Sunday, September 30, 2018

Wages for Farm Labor - Harvesting by Sebastian Vrancx (1573-1647)

 Sebastian Vrancx (Flemish artist, 1573-1647) Summer

The Black Death of 1348 killed a large number of the peasant population. This meant that there were not enough peasants to work in the fields. Landowners desperate for workers to harvest their crops began offering wages to anyone who would work on their land. Peasants were, for the first time, able to offer their services to the landowner that would pay the highest wage.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Couple sit at a table in a 16C pleasure garden making music & eating.

 Crispin de Passe (1565-1637), The Four Elements - Earth.  Lady and gentleman sit at a table in a 16C pleasure garden making music and eating.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Harvesting - Traditional Farm Work

 Book of Hours, France, Loire, ca. 1475, MS G.1 I fol. 6r b

Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for everyman's table & was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every Roman table. In his treatise De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd century BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, followed by an irrigated garden, willow plantation, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vineyard trained on trees, & lastly acorn woodlands. "The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for the purchase of food produced on Italian farms.  Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work." 

Land ownership was a dominant factor in distinguishing the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the city. Soldiers were often rewarded with land from the commander they served. Though farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans had four systems of farm management: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping in which the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; forced labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & other arrangements in which a farm was leased to a tenant.

There was much commerce between the provinces of the empire, & all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain 

In the Roman Empire, some calculated that a family of 6 people would need to cultivate 12 iugera/ 3 hectares of land to meet minimum food requirements (without animals). Romans could acquire land for a farm in one of three ways. The most common way to gain land was to purchase the land. Though some lower class citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain, & would sell it to someone in the aristocracy who had the financial backing to support a farm. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused a great deal of tension between the two classes. Some theorize that “Mass eviction of the poor by the rich underlay the political tensions & civil wars of the last century of the Roman Republic.” Another way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. The last way to obtain land was through inheritance. A father could leave his land to his family, usually to his son, in the event of his death.

Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, much of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was just one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come." Careful planning went into every detail of owning & maintaining a farm in Roman culture.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Women Harvesting - Illuminated Manuscripts

Book of Hours Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1520 MS M.307 fol. 4v Morgan Library


Women in The Fields
Charged with children & overcharged by landlords, what they may spare they spend on milk/ or on meal to make porridge to still the sobbing of the children at meal time...The sadness of the women who live in these hovels is too sad to speak of or say in rhyme.
William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman (c. 1365)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Making Hay 1515 Illuminated Manuscript by Simon Bening (1484–1561)

1515 Da Costa Hours, in Latin Illuminated by Simon Bening (1484–1561) Belgium, Bruges, c 1515 Making Hay


Women Work in the Fields in addition to Her Other Chores

If the husband has sheep of his own, then his wife may have some of the wool, to make her husband & herself some clothes... she may also take wool to spin for the cloth makers. That way she can earn her own living, & still have plenty of time to do other work... It is the wife's occupation to winnow corn, to make malt, to wash clothes, to make hay & to cut corn. In time of need she should help her husband fill the dung-cart, drive the plough, & load the hay & corn. She should also go to the market to sell butter, cheese, milk, eggs, chickens, pigs, geese & corn. & also to buy the things needed for the household. haymaking.

William FitzHerbert, Book of Husbandry (c. 1140)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Harvesting - Traditional Farm Work

Men scythe and rake hay. Calendar-June. French c. 1470-80.

Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for everyman's table & was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every Roman table. In his treatise De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd century BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, followed by an irrigated garden, willow plantation, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vineyard trained on trees, & lastly acorn woodlands. "The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for the purchase of food produced on Italian farms.  Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work." 

Land ownership was a dominant factor in distinguishing the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the city. Soldiers were often rewarded with land from the commander they served. Though farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans had four systems of farm management: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping in which the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; forced labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & other arrangements in which a farm was leased to a tenant.

