An abbreviated workshop containing some of the best bits of our full medieval life workshop for those schools where time or space are short or where it is difficult to organise teacher cover. A good overview of clothes, marriage, food, arms & armour and surgery & medicine.
Age group: Keystage 3, for 9 – 12 year olds depending on ability level
Display time: 45 minutes to one hour
Max number of students per display: 60
Number of displays per school day: Usually 4
Minimum number of teachers required: (preferably one per 30 students)
Display area: School hall, gym, drama room, dance studio, or similar large indoor space.
Medieval Clothes – 4 students are dressed in medieval costume, including Lord Tudor, lady Beaufort, a peasant and a priest. The Lord & Ladies clothes are described to the students. What they’re made from, what they feel like, the fact that medieval women didn’t wear underwear! Medieval people didn’t have a problem with pickpockets as they didn’t have pockets to pick!
Medieval Marriage – There is to be a marriage! Lord Tudor and Lady Beauforts parents have decided they should marry. This marriage actually happened in history, Margaret Beaufort was married at 12 (a legal age for a girl in medieval times) and had her first child at 13. She was already a widow before the child was born. Her son was of course to become the future King Henry VII. In medieval times the average life expectancy for a woman was 30, so life had to be fitted into a much shorter space of time. Our young priest performs the ceremony.
Food of the rich & poor – Of course to celebrate their marriage our Lord & Lady must have a wedding feast and their meal is already set out before them (all very good & convincing replica food). The food one could eat in medieval times depended greatly on time of year and how much money you had. Even more so than nowadays. The rich people have meats, sugar, fine wines, spices, gold & silver tableware. The poor have some pork if they’re lucky, cheese, bread, simple fruits, grains and very basic wood or pottery tableware. They may not even have food at all. Will our Lord take pity on them that there has been a bad harvest this year and give his trencher bread to the poor? Charity for the poor was a good way to help insure ones place in heaven. But what foods would neither rich or poor possess? What foods were not eaten at all in medieval England?
Students now have a choice between trying on armour or learning about surgery & medicine. Where groups are small, there may be time to fit both in.
Arms & Armour – If grievances could not be settled amicably then there was only one alternative. War! There were many battles throughout the medieval period and armour and weapons developed a great deal in the 400 years between the Battle of Hastings and the War of the Roses. We look at arms and armour ranging from 1066 up to the late 15th Century and how it developed over time. Why did men wear armour? How heavy was it? How could you kill a man in armour? How did you go to toilet? We have lots of armour, some of which is made specially to fit an average 11/12 year old. They can try it on, feel it’s weight & how well it is made. The mail hauberk is a particular favourite. Once they have done this and time permitting we demonstrate how some of the weapons would have been used, the sword, the falchion and the knights weapon of choice the deadly pole axe! There may also be the opportunity for students to hold a sword.
Surgery & Medicine – Following on from arms & armour, with so many soldiers about, there is great need for surgeons to treat them. The surgeon shows through photographs the damage a medieval weapon can cause to a human skeleton. Then demonstrates & talks through some of the gruesomest treatments they might have received, amputation (we have blunt amputation tools to demonstrate how this was done), trepanning, tooth pulling, arrow extracting, bloodletting (we have live leeches to show) or how to deal with the dreaded tooth worm by use of a hot needle! The surgeons wound man is also a great favourite. We also demonstrate how a physician would find out what was ailing his patient by looking at the colour of his urine, sniffing it and even tasting it! Blood would also have been examined in the same way.
This concludes the abbreviated medieval life workshop.