BBC Learning Zone Clips

CLIP 14244

How important was education to medieval peasants?

How important was education to medieval peasants?
Key Info
  • How important was education to medieval peasants?
  • Duration: 01:58
  • Rural communities in the 1400s valued education and wanted young people to make the most of their academic talents. Michael Wood shows a letter written by John Pychard in 1447 which was sent on behalf of the local butcher putting a child forward for education. It shows that the ordinary peasants of Kibworth felt they could deal directly with the scholars of Merton College, Oxford. It is also one of the earliest letters giving the expressions and wishes of a medieval peasant. First broadcast on 'Michael Wood's Story of England' on BBC4 in October 2010.
  • Subject:



    Medieval: Social and Religious Life

  • Keywords: education, school, childhood, peasant, medieval, medieval England, Oxford, Kibworth, Leicestershire, literature, artefacts, letter, MichaelWoodsStoryofEngland
Ideas for use in class
  • The language level is quite high but the letter gives a glimpse of the interest that the value of education held for medieval people. This might suit a higher ability class and would be a useful point of departure to investigate education in the medieval period. A class might investigate what access the child would have had to education in his earlier years and what might be studied if he were to be successful in attending Merton College. It would be useful to use the unnamed subject of the letter, personalise him, and create a timeline of his education. A more challenging diversion would be to consider the typicality of this letter. How common would it be to seek access to university? How would this education pathway compare to the present day?
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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