01/25/07 - life in the 1500s

In today's encore excerpt - life for the typical European in the early 1500s:

"In the early 1500s one could hike through the woods for days without encountering a settlement of any size. Between 80 and 90 percent of the population ... lived in villages of fewer than a hundred people, fifteen or twenty miles apart, surrounded by endless woodlands. They slept in their small, cramped hamlets, which afforded little privacy ...

"The centerpiece of the room was a gigantic bedstead, piled high with straw pallets, all seething with vermin. Everyone slept there, regardless of age or gender—grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and hens and pigs—and if a couple chose to enjoy intimacy, the others were aware of every movement. In summer they could even watch ...

"If this familial situation seems primitive, it should be borne in mind that these were prosperous peasants."


William Manchester


A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance


Back Bay Books


Hachette Book Group


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