Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Medieval Education

We have written on both medieval-castle.com and in our Medieval Castle Blog about the importance of medieval worship and the role of the Church, particularly in medieval England. Howeverm, there is another sector of medieval life that was dominated by the Church - education.

At that time it was basically a means of training future priests and holy men. All the schools had to be licenced by a Bishop and the schools were often attached to a cathedral or a monastery. The schools were notably for boys only where pupils would study the trivium (dialectic, rhetoric and grammar) and sometimes the quadrivium. Lessons would have been in Latin and discipline was known to be severe.

One interesting point about education in medieval England was that there was absolutely no class distinction and poor children could rise through society benefited by a good education. Ironically, often the nobility were too proud or sometimes too lazy to educate their children. Upper class boys were in fact more likely to be trained in warfare, usually in another noble household where they would start out as pages.

Despite this, open access to education reading remained largely a preserve of the Holy orders.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Medieval Feudalism & A Military Society

Medieval life is a fascinating subject for study. From medieval worship to medieval feudalism there's a wealth of information available for study. Loyalty and allegiance were particularly complex matters with pros and cons on both sides and whilst we don't profess to be experts on the subject, we wanted to share a little of what we do know in this blog post.

Early medieval Britain and indeed Europe as a whole was dominated by feudalism, particularly in the 12th century. There was no concept of nationhood and patriotism was not something people could relate to. Your loyalty was to your ruler.

Europe was split into principalities called feudatories, each one being ruled by a king, duke or a count. The ceremony of homage was commonplace; this was where a kneeling vassal placed his hands between those of his overlord and promised him service and obedience. However, this was not all one way as an overlord was expected to offer protection, friendship and support to any of his vassals in trouble.

Medieval Europe was basically a military society with warfare being the business of kings and noblemen. There might be much blood spilled but afterwards it was usual for a truce to be signed and things would return to normal - except of course for the peasants and townsfolk who suffered greatly.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Castle Priest Hole

Here at medieval-castle.com we try hard to find new and interesting things to write about for our readers. The problem is that our 'to do' list is huge and there are simply not enough hours in a day to get down it quickly. However, we are resolved to tackle a variety of subjects in depth and over time - so if you love medieval history and castles, please keep revisiting the site!

Today we can report that one of the items on our 'to do' list has had its box ticked - and a BIG tick it is too! Some time ago we decided to write a section on medieval worship and how it affected not only the way people lived their medieval lives but also had a bearing on medieval archictecture and design. Admittedly it is a broad subject and we have only just begun to scratch the surface with our first content in the section which went live this week.

We have started to dedicate pages to individual places of worship which date back to medieval times as well including St Etheldreda's Church in London, the oldest Catholic church in all England dating back to the era of King Edward I. When you read the page take a close look at the photograph - towards the bottom right hand corner there is a wonderful orb clearly visible!

Perhaps the most powerful impact made upon medieval worship in England was that of The Reformation. As a result many people were imprisoned, tortured and executed and many were forced into holding religious ceremonies in secret. The priest hole was born out of this.

Priest holes were generally built in homes and castles of wealthy and aristocratic Catholic families and we have been privileged to be able to visit a medieval castle with a priest hole as well as actually film it. Our priest hole video is now live and, we believe. is the first of its kind published on the Internet. Certainly as of this moment in time there is nothing to compare to it on youtube! So please visit the page, watch the video, read the accompanying account of its history and then pass the link on to others for their enjoyment.

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