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Comments Off on Moving in the Middle Ages (5th to the 15th century)
Since it is coming up to the “End of Middle Ages Day” on the 29th of May, we thought it would be very fitting to go back in time and imagine what moving would have been like in this time.
I can imagine it was very difficult to travel a long distance or really any distance at all back in those times. However, I can also assume their houses were a lot smaller than they are now and the amount of things they had would have been a lot less, besides if you were wealthy or royalty.
In saying this, during this time there would have been many reasons to travel to a new area. These reasons include war & Crusade, politics & diplomacy, pilgrimage, trade, hospitals, monasteries, escaping the plague. The invention of the compass would have also increased the amount of travel which was happening, as they may have felt safer knowing they were heading in the correct direction.
The roads in this period were heavily worn, making it very difficult to travel on. The weather and the amount of travellers did not help this problem at all. It is believed the easiest way for people to travel was actually by horseback, as it was much quicker and not directly using the roads. There were carts, carriages, pack animals and other wheeled vehicles around at this time. Sick people, in particular, men, would travel in a wagon, to be a little more comfortable. Wealthy people would travel in a litter, borne by two horses (as shown in the photo below). That leaves everyone else, who was not sick and wealthy, how did they travel? Everyone else would have preferred to travel by foot, as packed animals and luggage carts would make the travel longer and create additional trouble. It was also common for people to travel in groups, instead of individually due to crime and wildlife.
I couldn’t imagine travelling by foot or horses to be very quick, so I had to have a look to see how long it would have taken them and the result is very surprising!
Apparently a small group of people with good horses would travel as far as 48 km per day (which is the distance from Yeerongpilly (our south side headquarters) to Scarborough (north of Redcliffe), today the same distance would only take 51 mins by car, 1hr 36 by train and bus and 8 hrs to walk)
If you think that is a big difference, if it was a larger group with pack animals, cart or people travelling by foot, they would only make half the distance which is 24 km- the distance from Yeerongpilly to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall. Which currently only takes 30 minutes to drive, or 1 hour and 19 minutes via train and 5 hours to walk.
Those times don’t even take into account rest days, weather conditions, road issues, natural obstacles (mountains, rivers, etc).
I believe in the Middle Ages, travelling by water would have been a lot easier. However, it would have been more expensive, meaning only the wealthy would have had the opportunity to do so.
I can’t imagine what it would be like if it was still the same way! Our local moves would not only take a lot longer but definitely not be classified as local as it would seem much further away. We would definitely need some extra strong horses to carry everything people have in their houses in this day and age.
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