TONY MOUNT WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES
A talk by Toni Mount on the role of the housewife in
the Middle Ages proved very entertaining and gave us an
interesting insight into domestic arrangements in the
medieval period, using portraits and writings of the time.
Arranged marriages among the upper and middle classes
often gave rise to considerable disparity in age, with
the husband often older than the wife. Respectable married
women wore wimples to conceal their hair and had various
essential duties to perform such as providing clean linen,
washing their husband's feet when he came home from work
and organising food and drink. They also had to deal with
fleas and moths.
The lacing up of the smocks which women invariably wore
had a special significance. If you were rich, you were
laced up at the back to show you had servants. If you
were a respectable woman, your lacing was straight, but
if you were a woman of easy virtue, you would be cross-laced
because that was easier to undo. You would wear patterns
over your shoes to protect you from the filth and working
men and women all wore aprons.
The rich used a lot of spices in their food to enhance
or conceal the flavour and sugar began to be used liberally
after the crusades to the deterioration of everyone's