Life wasn't kind to peasants during the Middle Ages. Famines were common and disease was rampant. Religion was key to life back then and many of the daily rituals and decisions depended on it. Although peasants worked hard, the Sabbath was usually a day of rest and observing religious rites.
Most peasants lived in wooden or straw houses. Depending on the weather of the region, the walls might have been insulated using mud and manure. The floor was usually made of straw and many houses had no windows or doors. They had just open spaces or had a curtain to provide some privacy. They had little furniture, sometimes just a table and stools and a straw mattress. In the winter, many peasants brought their animals inside to keep them safe from predators. That meant pigs, cows and sheep shared their living space and sometimes caused the peasants to catch lice, fleas and diseases.
Even though peasants lived and worked on their lord's land, they still had to pay rent in order to live there. This rent was known as a tithe and was usually a percentage of the farm produce. Some peasants also had to pay a tithe to the church. Payments could be made in the form of cash or crops.
The life of a peasant had few comforts. Most started their day as early as 3 a.m. and spent all day working the land. Their homes did not have running water or toilets. Peasants gathered water from streams using buckets. Baths were not common and washing clothes was difficult because dresses were bulky. As a result, peasants didn't leave in the cleanest conditions.
Many newborns died before reaching 6 months of age. Those who survived past that time were still at high risk for a number of health problems, including tuberculosis, malnutrition and the plague. Hospitals at the time did not take patients for small, everyday problems. They only accepted those with chronic or contagious diseases.
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