There was much commerce between the provinces of the empire, & all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain 

In the Roman Empire, some calculated that a family of 6 people would need to cultivate 12 iugera/ 3 hectares of land to meet minimum food requirements (without animals). Romans could acquire land for a farm in one of three ways. The most common way to gain land was to purchase the land. Though some lower class citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain, & would sell it to someone in the aristocracy who had the financial backing to support a farm. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused a great deal of tension between the two classes. Some theorize that “Mass eviction of the poor by the rich underlay the political tensions & civil wars of the last century of the Roman Republic.” Another way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. The last way to obtain land was through inheritance. A father could leave his land to his family, usually to his son, in the event of his death.

Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, much of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was just one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come." Careful planning went into every detail of owning & maintaining a farm in Roman culture.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Harvesting - Widows Working in the Fields

Book of Hours Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1520 MS M.307 fol. 2v Morgan Library 


Widows Working in the Fields
Margery, the widow, holds 24 acres & she pays 3s every year... From Michaelmas to the Feast of St Peter she must plough half an acre every week... & from the Feast of St John the Baptist until August she must perform manual service 3 days every week... She shall mow the lord's meadow for at least 4 days... & she must lift the lord's hay for at least 4 days... She shall weed 2 days... & from the Feast of St Peter until Michaelmas she must perform manual service 5 days a week... & furthermore she performs 8 boon works in autumn... & she shall give eggs at Easter at will.
A Widow's labour services at Frochester Manor (1265)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Harvesting Grain 1568 after Étienne Delaune (French artist, 1518-1595)

 Anonymous woodcut after 1568 Étienne Delaune (French artist, 1518-1595) Labours of the Months 

The timing of the harvest in the Middle Ages was vitally important.  If the wheat was too dry, the grain would fall off.  If it was too wet, the grain would rot.  To ensure that his own crops did not go to waste, the lord of the manor could demand extra labour services called "boon-work" during harvest time.  Boon-work was hated by the peasants, as it delayed their own harvesting & could cause their own crops to be ruined.  As the peasants had to give about half their crop away as rent & taxes, they needed to farm a large area of land to provide an adequate diet for their families.  People dying of starvation was not unusual in the Middle Ages. This was especially true when bad weather led to a poor harvest.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Harvesting - Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619)

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619)  A Summer Landscape with Peasants Harvesting with a View of Antwerp Beyond

Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for everyman's table & was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every Roman table. In his treatise De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd century BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, followed by an irrigated garden, willow plantation, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vineyard trained on trees, & lastly acorn woodlands. "The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for the purchase of food produced on Italian farms.  Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work." 

Land ownership was a dominant factor in distinguishing the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the city. Soldiers were often rewarded with land from the commander they served. Though farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans had four systems of farm management: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping in which the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; forced labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & other arrangements in which a farm was leased to a tenant.

There was much commerce between the provinces of the empire, & all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain 

In the Roman Empire, some calculated that a family of 6 people would need to cultivate 12 iugera/ 3 hectares of land to meet minimum food requirements (without animals). Romans could acquire land for a farm in one of three ways. The most common way to gain land was to purchase the land. Though some lower class citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain, & would sell it to someone in the aristocracy who had the financial backing to support a farm. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused a great deal of tension between the two classes. Some theorize that “Mass eviction of the poor by the rich underlay the political tensions & civil wars of the last century of the Roman Republic.” Another way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. The last way to obtain land was through inheritance. A father could leave his land to his family, usually to his son, in the event of his death.


Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, much of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was just one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come." Careful planning went into every detail of owning & maintaining a farm in Roman culture.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Harvesting - Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619)

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Summer The Harvest

Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for everyman's table & was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every Roman table. In his treatise De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd century BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, followed by an irrigated garden, willow plantation, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vineyard trained on trees, & lastly acorn woodlands. "The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for the purchase of food produced on Italian farms.  Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work." 

