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Betcha didn't know

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  • Elizabeth Walpole
    Sorry to those who get double copies of this From: http://www.livinghistory.co.uk/1500-1600/articles/xw_134.html please don t forward or reply to this message
    Message 1 of 36 , Apr 1, 2004
      Sorry to those who get double copies of this

      please don't forward or reply to this message until you have read the important note at the bottom, forward this ONLY if you leave it completely intact, including this note, the web address and the note on the bottom.

      Life in the 1500's,

      Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and were still smelling pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the bad odour.


      Baths equaled a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water".


      Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets... dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and


      There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. So, they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies.


      The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors which would get slippery in the winter when wet. So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a "thresh hold".


      They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been in there for a month. Hence the rhyme: "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."


      Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."


      Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes... for 400 years.


      Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers - a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth."


      Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".


      Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid
      out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake".


      England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer".






      Here's the important note I mentioned at the beginning. If you choose to forward this message on please don't remove it


      Almost all of this is untrue, it is an example of the myths that have arisen about the middle ages, they are not facts, this is a joke. Please enjoy these in the spirit they are intended.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Chris Laning
      ... early modern ... but does ... what sort)? ... Companies, I ... colours were ... I m away from my library at the moment, so anything I say is off the top of
      Message 36 of 36 , May 4, 2004
        -----Original Message-----
        --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Jane Stockton
        <jane_stockton@w...> wrote:
        > I've just been wondering about how members of the medieval and
        early modern
        > guilds/companies identified themselves?
        > Obviously members of the Livery Companies of London wore livery
        but does
        > anyone know what form this took? Badges, clothing (if clothing,
        what sort)?
        > Also, while I've found plenty of listed of the Guilds and
        Companies, I
        > haven't been able to find any indication of what the livery
        colours were
        > for the London Companies?

        I'm away from my library at the moment, so anything I say is off the top of my head. :) Also, what knowledge I have about this is basically from 16th century England.

        The word "livery" originally meant, if I remember correctly, any material goods someone was given as part of their regular "wages". Thus one's daily bread and ale, special clothing, etc. collectively were one's "livery."

        As times evolved, "livery" came to mean specifically the clothing one was given to wear as a "uniform" or sign of one's allegiance or pledged service to a lord or other superior. Great lords could give either a badge (the Percys' was a silver crescent IIRC) or an entire suit of clothes to their men-at-arms, for instance. (The Earl of Essex got in trouble with Queen Elizabethan for, among other things, parading around in France, where he'd supposedly gone to help the Huguenots, with a large force of men all dressed in BRIGHT ORANGE. Ick!) Anyone with servants could, and often did, dress their servants in a "uniform" of particular style and colors.

        As a master or lord, one could choose one's "livery colors" with about the same freedom as one could choose a personal badge -- that is, it wasn't heavily regulated by anyone, and you could choose to use a "family" badge if you liked (such as the swan rousant of the Careys) or you could choose to adopt one for yourself that didn't have any particular affiliations. In the same way, it was _often_ true that livery colors were chosen from the major colors on one's arms, but not necessarily. The arms of the Devereux (the Earl of Essex's family), for instance, were red and white, and most members of his family seem to have dressed their servants in those colors. OTOH, Sir Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, bore arms that were black and white, but his livery colors were blue and gold. Queen Elizabeth's arms, as an extreme example, were of course the arms of England, red, blue and gold; but her servants wore the Tudor family livery colors, green and white. (King James I/VI, when he ascended the English throne, replaced these with the red and gold royal livery still used today.)

        But this all applies to servants' or retainers' livery. I know much less about the "livery" of the Livery Companies, but I'm not at all sure how closely tied the two sets of customs are, even though the same word is used to describe them.

        I'm under the impression that the "livery" of the Livery Companies is not any sort of everyday clothing, but rather a special ceremonial robe that's used at Guild meetings and on official occasions (banquets, parades, etc.) This would fit with the meaning of the word, but my vague recollections of livery robes are that they don't seem to be of any sort of symbolic color -- IIRC, all the ones I know about are red, regardless of which guild. The Master(s) or Warden(s) of the Guild would have chains or collars of office, or some other official symbol like the Embroiderers' Guild crown, but those were also ceremonial. I don't get the impression that guild members wore anything in particular in their everyday clothing that proclaimed their guild affiliation. I would suspect that a wealthy Master in a guild might well wear a signet ring with the Guild's badge on it, oer perhaps a metal badge as a pin or pendant, or perhaps on a purse or other small accessory, but that is just a guess.

        I do remember seeing some materials on the London guilds in particular in the local university library, and will try to find time to look around in those when I get home.

        I also do recall that it was common for apprentices, in particular, to be given servant-type livery to wear, often colored blue. But in that case I don't know whether they would have worn their master's personal badge, the guild's badge or what.

        A badge would certainly seem to me the most plausible solution if you're looking for a sign of membership in an SCA guild and would like to find a period model for such a thing.

        (Lady) Christian de Holacombe
        Deputy Minister, West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild

        0 Chris Laning
        | <claning@...>
        + Davis, California
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