A summary of everyday life in the Middle Ages

The main groups of people in the Middle Ages: Knights & soldiers, members of the clergy and workers/peasants.

In the Middle Ages people were divided into groups based on what skills they had, skills such as:

  • carpenter
  • cook
  • doctor
  • dyer - someone who coloured wool
  • friar - a religious minister
  • knight
  • lawyer
  • merchant - someone who sold goods such as wine or cloth
  • miller - made flour from corn
  • monk
  • nun
  • ploughman - ploughed the fields for a living
  • priest
  • prioress
  • reeve - supervised work done by peasants
  • sailor
  • soldier
  • squire - local land owner who would be wealthy
  • weaver

Today, we often look at society in terms of wealth (rich and poor) or class (upper, middle, working). Medieval writers divided society into 'those who fight', 'those who pray' and 'those who work', which would you put in each category?

You could group them like this:

Those who fightKnight, squire, soldier.
Those who prayPrioress, nun, priests, monk, friar.
Those who workMerchant, lawyer, carpenter, weaver, dyer, tapestry weaver, cook, sailor, doctor, ploughman, miller, reeve.