Land ownership was a dominant factor in distinguishing the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the city. Soldiers were often rewarded with land from the commander they served. Though farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans had four systems of farm management: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping in which the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; forced labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & other arrangements in which a farm was leased to a tenant.

There was much commerce between the provinces of the empire, & all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain 

In the Roman Empire, some calculated that a family of 6 people would need to cultivate 12 iugera/ 3 hectares of land to meet minimum food requirements (without animals). Romans could acquire land for a farm in one of three ways. The most common way to gain land was to purchase the land. Though some lower class citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain, & would sell it to someone in the aristocracy who had the financial backing to support a farm. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused a great deal of tension between the two classes. Some theorize that “Mass eviction of the poor by the rich underlay the political tensions & civil wars of the last century of the Roman Republic.” Another way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. The last way to obtain land was through inheritance. A father could leave his land to his family, usually to his son, in the event of his death.


Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, much of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was just one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come." Careful planning went into every detail of owning & maintaining a farm in Roman culture.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Harvesting - Traditional Farm Work

1580 Harvesting Grain Italian School The Labours of the Months 6 June

Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for everyman's table & was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every Roman table. In his treatise De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd century BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, followed by an irrigated garden, willow plantation, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vineyard trained on trees, & lastly acorn woodlands. "The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for the purchase of food produced on Italian farms.  Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work." 

Land ownership was a dominant factor in distinguishing the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the city. Soldiers were often rewarded with land from the commander they served. Though farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans had four systems of farm management: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping in which the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; forced labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & other arrangements in which a farm was leased to a tenant.

There was much commerce between the provinces of the empire, & all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain 

In the Roman Empire, some calculated that a family of 6 people would need to cultivate 12 iugera/ 3 hectares of land to meet minimum food requirements (without animals). Romans could acquire land for a farm in one of three ways. The most common way to gain land was to purchase the land. Though some lower class citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain, & would sell it to someone in the aristocracy who had the financial backing to support a farm. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused a great deal of tension between the two classes. Some theorize that “Mass eviction of the poor by the rich underlay the political tensions & civil wars of the last century of the Roman Republic.” Another way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. The last way to obtain land was through inheritance. A father could leave his land to his family, usually to his son, in the event of his death.


Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, much of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was just one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come." Careful planning went into every detail of owning & maintaining a farm in Roman culture.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

June Women sell Garden Fruits & Vegetables while others Harvest Grain 1500s

Francesco Bassano the Younger (1563-1570) June Women selling Garden Fruits & Vegetables & Harvesting Grain

Women Marketing 1140

If the husband has sheep of his own, then his wife may have some of the wool, to make her husband & herself some clothes... she may also take wool to spin for the cloth makers. That way she can earn her own living, & still have plenty of time to do other work... It is the wife's occupation to winnow corn, to make malt, to wash clothes, to make hay & to cut corn. In time of need she should help her husband fill the dung-cart, drive the plough, & load the hay & corn. She should also go to the market to sell butter, cheese, milk, eggs, chickens, pigs, geese & corn. & also to buy the things needed for the household. haymaking.
          William FitzHerbert, Book of Husbandry (c. 1140)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Harvesting the Grain 1568 & How to Eat Bread

1568 Anonymous woodcut after Étienne Delaune (French artist, 1518-1595) Labours of the Months

How to Eat Bread, 1567

Nobles, who are bilious by nature, have both crusts removed from the bread, both the upper and lower crust. And the preeminent leaders of the church and more fastidious gourmands do likewise. So you should choose the inner part of the bread, because it provides better, more substantial, and faster nourishment than the crust. For people who are healthy but have a humid stomach, or people who want to lose weight, it is sometimes permissible to eat crusts after other foods. 

      Johann Curio, De conservanda bona valetudine 1567

1568 Harvesting

Pieter van der Heyden (after Pieter Bruegel the Elder)  Summer, 1568-70


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Harvesting - The Feudal System - Who actually did all the work?

