Understanding Your ...

Understanding Your Western European Ancestors:
Daily Life

Daily life for peasants was hard. Most worked long hours trying to ensure basic survival. Some of the wealthier landed peasants functioned mostly as overseers of the numerous hired hands. However, most peasants – men and women – worked at very physically draining tasks. Children were expected to help out from very young age.

Comforts in the lives of peasants were few. They experienced everything in its most raw form. Nothing shielded them from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. They usually had few possessions and ate very basic diets. Uncertainty was also a part of their lives. Most depended on the land for their sustenance. An early frost or plague of cattle disease could plunge a family into poverty. Peasants had little or no control over the events that shaped their lives. When misfortune struck, its effects could be devastating. The safety nets of today didn’t exist. Parish churches provided some assistance, but most people had to turn to family – who sometimes had little available to share.

The information included in this section mostly applies for peasants or people who made their living on the land since they made up the vast majority of the population.

The listing below shows the information contained in this section. For information on a particular topic, click on the links below:

 Social Class and Occupations
   People of Status
   Landed Peasants
   Landless Peasants
   Skilled Craftsman
   The Old and the Young
   Movement Within Society
 Peasant Homesteads
   Set up and Design
   Under One Roof: Household Occupants and Sleeping Accommodations
   Space for Household Tasks
   Comforts of Home
   The Difference of Social Class
   For Further Reading
   Sample Layouts
   Food Preparation