Basic knowledge

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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sally
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Basic knowledge

Postby sally » Thu May 31, 2007 4:53 pm

Just pondering the vast numbers of datelines that we cover between ourselves, and the many approaches to portraying the basics of life in the past, and I wondered how many groups issue their new people with a basic guide to life at that dateline. Effectively, I suppose I'm asking, do you have a minimum expected knowledge that you would want people to have after say their first year with the group, and upon which they can build their own areas of expertise.

I started thinking about what broad areas I might want to know about if I picked a new period to re-enact, and got quite a list:

Who was in charge?
What did people believe?
What language did they speak?
What did people wear?
Where did they live?
What did they eat?
How did they make a living?
Did people travel?
What did they do for fun?
Did they go to school?
What technology was important or new?
What happened in this century?
Some famous fourteenth century people.

So, just thinking hypothetically, what would you add to these general topics that might sum up essential basic reading for a newbie if they could be presented as short overviews? (I know you could write books on any one of those headings, i was thinking more of a synopsis type approach, just the core facts so everyone in a group presents the same basic info)



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Postby Bittersweet » Thu May 31, 2007 5:56 pm

What was their view of death? (Seriously)


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Postby sally » Thu May 31, 2007 6:23 pm

Bittersweet wrote:What was their view of death? (Seriously)


ooh yes, good addition to the list.

Also thought of 'How were children treated/regarded' as another good one.



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Basic skills

Postby Dathi » Thu May 31, 2007 8:56 pm

The mass of info the average man knew about farming. Even into the 20th Century weather and farming would have been a major impact on everybodies life. Every single piece of livestock has more than just one name. Cows aren't just cows, they're kines, heifers, ox, bullock and much more



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:52 am

I have tried to do exactlly what you have stated as I am looking at 15th century re-enactment with reasonably fresh eyes. What I try to get acroos to people is that people were like us. They loved their children and family (mostly), they liked to laugh and laze around. They had to work to make their way in the world. They had similar hopes and fears to us. The difference is how they went about those things. Loving your child might mean sending them off to live with starngers at an early age in order for them to learn how to become a knight or a artisan, beating them so they will remember what is right and what is wrong. (Though that still goes on.) Work might be back breaking and monontonius, so much so that the chance to join an army could be regarded as a hoilday. Having a laugh might mean seeing animals be torn apart for fun or seeing someone being executed. Things like that.


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Postby Chris, yclept John Barber » Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:11 pm

What insults and swear words did they use which would be acceptable if used in front of a modern audience?


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Postby Malvoisin » Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:34 pm

I like the theory that in northern europe, it was quite common for medieval man, workers especially, to have a siesta. I think we should all do this as part of our LH. :wink:

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If life is s**t... It's your fault and God is punishing you.
If you don't understand how things work, birds & the bees etc.... God's got it all under control. No need to worry.
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Postby Nigel » Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:54 pm

Symon NO


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby Heloise » Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:59 pm

I like the theory that in northen europe, it was quite common for medieval man, workers especially, to have a siesta. I think we should all do this as part of our LH. Wink


If you do that dear, we'll have to play 'Symonaroo' with authentic stuff like weapons, stools, bread, and anything else we can lay our hands on :lol: :lol: :lol:



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Postby Type16 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:44 pm

[quote="Malvoisin"]I like the theory that in northen europe, it was quite common for medieval man, workers especially, to have a siesta.quote]

I got that bit right then! :D


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Postby Malvoisin » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:30 pm

Heloise wrote:
I like the theory that in northen europe, it was quite common for medieval man, workers especially, to have a siesta. I think we should all do this as part of our LH. Wink


If you do that dear, we'll have to play 'Symonaroo' with authentic stuff like weapons, stools, bread, and anything else we can lay our hands on :lol: :lol: :lol:


O yes I did forget what happens to Conquest members if they happen to fall asleep in the company of others. :roll:


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Postby m300572 » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:44 pm

I'd read up on some landscape history (try Oliver Rackams History of the Countryside for a start) Some areas of Britain would have been unrecognisable - for example the Fens, Dartmoor with its massibe tin streaming works, farming in open fields so few hedged fields in large areas of the country, managed woodland, etc.


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Re: Basic knowledge

Postby Karen Larsdatter » Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:10 am

sally wrote:So, just thinking hypothetically, what would you add to these general topics that might sum up essential basic reading for a newbie if they could be presented as short overviews?

Here's a nice little list of questions along these lines, designed for SCA members who are trying to flesh out their "persona": http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/little_things.html



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Jun 04, 2007 2:02 pm

Thanks karen.


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:39 pm

Also you might like to try the Fyrestriker living history forum, although it is very much geared towards the 14th/15th century.


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:53 pm

Hi Folks
I'm just back from kentwell and I would just like to say a big thank you to all who have contibuted here.

You have inspired me to work hard on my new kentwell persona/characterisation/back story

It's still not completely finished. In fact a lots of work still to be done since I intend to use it next year as well and for my paid talks.