A haycart, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening (1483-1561)  Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098, f. 25r

About the Feudal System...


The King: Leader of the Feudal System
The King was in complete control under the feudal system (at least nominally). He owned all the land in the country & decided to whom he would lease land. He therefore typically allowed tenants he could trust to lease land from him. However, before they were given any land they had to swear an oath of fealty to the King at all times. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful & had complete control of the land they leased from the King.

Barons: Executors of the Feudal System
Barons leased land from the King that was known as a manor. They were known as the Lord of the Manor & were in complete control of this land. They established their own system of justice, minted their own money & set their own taxes. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to serve on the royal council, pay rent & provide the King with Knights for military service when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodging & food for the King & his court when they traveled around his realm. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights. Barons, who had their own coats of arms, became exceedingly wealthy, were very rich.
Welles Apocalypse; England, c. 1310; @BLMedieval Royal 15 D II, f. 143r.

Knights
Knights were given land by a Baron in return for military service when demanded by the King. They also had to protect the Baron & his family, as well as the Manor, from attack. The Knights kept as much of the land as they wished for their own personal use & distributed the rest to villeins (serfs). Although not as rich as the Barons, Knights were quite wealthy.

Serfs, Peasants, Villeins
Villeins, sometimes known as serfs, were given land by Knights. They had to provide the Knight with free labour, food & service whenever it was demanded. Villeins had no rights. They were not allowed to leave the Manor & had to ask their Lord’s permission before they could marry. Villeins were poor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Harvesting - Nobleman goes hawking, while his peasant haymakers work his land

Nobleman going hawking, while his peasant haymakers work his land behind him, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening (1483-1561)  Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098, f. 24v


William allocates English Lands 1066

After his coronation in 1066 William the Conqueror claimed that all the land in England now belonged to him. William retained about a fifth of this land for his own use. The rest was distributed to the those men who had helped him to defeat Harold.  In return for these lands (fiefs), the 170 tenants-in-chief had to provide men for military service. The number of knights (horse soldiers) tenants-in-chief had to provide depended on the amount of land they had been given.  In order to supply these knights, tenants-in-chief (also called barons) divided some of their land up into smaller units called manors. These manors were then passed on to men who promised to serve as knights when the king needed them.  William gave a quarter of the land in England to the church. Bishops, abbots & priors that were granted land also had to promise to supply knights. For example, in exchange for his Mild flie archbishop of Canterbury had to provide sixty knights when the king wanted them.  When William granted land to his tenant-in-chief an important ceremony took place. The tenant-in-chief knelt before the king, placed his hands between the king's & said: "I become your man," swearing on the Bible to remain faithful for the rest of his life. The tenant-in-chief would then carry out similar ceremonies with his knights. 

It is the custom in England, as in other countries, for the nobility to have great power over the common people, who are their serfs. This means that they are bound by law & custom to plough the fields of their masters, harvest the corn, gather it into barns, & thresh & winnow the grain; they must also mow & carry home the hay, cut & collect wood, & perform all manner of tasks of this kind.
        Jean Froissart, Chronicles (c. 1395)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Harvesting - Plight of the Women 1365

 Grimani Breviary (1490-1510)
The Plight of the Women 1365

Charged with children & overcharged by landlords, what they may spare they spend on milk/ or on meal to make porridge to still the sobbing of the children at meal time...The sadness of the women who live in these hovels is too sad to speak of or say in rhyme.

     William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman (c. 1365)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Harvesting - Woman as Stealth Enforcer 1406

Laborers harvesting grain and resting in the fields, from the Golf Book (Book of Hours, Use of Rome), workshop of Simon Bening (1483-1561) Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1540, Additional MS 24098

Woman as Stealth Enforcer 1406

She (the lady of the manor) should be a good manager, knowledgeable about farming, knowing in what weather & in what season the fields should be worked... She should often take her recreation in the fields in order to see how the work is progressing, for there are many who would willingly stop raking the ground beyond the surface if they thought nobody would notice.
     
