Thank heavens it's been a little cooler today...only by a degree or so but it certainly made a difference to ones comfort...

I was able to go into my workroom and do some sewing...the first time for ages...it's simply been far too hot.

Jenny mentioned how everyones faces looked very much alike when I posted the painting of Richard Empson, Edmund Dudley and Henry V11...they did in the late Mediaeval period for no other reason than the artists simply portrayed the human face in that way...with long straight noses. In much the same fashion as a child draws a face. Artists in Italy and Spain had begun to develop the techique of drawing and painting slightly more individual portraits, but that skill had yet to reach England. By the time Henry V111 was in his prime and ordering paintings of himself portrayed in all his finery, he was sending to Europe for their skilled artists to show him as he imagined himself to be...

Not the obscenely bloated figure which he became in his later years...riddled with gout and syphillis...we only know what he appeared to be like then from writings of the time...or from modern interpretations.

Then Gracie remembered reading people wore furs because the body lice and fleas lived in the fur rather than on a person...it sounds rather like one of those old tales with no basis in fact actually...fleas and body lice will only live on living flesh...they'll desert anything dead, even if it's fur, really rapidly. Fur trimmings on cloaks and outer garments were worn in the later Mediaeval times simply because they had a certain status symbol...it wasn't so much that they kept you warm...more to show how wealthy you were. So the cloak you had trimmed with the finest ermine instantly told others that you were of the upper or the ruling classes...a bit of bedraggled wolf or cat fur around your equally tatty cloak told everyone instantly that you belonged to the lower classes...

Class was everything...who you were and to whom you were connected ensured a good marriage...a place in Court...the acquistion of lands and forests...the forests were essential because they homed the deer and the wild boar to feed not only your family but to entertain your important visitors with the hunting. Providing you trod carefully around the King and didn't offend him or his present Queen and survived with your head still attached to your body...then you've had had a reasonably good life.

The middle classes...those who were tradesmen and skilled workmen knew their place...and they kept to their place and so long as the Court and the local big house required their services then they also led reasonable lives.

The poor...and they were probably in the majority...also knew their place in society. They led simple lives of endless hard work and constant grind with little relief or pleasure. Always hungry, they risked stealing from their landlords...a rabbit for the dinner or a few ash saplings to make a fence. It was the poor who scrabbled for a living and had endless numbers of babies who almost always died before they reached a year old. They worked the landlords fields and cared for his cattle and his pigs and slaughtered beasts they'd never be able to afford to eat for themselves.

It would have been the Mediaeval poor who wore simple woollen cloaks trimmed with a bit of wolf fur.

The poor did revolt...they did band together and form a force to be reckoned with and they ended on the gallows or hanging in a gibbet...the people who are, and were, responsible for growing the food which sustains us have always been at the very bottom of the society of the day...