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A WOMAN'S LIFE

AT HOME

NOBLE WOMEN

MERCHANT & TOWNSWOMEN

RURAL &
PEASANT WOMEN

BIRTHS

WEDDINGS

DIVORCES

DEATHS

MANNERS

EDUCATION

EMPLOYMENT

RECREATION

SEX
PLEASE NOTE!
ADULT THEMES!

Medieval Merchant & Townswomen at Home
COOKING - CLEANING - SHOPPING - GARDENING - LIVESTOCK & POULTRY

Merchant and townswomen are the closest to the kinds of women we are today. Many women today have a full-time or part-time paid employment or source of income and still have domestic duties to attend to when they get home. We have the convenience of being able to buy goods and services, just as our medieval sisters also did.

Cooking
The townswoman did most of her own cooking for herself and her family and served the food to the table herself. Even if she had servants, it was most likely that she would serve her husband at the table herself and not leave this to the hired help. Many daily items were not prepared by the woman herself but bought from vendors as we do today- bread, eggs and milk

Many manuscripts show women in a domestic setting with a large iron post over the fire, a spoon in her hand in the act of cooking. Wills of women often list valuable and broken cooking implements giving us an idea of what kinds of items were used in a kitchen.

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Since she was able to buy goods almost prepared, her cooking options varied more than the woman in the country. She sis not need to bake bread and meat was available already cut from a butchery. Spices and herbs were available to buy and this all improved the variety of dishes that a townswoman was able to prepare.

Cleaning
A townswoman or merchant woman would almost certainly have had domestic help, and passed the smaller jobs of cleaning to another woman. Many of these were single women who had come to the town from the country and were employed on a live-in basis. This also gave a young woman the skills she needed to learn in household management before marrying and setting up house of her own.

Spinning/weaving

Shopping

Gardening

Livestock/Poultry
Some women on the edges of towns may have been able to keep chickens but those in the inner or bigger towns would have bought their eggs from the markets or shops.

Child raising
As with the rural and peasant women, a woman living in a town would have reared her own children, breastfed the babies and worked around her household schedule, often with her servants to assist her.

The illumination at right from Katherine of Cleaves Book of Hours shows how a townswoman might successfully get on with her household tasks like weaving and still supervise a small child, much the same way mothers do today.

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