     Christine de Pisan, Three Virtues (1406)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Harvesting - Women's Work 1140

Summer Harvesting - Illuminated Manuscripts

Women's Work  c 1140

If the husband has sheep of his own, then his wife may have some of the wool, to make her husband & herself some clothes... she may also take wool to spin for the cloth makers. That way she can earn her own living, & still have plenty of time to do other work... It is the wife's occupation to winnow corn, to make malt, to wash clothes, to make hay & to cut corn. In time of need she should help her husband fill the dung-cart, drive the plough, & load the hay & corn. She should also go to the market to sell butter, cheese, milk, eggs, chickens, pigs, geese & corn. & also to buy the things needed for the household. 

      William FitzHerbert, Book of Husbandry (c. 1140)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Harvesting - Wheat for the "Ailing" 1150

Book of Hours, France, Rouen or Orléans, last quarter of 15th century MS G.4 fol. 9r


How to Use Wheat

 "Wheat is hot and full of profit. Nothing is lacking in it… But, if anyone sifts out the bran from the flour (which is semolina), and then makes bread from that flour, the bread is weaker and more feeble than if it had been made from the proper flour…Whosoever cooks wheat without the entire grain, or wheat not ground in the mill, it is as if he eats another food, for this wheat furnishes neither correct blood nor healthy flesh, but more mucus. It is scarcely digested. It is not at all good for a sick person, even if a healthy person is able to survive on this food… If someone is ailing in his back or loins, cook grains of wheat in water, and place them, warm, over the place where he is ailing. The heat of the wheat will chase away the powers of that disease." 

    Hildegard of Bingen, Physica, c. 1150

Thanks to Elizabeth B. Archibald's "Ask The Past"

Friday, September 7, 2018

Harvesting - Traditional Farm Work in ancient Rome

Book of Hours, France, Rouen or Orléans, last quarter of 15th century MS G.4 fol. 8r

The Influence of Rome on Farming

Roman civilization endured from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8C BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5C AD, encompassing the periods of the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic & Roman Empire until the fall of the Western empire.The Eastern part of the Roman Empire endured through the 5C & remained a power throughout the medieval period, until its fall in 1453 AD. Grain agriculture in ancient Rome provided bread for the table & was idealized among Rome's social elite as the most honorable way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all occupations. In his treatise On Duties, he declared that "of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a free man." When one of his clients was derided in court for preferring a rural lifestyle, Cicero defended country life as "the teacher of economy, of industry, & of justice." Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."  Cato, Columella, Varro & Palladius wrote handbooks on farming.

Staple crops included wheat & barley used for bread, the mainstay of the Roman table. Cato the Elder (234–149 BC) wrote the earliest surviving book of instruction about farming - vines, olives & fruit; the management of slaves & hired labor; & the obligations & rewards of farm ownership. Written in the 2C BC, it is a miscellaneous collection of rules of husbandry & management, including sidelights on country life in the 2nd century BC. In his De agricultura ("On Farming", 2nd C  BC), Cato wrote that the best farms contained a vineyard, an irrigated garden, willow grove, olive orchard, meadow, grain land, forest trees, vines on trees, & an acorn woodlands. The people living in the city of Rome constituted a huge market for food produced on Italian farms.  Cato wrote of the management of slaves & hired labor & the obligations & rewards of farm ownership. Cato claimed that a small farm should have "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two donkeys for wagon work, one donkey for the mill work."

Land ownership separated the aristocracy from the common person, & the more land a Roman owned, the more important he would be in the economy of his city & the empire. A wealthy father usually left his land to his family, usually to his eldest son. Many Romans also purchased extra land, when they could. Though some average citizens did own small pieces of land, they often found it too difficult & expensive to maintain. They could sell it to someone with wealth who had the financial comfort to support a farm.  One way to acquire land was as a reward for going to war. High ranking soldiers returning from war would often be given small pieces of public land or land in provinces as a way of paying them for their services. Though there were some public lands available to the common person for use, aristocrats also tended to purchase those pieces of land, which caused tension between the classes.

