benches or stools for sitting; lari for clothes and linen. The outer clothing was hung on reindeer horns, and the pants and shirt were removed and hidden under the pillow.

The most prestigious was considered to have a beautiful and comfortable bed, up to four meters wide. Above her hung Baldakhin, leaning on carved wooden posts. The bed was covered with hay or straw, the mattress was put on top from a feather or weaving waste. Pillows were cotton or fluffy. Coverlets were padded with fur or a feather. They were predominantly red in color, attributed to the ability to prevent various diseases. Servants slept on lavas or chests.

The walls and ceilings were painted only in the premises of very rich people. Yes, and could not afford to pave the floor with multi-colored tiles. Usually the floor was covered with thatched paths. In rich houses, to keep warm, the stone walls were covered with carpets brought from the east. Since the XII century., For heating the rooms began to put fireplaces. However, the fireplace gave a little heat, and it was possible to warm up only sitting right next to it. The situation changed for the better only with the advent of the XIV century. tiled stoves.

Over time, people have the desire to make their home more comfortable and cozy. In families with average income, too, there are exquisite items, selected with taste: candlesticks, metal stands for reading and writing, cabinets for expensive utensils, etc. Items of silver and gold, which only kings and nobles could boast of before, appear in dwellings of wealthy townspeople. They began to distinguish between the dining room and kitchen utensils. Items of tableware – real masterpieces – were made by talented jewelers. It is known that in 1380, at the request of the French King Charles V, a gold saltcellar was made in the form of a ship decorated with 32 precious stones and 52 pearls.

The bowl is a small clay dish in the form of a saucer, which was filled with oil, lard and used for lighting, putting a wick. Another name is Kaganets.

Baldahin – canopy made of cloth on poles or poles above the throne, bed, burdens, etc.

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Housing and household utensils in medieval Europe