How can chivalry still live?
Everyday life of knights
"My home is my castle"
The knight and his castle - these terms seem inextricably linked. Many simple knights could only afford a stone house in the village as a dwelling. And even the higher-ranking people who made it to a castle lived there mostly not as lords of the castle, but as their employees.
Everyday life in such a castle was far less romantic than it may seem from today's transfigured perspective. Living rooms and bedrooms were sparsely furnished, and the narrow, dark chambers next to the stables were crammed with war equipment - the castles primarily served to protect and defend their residents.
There was hardly any cozy warmth, the fire was kindled with wood and only warmed the damp chambers a little. At most, in more elegant castles, the residents defied their draughty rooms with wood paneling, wall and floor carpets to create a more comfortable living environment.
Even uninvited guests felt at home there: rats scurried across the castle floors, lice spread over the heads of the residents. Disaster in the form of falling vermin threatened from above, from which the bed canopy offered protection.
The hygienic conditions at that time were poor, but at least some of the castles of the late Middle Ages had bathing rooms in which large tubs were ideal for bathing. The necessary hot water was heated in kettles over an open fire - the dishes were also prepared in the castle kitchen on an open fireplace.
A meal "in the style of the old knights" - who doesn't think of sumptuous tables that bend under hearty dishes?
The reality was mostly different: Although the knights ate significantly more meat than ordinary people, mostly beef, pork or game, grain was the most important staple food for all of them. Fresh food, on the other hand, was not very popular.
Wheat, spelled and millet were served as bread or porridge, and flatbread made from rye or oat flour was often used as a plate for meat dishes. Remarkable from today's perspective: the richer the knight, the lighter and therefore poorer in minerals his bread.
It was similarly paradoxical with the sweets. Above all, the higher-ranking members bought confectionery and also sweetened other dishes with lots of honey, and so their teeth, if they still existed at all, were increasingly perforated with tooth decay.
Spices were also very popular ingredients in knightly meals. Like honey, they served to mask the smell and taste of the often spoiled meat and fish. Those who wanted to show off their wealth liked to fall back on expensive spices from distant countries, such as saffron, ginger or cinnamon, and even peppered the knight's favorite drink, the wine.
The knightly cloakroom also functioned as a status symbol, since in the Middle Ages a certain type of clothing was reserved for the individual stands. If the dresses of knight women remained for centuries, medieval men's fashion surprised several times with the changing length of the knightly garb - there were no long trousers in the modern sense.
In the 10th century the knight wore a knee-length dress. Among them was the "bruoch", linen, medium-length underpants, similar to today's boxer shorts. Two separate trouser legs were attached to it, the leg warmers.
When in the 11th century women's clothes showed increasing sophistication and finally reached the floor, the proud knight wanted to be in no way inferior to his "woman": He also wrapped himself in underclothes and skirts, which were also lengthways to the floor managed.
Only in the 14th century did the warriors revisit the advantages of a shorter dress. They wore knee-length again, the front of the skirt often shortened to a mini, so that the beautiful knightly legs were better shown to advantage. This of course called the church on the scene, which immediately tried to curb this "bad habit".
The "gugel", a hooded coat, the tip of which was sometimes decorated with a bell, was also popular at the time.
While the peasants had to wear simple clothes in muted tones, the knights used to display their precious fabrics in bright, bright color combinations. Often the robes were patterned or striped in a mix of styles - the latest craze was leg warmers of different colors.
Beyond vanity, the knight had everyday duties to follow in his life away from the war front. So he had to supervise the agricultural work of the farmers: for example sowing, fertilizing, harvesting and the grape harvest. And the jurisdiction in the name of the liege lord was in his hands.
He particularly enjoyed devoting his time to hunting. It served to procure food, at the same time it was his favorite pleasure. He experienced the killing of dangerous animals, raised to fight from an early age, as an adventure in which he could prove courage and bravery.
The tournaments were particularly suitable for young knights to try out their war techniques. These fighting games in armor with weapons on horseback existed in the three different forms "Buhurt", "Tjost" and "Turnei". With a bit of luck, the budding knights found an employer in their first tournament and thus a job.
Splendid celebrations brought shine to everyday life after many tournaments, but also on other special occasions. After a sumptuous meal, the guests enjoyed themselves with music and dancing. On the long winter evenings, the knight relaxed with his family with all sorts of games such as chess, blind cow and hash me, until in spring it was often said again: Off to the fight!
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