Weird History
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What Life Was Like In Medieval Castles

Updated December 23, 2020 2.2m views18 items

Don't be fooled by all the films that portray medieval castle life as an embarrassment of riches. Living in medieval castles wasn't just about indulging in non-stop feasts, being entertained by jesters, and watching flamboyant jousts. Castle life, even for the upper class, would not have been all that glamorous. Dark and gloomy rooms, lit and heated by suffocatingly smoky fires, were par for the course.

While the upper class did indulge in some of the finer food and drink of the Middle Ages and were afforded a little more privacy than the serving class, there were still certainly very few creature comforts in medieval castle living. However, with such cramped and cold quarters, some castle dwellers did find comfort through chaste-as-heck medieval sex. Life during medieval times was no treat. 

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Bathing Took Place In Wooden Tubs

    Contrary to what many people believe about medieval times, people did enjoy taking baths, it just wasn't always easy to access clean water and a bathtub. Inside castles, there would often be a wooden bathtub that could be transported from room to room for the castle dwellers to bathe in. It wasn't exactly sanitary or even remotely private, but people were happy to be able to clean themselves from time to time.

    It should be noted that medieval populations certainly didn't have the hang-ups about privacy and hygiene that we do today, but they would probably have preferred to not bathe in full view of their roommates. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  • It Was Very Dark And Extremely Cold

    Castles were built using stones, and most castles in medieval times were built with defense from enemies in mind rather than comfort. This led to giant fortresses of stone with small and narrow windows. The stone wasn't exactly conducive to letting heat in and the small windows let in very little of the sun's light, leaving most rooms in the castle extremely dark and cold.

    Just imagine the freezing servants quarters, which would have been in the deepest, darkest recesses of the castle. The illnesses that go along with damp and cold living spaces would have been rampant among the servants and they would have had little defense against the sicknesses.

  • There Was The Constant Hubbub Around Preparing For Feasts And Festivals

    The constant pomp may have been a tid bit annoying, especially to the people of the lower class who were doing all the work in preparation for these elaborate feasts and parties. Large and lavish meals were the norm in a medieval castle.

    Unless you were preparing the meal, in which case you would have your meal in the kitchen, you would sit down to feast with friends pretty regularly. In fact, you were even seated at the meal table in relation to your level of importance. The lord and lady would sit at the head of a large wooden table, of course, while the castle staff would be sat at the back end out of sight.

    How much of a bummer would it be to prepare delicious food and never be able to sample it for yourself?

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Dinners Were Served In The Great Hall, And You Sat According To Status

    Some things just never seem to change. Just like the high school cafeterias of today, in medieval times people sat according to their level of importance. The lord and lady sat at the head of the table, and their meals were served first and consisted of gourmet courses with exotic spices and specialties. The food for the less important dinner attendees would have been far less extravagant, and those folks would have sat on the darker and colder end of the long table.

    But hey, at least they got a spot at the table. More than 85% of the town's people were considered peasants and worked outside of the castle, and were therefore left to fend for themselves and their families when it came time to eat.