Aug 132012

Introduction to Life During the Renaissance Period

Photo of everyday life courtesy of Wikipedia

What was is like to live in the Renaissance? What would your Renaissance life be like? Well if you want to get a quick view of it. Just turn off all electricity, gas and battery powered items. Once those are off try doing things you do every day, like cook, wash clothes, or even your job. Imagine waking up up early in the morning and then having to walk to your job, or if you were lucky your job was in the lower portion of your house. There was no internet, facebook, microwaves, or smart phones. Well if you think about it, not having a cell phone might be a benefit.

Life during the renaissance was a lot simpler. Most of your life was generally centered around a small area where you lived. Towns, villages, and hamlets were more prevalent than cities, during the beginning of the renaissance. For instance, the only real city in England, was London. You really did not travel, unless there a need. Your found out what was happening in the world around you from travelers passing through. A person would typically learn a trade or skill then pretty much stay where they are and practice that trade. There were some skills that are the exception, but I will go into those in a later post.

Most of the people during the beginning of the renaissance period are illiterate. Most of the schools were only for the wealthy, though you did have some people open up schools for the poorer people from time to time. These schools were generally hosted by one of the clergy. When the kids were young enough they would attend these schools, but once they were able to start being an apprentice they would stop going to school as much and help their parents. Toward the end of the renaissance festival it was common to find a great percentage of the population literate.

Another common task that was done very different is cooking. With the lack of refrigeration, getting the food prepared before the food went bad was very important. Meat would often be kept alive up until it was time to cook it. When you look at pictures, look for chickens in crates. Those might be tomorrows diner. The different spices were also not as common as they are currently. You would mainly use what was around your region and sometimes you would even grow a herb garden. When you ate your food would be served on trenchers, which is hollowed out bread that you could then eat after the meal. Depending on where you are the fork was actually not in popular use. Mainly a person used a spoon and knife. Getting your own bowl, mug, spoon & knife set does add a good touch to any renaissance outfit. Another interesting note, is that during this time a lot of people believed the tomato was poisonous, since it is a member of the nightshade family.

Finally, during the renaissance, your station in life was pretty well fixed by what was known as the “Great Chain of Being.” This pretty much set where you were in life. For instance Queen Elizabeth was at the top, then came the different nobles, then the gentry, then the merchants and continuing down the line all the way down to a simple rock. Yes, you read correctly. Rocks even had their own social standing.

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