Though many farms depended on slave labor, free men & citizens were hired at farms to oversee the slaves & ensure that the farms ran smoothly.  The Romans' systems of farm management included: direct work by owner & his family; tenant farming or sharecropping where the owner & a tenant divide up a farm's produce; labor by slaves owned by aristocrats & supervised by slave managers; & leasing a farm was to a renter.

All regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Some provinces specialized in the production of grains including wheat, emmer, spelt, barley, & millet; others in wine & others in olive oil, depending on the soil type. Columella writes in his Res Rustica, "Soil that is heavy, chalky, & wet is not unsuited to the growing for winter wheat & spelt. Barley tolerates no place except one that is loose & dry."  Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about agriculture in his Naturalis Historia including Chapter XVIII on The Natural History of Grain.

Cato explained that though some small farms were owned by lower class citizens & soldiers, most of the land was controlled by the noble class of Rome. Land ownership was one of many distinctions that set the aristocracy apart from the lower classes. Aristocracy would "reorganize small holdings into larger more profitable farms in order to compete with other nobles." It was considered a point of pride to own not just the largest piece of land, but also to have land that grew high quality produce. As Cato wrote "when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: 'Good husband good farmer'; it is from the farming class that the bravest men & the sturdiest soldiers come."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Growing Grain & The Secret to Eating Bread 1634

Book of Hours, France, Rouen or Orléans, last quarter of 15th century MS G.4 fol. 7r

Grain agriculture provided bread for everyman's table. Staple crops included wheat, emmer, spelt, & barley, all of them used for bread, the mainstay of every meal.

On Making & Eating Bread 1634

"Bread that commeth hote from the Oven is unwholesome... hot bread causeth thirstinesse, by reason that it is hot, for it swimmeth in the stomacke, by reason of his vaporous humidity: yet it is of quicke digestion, and descendeth stoutly downe. And although that hote bread... be unwholesome to eate: yet the smell thereof is right wholesome, for it relieveth one in a swound: and it is possible, that some folke may live by the smell of new bread... Beware of crusts eating, because they ingender a dust cholor, or melancholly humours, by reason that they bee burned and dry. And therefore great estates... cause the crustes above and beneath to be chipped away, wherefore the pith or crumme should be chosen, the which is of a greater nourishment than the crust."

      Regimen sanitatis Salerni: or, the Schoole of Salernes Regiment of Health (1634)

Thanks to Elizabeth B. Archibald's "Ask The Past"

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Hot Harvesting & Totally Avoiding Sex 1465

Book of Hours, France, Loire, ca. 1475, MS G.1 I fol. 7r

Dealing with Extreme Heat 1465

"Choler rises from May 8 to August 6. Then we should use cold and moist foods, work sparingly and use roast meat in small amounts as we often do before a meal. Drink should be diluted as much as possible so as to take away thirst and not let the body be hot, but we should totally avoid sex."  

     Bartolomeo Platina, De honesta voluptate et valetudine  1465

Thanks to Elizabeth B. Archibald's "Ask The Past"

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Harvesting - Food, Clothes, Cold Baths, & NO Women 1636

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Summer 1607

Clothing, Food, & Drink for Summer 1656

"The regiment for the time of Summer, June, July, and August. The shepheards in summer been clothed with light gowns and single, their shirts and sheets that they ly in be linnen, for of all cloath it is the coldest... and they eat light meats, as Chickens with veriuyce, young Hares, Rabbets, Lettise, Purselain, Melons, Gowrds, Cucumbers, Peares, Plumbs... They drink oft fresh water when they be thirsty, save only at dinner and supper time, and then they do drink feebl green Wine, single Beer, or small Ale. Also they keep them from over great travell, or over forcing themselves, for in this time is nothing grievouser than chafing. In this season they eschue the company of women, and they bathe them oft in cold water to asswage the heat of their bodies enforced by labours. Alway they have with them sugarcandy or other Sugar whereof they take little and often."

