Bennett organizes these chapters topically rather than chronologically, illuminating in each one an aspect of medieval society and describing how Cecilia behaved or might have behaved in each context. Bennett then discusses the Great Famine of —, a time of transition for both Cecilia and England. Cecilia Penifader was born to Robert and Alice Penifader in the late thirteenth century in Brigstock, a manor in central England. She was the seventh of eight children, only two of whom died before reaching adulthood, an unusually high birthrate for the time. Their large house, built of rubble, twigs, mud, and moss, covered about square feet.
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Feudalism in the 14th century is perhaps one of the most intricate systems of societal, political, and economic life that has ever been experienced in Western Culture. When one thinks of the medieval age in Europe, one usually thinks about valiant knights, lords, and ladies. However, such romantic imaginations would be poor representations of what medieval life was really about.
Cecilia was involved in the economic system known as manorialism. It is with regard to this system of life and economics that we consider three questions. How did the life of Cecilia Penifader typify the life of a medieval peasant?
How was Cecilia unique? How did Cecilia cope with life in the Brigstock manor? Cecilia Penifader followed the typical life of a medieval peasant in many ways. Growing up, her home offered the basic necessities for eking a living. There was a hearth for warmth and cooking, shelter from the elements, and a place to eat and sleep As a female peasant in the manorial system, her life was marked by service to the lord through farm labor though women did not do as much physical labor for the lord as the male peasants did and produce vegetables and livestock paid in rent.
While the men worked the fields by plowing, weeding, breaking clods, sowing seed, etc, Cecilia and the womenfolk busily worked in the farmyard. These foodstuffs were not only grown for the family but the surplus would have been sold in the market This meant that Cecilia and her fellow peasants had to juggle as many jobs as they could and do it by whatever means possible Additionally, Cecilia participated in religious life as best as a peasant could and attended Sunday Mass and other holy days However, there were some key differences between Cecilia Penifader and other peasants.
She also had a much more successful family since she had three brothers and four sisters 1. Cecilia was also unique because she never married and held her lands under her single ownership. Thus Cecilia Penifader was unique among the peasantry at Brigstock manor. Life as a medieval peasant was definitely not a bed of roses.
Historians are not quite sure exactly why they missed work but there are a few good guesses. They could have had missed boon work as a mere accident or they could have skipped it deliberately as many peasants in the 14th century did.
Many peasants sought to outright resist against the manor but whether Cecilia did remains to be seen. In Brigstock, seigniorial demands were less intense so Cecilia and her peers coped with it. As a child, Cecilia had been taught by the clergy that in the world there were three orders or classes of people and the order of these classes were ordained by God.
Peasants understood that the lords and knights, who might exploit them every now and then, were really just and honorable men who protected them from bandits and invaders. They also upheld and enforced the law of the land. Not all her neighbors had a nicer home, a good portion of land, and a better diet.
Peasants succumbed to horrible conditions of disease and famine and not all reached adulthood. Like this:.
A Medieval Life
Home Essays Cecilia Penifader: an She was not a princess nor was she of noble blood. She was, in fact, a peasant. While many people today would consider her poor and lowly just because of that title, she was actually rather successful in life and was one of the wealthier peasants of her time.
Cecilia Penifader: an Ordinary Peasant in Medieval Times
Feudalism in the 14th century is perhaps one of the most intricate systems of societal, political, and economic life that has ever been experienced in Western Culture. When one thinks of the medieval age in Europe, one usually thinks about valiant knights, lords, and ladies. However, such romantic imaginations would be poor representations of what medieval life was really about. Cecilia was involved in the economic system known as manorialism.
Analysis of Bennett’s “A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader”
Dicage Three approaches penifaxer interpretation are considered: She has published extensively on the history of women, particularly women in the middle ages. Check out the top books of the year on our page Best Books of How did the life of Cecilia Penifader typify the life of a medieval peasant? View freely available titles: Thanks for telling us about the problem. That said, Bennett is always careful to distinguish between fact and inference, and provides a useful model to a beginner historian as to how to approach the past. Bennett : By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.