There is one word to describe the culture in the Middle Ages and that is barbaric. While some countries were better than others at maintaining order and the education of their society it was quite a rough time to exist when people had little to no rights. There were certain aspects of the Middle Ages that seemed rather glamorous such as kings, queens, knights, and other rumors that surrounded the time period, but overall the Middle Ages were not a fun and fancy free type of time.
There was a lot that occurred during the Middle Ages, plague, war, famine, and literacy problems plagued many of the countries in Europe. It was not a good time to have beliefs that differed from the church, and there was little to protect any member of the country that spoke their mind if it differed from those in power. The Middle Ages were exactly that a period after the fall of the Roman Empire and Greek influence, but before the enlightenment of the renaissance. The Middle Ages were the transition period that sat smack dab in the middle of those two time periods.
Most people think of Medieval Times as a place in history where a gallant knight would ride off into the sunset to sleigh a dragon for the love of a princess. They do not realize it was a huge time for superstition, and the lack of education did not provide any support to disprove any of the more outrageous superstitious beliefs.
Medicine was pretty much non-existent, so the treatment for someone that fell ill or had some sort of medical issue was basically to wait it out and see what God decides. Blood letting was a popular treatment for almost any disease, and that was when a doctor would simply cut into an individual and drain blood from their body. The belief was that ridding the body of the toxic blood would allow the body to heal itself. The problem with this was that the blood draining would make the individuals weaker and people would often drain off too much blood which would eventually lead to death.
There were games and fairs that existed and the citizens of a town were often all in attendance. These fairs provided a wonderful time and opportunity for many families. There were shows, games, and many other trading or sales stands available for people to purchase items or sell homemade items that they may have to a wide audience. While there were local trade markets many of these people did not get such a large audience as they would from a fair.
The average person’s life was filled with a great deal of hard work and modest earnings. The majority of families worked all day in order to grow and gather enough food to feed their family and sell in order to purchase items such as clothing that they may need. Most families were barely able to make ends meet, and their children were often married off at a very young age. All of the children were expected to help work in order to help feed the family, so education was not pushed on the children. The expectancy of life for peasants was very low. Many women experienced a great deal of miscarriages, and the children often died at young ages to illness, disease or simply just accidents.
The wealthier people of society often had a much easier time in life. They did not have to do much hard labor at all and in fact often had live in servants that were there to take care of any need that they may have. Some members would be invited to court which meant that they would go to keep the king or queen company and to wait on them hand and foot.
Some people were just there to provide entertainment, and others were there simply because the king may choose to want them close. This was an extremely common practice for kings that often had affairs with the women that were at court. Eventually the kings would tire of them or the women would become impregnated and they would eventually send them away.
Art & Education
There could not be a bigger difference in a society’s concentration like that of art and education during the Middle Ages. The culture in the Middle Ages had a strong concentration on the artistic talents of many individuals. The Middle Ages saw the sprouting of artists from individuals that lived and worked outside of the monasteries which were completely different than it had been historically. Some of the most famous artists in history were born to farmhands or peasants during this time period.
Education took a back seat during the Middle Ages. It was not until the end of the Middle Ages that the rulers began to realize that without education they would just continue to make the same mistakes over and over again and would never reach peace for their society. It was then that they began to focus on the education of at least the higher end of society so that the countries would be able to grow and flourish.
The culture in the Middle Ages expanded eastward. Due to open trade lines with the east there were many aspects of society that began to change due to the knowledge that they received from their much more educated eastern neighbors. Religions, education, art, and even cooking were influenced by the east. Bland food began to have a more vibrant taste due to spices and herbs that were brought through the trade lines, and made the rest of Europe realize that there was a much bigger world out there.
The culture in the Middle Ages was extremely limited due to strong restrictions placed on society by the church. The church worried that the more education the people received the more likely they were to question their beliefs, so they encouraged the hindrance of the culture.