What is it like a Day in the Life of a 'Lady of the Castle?' ?
I need a description of the daily life, living conditions-in the castle or on the manor, surroundings, job and responsibilities, and others. I also need to know what it is like inside the castle. Also the clothes, food, health problems, and ways Lady of the Castle and family were entertained. I also need where the Lady lives and what time period.
I will need six entries, but you only need to give me as much as you can.
Asked By: Tiff - 1/1/2009
In 'Medieval Women', Eileen Power writes:
'Christine de Pisan in Le Livre des Trois Virtus (c1406) sets down things which a lady or baroness living on estates ought to be able to do. She must be capable of replacing her husband in every way during his absence. "Because that knights, esquires and gentlemen go upon journeys and follow the wars, it beseemeth wives to be wise and of great governance and to see clear, in all that they do, for that most often they dwell at home without their husbands who are at court or in divers lands." A lady must be skilled in niceties of tenure and feudal law, in case the lord's rights were invaded: shemust know all about the management of estate, and so as to supervise the bailiff, and must understand her own metier as housewife and be able to plan expenditure wisely. The budget of a great lady, Christine suggests, should be divided into five parts 1. almsgiving, 2. household expenses, 3. payment of officials and women, 4'. gifts, 5. jewels, dresses, miscellanious expenses as required. Good management of a housewife was sometimes worth more to the lord than income from tenants, for it was the wife's function to dispense wisely of the husband's resources according to his rank.
Ladies of the upper classes had to be ready in an emergency to take the husband's place, for in public and in private wars in the Middle AGes, no one made any bones about attacking a castle occupied only by a lady whose lord was elsewhere; and ladies in this position often proved themselves adequate defenders.
It was not only on exceptional occasions andin the absence of a husband that a lady found the weight of responsibility upon her shoulders. True, dtueis as a moterh in some ways weighed less heavilyupon ladies than could ahve been supposed. Large families were general, but new-born children in upper classes were commonly handed over to wet nurses. The training of the young squire often took him at an early age from his mother's society, and in general it was customary to send boys and girls away to the households of great persons to learn the mannters of good breeding.
But if the nursery was not a great burden, housekeeping in a great house was. In the Middle AGes, as indeed in all ages prior to the Industrial Revolution, the management of a household was a much more complicated business than today, save for the fact that domestic servants were cheap and unexacting. It was no small feat to provide clothing and food for the large families of great households, and to cater for the large numbers of their guests. What made the feat all the greater is that in the Middle AGes most necessities had to be preapred. Bread had to be baked in the bakehouse from corn often grown and ground on the manor, ale brewed in the brewhouse, butter and cheese made in the dairy. In the larder candles were made, bacon cured and winter meat salted down. In every manor larder there stood great salting tubs, and every manorial housewife had to lay in her supply of salt. A lady could seldom give her family fresh meat (except game and poultry) in winter.
Nor was it only food which had to be prepared at home. Some at least of the napery used and cloth worn by the household were spun and woven there, even at a time when the expanding cloth industry made it possible to buy stuff more cheaply in greater variety outside.
The task of the lady of the manor was not only to supervise the manufacture of foodstuffs and clothing which could be made on the spot, but also to look ahead in due season and lay in household stores bought in market, shops or nearest town, or purveyed from London or some other city, or from one of the great annual fairs at Stourbridge, Boston, Winchester, etc. Of these necessities, fish, wine and spices were the most important.
Evidently housekeeping in those days called for considerable organizing abilities. But the provision of food, drink and clothing within the house by no meanst exhausted the lady's domestic duties. When so many commodities which she needed as housekeeper were produced on the home farm, this by itself imposed additional chores. It is plain from medieval treatises that the lady was expected to supervise the home farm and, above all, the dairy. Christine de Pisan's great lady must understand the choice of labourers, the seasons for different operations, the crops suitable for different soils, the care of animals, the best markets for farm produce.'
Answered By: Louise C - 1/2/2009