Here it is for you comments. Please be nice.

http://tudortimes.org/Creating%20a%20pe ... ersona.htm


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Postby gregory23b » Thu Jul 05, 2007 9:40 am

Nice one your Lordship, a great background story.

I particularly like the back story in Antwerp, shows a connection to the continent that people some times tend to forget when lookinfg down the wrong end of the telescope of time.

A couple of queries, the period is new to me.

Was maningtree in Suffolk then because it is in Essex now, South bank of the Stour.

Also the thing about changing your underwear, only once a week? that doesn't suggest a wealthy merchant.

Apart from those piffling points really nice.


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Postby lidimy » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:39 am

I agree, I only wish you'd been there Sunday so I could have quizzed you in person.... :D


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:34 pm

gregory23b wrote:I particularly like the back story in Antwerp, shows a connection to the continent that people some times tend to forget when lookinfg down the wrong end of the telescope of time.


Hmm needs some fleshing out though. That's possibly were I might be infected with the new religion, fire brand stuff. Gwen and I would like to visit the city and it would be nice to recount it from personal experience. At the moment I am a local "coastal trade" merchant because others at Kentwell are doing the "Adventurer to the Newe Worlde/Merchant Venturers" bit. I might add a bit more international travel in time.

gregory23b wrote:Was maningtree in Suffolk then because it is in Essex now, South bank of the Stour.


Yes you are correct. Must change that. I'm not even sure the Manytre had a quay then. I might have to up sticks to Ipswich (the Head Port) or Colchester (a creek). However there were boundary differences then which became apparent when I asked pupils to find their home towns on a map. Various river course changes and/or "cuts" may be responsible for that.

gregory23b wrote:
Also the thing about changing your underwear, only once a week? that doesn't suggest a wealthy merchant.


Ah but now I'm a widower and an old man and and no daughters to look after me. How else do I explain the smell of living a week at Kentwell!!
Last edited by Lord High Everything Esle on Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:35 pm

lidimy wrote:I agree, I only wish you'd been there Sunday so I could have quizzed you in person.... :D


I'm glad you didn't. I might not have remembered it all :oops:


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Postby gregory23b » Thu Jul 05, 2007 1:55 pm

"Ah but now I'm a widower and an old man and and no daughters to look after me. How else do I explain the smell of living a week at Kentwell!!"

You need a servant, that is what they are for, an old retainer type chap, great job that miust be, washing your skivvies ;-)

Admit it, you just want to smell like an old dustbin. A man after my own heart.


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Thu Jul 05, 2007 4:10 pm

gregory23b wrote:"Ah but now I'm a widower and an old man and and no daughters to look after me. How else do I explain the smell of living a week at Kentwell!!"

You need a servant, that is what they are for, an old retainer type chap, great job that miust be, washing your skivvies ;-)

Admit it, you just want to smell like an old dustbin. A man after my own heart.


Ah a job application. I promise to beat you not more than once a day.


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"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

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Postby gregory23b » Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:31 pm

If I did

a) late Two Door

b) Kentwell

then I would have no hesitation, you would basically have a fatter Preserved Killick.

More manservants!!!!!


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Postby Dathi » Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:43 pm

Lord High Everything Esle,

I liked your profile and the amount of thought that went into it. I'd advise that, given certain dates, mentioning time spent in Antwerp would be unwise, seeing how Antwerp is in the catholic south!

Having spent some time hacking thro probate inventories it's scary how sodden rare mentions of broadcloth are! Maybe a dozen mentions in over 200 inventories and wills! Broadcloth for a gown, furred with lamb or coney or faced with satins if rich enough. Overwise puke or frieze, lined or furred with lamb or coney. Russet or worsted wool for breeches. Doublets could be canvas, fustian, sackclothe, chamlet, velvets, or satin.
That covers the wider range, kersey and sayes does appear, just not often! Black is a very common colour, thro I doubt it's the same as the solid modern black.



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Postby gregory23b » Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:05 pm

There is a good addendum sheet for the Tudor tailor book, it lists mens and womens most common colours and fabrics for kit, middling and lower (essxe - last half of 16thc).


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:41 am

Hi Dathi
Thanks for your suggestions

Dathi wrote:Lord High Everything Esle,

I liked your profile and the amount of thought that went into it. I'd advise that, given certain dates, mentioning time spent in Antwerp would be unwise, seeing how Antwerp is in the catholic south!


Yes it did end up there by force of arms. I believe that the merchant community was one of the means of spreading the new religion around Europe. Since Antwerp was the centre of the English cloth trade until 1569 and afer 1573 there would have been merchants there of all religious persuasions. If they had any sense they might have been quiet about them if they differed from those with the big armies!! The advantage of an individual persona is that you do not necessarily have to give a "Historians" balanced view of affairs.

