Medieval Pastimes and Sports
Medieval Times could be very tough depending on when in the medieval period we are talking about. Later in the Middle Ages when things started to stablize there was more time for hobbies and pastimes. They didn't have the diversity of pastimes that we have now. They still had to spend a significant amount of their time on the basic but they did have some free time (particularly nobility) so here is a list of some of the pastimes that they enjoyed.
The Picture shown here at left is of King Conradin Hawking. He lived from 1252-1268.
- Hawking - The taking of pigeons, herons, waterfowl, rabbits and other small game by hawks
- Hunting Dogs
- Gambling (with dice)
- Story Telling
People of Medieval Towns and villages did enjoy a variety of sports and many of them are a precursor to sports we still enjoy today.
- A form of soccer was played by kicking a large ball
- Pitching Quoits - This is an early version of horseshoes where players would pitch a metal or rubber ring over a pin in the center of a patch of clay
- An early form of Bowling also was practiced
- Fighting with Cudgels ( a kind of club) or quarterstaffs
- A form of Ice Skating where youth would strap the shinbones of cows to their feet and skate on frozen ponds and lakes
- A primitive form of badminton with a ball and paddles
Feasts, Festivals, Holidays and More
Feasts, festivals, holidays, and saints days were an important part of the pastimes of people during the middle ages. Many of these special days were accompanied by special rites, songs, dance and plenty of food and drink. Some of these festivals were religious such as Easter when they would celebrate the appearance of the green man who was a dressed in green branches and would dance through the streets.
May was a very important time because it was the beginning of spring and it was often celebrated with something called The Morris dance and Dancing around the Maypole.
Going to Church was also a pastime and a form of recreation. for poor peasants it was possibly the only place where they were exposed to the wonders of architecture and art. they could look at and enjoy the icons and paintings, sculpture and stained glass windows.
Duties of the Lady of the castle
A lady of a castle had the task of the daily running of the castle. She and her husband usually lived on the top floor of the castle and they even had their own private chapel. The primary role of the lady of the castle was to rear their children and to make sure they were well educated. In most castles the lady was also in charge of the training of a young boy from another castle who was called a page-boy. It was the duty of the lady of the castle to look after him and to educate him and teach him good manners. The lady of the castle spent a part of each day in a special room called the solar, which was always facing south and received the most sunlight. She would play games such as chess and also spend a lot of time doing embroidery.
Training of a medieval craftsman
At the age of seven, a young boy became an apprentice and lived in the house of a master craftsman for up to a period of seven years. He received no pay but was given a chance to learn the skills of the trade. Some apprentices were treated very badly by their masters. At the end of seven years an apprentice became a journeyman, which meant he was free to go and seek work for himself in another town. If he wanted to become a master craftsman he would have to produce a masterpiece, which would then be examined by the members of the guild. If he was successful he could then set up his very own workshop and take on apprentices of his own.
Life of a Serf on a medieval manor
A serf lived in a small house with wattle and daub walls, an earthen floor and a thatched roof. Every serf owned a few animals and these were also kept inside the house at night. Most of their life was spent farming strips of land given to them by the lord of the manor. All of the farm work had to be done by hand and their animals were kept in a field called the common. They had to give ten percent of their crops to the church, which was called a tithe and they also had to work a few days per week for the lord. They weren’t allowed to fish in the rivers or hunt in the forests without the permission of the local lord. They weren’t allowed to leave the village and they could be punished by being put in stocks or a pillory.