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In the peasant families, everyone worked hard. In addition to tending the landlord's land, men, women, and children harvested, milled grain, and built bridges, roads, stables, and mills. At the same time, they cultivated their plots and took care of animals and crafts and household work.
The peasants lived in thatched huts with dirt floors and dark, damp, smoky interiors. In general, the cabins had only one room, which served to sleep and store food and even animals. The rather rustic furniture boiled down to wooden tables and benches and straw mattresses.
At lunch or dinner, they almost always ate dark bread and a soup of vegetables, legumes and bones. Meat, eggs and cheese were too expensive, only on special occasions. At various times there was a shortage of food and famine spread throughout many regions of Europe, victimizing the poorest.
On the noble table, however, there was no shortage of a variety of fish and meat, often dried and salted, to conserve during the winter. In summer, to disguise the bad taste and stink of spoiled meat, the food was cooked with rare and exotic strong spices and seasonings that came from the East, were expensive and difficult to obtain. Sugar, another rarity, was considered a luxury and used even as an inheritance or for payment of dowries. Wine was consumed in large quantities in almost every region, and northern Europeans also used to drink beer.
VERONESE, Paolo. Marriage of Cana.1563. oil on canvas: color .; 6.66 x 9.90 cm. Louvre Museum, Paris.
The festivities, especially the wedding parties, lasted days with drink and rich and diversified food: they served calves, goats, deer and wild boar, accompanied by birds such as swans, geese, peacocks, partridges and roosters. There was also the presentation of comics, acrobats, dancers, troubadours, singers and poets, for the entertainment of the guests.
Gambling and drinking, quite common in the taverns of every city, drew men who drank a lot of wine, played dice, and got into fights and confusion. That is why the priests cursed the taverns, appointed as den of destruction, but they could not finish them. On the contrary, these customs became more and more accentuated with the growth of urban centers. Dirty and noisy, with no sewage and no treated water, cities have become hotbeds for the spread and spread of disease and pests.
In cities, all kinds of people and professions gathered and coexisted: rich, merchants, taverns, craftsmen, bakers, watchmakers, jewelers, beggars, preachers, street vendors, minstrels, etc. And on the outskirts of the cities, widely discriminated by the majority of the population, lived other groups: Jews, Muslims, heretics, lepers, homosexuals and prostitutes, who were among them persecuted and repressed by the Inquisition from the twelfth century.
Mostly illiterate, the population spoke the dominant language in their region of origin and the languages still spoken in Europe were formed at that time as a result of contacts with people and languages of Germanic or other regions with Latin, the roman language.
Because they could not read, these people had access to literature only through artists who performed in public to read and tell stories, recite poetry or sing and stage theater performances in the squares, streets and taverns of villages and towns, often during the parties.
The noble dwellings also changed a lot over time. Until the twelfth century, its castles were limited to a tower where the lord's family lived, and were made of wood, making it very vulnerable to fire and attacks by invaders. From the 1200s, stone and brick buildings became common and castles gained new dependencies, such as barns, stables, ramparts, moats and watchtowers, for their defense. The furniture was also sophisticated and the nobles began to use tapestry and silverware from the East.