You probably get up around 4 a.m. and eat a piece of bread and some wine. Then you will go to mass. Next you will probably go hunting or fishing, practice jousting or fencing, play chess, go beat some serfs, generally hang around. You do have some duties: checking on all the workings of your lands, giving directions, holding court for the peasants. You will have dinner at 9 or 10 a.m.
When important visitors come, on holidays, and when someone gets married, you hold huge feasts. You may feed several thousand people for several days. You eat stags, deer, birds of all types, and lots of pork. On normal days, at dinner and supper you have soup of all kinds and often meat pies. Bread is the most important food--if you are rich you eat white bread. Hard bread, called trenchers, is often used as a plate and utensils generally consist of a knife and hands. At feasts, however, napkins and golden or silver knives and spoons are used. You dine at a long narrow table with benches on either side. If possible, a lady is seated next to each noble. They share the same dish and goblet throughout the meal. A feast menu: First course: Stag, boars head with herb sauce, beef, mutton, legs of pork, swan, roasted rabbit, tarts Second course: pheasant and roast capon, pastries made with small birds Third course: rabbit in gravy, roasted teal, woodcock, and snipe, patties filled with egg yolk, cheese and cinnamon, and pork pies. The object is to stuff the guests as full as possible.
Your clothes are mostly made of wool; cotton and silk are very rare. The fabric is coarse, home spun. The clothes are warm and durable but itchy, hard to wash, and good at collecting dirt. Skin diseases are common. You (if male) get dressed as follows. Your squire helps you into fine white linen underwear. Next you put on hose of black, brown, or black with red stripes. Your shirt is white linen, called a chemise, with no cuffs or collar. The first outer garment is called a pelisson. Long and fur-edged, it is very warm. In the summer, you substitute a thin cotte without fur. A bliaut, or tunic, is worn over that. Your best is made of silk, but for everyday wear it is probably fustian or maybe cotton. If you are going traveling, you will then put on your mantle, a cape with a fur lining and ornamented with silk tassels. To show your wealth, you wear cloth shoes, decorated with gold and jewels. On your head, you may wear a wreath of flowers, thin gold wreath, or cloth bonnet.
If you are a noblewomen, you wear a white knee-length linen chemise. Next you also put on a pelisson with fur edging, made of fine wool or silk and reaching to your feet. You also wear a bliaut, laced tightly to show off your figure. It is kept in place by a girdle of silk woven cords. Your bliaut is made of very fine material and decorated with gold embroidery and pearl beads. You also wear a loose mantle made of fine materials.
If you are a noble boy, you most likely entered the service of a lord as a page at age 7. When you reached 15 or 16, you became a squire and began training. You will learn to fight and ride and perhaps to read and write (although many nobles cannot even sign their name). And of course you will learn the code of honor, chivalry. When your lord considered you worthy, you were knighted, receiving the title sir. You now remain in the military service of your lord.
Your armor begins with a thigh-length shirt of mail, or hauberk. With full length sleeves ending in mittens, it also has an attached mail hood. The mail probably weighs around 25 pounds. It protects you from sword cuts, but arrows and spears still get through. So you wear an acton (a padded undergarment) and always carry a shield. Your helmet has a nose guard and visor. You may also wear a full suit of armor made of small metal plates. Your shield and sleeveless surcoat are decorated with your coat of arms, so that you can be identified. Your full suit of armor probably weighs about 65 pounds.
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