Interesting Facts about the Medieval Houses in Europe

In European history the Middle Ages or Medieval period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. Medieval Houses were different from the ones in the Roman times in many ways.

First of all people in the medieval times lived in villages as it was safer than living in isolated farmhouses on their own land. That changed the architecture significantly. The other major change was that people, more commonly in northern Europe used fireplaces and chimney for cooking and heating instead of an open fire pit in the middle of the room.

Depending on whether the house belonged to a wealthy family or peasants, Medieval Houses varied greatly in their size and appearance.

A peasant’s hut was made of wattle and daub, with a thatch roof but no windows. Therefore most of these houses are no longer standing but many of the wealthier homes are still standing today.

Some are only tourist attractions while others actually have people still residing in them.

The photographs were taken in Apremont-sur-Allier in the Burgundy region of central France. The village is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France with its postcard perfect streets and houses.

There are beautiful gardens in the park of the Chateau d´Apremont which was only planted less than twenty years ago, following the style of 18th century landscaped garden.

1. Housing Material

Medieval Houses

Many of the items we use today, was not available for the average home in the medieval times. One of these items was glass.

To protect their homes from the bad weather and wild animals people used just small cutouts that let some light in and than covered with wooden boards overnight.

Many of the houses had no windows at all.

2. Size of Homes

Medieval House

The houses were extremely small  and often gave room for an entire family. There were not many rooms and the floors were made of straw or dirt.  The sleeping quarters, kitchen and resting area were often the same room used by all the family members.

3. Wealthy Homes

Medieval Houses

There was a huge difference between peasant homes and wealthy homes. Since these houses had often servant quarters and were visited by royalty they were much larger, had large windows and tiled floors with beautiful furniture.

They were built of natural stone and they were built to last. Their size was an indication of the owner´s wealth.

4. Cooking Area

Medieval House

Most of the cooking in peasant´s homes were done on a stake or in a pot, and an average home had a little more than a fire pit in the room. Meals were very limited, most food was provided by what the family was able to raise or grow. Of course wealthy families had well stocked large kitchens with fresh meat, bread and vegetables and even with buttery.

Often, during a construction of a house family members stayed together for months. Therefore there was a great deal of food that would need to be prepared.

5. Restroom and waste

Medieval House

Disposal of waste and toilets were the most unfortunate thing about Middle Age homes. Peasant houses only had a pit in which they could dispose their waste and bury it.

In Medieval castles the toilet was called a garderobe and it was simply a vertical shaft with a stone seat at the top. Some garderobes emptied into the moat.

Wealthy people used rags to wipe their behinds. Ordinary people often used a plant called common mullein or woolly mullein.

6. Bathroom

Medieval House

Since homes had no running water bathrooms were out of question.

In Europe during the Middle Ages bathing was even discouraged by the Catholic church.

Many people could not afford to have a private bath so for them the place to get clean and healthy was the bathhouse.

However the public bathhouse has gone into decline in the sixteenth-century.

Wealthy people who could afford to have bathrooms used a wooden tub and servants to bring jugs of hot water to fill the tub.

7. Equipment

Medieval House

Many houses were very simply equipped. They had a place for cooking and sleeping. Peasant life was rough, meaning a lot of work from sunrise until sunset on the fields. Often, they had a simple loom on which the daughter or other female family members would spin wool and than they would weave it into a rough cloth.

8. Entrance

Medieval House

Wealthy homes owners would seek to impress other members of the nobility and the greater the home was the more self-important the lord could feel. Therefore the entrance was designed to make a statement about people´s importance.

9. Village life

Medieval House

Even though life was tough in the Middle Ages it was not all misery. Holy days meant a day off for everyone. Entertainment for peasants was rough – cock fighting, shin-kicking or wrestling, often a fight with the next village. Sometimes a traveling musician would bring some more fun to people´s lives.

10. Timbered Houses

Medieval House

Medieval House

During the Medieval times many houses were half-timbered. This meant that the structural timbers were exposed and the spaces between the wooden timbers were filled with plaster, stone or brick.

If you like Edo’s pictures check out the ones she took for the Photography Guide for Myanmar (Burma)



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Edit & Dragan Tapshanov

Edit & Dragan Tapshanov

6 Months we travel the world 6 Months we run an AirBnB in Skopje, Macedonia

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