Dathi wrote:Lord High Everything Esle,
Having spent some time hacking thro probate inventories it's scary how sodden rare mentions of broadcloth are! Maybe a dozen mentions in over 200 inventories and wills! Broadcloth for a gown, furred with lamb or coney or faced with satins if rich enough. Overwise puke or frieze, lined or furred with lamb or coney. Russet or worsted wool for breeches. Doublets could be canvas, fustian, sackclothe, chamlet, velvets, or satin.
That covers the wider range, kersey and sayes does appear, just not often! Black is a very common colour, thro I doubt it's the same as the solid modern black.


I suspect that quite a lot of the broadcloth production was destined for export, much of it not recorded in the Customs record according to my research on East Anglian Ports. Wills may have contained mention of it if they owned a whole piece or a length suitable for making a gown, from your example. Am I correct in thinking that any clothes made from broadcloth would not be described as such. What I am currently decribing is what I actually wear. But thanks for the suggestion that I use different fabrics for parts of my clothing.

That one of the things that I like about the re-enactment community - the willingness to share research.


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"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

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cloth description

Postby Dathi » Fri Jul 06, 2007 12:58 pm

Lord High Everything Esle

This is only based on a relativly small number of wills and inventories, more normally inventories will contain a throw away line "His apparel" or "Her apparel" sometimes including "and money in hsi/her purse" and then a figure. This figure can be as low as 10 shillings and upwards! This value was made on the clothing by the 2 or more people making the inventory so is bit of guess-ish!

Where clothing is described is either thro gifts, such as "My best gown", "My frieze gown furred with budge". Sometimes an inventory will actually list clothing. I've seen "A blacke gowne of cloth" or sometimes
"A gowne of brode clothe". Having asked around, cloth is normally short for broadcloth, whilst brode clothe is fairly easy. I'd suggest that, for a reasonably well off merchant, a broadcloth gown guarded velvet and trimed with budge or coney is a fairly good choice. For a finer, light gown try puke or russet, another odd wool cloth! For an ultrawarm gown then frieze is fine. If you can find a chamlet style fabric for a smart doublet then that's a good choice, thro you could get away with black satin. There is nothing to stop you having a doublet in leather, fustian or linen canvas for workwear or second best, even in black fustian!



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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:07 pm

gregory23b wrote:If I did

a) late Two Door

b) Kentwell

then I would have no hesitation, you would basically have a fatter Preserved Killick.

More manservants!!!!!


Maybe this will assist you in your new profession.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDet ... D0%26x%3D0


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"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

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Persona - Lord High Everthing Else.

Postby myladyswardrobe » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:39 pm

Hi Will,

This is Bess from Kentwell, usually Gentry and has been Tailor/Needlelace maker.

Ive just had a very interesting read of your persona - well done you. I'd love to see this done by others. Perhaps a sort of character sheet could be suggested to PP with notes on how to create ones character. Just as a crib sheet for people.

Anyway, the only thing I would like to comment on is this reference:

What did I wear?

What clothes do you wear? I wear a shirt or smock with frills at the arms and neck, braes (underpants) and a coif all of fine linen. I change this on a regular basis, at least once a week and for important occasions. This would form my "underwear" and it protects my valuable clothing from me!! It would be washed in soap and water regularly and bleached white using lye. I also wear ruffs at the neck and wrists.


Even for fairly poor people, smocks and shirts (i.e. the linens) were being changed every day. I would suggest that someone of your standing would certainly have enough linens to last you and your household for a week to a fortnight before requiring a large wash. The main reason for this is that women who did the laundry would usually be "bought" in for the day - they would be unlikely to be attached permanently to the house unless the house was very wealthy (therefore in the realms for titled nobility!).

Thus, you should be saying that you change EVERY DAY. You would also have separate linens for night wear and would not be wearing your day shirt.

It is more than likely that you would have had shirts for physical wear - for example, if you were helping with moving wares around which would have made you get hot and sweaty, you would not want to wear your best and finest holland linen shirt but would wear a stronger and thicker linen one.

One other thing, usually Dinner is the main meal of the day - thats because you have the daylight to make the meal and eat it. Supper is risky as a major meal because of the time of day and in the winter especially it is usually too dark. Again, it would be those who had the coin to artificially light kitchens and eating rooms to have large meals at night.


Great example though. Why not print it off and let participants see it next year?

(BTW - I've been doing a lot of research on embroidered book covers!! I have LOADS of ideas! Just wish I had the time though!).

Best wishes


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Postby ViscontesseD'Asbeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 2:25 pm

Love William Stiles - what a good idea!

Our jumping off point for some new personae has been genealogy (only much use post 16thC) - have found several lines of my family back into the 1590s, although our main area of interest in the mid 17thC) all yeoman farmers and their wives to a man/woman. Given that, we've started to look at inventories to get some idea of the appropriate clothing, etc. But it's interesting to have one of the names from your own ancestors in mind and - if you're lucky enough to tell from parish records what they did - a whole persona may follow!




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