      The Shepheards Kalender 1656

Thanks to Elizabeth B. Archibald's "Ask The Past"

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Brief, Very Brief, History of Agriculture

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Summer Haymaking

A very Brief History of Agriculture 

When humans fashioned metal implements at the end of the Neolithic period, agricultural innovation sort of stalled. The Neolithic Period had seen comunities grind stone tools; raise more domesticated plants & animals; establish permanent villages; & create pottery & weaving. Folks still did their reaping, binding, & winnowing by hand. Hand-seeding continued on individual farm plots & large estates alike. According to region, fishing & hunting supplemented the food grown on farms. Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus described the "Germans" as a tribal society of free peasant farmers & warriors, who cultivated their own lands. About 500 years later, European villagers built houses, surrounded by individually owned cultivated fields & meadows, woods, & wasteland used by the entire community. Shared oxen & plow passed from one field to another, & harvesting usually was a cooperative effort.

Rome appears to have started as a rural agricultural society of independent farmers. In the 1st millennium bc, after the city was established, however, agriculture started a capitalistic development that reached a peak in the Christian era. The large estates that supplied grain to the cities of the empire were owned by absentee landowners & were cultivated by slave labor under the supervision of hired overseers. As slaves, usually war captives, decreased in number, tenants replaced them. The late Roman villa of the Christian era echoed the medieval manor in organization; slaves & dependent tenants were forced to work on a fixed schedule, & tenants paid a predetermined share to the estate owner. By the 4C AD, serfdom was well established, & the former tenant was attached to the land.

The feudal period in Europe began soon after the fall of the Roman Empire, widespread from about AD 1100. In the Arab period in Egypt & Spain,farmers began extending irrigation to previously sterile or unproductive land. In Egypt, grain production was sufficient to allow the country to sell wheat in the international market. In Spain, vineyards were planted on sloping land, & irrigation water was brought from the mountains to the plains. In some Islamic areas, oranges, lemons, peaches, & apricots were cultivated. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, & such vegetables as spinach & artichokes, as well as the characteristic Spanish flavoring saffron, were produced. The silkworm was raised, & its food, the mulberry tree, was grown. By the 12C  agriculture in the Middle East was static, & Mesopotamia, for example, fell back to subsistence level when its irrigation systems were destroyed by the Mongols. The Crusades increased European contact with Islamic lands. In Scandinavia & eastern Germany, the small farms & villages of previous years remained. In mountainous areas & in the marshlands of Slavic Europe, the manorial system could not flourish.

A manor required roughly about 900 to 2000 acres of arable land & the same amount of other prescribed lands, such as wetlands, woodlots, & pasture. Typically, the manor was a self-contained community. A parish church was frequently included, & the manor might make up the entire parish. One or more villages might be located on the manor, & village peasants were the actual farmers. Under the direction of an overseer, they produced the crops, raised the meat & draft animals, & paid taxes in services, either forced labor on the lord's immediate lands & other properties or forced military service.

A large manor often had a grinding mill for grain, an oven for bread, fishponds, orchards, a winepress &/or oil press, & herb & vegetable gardens. Kept bees produced honey. Woolen garments were produced from sheep raised on the manor. Linen textiles were also produced from flax, which was grown for both its oil & fiber. Leather was produced from the manor's cattle. Horses & oxen were the beasts of burden; as heavier horses were bred. A blacksmith, wheelwright, & carpenter made & maintained crude agricultural tools.

