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Middle Ages Peasants

Middle Ages Peasants

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About 90 percent of people living in Europe during the Middle Ages were peasants with few legal rights. Most peasants in the Middle Ages fit the following profile:

  • The peasants worked as farmers or laborers.
  • Nearly all peasants were illiterate.
  • Peasants lived under the harsh scrutiny of a lord who owned land.
  • Peasants were required to spend about half of their day working for the lord.
  • Peasants had to pay taxes in the form of money or goods.
  • Peasants were also required to pay a 10 percent tithe to the church in the Middle Ages.

Peasants in the Middle Ages lived in poverty. Most lived in cruck houses, wooden shacks with thatch straw roofs. Mud and manure were primarily materials used to build their homes. A combination of mud, manure, and straw made an adhesive substance that allowed them to build and repair homes easily. The materials also provided some protection from the cold.

Most peasant families grew their own food. Each house typically had its own vegetable garden that would supplement the crops that the families grew to pay their lords. Water was a major concern for Middle Ages peasants. They did not have water or sewage systems, so many of them did not have ready access to fresh water or a means to eliminate waste from their homes. Instead, they often had to acquire water from a central source, such as a well or spring. These sources were often contaminated by waste and bacteria.

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Middle Ages Peasants research papers discuss the living conditions of peasants and the expectations of them from the church.

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