The food served in a feudal castle or manor house depended on the season & the lord's hunting prowess. Hunting for meat was the major non-military work of the lord, his family, & his military retainers. Manor residents could also eat domestic ducks, pheasants, pigeons, geese, hens, & partridges; fish, pork, beef, & mutton; & cabbages, turnips, carrots, onions, beans, & peas. Bread, cheese & butter, ale & wine, & apples & pears also appeared on the table. In the south, olives & olive oil might be used, often instead of butter.

The cultivation process was rigidly prescribed. The arable land was divided into 3 fields: one sown in the autumn in wheat or rye; a 2nd sown in the spring in barley, rye, oats, beans, or peas; & the 3rd was left fallow. The fields were laid out in strips distributed over the 3 seasonal fields without hedges or fences to separate the strips. Each male peasant head of household was allotted to work about 30 strips. Helped by his family & a yoke of oxen, he worked under the direction of the lord's officials. When he worked on his own fields, if he had any, he usually followed the village custom. The annual plowing routine was in the autumn & spring, & some fallow acerage was plowed in June.  At harvest time, all the peasants, including women & children, were expected to work in the fields. In all systems, the lord's fields & needs dominated, but a few days each week might be left for work on the family strips & garden plots. Wood & peat for fuel were gathered from common woodlots, & animals were pastured together on village meadows.

About 1300 AD a tendency to enclose the common lands & to raise sheep for their wool alone appeared. The rise of the textile industry made sheep raising profitable in England, Flanders, Champagne, Tuscany, Lombardy, & the region of Augsburg in Germany. Areas around the medieval towns began to specialize in garden produce & dairy products. The manorial system eas negatively affected by the wars of 14-15C  Europe & by the plague outbreaks of the 14C. Villages were wiped out, & land was abandoned. The decline in the labor force meant that only the best land was cultivated. The emphasis on grain was replaced & items produced included wine, oil, cheese, butter, & vegetables, with much sold at market..

By the 16C, population was increasing in Europe, & agricultural production was expanding. More mouths to feed & greed for more trade. By this time Europe was cut off from Asia & the Middle East by an extension of Turkish power. New economic theories included the products of agriculture. Wars between England & France, & throughout Germany consumed capital & workers.  Exploration & colonization hopefully might circumvent Turkey's control of traditional Eastern trade; provide homes for religious refugees; & bring metals back to European nations to fill some empty coffers.  Colonial agriculture fed the colonists & also to produced cash crops & food for the home country. Crops included sugar, cotton, tobacco, tea, wool, & animal hides. From the 15C to the 19C African slavery provided needed laborers, for Europeans on colonial plantations requiring a larger labor force than the colony could provide. Indians were virtually enslaved as well. Indentured servants from Europe & England, provided both skilled & unskilled labor to many colonies.

Thanks to Advanced BioTech. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Harvesting & "the lothsome stench of the armepits" 1605

Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Four Seasons - Summer - Haymaking

Dealing with the Underarm in Summer 1605

"We will here discouer and discourse of the lothsome stench of the armepits... and how nearer that the stench is to the nose, so much the lothsomer is it. This stench is augmented through great labour at hot times, through want of shifting and alteration of clothes, through great incontinencie, and through some corrupted humors of the body. Then for to remedie this stench, it is needful (according to the quality of the person) that all such are to be purged and let bloud, and that they afterwards do bath in these odoriferous herbes, as Mints, Melilot, Lauander, Ireos, and such like... Marmalade with spices doth also expel all stench."

      Christoph Wirsung, The General Practise of Physicke 1605

Thanks to Elizabeth B. Archibald's "Ask The Past"

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Harvesting - as "a cooperative effort" late 1500s

 Able Grimmer (Flemish artist, c.1570–c.1619) Four Seasons - Summer

Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus described the "Germans" as a tribal society of free peasant farmers & warriors, who cultivated their own lands. About 500 years later, European villagers built houses, surrounded by individually owned cultivated fields & meadows, woods, & wasteland used by the entire community. Shared oxen & plow passed from one field to another, & harvesting usually was a cooperative effort.